Sunday, March 6, 2011


So I'm readying myself for Peter's jeans sew along by reading Pants for Real People - I ordered it last week, before I knew about the sew along, because it is my goal to understand pants fitting expertly.

It's a great book, just like the (scandalously unstylish) bible Fit for Real People, and on page 24 there's a reference to a custom fit pattern company called Unique Patterns. This company uses body scanning technology to design "perfectly fitting" paper patterns for its clients. The patterns available are mainly New Look and Simplicity - which generally don't appeal to me - but the site is extremely well organized and, it appears, if you like those patterns, you can determine how much ease is built into each for free because that info is available on the catalog spec pages. Here's a sample.

If you want to buy the patterns you need to be a member, which I believe requires you to be body scanned or manually measured at home (by you). However, the scanning (only available in certain states) or manual measurements systems (for those not close to the scanning machines) do cost. The manual system is $40.00 USD. I can't determine, online, how much the body scan costs. It's done at boutiques. This entitles you to access to the member lounge on the site, which includes education resources, and to purchase the patterns according to your specifics. The patterns are much more expensive here than they are on the proprietary sites (upwards of $25.00 per), because they're tailored. I wonder if one receives special instructions with those patterns - in addition to the unique pattern?

At any rate, I think there's real value in figuring out how to measure yourself for perfect fit. However, if you have a particularly challenging shape, or fitting really is beyond the scope of your personal resources - and it does take talent, experience and no end of patience - then this could be a sound alternative. I have to say, if this vendor stocked Vogue Patterns, I'd be much more inclined to try it, just for kicks, because I make those patterns.

In truth, all the big pattern companies design with standard measurements, although pattern ease and slopers vary from pattern to pattern and brand to brand. The point is, if you've had serious fit issues with, say, pants, you could purchase a custom made pattern from this site and then copy the adjustments (specifically the rather challenging crotch adjustments) to any of the other patterns you own.

I'm not promoting this - I don't have any first-hand info about the company - but I do think the concept is intriguing.

Has anyone tried it? Does it work? Might you find the site useful (if you own New Look patterns, for example) because you can take note of the ease measurements - something that many patterns don't tell you so explicitly - and factor them into your garment construction of already-purchased patterns?


  1. After my recent trouser adventure, my copy of pants for real people is practically falling apart - I finally was able to get past my aversion to the styling and really 'get' what they were trying to say! Although, I have to say, I'm now working on jeans (can't wait 'till May!) and I'm not finding it quite as helpful for jeans!

    I totally skimmed over the info on the Unique Patterns company - that's super cool the ease info they have for the patterns, although the selection IS limited. I like some New Look shirts, but they aren't included on the website.

    I can see that perhaps the scanning might be worth it to get a good pattern for trousers - the crotch curve is so hard to get right. I'd be skeptical that the manual-measurement would be worth it, though.

    I still would like to get more in-depth reference material to better understand trouser fitting. I think I need to understand the fundamentals of flat-pattern drafting. The info in Pants for RP is great, but I kept running into a wall that they were fitting for a particular style and at some point you have to stop the tugging up and down and pinching out folds, go back to square one and start with an entirely different curve to the inner thigh and crotch - the book doesn't really address that kind of stuff! I'm SHOCKED at the difference in the shapes of the pattern pieces with the jeans pattern I'm using compared to the trouser patterns I ended up with!

  2. Patty: I LOVE your comment. You're so right on all accounts. I think their fitting method is excellent - but it only goes so far (I guess it only can go so far given the market). And I don't think the Unique Patterns manual measurement system would work either - though who knows if they have some special crotch measurement system we can't imagine?

    One other thing - I don't find tissue fitting works for me at all. I know a lot of other people concur. It's not that I don't see how it can work, but I need more hands. And I hate the feel of tissue against my body. When I went on my recent pantsathon, I made 5 muslins (wearable ones, for the most part), redrafting the pattern as I went. Now that I've read PFRP, I will use their pin fit on muslin method. It makes sense and saves time over sewing everything up, only to have to undo it.

  3. I only tissue fit if I'm grading up as a quick 'will this go around me' check. I tried following the Pants method when I started out, but everything was just to crumpled.

    I ALSO tried pin fitting, but eventually got frustrated and just machine-basted. It takes a bit longer to rip if needed, but the pins kept falling out and the twisting and turning made the seams gape. I generally make things too big and have to make smaller during fitting, so basting isn't that big of a deal - i just try on inside out and then pin smaller. Also, a friend suggested using mini binding clips while self pin-fitting = i had a hard time getting the pins stuck in certain areas - I just couldnt' reach that well. At least with a binder clip you could clamp out the extra fabric, take off the garment and figure out what to do next!!

    Or, I could try to train Mr. Bug to pin better. He tried, but really didn't do well - his pinning was just as wonky as if I had done it myself!

  4. I completely agree with Patty! Yay! There are so many adjustments that need to be made to a pants pattern to get them to fit right that it's actually worth it to draft your own pair. When I did my Trouser Sewalong and I had an online chat with Cal Patch she really gave me some insight about pants. Trying to fit 3 cylinders that intersect is a pretty hard job.

    You could also try to fit just one pair of pants, the sloper or the fitting pattern. Vogue has one for pants. From that you could draft your own pair for every pair you make. And more creativity, not to mention options would be at your feet too.


  5. I think that the Unique Patterns thing sounds cool, but have to wonder how worth it it would be. I mean, I seem to change shape every week (though not necessarily the way I want to) because I'm working out and *attempting* to lose weight. I think it would be better to have someone teach me how to effectively measure myself and then buy the tools necessary to do it myself each time I feel that I feel the need. But, maybe I just say that because I'm a cheapskate who doesn't live within 500 miles of one of their sites. ;-)

  6. Hi All!
    I checked into this - because they have one in Long Beach (about 1.5-2 hours away) - a scanner that is - to scan your body for each measurement. I didn't follow up because I drafted a sloper for a skirt for me in a class here at Sew-LA - my next goal is to do a bodice sloper followed by a Pants sloper.

    I normally don't have too much trouble with trousers - of course for Sunni's Sew Along - I did make quite a few adjustments based on the Burda pattern - unusual for me. . . I can't wait to make two different pairs of Hot Patterns patterns I'm kinda in love with. Kwik Sew always fits me out of the box. . .

    You know who else has great jeans tips - she has a pattern company and a blog - it's Jennifer Stern - I bought her pants but haven't made em yet!

    I guess it's going to be pants all spring:) And, shorts:) I'll let you know if I go down to Long Beach and check out the scanner. I am slightly intrigued. . .

    P.S. Sunni, I haven't finished my Sew_Along pants cause my serger is down (I can't get it rethreaded (of all things!)).

  7. I've only tried two pants patterns ever, a Jalie and a Burda. Both fit me out of the envelope with only the most minor of fitting tweaks. Does this make me a bad person? :( I guess it's the upside of having neither butt nor hips...

    I really enjoyed Patty's pants posts. I have a feeling a big chunk of it is to find a crotch-curve that works for your body, and then stick with it...

  8. Unique Patterns sounds intriguing, but like CGCouture, I change shape too often for it to make sense to invest in a specific scan.

  9. Patty: At a certain point, basting is def. easier...

    Sunni: Your description of the 3 cylinders fitting together is so apt. Makes sense why it's so tough...

    CGC: I agree that fluctuations go against this system. But I don't imagine the natural crotch length changes due to increases or decreases in weight. Wouldn't it stay the same, more or less?

    Pammie: Was it pricey?

    Taran: I'm inclined to believe that does make you a bad person :-) And you are so right about the crotch curve being the secret to everything.

    Susan: Also, it's fun to figure these things our for ourselves. Yes?