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A commercial “fitting pattern” is one that you’ll use to make any alterations or adjustments for a well-fitting basic dress.
Fitting patterns are available from most pattern companies – look at the very BACK of the pattern book at your local sewing center, or order one from Amazon (I like the one from Butterick, available in misses and plus sizes).
Pant fitting patterns are harder to find - Vogue is the only pattern company I can find that publishes a pant fitting pattern.
While these fitting patterns are readily available on Amazon.com, they can sometimes be difficult to find at a fabric shop or sewing center. I ran into that problem when looking for the pant fitting pattern.
I decided to try a different pattern so I can show you how to handle the kinds of changes you'll need to make if you, too, have trouble finding a real fitting shell pattern.
For the pant, I chose this simple, pull-on style. It has no design details (no slash or patch pockets, yokes, or seaming). It is, however, a very relaxed and casual style - so it is quite oversized, with no fit through the hip and the waist.
We can deal with this, but it take a lot more work during the fitting process.
For the dress, I was able to find a proper fitting shell at a store, but I also found this dress, which would make a good substitute if needed.
The key to this dress is the lack of styling details. Like the pant, there are no pockets, yokes, seaming, gathers or pleats. It's a simple style.
AND - it has both waist darts and side bust darts. THESE ARE CRITICAL FOR A FITTING PATTERN, and for the block you will make from this pattern.
This dress does not have a waist seam, so the bodice and skirt are not separate. At the very least, mark the waistline (tie a cord or elastic around the waist and mark with a fabric marker) during fitting.
The dress also has more open necklines than the block should have. Fill in the neckline before cutting, and draw a close-fitting jewel neckline during the fitting.
Both of the alternative patterns are usable if you have no other options, but both require much more work during the fitting process.
Any fitting pattern produces a VERY basic and boring dress or pant – but don’t worry, it isn’t your final project!
You'll make this garment in muslin (or another very cheap fabric - you won't be wearing this dress outside the house), then try it on and make whatever adjustments you need to make to fit your body.
You'll then take it apart and trace it to make your basic block - and that basic block is the "blank slate" from which all of your designs are created!
Using a commercial pattern for the fit process is so much quicker and easier than drafting from measurements. With an initial pattern drafted from measurements, you'll still need to go through the fitting and correction process - so why do all that math??
Just be careful to read the measurement chart before choosing your pattern size. Commercial pattern sizing tends to be very different than retail sizing!
The "nice to have" tools: