Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Review of Sure-Fit Designs

Garment sewing, and in particular, learning how to get patterns that fit my body, has been my greatest sewing challenge in my decades of sewing. I have read just about every book on the subject, taken pattern-fitting classes, attended seminars, purchased computerized pattern systems, and browsed the Internet. Did I miss anything? Even if I haven't listed it here, if it has anything to do with garment sewing and pattern fitting, consider me "Been there, done that."
Used with permission from Sure-Fit Designs
Cowl neck tops, crossover tops, yoga pants, and lots more—these are some of the current fashions you can make.

More than a year ago, based on many reviews and watching videos on YouTube and at Sure-Fit Designs (SFD), I purchased three SFD kits (pants, dress/bodice/skirt, and shirts).  

I am someone who buys or receives something as a gift and then immediately puts it to use, preferably the same day. Somehow, though, I was so lacking in confidence, even of taking my own measurements, that I had the package here, unopened, for all this time. When I received an email from Glenda this winter about classes to learn the SFD system, I decided to go for it. I signed up for both classes: pants fitting and bodice fitting. This is my report. It's all my opinion only; I have no affiliation with SFD or the owner, Glenda Sparling.

I went to Eugene, Oregon, in early April to take these classes. In preparation for the classes, Glenda asked us to watch the DVD that comes with the system (How did she know I hadn't watched it yet? oops!), to view a selection of her videos at the Sure-Fit Designs Learning Center Library, and, if possible, to take measurements and make a muslin.  

I procrastinated getting started until two weeks before departure day (Why? Fear of failure? Fear of disappointment? Yes and yes.) 

Once I started watching the DVD, I thought, "Hey, this makes a lot of sense! I think this is the answer I've been looking for all these years!" I (somehow) found the time to take measurements and make a bodice muslin. I tried it on and my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe it. No kidding. It fit better than any and every thing I've tried to make for myself. Honest to Pete. Not perfect, but the best ever, for me.

So I set out on my travels, arrived in Eugene, met my pre-arranged roommate (Hi, Kay!), picked up our rental car (optional, not really needed), and went to the Residence Inn and checked into our suite. We each had our own bedroom and bath, and we had a common kitchen and sitting room. Nice! 

There were five of us in the class, a perfect class size for this kind of learning, from all over the United States. 

Each day began with a brief presentation, demonstration, and show and tell of garments Glenda has made from SFD. Throughout the week, Glenda was consistently well prepared, knowledgeable, gracious, helpful, kind, and generous. How on earth she was able to keep each student's fitting concerns in mind at all times is beyond me, but she did it! We then set out to work on our task for the morning or day. We gathered again at the end of the day to recap and learn a bit about the plan for the next day.

Have you ever taken a sewing class and felt:

  • Like you spent all your time waiting around for the instructor?
  • Like you didn't get the help you needed?
  • Like you couldn't see or hear what you needed to?
  • Frustrated that the instructor didn't explain things clearly?
  • Like maybe just maybe you were wasting your time and money?
  • Like the class location was severely lacking in good lighting, comfortable seating, and amenities?
Well, over the years, I have experienced all of these things, and then some. But! This was different, really different.
  • At SFD, while we each had to wait for Glenda once in a while, it was never for very long, and there was always something useful to do while waiting.
  • Glenda made sure throughout each day that we felt we were getting the help we needed. She didn't just wait for us to come to her with questions; she moved throughout the classroom from one of us to another, asking how we were doing.
  • The arrangement and class size were such that everybody was just a few feet from Glenda during the presentations and demonstrations, so nobody missed anything, at least I didn't and it didn't seem like anybody else did, either.
  • Glenda is such a well-prepared, knowledgeable, and articulate instructor that I found it easy to pay attention and soak in her insights and wisdom.
  • I prefer to be thrifty with myself so that I can be more generous to others, so taking this class, especially when you add in the cost of travel and hotel, was a big expenditure for me. Was it worth it? Absolutely yes!
  • Oh and the class location, Our Sewing Room, more than exceeded my expectations. Nice, high cutting tables. Lots of great lighting. Comfy chairs. A kitchen with coffee, tea, refrigerator, and microwave. Lovely, just lovely.
Okay, down to business. What is it about SFD that sets it apart? I think of it like this: buying a pattern (Vogue, Butterick, McCalls, and Simplicity are the "Big Four"; and independent pattern companies from around the world) and changing it to try to make it fit me is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, whereas with SFD I am fitting a round peg into an almost exact duplicate round peg. The modifications needed after the initial creation of my “blueprint” are truly minor. That means that I have created my own blueprintfrom which I can make anything!

I had no confidence in my ability to take my own measurements, so imagine my surprise when the measurements taken in class (we used a buddy system and then Glenda came around and checked every single measurement) were very close to those I took at home! So I’ll pause here and say this: If you have the SFD kit(s) but haven’t gotten started with it yet, go for it! Do it! You will be most pleasantly surprised at the results! Watching the DVD and the online videos helped me a lot.

Many figure variations and fitting concerns were represented in the group, and I believe that everyone left completely satisfied. 
 
Glenda makes herself so available (by email, phone I think, and Skype) to help with any questions that you have, whether you take a class or buy a kit.

Finally, I make four recommendations: 
  1. If you already own the SFD kit(s) but haven’t gotten started yet, unpack it, watch the DVD and online videos and get started, even if you don’t have a sewing friend to help you to take your measurements. But maybe I'm the only one who bought it but didn't use it for (ahem) some time?
  2. If you have gotten started with SFD but haven’t used it in a while, dust it off and start using it again. 
  3. If pattern fitting has been holding you back from making clothing, consider purchasing one or more of the kits.
  4. If you have the opportunity (time and money) to take classes with Glenda, I think that you will be delighted with the experience.
As Glenda says, “No matter your shape and size...you can achieve amazing personalized fit!”

I welcome your feedback about this review. Thanks; you know I love to hear from you!

Excuse me but I have to go sew my yoga pants now… from my SFD pants kit.

Blessings and peace...

32 comments:

  1. Wow, what accolades for Glenda, the class and the SFD system. So glad it was everything and more than you hoped for. I am one of those whose purchased the complete system a couple of years ago and pretty much have not touched it. I do NOT know what I am waiting for. I desperately need pants that fit.....so I think I will go break it out right now! Thank you.

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    1. Hi garnet128, Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I totally understand the buying and setting aside thing. There's lots of help available, especially Glenda, for working with SFD. Especially if you have a camera. Please let me know how it's going, okay? Thanks!

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  2. Hi Sandra,

    You already KNOW how I feel about SFD. I wanted to come to one of Glenda's classes, but she told me I didn't need to. I would love to meet her in person someday. I was in my closet this morning looking for a blouse to wear, and I noticed that an ENTIRE RACK of my closet is covered with SFD blouses. I may have to take a picture of that for my blog. Great review!
    Hugs, Joy

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    1. Thanks, Joy, for stopping by. That's funny about what Glenda said. She is truly a lovely person, and actually, I would love to see her again (although I don't have any plans to do that). Take care and happy sewing!

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  3. I really enjoyed your blog entry. You touched on many of the reasons why I haven't started working with my SFD kit! Fortunately I'm within driving distance of Eugene, and am considering signing up for the fall session. Thanks for the thorough review.

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    1. Denise, how nice of you to visit and to leave such a lovely comment. Okay, you've done the hard part (buying it; now it's time to dust it off and start using it! :) Really, fall is a lot of sewing hours away from now. Would you consider trying it on your own, knowing that you can contact Glenda with any questions that come up? Not to discourage you from taking the classes; they are wonderful. But why not start now?

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  4. Sandra,
    What a wonderful,review. I purchased the Three Kit Combo in December and since the have made three pair of pants and three blouses, and they fit very well.
    I am going to Glenda's retreat in July.
    I am looking forward to,it.
    Thank you for a wonderfully review.
    Saludos,
    Susan

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    1. Susan, Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm delighted to hear of your Sure-Fit Designs experience! Even though you already know a lot about it, what with having made several garments already, I am sure you will enjoy your time in the classes.

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  5. Thank you for this post. I have spent a couple of days looking through the SFD learning center and plan to buy the Dress Kit and possibly the pants kit. In fact I already can fit myself but since I am increasingly sewing for other people too, the SFD system looks like it will save me lots and lots of time.

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    1. Thanks, Ruth, for visiting. The SFD learning center is wonderful, isn't it? I like looking at the videos; guess that makes me a visual learner. You can do SO MUCH with the dress kit. Yes, if you're sewing for other people, the pants kit is a great idea. With their measurements, you can make a "blueprint" for each person, then adapt it as needed for fabric and style. Oh, I don't think I mentioned the vellum Glenda sells. It's wonderful -- you can erase and erase and erase in the same area and never wear it out. Nice!!! Please let me know how it goes, okay? Thanks for leaving a comment; I really appreciate it.

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  6. I've been reading a lot about SFD and I can't wait until I can afford to purchase it. I can't seem to get any of the reg patterns to fit very well at all. I was making some jeans from McCalls and the instructions said I was a size 18 with around 3" of ease. I ended up cutting those jeans down to a size 14 and they were still to big in the legs.
    So thanks for the review, it has me biting my nails wanting to put the purchase for SFD on my credit card.. But not going to I'll wait until money is available. In the mean time I'll keep watching videos and reading blogs.
    Blessings,
    Sherry

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    1. Sherry, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with a pattern from the "Big Four." Good for you for waiting til you have the $ on hand. Your waiting time is well spent preparing for the day that you order and then receive your kit. If I had to do it over again, I'd have watched the videos, sometimes more than once. I am now going to go through my patterns and separate out the pants patterns that don't have a particularly interesting (to me) design detail. Yea!

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  7. Sandra, first thanks for all your commenting on my blog, very appreciated.

    My kit sat around since Christmas. It was my Christmas gift. DH asked what I wanted and this was it. Then intimidation set in. But once I saw the DVD I was on to it. Glenda is such an articulate presenter and teacher. This was one of the best sewing investments I have ever made.

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    1. Bunny, Thanks so much for letting me know that I am not the only one whose Sure-Fit Designs kit "rested" for a while before being put into service! I am so looking forward to following your adventure!

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  8. I have the SFD Works kit& I love it..one of the reasons I love it is b/c I'm finally free from tissue paper patterns! Nothing is more frustrating than to put time & effort into perfecting a pattern only to leave it unattended in a room with a cat for five minutes& you have to start over @ square one..I love the vellum with SFD it is so sturdy Ican see my blueprints lasting a long time.

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    1. Hey Anonymous, My kitty isn't fussy -- he likes the vellum, too! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment; it put a smile on my face. And give your kitty a little scratch under the chin from me, will ya?

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  9. Sandra,thank you very much for such a great review!

    I haven't purchased any SFD kits, but I have been watching Glenda's videos for a few months now. As soon as I have the money I'm going to go for it. I want to be able to sew something that will actually fit me. I specially want to sew for my daughters, and granddaughter, and after your review I think I will be able to with SFD. Thank you very much! Blessings, and happy sewing!

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    1. Estrella, Welcome to my little blog and thank you for your compliment about my Sure-Fit Designs review. I am still as happy with it all as ever. And Glenda remains available to help via email, which is just tremendous. I wish you all the best as you embark on this new phase of sewing!

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  10. Sandra, thanks so much for the review. Mine is coming along better than expected - just a few tweaks I need to make. I look forward to making my tweaks and then moving forward. I wish she would do a seminar on learning to draft new styles such as those in the books, and adapting commercial patterns to fit based off SFD. I know there are videos on that - but it's just beyond me right now. I would attend that in a heartbeat!

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    1. Hi Mary and welcome! I know all about the "better than expected." :) That's a great idea, for Glenda to offer classes/seminars in adapting commercial patterns. Maybe if enough of us request it... I'm going to, how about you?

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  11. I would like to know how your experience lately w/SFD has been ... what have you made so far? do you still use this system alot or are you using the big 4...do you use Stretch n sew patterns?

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    1. Hi MG, Sorry to be so late in replying. I haven't been doing any garment sewing lately, but plan to get back to it soon. I have some of the Big 4 patterns; they can be used with the Sure-Fit System for inspiration and design details. I used one S&S pattern years ago for a jacket; it turned out very nice. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

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  12. I enjoyed your review and it makes me really consider purchasing this system and taking some online classes. Once you buy the tops and pants kits, does SFD have a line of patterns or designs that are current fashion?

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    1. Hi Anonymous, The thing about SFD is that it's a template you make based on your measurements. You then make changes according to what you want to make. Different neckline? No problem! Narrower shoulders: Yup, got that covered. The booklets and Glenda's videos at her website and on YouTube are a tremendous help. (One note: The drawings on some of the envelopes look out of date, but the SFD system lets you keep up with whatever the style is today.) Hope this helps.

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  13. I too have bought the SFD kit (some time ago) and have not got round to using it! I live in Ireland so I won't get the chance to attend any of the workshops. Like you, I procrastinate about approaching sewing. I have spent years trying to get the right fit. I think it's a lack of confidence in myself. I will do anything (including housework) to avoid knuckling down and getting stuck in. I also spend hours on the computer (which is how I found your review) researching sewing stuff and I know that I do this as another "avoidance" measure! Thank you for your unbiased review and I will crack open my SFD kit (one of these fine days!
    Trish

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  14. I've just purchase SFD pants kit, the dvd and the stylus. I've been reading reviews and I'm feeling confident that SFD is my answer. Like you, I've spent a lot of money on manuals, software, online tutorials and dvds and still can't get the fit nailed down. It discourages me from sewing because everything I attempt ends up trashed. Thanks for this post.

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  15. I, too, have been watching her videos...but was very hesitant in purchasing the kits....I am a visual learner and videos are the best way for me to learn...I want to invest in the dress and pants kits.
    Thanks for your review!! And the others that have commented!!

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  16. I just received my dress combo kit and am wondering about the retreats. The website does not mention price. Eugene is within a day's drive from where I live. Excluding accommodations and transportation costs about how much were the classes? I realize that costs have probably risen. I e-mailed Glenda today requesting to be put on the "short list" for informational e-mails about up-coming retreats, but I am curious about cost and whether it is feasible within my budget. Thank you. Barbara

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  18. So, I am new to SFD, and blogging too
    so now in 2016 are you still using it? I wonder?

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