Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review: "Full Busted?" DVD

I first became aware of this DVD not long after returning to sewing – about a year and a half ago. It is produced by the Palmer and Pletsch folks who do know a lot about fitting, but I had trouble finding real information about this DVD. I was worried it would contain information that I pretty much already knew and I held off purchasing it.

But I decided in December, what the heck, maybe I will learn something new, so I ordered it.

What took me so long???? It may be the best $20 I've spent for any sewing information. I am surprised that more women with bodacious boobage aren't hailing this as the best DVD ever, except maybe they don't know about it.

I want to get the word out. :D

I finally sat down and watched the two hour video yesterday, just before I was planning on altering Yet Another Princess Seam jacket pattern. As fashions have become closer and closer to the body in the last few years, you DO need this DVD if you are larger than a B cup. It is essential if you are a D or larger, as it contains information I have not seen anywhere else - not even in their fitting book (which I do love).

The presenter is Marta Alto, who has worked with the brand for a long time, I gather. The video begins with the tools/supplies that Marta uses. I am forever making muslins because I had never figured out how to achieve a reliable fit trying to get the pattern tissue over all my curves without ripping it to shreds, but they've created a technique that is most impressive. For the first time, I am making a jacket without a muslin - I can report on how effective this approach worked after the weekend - if I can get enough done today and tomorrow.

The FBA process begins with your standard dart - either creating one, or lowering/enlarging an existing one. How to rotate a dart, convert it to released tucks/pleats are shown. It covers the latter information fairly briefly, but as it's old information to me, I wouldn't have wanted a lot more detail anyway.

Next (and here is where it starts to get really good) Marta shows you how to alter non-standard patterns, such as a pattern with a cut-on sleeve. Because she is doing it in front of you, you can see little details, such as how and where to correctly true the seam - details that you often don't get from a book.

Marta then shows how to do an FBA on one of those twist, knot front tops. She uses a popular McCalls pattern and, I'm telling you, I could have NEVER figured out how to do this one. I could barely follow it, but at least you can watch the DVD over and over until you get it.

By this point we are about halfway through the 2-hour video and nary a princess seam to be found! She now brings out "real people." (I hate fake people.) Her first model is a young woman with perky breasts. She alters three patterns for her body - one with a crossover empire seam, one that is cut to fit just over the bust, and a princess-seamed strapless top. All are tops I could actually see a young woman wanting to wear.

The final two models have mature figures, thank goodness. :) Model #2 is fitted for a McCalls Palmer/Pletsch lined jacket with a bust dart and a fisheye dart from bust to waist. She also needs two back adjustments, which Marta acknowledges but does not go into detail on how to achieve. (They have another Fit video that most likely covers this.)

Model #2 needs an FBA, but she does not need her dart to be lowered. In this example, Marta mentions backing off of a dart (which I always have to do), especially if you wear a contour bra. Model #2 also needed a bit additional width through the hip area, another common alteration. Model #2 (as all the models) looks fabulous in her completed jacket. (She shows all garments in process and then completed. I really appreciate this.)

During the fit of Model #2's jacket, Marta stops for a brief comparison between a standard FBA and a Y-dart FBA. I learned of the Y-dart fairly recently from their book, Fit For Real People and I like this technique very much. It's strongly recommended for folks who are adding 2" or more to a dart and I have only seen this particular dart in their publications.

I started wondering if all Marta's models had perky breasts, when she brought out Model #3, who did need lowering of her bust fullness. (Lowering the bust fullness can be very tricky in some designs and I typically have to lower about 4" which can really affect a design.) Model #3 was being fitted for a lined, shoulder princess seamed jacket. Finally! She needed the bust to be lowered on the princess pieces and she needed BOTH front pieces to be altered.

BOTH! I had never seen this before and this was also worth the cost of the DVD, and then some. I will now look at altering princess seamed garments with a totally new eye. Marta also explains the difference between a princess seam and a side panel design. She walks through the alteration using an sleeve princess design.

A quick note about the floral blue top Marta is wearing during Model #3's segment. I had this fabric over 20 years ago. I made (way back then) a long, gathered skirt from it. It's a rayon jersey and very swishy. I may still have the skirt somewhere, though I would have to redo the waist to wear it anymore. Anyway, I found it distracting to study her top and try to remember where I knew that fabric from! It's akin to seeing a face you recognize, but cannot place. :D

The last 15 minutes of the video quickly cover two much more involved patterns. This part is wonderful and could have been expanded even more, to my mind. She first shows a gorgeous jacket with complicated seaming - I would love to know the pattern number for this jacket, though I can't imagine how you would add a dart AND lower it. (She only showed adding the dart.) I am sure this pattern is OOP, but it might be worth tracking down.

She then shows a Belville Sassoon gown that needed loads of altering, though she just tells you what needs to be done, and doesn't walk through the steps. (For this dress you have to alter the (asymmetric) left and right fronts, the corset, the corset lining, and the front skirt. It was exhausting to think about!)

And that's it! The only FBA I would have liked to see that wasn't shown, is an "offset" princess seamed design with a dart on the front panel. I have dealt with this recently, and it's a PITA.

You know, I wonder if new sewists tend to ignore the Palmer Pletsch folks because their aesthetic is not very young, hip, or edgy. But, I'm telling you, these people understand fit. I have an engineering mindset, which is why I am so comfortable altering flat patterns, but Marta is an engineering genius and I bow to her greatness. I've already ordered a couple more DVDs and have even thought about attending one of their workshops in Portland. I think it would be fun and immensely educational.

By the way, you can order their books/DVDs through their website or through Amazon. And, as usual, I get nothin' for my review. ;)