A New Rabbit Hole: Pivot and Slide

I was introduced to Nancy Zieman’s (NZ) Pivot and Slide method of fitting many years ago.  I even purchased her book Fitting Finesse. Read it. Promptly discarded everything she wrote.

At the time I needed only 2 quick alterations (narrow shoulder and back waist length).  Pivot and Slide seemed like too much work for what I could do in 2 minutes with my old-fashioned fold and slash method.  However, time continues to march and my body continues to succumb to the aging process.  I’ve discovered I need bigger sizes to accommodate the flesh I’ve acquired through prospers living.  Years of carrying handbags on the left, keys on the right has developed a lower right shoulder. I also think I detect a forward shoulder condition caused by years of sitting in front of a computer screen. Too, there is a real questions as to whether the lower shoulder is the sole cause of certain wrinkles above the right hip which might also be the caused by uneven hips (standing in one place for long periods of time).  I didn’t mean to abuse my body. I’m not sure how I allowed these things to happen. I was just living my life. Doing my job.  But, in short, my original BWL and NSA alterations now need to be supplemented with extra ease across bust, tummy and hips; and the shoulders need a real alteration not just a shoulder pad. I now need 5 bodice alterations not counting the 2 maybes (forward shoulder, uneven hips). Plus, yes plus, in trying to make the shoulder alteration, I ‘ve caused issues with the armscyes. Point is, altering patterns to fit my body is not longer a simply straight forward and quick process.  Whether I want to do a more complicated  process or not,  I need to do one. Because, I can’t be satisfied with RTW fit and sizing.

A recent Nancy Zieman repeat episode on  Pivot and Slide technique has me reconsidering. So I bought one of her books. I bought the Confident Sewing Collection with 3 CD collection.

The TV episode was in-depth.  I might not have needed to purchase the book + CD’s except that I need multiple alterations.  On TV, Nancy would only say that how to combine alterations is covered by the book. So I purchased and I may have over-spent.  (If only this was the first time). The CSC is a tome. It is printed 400 pages. Thank God they’re 8.5×11″.  This book must weigh 5 pounds. But, that’s because it is 3 books in one: 1) Sew With Confidence, 2) Serge With Confidence and 3)Pattern Fitting With Confidence. Then there’s the 3 CD’s.  I’m not giving an in-depth review of these books. I will say they are good.  I think I owned the serging book at one time. I like NZ’s writing style.  I have learned lots and lots from her over the years  through her TV programs and her publications. But, I’m not thrilled with either the first or second books because while in-depth, I learned nothing new. Now I have this big fat book to cart around when all I find new and helpful is the last 100+pages.  If you don’t have these and want a basic sewing or serging reference book, this is good. Also, I’m not sending it back.  It does have the information I wanted right there on page 314 i.e. the order in which to perform the alterations.

I read the first 2 books quickly. That is, I was not skimming. I was not reading topic sentences, scanning for key words or generally moving along rapidly. But I did not dwell on every word. Nor did I re-read any sentence; check definitions (sometimes I need to be sure I know and not just think I know what a word means). Not so with Book 3, Pattern Fitting with Confidence.  There were, indeed certain sections I repeated; and questions I developed. I was concerned that this was a if-you-know-what-is-wrong, do-this type of book. How do you know what’s wrong? A bit hard to tell in the early pages.  These pages are more focused on what NZ calls the “right size measurement”.  I definitely had to stop and look carefully at the illustrations, charts and NZ’s famous side notes.  I’m pleased that there are separate units on skirts and pants but alarmed by the lack of information for princess seams, yokes, design details, fabrics and other pattern lines.  My most used pattern line is Ottobre Design.  My biggest collection? Burda.  I drool over Style Arc from Australia, but was unable to fit the few patterns I purchased. I’d so love to have a solution.  The Indy’s?  The S-M-L sizing?  I’m left on my own to discover these.

So, I purchased a 2nd book the Sew/Fit Manual by Ruth Oberland and Nancy Zieman.  The 1978 edition.

I’m not sure how farI’m going  down this rabbit hole. I definitely was not paying the $$$ for newer editions. This 1978 version should have the basics in place.  Boy does it. In nauseating detail.  At one point I was thinking “If I have to measuring patterns in this much detail, I quit.”.    You know, life is short; and mine isn’t getting any longer. However later own, those detailed measurements were used as support for a theory.  Like, “this is the theory which we know is true because of the measurements taken on pages yada yada.”  I felt instant relief.  The Sew/Fit Manual is another tome of 400 pages, more or less. However, every page is devoted to either proving a hypotheses or discussing the pivot/slide application .  I found it to be much better at including line drawings showing the fit issue usually on the same page as the slide/pivot solution.  Not only did it address skirts and pants, but princess lines, yokes and many other details included in-depth.

I’m hoping that between the two book, this rabbit hole is navigable. I’m hoping to reach a point where I make the alterations I need without distorting the armscyes or losing the designer’s intended look.

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