Thoughts on Tissue Fitting

I love this book on Tailoring. I think its THE perfect supplement for making a tailored jacket at home. I was reading it through again to refresh my prepping steps for making my coat. I have my pattern cut and dry pressed and am ready to tackle a muslin, but first the book recommends a tissue fit. I also have the book, Fit For Real People and this book is all about tissue fitting. When I read Fit For Real People a few years ago, I thought the tissue fitting idea was brilliant and it looked so easy.

And then I tried it and then I tried it again and again. I have mixed feelings about tissue fitting. In the Tailoring book, the tissue fit is just a preliminary fitting to get a better fitting muslin. The making of a muslin is seriously encouraged for a tailored jacket or coat since so much work actually goes into it. I can definitely see the tissue fitting use here, as a preliminary fitting. But as a final fitting, I’m not so sure. Fit For Real People goes through several steps for using tissue fitting as the final fitting. Now granted, there are several things you have to do, like make a fitting shell and know what your usual adjustments are and even after the tissue fitting, you’ll still be pin fitting the fabric in certain stages of the garment construction. I have made a fitting shell, but I find that since design ease can vary so much from pattern to pattern and from decade to decade its not entirely a reliable source to fit with. Not only that, it was a Butterick fitting shell. So really, it only works good for Butterick, McCall’s, Vogue and possibly Simplicity and not so good for the independent pattern companies which have a completely different sloper from which to base their patterns. All in all, I usually just end up making a muslin because then I know that I’ll get the fit right. I also find that I can’t see certain adjustments I need to make very well with the tissue. And they’re adjustments that I would need to make before I cut anything, you know. Like a sway back or broad shoulder adjustment. Those can’t just be worked in when you’re needing more than say a 1/2 inch adjustment. Now pin fitting the fabric, sure. That’s great advice because more times than not, I don’t do a muslin out of a identical/similar fabric. I just use as good a muslin as I can get my hands on.

What are your thoughts on tissue fitting? Have you read the Fit For Real People book (which is a great book for fitting even if you’re not into tissue fitting)? The idea of tissue fitting always looks much easier with another person helping you out too. And since, I’ve got a personal fitter right here with me…. Does tissue fitting work for you? If it does, what are some secrets you could share with the class here?


  • Jen - I, too, think tissue fitting is wonderful in theory, but having tried it myself (and I’m nowhere near an experienced seamstress, though I’ve a few dresses & skirts under my belt), can’t say it works all that well. The paper doesn’t drape well (especially if you’re curvy), it tears too easily, and as others have mentioned, if you’re sewing on your own as many of us are, it’s really difficult to manipulate!

    I will do a tissue fit for skirt/dress length, as I’m pretty short and usually get to lop 4-6″ off the hem of every dress or skirt. And I’ll carefully, carefully fit bodices just to double-check the bust darts, but with the knowledge that an FBA is in my future, as is a waist-nipping. Maybe if I learned from the mistresses of tissue fitting I’d be better off, but for now, I trust my muslins more!ReplyCancel

  • Gail - I love that tailoring book too. The instructions are clear and the illustrations do exactly that. With help of the book I was able to confidently venture into a tailored jacket for my husband.ReplyCancel

  • Vicki Kate - I have to admit that I use FFRP more for how to make the necessary adjustments than for the actual tissue fitting. I rely much more on my tapemeasure and comparing my measurements to the pattern piece measurements and the info on the pattern. I know I nearly always need a FBA, so I use FFRP to ascertain the best way to make the extra room. Sometimes I just jump in and pin fit as I go (once I’ve done the flat pattern alteration based on my measurements) sometimes I’ll muslin the garment to check the fit. Really, it comes down to how precious the fabric is!

    Reading the comments thought it does seem that a proper course makes a huge difference on the success of the technique, but I’m happy with my process at the moment. As I develop and my knoweldge increases and my eye becomes ever more critical I imagine my methods will evolve…ReplyCancel

  • beth - I love the Plestch and Palmer books on fitting, but tissue fitting does not seem to work for me either. I think the more bumps and valleys you have, the more difficult it is to get an idea of what is really happening. Flat pattern measuring and a muslin are the only way I can be sure I can get sufficient insurance that I am not making a colossal mistake (and even then I end up with more than my share of wadders!)ReplyCancel

  • Tee - I only tissue fit when doing a full bust adjustment (using Palmer Pletsch’s Full Busted DVD) or checking the waistband on a skiers. I make a muslin for just about everything. I love Palmer Plestch books and dvds.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Baker - Tissue fitting is just about impossible without a friend. I recently bought the Palmer Pletch book and absorbed its contents. .Drew a body map and understood my figure variants so I knew that the problem was not for example, sloping or square shoulders, and also my torso is longer than the pattern sloper standard. Very helpful basic info. Got the Mc Calls Fit Pattern to complete the process. I made the fit pattern up, pinning seams only. However to make life easier, I put a ZIP up the front so I could get it on and off easily. Started with the back adjustments, then length and then bust points until a perfect fit. Then tested on old patterns that I had written ‘yuck’ comments on, re drew them as per my basic, sewed them up and ‘perfect’. I do incorporate design ease as I prefer, and think carefully about shoulder and neckline width adjustments with darts and/or ease to maintain integrity. I have also successfully resized patterns up to two sizes smaller than I using my basic sloper. I have a basic dress dummy also which I have padded out to more closely imitate my shape. That helps alot too. I am 99% self taught, trial and mostly error until now.ReplyCancel