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Good for skirts, but not for tops, dresses, or jackets
on September 17, 2012
I bought this book because I was impressed by the skirt a colleague made by following the directions in it.
But I was disappointed that what is supposed to also be a book about making tops, dresses and jackets fails -- miserably -- to measure up in those other areas.
Again, it's a great book about making skirts, and lot of attention is paid in the early chapters on precisely cutting and sewing skirts that fit an individual's waist and hips. That's fine as far as it goes -- and as any seamstress will tell you, making skirts is relatively easy (notice I said relatively). But the real fitting instructions stop there. I wish the author had devoted half as much to the top/dress and jacket patterns, where achieving a precise, custom fit is more problematic because of variances in women's shoulder slopes and bust size and position.
It's frustrating, and not at all what one is led to expect, because the book even says, on page 11, that "even if you wear a size medium and your best friend does too, your bodies are simply not the same." The author goes on, on same page, to deride "most pattern companies" for "picking a standardized length" for things such as "shoulder slope." But she is guilty of the same sin! The patterns in the book assume that every woman wearing them has the same shoulder slope, and needs the bust-darts at the same depth and in the same position. Nowhere in the book are there suggestions, instructions, or provisions for changing these things. Instead, the chapters on tops and dresses and jackets emphasize cutting and placing pockets and collars and pleats and gathers -- embellishments, basically (maybe to distract the eye from the imprecise fit).
The tops (referred to as "tunics" throughout) and dresses differ from one another only in terms of length, and both have raglan sleeves, as does the jacket. The author says on page 14 that raglan sleeves "are super forgiving, and look great on just about anyone." Well, there are raglans and there are raglans -- some raglans slope more than other raglans, and every woman knows that not all are equally flattering: A slope that looks good on narrow shoulders can be too tight across broad shoulders, and one that flatters broad shoulders will bag on narrow ones. Not including detailed instructions on fitting raglans is a major oversight in this book, considering the extent to which it relies on them.
If you follow the instructions and make the garments in this book, you will end up with a gorgeous, custom-fitted skirt, but a top and jacket that fit you no better than ones you bought off the rack, or sewed directly from a regular commercial pattern.