Bonfit Bodice Patterner
I recently got a Bonfit bodice patterner – a few dollars from ebay just to try it out.
It’s fun to have something you can physically hold and draw round to make a pattern. And obviously a lot of thought has gone into it. So it’s a pity the Bonfit patterner has many problems.
Initial impression and basics
My first reaction was that it’s overwhelming when you open the box. I can imagine people getting excited about a demo at a sewing show, taking the patterner home, opening the box, seeing the jumble of unexplained peculiar shapes, and never looking at it again. I don’t know if the video helps. The previous owner of my set hadn’t even unwrapped it.
The Bonfit patterner is a set of tough plastic shapes that slide relative to each other to alter width and length. I had to read the book slowly while looking carefully at the pieces. But once I got past that stage it is a method that ‘comes naturally’ for me, I like having something physical and robust. I haven’t tried but think it’s possible to draw round the template and mark stitching lines directly onto fabric without making an intermediate paper pattern.
Here is the basic set of parts. It consists of a ‘base’ piece (top right) with neckline shapes, plus an inset to change front to back neckline. Added to the side of that are fitted armholes for front and back, or a dropped shoulder piece. The body section is added below.
There’s a choice of three body pieces. One is for back, and for front without darts. Then there’s one with bust dart, and one with waist dart.
There are separate pieces for a variety of sleeves :
and for collars :
The sections slide against each other in ingenious ways, so you can alter the usual width measures of :
And you can adjust the length measures of :
Everything else is standard, doesn’t allow for individual differences.
Instruction book : One reason why people go no further may be difficulty with reading the instruction book – small low contrast print, few diagrams. I know Bonfit had a lot of information to fit into a small space, but this book is not for a visual or physical person, while the patterner is.
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How well does the patterner fit ?
Well, as usual that depends on the individual. Bonfit’s and McCall’s (fitting pattern 2718) shoulder lengths and armhole shapes are surprisingly different.
What about the big issue of cup size ?
The same body section is used for both back and front without darts. So back and front without darts are the same width, with different necklines and armholes.
This is standard practice for loose fitting casual styles with no darts. For example, the front and back at bust level of the tops in ‘Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way’ are the same. So although this can’t give a good result for people with a generous front, there’s no point blaming Bonfit for using standard practice (except of course if they claim to be helping you get good fit. . .).
More problems arise when using darts for a fitted pattern.
The front body section with darts is about 1/2 inch wider than the back section at bust level.
That wouldn’t work well for all women. McCall’s (fitting pattern 2718) has a choice of front patterns for different cup sizes (though they don’t say so on their website). The front-back differences in size 14 are :
A cup : front half pattern 1/4 in. wider than back at bust dart level
B cup : 1/2 in. wider
C cup : 3/4 in. wider
D cup : 1-1/8 in. wider
DD cup : 2-5/8 in. wider
So the Bonfit is the B cup size that most patterns are designed for. Anyone with a larger bust cup would have difficulties.
The section on fitting in the Bonfit book is short and at the end. If you are full busted you might well have discarded the patterner for its bad fit long before getting that far.
Full Bust Adjustment
A true FBA is an ingenious method of adding length and width in the middle of a front pattern, without changing the finished length of the neckline, shoulder, armhole, side, and waist seams. The bust and waist darts are deeper, and the shape of the armhole changes.
The Bonfit doesn’t cope with this well. The only thing they suggest for larger cup sizes is to widen the front pattern. As bust size and shoulder length are related on the patterner, changing front body width also changes front shoulder length. You might move the lower body piece without moving the armhole piece, but that wouldn’t give you the changed armhole shape needed for a true FBA. There is also no way of deepening the bust dart, or of increasing the centre front length without lengthening the side seam.
So if you want a good FBA, you need to make changes to the basic pattern produced by the patterner in the same way as you do with a conventional pattern.
What about other fit alterations ?
I have sloping shoulders and a forward neck. These aren’t included in the patterner. So I would have to make the sort of sloping shoulder alterations that I need with any pattern. But I think with this physical template that should be easy to do by pivot and slide .
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Otherwise, for making other styles, it’s the same as any fitting sloper
Basically the Bonfit is an easy way of making a fitting sloper for average cup sizes. If you want to make classic basic styles, by just changing necklines / collars and sleeves, or to make basic slopers for a range of different people, then it could get well used. But to make styles other than simple classics, you have to draw a basic starting point paper pattern using the patterner, and then do conventional pattern making changes (described in the accompanying book). The Bonfit doesn’t automate pattern making for other styles.
And I think many pattern making instruction books explain the process much more fully than the Bonfit book, with more diagrams.
So if you already have a good fitting sloper, the patterner won’t make other styles easier for you. And if there’s anything unusual about your shape, I think you’d be better off doing the work needed to make a proper fitting sloper.
I wouldn’t expect to make anything other than basic garments from a patterner as I don’t enjoy the ‘cutting up a sloper’ method of pattern making. For other garment styles I prefer to do the alterations needed on a commercial pattern, so I am sure what style features I’m getting.
If you have average shoulders and an A or B cup, you may be able to draw round the bodice patterner direct onto fabric for the stitching lines of a basic repertoire of tops : tee, blouse, shirt, tunic, light jacket.
And there could be advantages for someone who needs simple patterns for a wide variety of people but doesn’t enjoy using pattern making software.
I think this only suits a small group of sewers. People have different personal clothing styles (classic, romantic, casual, etc.) and different ease preferences (close fitted, loose, etc.) We have different sewing style preferences (quick, couture, etc.). And there are also many different methods and preferences for pattern making. And many different methods and preferences for getting a good fit. I suggest the Bonfit patterner only works for a few of these.
Altogether, once I understood it I found the Bonfit patterner fun to play with. But I doubt whether it will get much real use, so I’m glad I didn’t pay full price. I may use the collars and sleeves, as they’re so easy to draw round. But I haven’t yet tested them for fit !
(P.S. 7 years later – when I moved and sorted out my possessions I threw most of the Bonfit away as I had never used it for drafting, but I have kept the sleeves and collars.)Explore posts in the same categories: fit of clothes