|I dreamed for years to attend any of the Palmer/Pletsch classes. Last August, I decided that life was getting short, and it was time to fulfill this dream. I signed up for the Palmer/Pletsch Fit class and teacher training, and attended the July 2011 class.
The Fit class is a 4 day class that concentrates on fitting bodices and skirts. Pati Palmer and Marta Alto teach the class. There were 18 students in the class, and there was plenty of individualized instruction.
The Palmer/Pletsch method of pattern alterations is a methodical, carefully thought out way to alter ANY pattern to fit your body. The class is like a lab for the book Fit for Real People. I had read and used this book, but felt like I was getting only about 75% of the way to the fit that I wanted. This class took me all the way! I cannot believe how my patterns fit! I can't wait to finish a garment and post it to Pattern Review so that everybody can see!
This class uses tissue fitting as a method. Before the class, I struggled with this. By the end of my fitting, my pattern looked like something that had been through the shredder and taped back together. The class taught me so many useful ways to prepare the pattern. The Palmer/Pletsch video Full Busted really demonstrates how to manage your pattern, too.
I have read many comments from sewers who do not like tissue fitting and prefer muslins. There are really 3 key points to this method. First, you need to pick the right size of pattern, which is based on your high bust measurement. Second, you tissue fit. Third you fabric pin fit, because different fabrics will hang differently even with the same pattern. Muslins aren't bad - just not really needed. Tissue fitting yourself, does have it challenges. There was an ugly 45 minutes in the class where I attempted to tissue fit my own skirt. The fitting wasn't the problem - it was the logistics of getting the skirt where it needed to be.
Day one of the class there was lecturing and demoing. You try on muslin shells to determine your correct size. Then we started fitting our basic bodice and skirt. Marta showed us how to do two types of full bust adjustments, high round back, low round back, broad back, forward shoulders and sway back alterations.
Day two, we started on fashion patterns. The class is held at Fabric Depot, so you could buy any pattern you wanted, or bring patterns from home. On Day 2 there was a lot of individual help to get you step by step to the proper fit.
Day 3, more fashion patterns, but with an emphasis on princess seams.
Day 4 - still fitting patterns, but with Pati and Marta on "stand by", so that you could build your own confidence in fitting.
The class is all about tissue fitting. There is no time in the class to sew. I brought a sewing machine in hopes of sewing up a shell in the hotel room at night. But night times were spent cutting and preparing tissue for the next day. I won't bring my machine next time.
It is hard to imagine just fitting tissue for 4 days. Everybody worked at their own speed. And some chose some difficult patterns, which took more time. By the time I went home, I had 10 patterns tissue fit. The days went very fast, and we were all very tired at the end of each day.
In the end, I feel very, very confident about tissue fitting almost any pattern I would ever want to sew. I must add, that part of my confidence is I know that Pati and Marta are only an email away with advise! I felt the pattern world has reopened for me. So many times, I would skip over a pattern that I liked, because I knew I would never get it to fit right. No more!
I want to talk about some of the "extras" offered with the class. First, they recommend a proper bra fitting at Nordstom's (located in walking distance from the hotel). I would say - DO NOT SKIP this step. I finally, finally have a bra that fits right, and it took 10 pounds off of my figure. Second, is having a color analysis done by Ethel Harms. This is not just the simple "seasons" color analysis, but a more detailed session based on the color of your hair, eyes, and skin. It also includes a make up session. I was ASTOUNDED by the color palette that Ethel developed for me. Once again, I looked 10 years younger. The analysis was $150, but worth every penny. The last value added extra was the "Shop Til you Drop" Day. I really think it should be retitled. You would think it was just a feeding frenzy of buying fabric. But really it was Pati personally shopping with you, with your color palette and helping you pick out a coordinating set of fabrics for a wardrobe. The caution to bring and extra suitcase should be well taken! I came home with fabric that is perfect for my colors, perfect for my patterns, and can't wait to sew them.
In the end, you have a total set of skills - choosing a pattern, fitting it perfectly, finding the appropriate fabric in the right colors, and coordinating a wardrobe.
On graduation night, we were all invited to a dinner at Pati's historic Oregon home. Pati is so gracious and so generous. It was so exciting to sit at her sewing machine! The dinner was cooked by her wonderful husband Paul. We had a little graduation ceremony, and it was very meaningful to all of us as a group.
The last day was teacher's training. This time we did the whole process of fitting on each other. There was ample opportunity to fit as much as you wanted. We had a very helpful business discussion at one of our lovely catered lunches.
I highly recommend this workshop. I had extremely high expectations, and Pati and Marta exceeded every one of them. Thank you Pati and Marta - you have changed my life! See you next July for the jacket workshop!