Monday, July 11, 2011

The Sew/Fit Manual

I've always preferred the Pivot and Slide method of pattern alteration over the Slash and Spread method. This method involves tracing, pivoting and sliding the pattern to make the necessary width and length changes. I first learned about this method by watching Sewing with Nancy, so naturally I bought Fitting Finesse (Zieman, 1995). For a long time Fitting Finesse was my primary resource for pattern fitting information. When Nancy Zieman published an updated version, Pattern Fitting with Confidence (Zieman, 2008), I bought that one too.  I purged sewing books a while ago and I decided to keep Pattern Fitting with Confidence, believing "newer is better" and it would be my go to source for pivot and slide pattern fitting.  I was wrong.  Fitting Finesse contained information that was left out of Pattern Fitting with Confidence. I had to re-purchase Fitting Finesse to fit a dress with princess seams.

I own several books by Nancy Zieman and I refer to them often.  But I find them a little "watered down".   I decided to search for the undiluted Pivot and Slide book and the search led me to  The Sew/Fit Manual (Oblander and Anderson, 1992).  I'm embarrassed to admit, this was another book I owned and purged some time ago. Now that I've re-purchased The Sew/Fit Manual, I've taken a more critical look at it. I think it is an excellent resource for P&S and I don't remember why I ever got rid of it in the first place.  It covers much more than either of Zieman's fitting books. In addition to step-by-step instructions on completing scores of P&S alterations, the book has several chapters on fitting theory. In fact, the actual P&S "how-to" instructions don't begin until Chapter 5, page 159.  Detailed step-by-step instructions are given for measuring and marking the pattern pieces and pivoting, sliding and tracing to make the adjustments.  Full figures, petite figures and princess style adjustments are also covered.  And if, after all this,  I still needed the Nancy Zieman seal of approval, I learned she worked with the authors on the first edition and was the first model.

I have one criticism about this book - the artwork.  Some of the faces of the drawn figures are downright scary!  (Maybe I got rid of the book to stop the nightmares. ) Others are simply amateurish. Luckily, these are just the fashion illustrations and they can be ignored.  The diagrams that illustrate the processes are clear and that is what is important.

The Sew/Fit Manual was last published almost twenty years ago. New copies are available through Hip/Line Media.  I bought a used copy from Amazon.   I hope  I've finally learned my lesson about purging books.  There is no guarantee I'll be able to replace them.

Note:  I did find one newer comprehensive source for pivot and slide.  Fitting and Pattern Alteration (Liechty, Rasband and Pottberg-Steineckert, 2010) compares P&S, the Seam Method and the Slash Method for each pattern alteration.  I would like to own this book, but it cost over $90.   I'd have to give it a good, long preview before I spent that much money.  I can't trust myself.  After spending $90  I might purge it within a few years. With The Sew/Fit Manual and two Nancy Zieman books, there is no reason for me to buy another book on Pivot and Slide.


  1. I have the Rasband book, but in an older edition. It does compare methods and I paid around $40.00 for it at a sewing convention I think. Why not check out older versions on Amazon and see if those are going for less?

  2. Hip Line Media also sells a video to go along with the book. I have the video and I really like it.
    Like you, I use Pivot & Slide for fitting issues and of all the techniques I have tried, P & S works best for me.

  3. I have always been a big fan of pivot and slide. The only problem I've had with it is that for a FBA, I haven't seen anywhere in Nancy's book that she has you add to the length of the front to accomodate the larger bust. Am I missing something? I recently gave away her book on fitting that came out BEFORE Fitting Finesse. I do also have Fitting with Confidence, so thanks for the warning - I'll hang on to my Fitting Finess as well.
    I usually use Sandra Betzina's Fast Fit method for doing the FBA on a princess seam. It is the easiest, best I've used.

  4. I already have the old Zieman book and now I've added the others you mentioned to the book list. Thanks for the review.

  5. Hi, thanks for sharing the review on this book. I also have both of the NZ books and am not too happy with either of them. From what I've been reading this seems to be a better choice. Thanks for the information....happy sewing!!