Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Book Review - The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, by Sarah Veblen

Book Review by Erin Retelle

Veblen, S. (2012). The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting. Creative Publishing International: Minneapolis. Available at sewBoise for $29.99.

With good fit being one of the main features setting custom garments apart from ready-to-wear clothing, it’s surprising so few good, usable, reference tools are available on the subject. Thankfully, Sarah Veblen’s new book, The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, is helping to change all that.

As the title suggests, the most wonderful thing about Sarah’s book are the abundant high-quality photos. And these aren’t just pretty pictures – they are detailed portrayals of real-life fitting scenarios. Each muslin garment, or garment part, is photographed on a model. Several different models, with varied figure-types and characteristics, are used and discussed. Sarah adeptly points out the symptoms of a fitting issue the reader is seeing, what the fitting problem is, how it can be corrected in the muslin, and how that change can be brought back onto the paper pattern. I find it incredibly useful to be able to actually see in a photograph the drag-lines, folds, bubbles, and strains that are so often only described verbally or poorly sketched in a line-drawing in many of the fitting books available. Sarah’s step-by-step guidance that accompanies the pictures is fantastic. She breaks down the fitting process into manageable chunks so that the reader can approach a fitting project without getting lost and overwhelmed. Of course, every garment fitted to every possible figure type is impossible to address in one book, so the user must be able to take the principles presented and apply them to their own situation.
The book is organized into three main sections; the basics and “rules” of the fitting process, step-by-step walk-throughs of fitting various garments and garment-components on different models, and guidance on how the fitting process will have affected ancillary pattern pieces like facings, collars and cuffs. 

Sarah assumes some familiarity with commercial patterns, but fills knowledge gaps with helpful definitions and explanations that won’t bore a more experienced reader. She lets her audience know what rules and principles of fitting are fixed and which are more flexible to one’s creativity. Sarah describes commercial patterns as a “starting point”, both for the fitting process and the creative process. She encourages the user to adjust seam and dart placement based on personal preference and what arrangement appears most flattering to the wearer. Sarah gives many design and aesthetic suggestions and heartens he reader to run with them. Very importantly, Sarah discusses how to determine an endpoint for the fitting process, and gives us permission to STOP once that point is reached.

This book is a fantastic tool for any garment maker, novice to professional, who would like to delve further into fitting. I’m already putting this superb visual reference to use and it’s a book I think will fit perfectly into any garment maker’s library!