Material only has so much stretch, whether it is cut on the straight of grain or the bias. Thus all garments require ease; without it you just would not be able to move at all. Imagine wearing a blouse that’s too tight and trying to move your arms. It most likely will be tight across the bust, shoulder blades and shoulders and elbows. This is an example of a garment having too little fitting ease.
There are two types of ease; wearing ease – also known as fitting ease – and design ease.
Fitting or Wearing Ease
Fitting ease is the absolute minimum amount of ease that needs to be added to a garment. This is the ease that will allow you to move without being too constricted; after all everyone needs to be able to breathe, move your arms, bend your elbows, sit, walk, and so forth.
If you plan to alter sewing patterns, or design your own, you have to be careful to not remove the fitting ease.
The following chart represents the amount of fitting ease that should be in your garments:
|Location||Ease in CM’s||Ease in Inches|
|Bust||3.8 – 6.35||1 1⁄2 – 2 1⁄2|
|Waist (Dresses)||2 – 2.5||3⁄4 – 1|
|Waist (Skirts & Pants)||1.3 – 2||1/2 – 3/4|
|Hip||5 – 7.6||2 – 3|
|Crotch Length||3.8||1 1⁄2|
|Wrist||1.7 – 2.5||2⁄3 – 1|
3.8 – 51 1⁄2 – 2
|Location||Ease in CM’s||Ease in Inches|
|Chest (Fitted Shirt)||3.8 – 6.351 1⁄||2 – 2 1⁄2|
|Chest (Classic Shirt)||Up to 7.6||Up to 3|
|Waist||2 – 2.5||3⁄4 – 1|
|Seat||3.8 – 5||1 1⁄2 – 2|
Design ease is any extra space that is purposely added to a garment by the designer to achieve a certain look. Design ease will determine the silhouette of a garment; whether it will be close-fitting, fitted, semi-fitted, loose-fitting or very loose-fitting.
Here is another example of how fitting ease will appear in relation to the body:
When designing a garment, you can generally use any amount of ease that you want to achieve the desired look. However there is a standard in the industry that is advisable to follow, especially if you plan to sell your designs.
The following chart outlines the amount of design ease for different silhouettes found at the bust:
|Silhouette||Dresses, Tops, Shirts, Vests and Blouses||Jackets||Coats|
|Ease in CM’s||Ease in Inches||Ease in CM’s||Ease in Inches||Ease in CM’s||Ease in Inches|
|Close-fitting||0 – 7.3||0 – 2 7⁄8||Not Applicable|
|Fitted||7.5 – 10||3 – 4||9.5 – 10.7||3 3⁄4 – 4 1⁄4||13.3 – 17||5 1⁄4 – 6 3⁄4|
|Semi-fitted||10.4 – 12.5||4 1⁄8 – 5||11.1 – 14.5||4 3⁄8 – 5 3⁄4||17.4 – 20.5||6 7⁄8 – 8|
|Loose fitting||13 – 20.5||5 1⁄8 – 8||14.8 – 25.5||5 7⁄8 – 10||20.7 – 30.5||8 1⁄8 – 12|
|Very loose-fitting||Over 20.5||Over 8||Over 25.5||Over 10||Over 30.5||Over 12|
The following chart outlines the amount of design ease for different silhouettes found at the hip:
|Silhouette||Shirts, Pants, Short and Culottes|
|Ease in CM’s||Ease in Inches|
|Close-fitting||4.75||0 – 1 7/8|
|Fitted||5 – 7.5||2 – 3|
|Semi-fitted||8 – 10.1||3 1/8 – 4|
|Loose fitting||10.5 – 15.25||4 1/8 – 6|
|Very loose-fitting||Over 15.25||Over 6|
Different Types of Fabrics
Different types of fabric will affect the amount of ease required; obviously stretch fabrics will not need as much ease since they can stretch to accommodate movement in the body. All the above charts assume that you are using a non-stretch woven fabric.
If you are using a fabric with a large amount of stretch you may actually need to use zero or even negative amount of ease to have a good fitting garment.
Thickness, weight and texture of fabric an also impact upon the ease of a garment:
- Crisp fabric such as taffeta often will sit away from the body, and will need more ease added to it in order to make it drape nicely.
- Meanwhile, flimsy material like voile may tear if placed under too much strain of a tight-fitting garment. It will also drape more nicely when allowed to flow freely.
- Clingy fabric such as jersey will cling to your body, even when cut more generously.
- Bulky fabric won’t necessary bend and stretch well, preventing free movement.
Garments are often lined with smooth material and placed against the skin. The smoothness of the material will allow it to slip against the skin instead of creating friction against a fabric with rough texture.
Body Types and Garment Styles
Will you always use the same amount of ease on a garment depending upon its style?
The answer is no.
If you are creating a strapless dress you won’t want your bust area to have the same amount of ease as usual, it will constantly slip down – and you don’t want to have it falling completely off! In this case you will need to reduce both your fitting and design ease to ensure that your dress will remain tight against the body and not slide.
Clothing designed for athletic activity will most commonly designed with a large amount of ease to ensure that you have free movement. Imagine running in that tight-fitting knee-length skirt!
Lingerie is worn against the skin and is meant to be hidden from view by any clothing above (that includes seam lines). It will have the least amount of ease added to it, to ensure that it sits flat against your body. The most common reason for seam lines to be seen through clothing is that your lingerie’s ease is too tight, causing your skin to dip and bulge.
Meanwhile, outerwear and jackets will require more fitting ease as it will be covering your body and the clothing underneath combined.
How might different body types affect the amount of ease added to your garments?
A larger figure might look better in a garment with more fitting ease so that it doesn’t wrinkle, gap or cut into the body.
For example, it is common for larger figure types to have “folds” of skin and fat – particularly for sitting down (sorry for the visual). By increasing the fitting ease in this area the material will more gracefully drape over these folds to create a smoother appearance. Essentially clothes that are too tight can make a larger figure look heavier; as if they have outgrown their clothing. Of course, too much ease in a loosely fitting garment can hide a figures shape and once again make the person appear heavier.