THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

February 10, 2009

Sewing Diva Book Reviews

Filed under: Sewing Diva Book Reviews,The Sewing Diva Library — phyllisc @ 12:40 pm

SINGER Perfect Plus, By Kathleen Cheetham

Creative Publishing International

Spiral bound, 144 pages, 150 color photos/illusations

ISBN 978-1-58923-394-8 , $25.00


097aKathleen Cheetham owns Petite Plus Patterns and in this handy book she distills her expertise for the benefit of petite-plus and plus size sewers.  I don’t need to remind anyone that the Big 4 does not address the style and fitting needs of this group of sewers.  Just go onto Pattern Review or Stitchers Guild and you’ll get sense of how big and underserved this market really is. 060b

SINGER has added its imprint to Kathleen’s new book Perfect Plus, Sew a Mix-and-Match Wardobe for Plus and Petite-Plus Sizes; and Jennifer Sauer, who many of us know from her sojourn at Threads, served as technical editor; her expertise is clearly evident in the high quality technical drawings and detailed photography.   But I’m getting ahead of myself here, this book is not just a sewing instruction book; the first 30 pages are devoted to wardrobe planning.  There is a useful questionnaire that helps to establish exactly what kind of wardrobe you need for your lifestyle based on how you spend your time and what types of clothes makes you feel good.  I have to say that the design aspect of fashion sewing is to me the most challenging; that is, how to really avoid that “happy hands and home” look and really make garments that qualify as fashion.  Kathleen provides a framework for a sewer that really de-mystifies the color and fabric selection process.

036The actual process of sewing  starts in chapter three, and included with the book is a set of tissue patterns for four garments, a blouse with cap sleeves, long sleeves and two collar variations, tailored pants, a flared skirt and a princess seam jacket.  The size range in the patterns runs from petite-plus to full plus size 14 to 24.  Kathleen’s sloper for these patterns is a D cup with a fuller tummy, but if your measurements differ she also includes excellent instructions for all types of alterations, including a full bust adjustment.  The draft of the blouse and jacket sleeve is really impressive; its a two piece sleeve drafted for full upper arms. 

My only quibble with this wonderful book is the style of the patters; it’s on the conservative side and not even close to being fashion forward, however, I think savvy sewers will use these patterns as a base for adding style and detail. 

If you’re an intermediate or ambitious beginner sewer looking for a basic petite-plus or plus size wardrobe this book is great sewing room resource.


  1. The book reviews are great. Thanks. In fact the whole site is a treasure trove.
    I wonder if you know of resources for petites who are not plus sized. I am 4’11” and weight 100 pounds and have what may be referred to as an athletic body shape – a euphemism for I have thighs from biking and hiking! I have a devil of a time finding interesting patterns that fit, especially pants. I do some of my own pattern drafting but still the perfect fit is illusive. Any thought about suitable resources?

    Comment by pfc — February 10, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  2. PFC – you might want to try patterns from Burda World of Fashion, Marfy and Patrones. All of these are European companies and they tend to go down to smaller sizes than does the Big 4. I think you’ll still need to adjust for your body type however because pattern slopers are made to a standard that few of us confrom to; Els did a great tutorial a few months ago on making a full front thigh adjustment to pants. If you search our blog on her name you’ll find it.

    Comment by phyllisc — February 11, 2009 @ 6:55 am

  3. The book sounds nice and actually might address the needs of my body shape but it only goes to 24 and the pictures of the styles are not exciting. It still seems to be the usual idea of just ‘cover it all up.’

    The review is great. Thanks for doing this.

    Comment by Linda T — February 12, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  4. Thanks for reviewing this book! It is so true that it is an underserved market. This looks really good and you have piqued my interest enough to probably buy the book.

    Comment by Natalie — February 14, 2009 @ 6:17 am

  5. this looks like the seamstress’ reply to “big girl knits”! i always try to keep plus size folks in mind when i’m making a run of skirts. we all deserve to look beautiful (and hot!)

    Comment by erin — February 15, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

  6. Kathleen’s patterns are “classic” but I love them even though my style tends to the more “chic/avant garde”. With her patterns I can get a great fit and then add the details to make them more ME! Her instructions walk you through in such a way that you get really clean finished results -no “happy hands at home” slop! Her sheath dress from Petite Plus is Brilliant for the way it smooths over curves and slims the waist. I made it in Black RPL and it is the perfect black dress! Sorry I am a huge fan of her stuff.

    Comment by Lisette — February 15, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

  7. I received the book today and scanned briefly through it over my lunch hour. The blouse and jacket are more dowdy than I’d normally wear (nor do buttons down the front of a shirt flatter my large bust/large abdomen combination) but I am nevertheless going to try them out to improve my sewing skills. And hey, maybe I’ll come up with a way to make them suit my style more.

    The book is an excellent presentation of wardrobe planning and of making up the four patterns plus the options (sheer layer on skirt, sleeve and collar options on tops), from fabric choices through alterations and finishing. I was especially pleased with her handling of the most common pattern adjustments: sloping/square shoulders, narrow/wide shoulders, etc. The text, pictures, and technical drawings make it easy for any learning style to follow and learn.

    Comment by Kai Jones — February 25, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  8. Phyllis, I tried to send you an email about your post on April 15, 2008 (Shopping – Not Child’s Play). I couldn’t access the comments for that post, although I could access the comments on the preceding and following posts.

    I got a Mailer-Daemon saying “The following organization rejected your message:”

    Has your email address changed?

    It’s possible a spammer may have picked up my address; is there any way I can actually send you (or the other divas) an email? Thanks!

    Comment by La BellaDonna — March 5, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  9. I have done a book on drafting your own pant pattern and currently working on the bodice. It doesn’t matter what size you are, if you find out what kind of a body you have you can wear almost anything, with a little tweaking. It should be noted that being a certain size doesn’t mean you don’t want to be looked at. Try something new.

    Comment by Claudette Grant — March 24, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  10. I am all for getting my clothes tailor made as I know that I will look and feel good and this book will help.

    Comment by big and tall — July 21, 2009 @ 11:53 pm

  11. I bought the book a week ago and have made two muslins of the shapely blouse. Being 5’1″ and a plus, I expected it to fit right from the envelope. It was petty close, and while I do have to make some alterations, not nearly as many. It seems to have a forward shoulder adjustment built in, which many plus sized women need. I’m not one of them, however. Also, the blouse is very short on me so even thought I’m a petite, I’ll need to lengthen it a couple of inches. The neckline is very strange in that it’s very narrow, probably so it can be worn under the jacket. I’ve widened it to a more flattering shape. Phyllis, you got it right when you say, “I think savvy sewers will use these patterns as a base for adding style and detail.” I agree that they are a great jumping off point to make a wonderful wardrobe.

    Comment by Sherril Miller — August 7, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  12. Please add me to your new letters

    Comment by Joyce — May 28, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

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