Imagine if a garment had no ease and were sewn to the exact measurements of your body. It would be like a second skin. No thanks, right? If you were drafting a simple sloper, then absolutely…draft it to your measurements. That’s how it’s supposed to be done! That brings me to the topic of ease. Ease refers to the difference between the finished measurement of the garment and the measurements of the wearer’s body.
There are two basic kinds of ease: wearing ease and design ease. Well, maybe there are a few more instances where is used. For example; in a sleeve cap. But, let’s talk about wearing and design ease.
What is ease?
Ease is the amount of extra fabric that is built into a sewing pattern to allow the garment to fit in a relaxed position. A woven pattern would have a positive amount, where a knit pattern could have either a negative or positive amount. Let’s take a closer look.
With woven fabrics, the garment needs to be at least somewhat larger than the body; otherwise we would not be able to move in our clothing, right!? This difference is referred to as wearing ease.
Essentially, it is the minimum amount of room added to a garment so that the garment feels comfortable and provides ease of movement for normal body movement. Basically, it is the number of inches added in addition to the actual bodies measurements. Again, this can be thought of as comfort room. We all have a certain way we like our clothes to fit and it’s not exactly the same person to person.
With that said, the commercial pattern industry generally states that wearing ease is recommended to be 2 1/2″ (6.4cm) at the bust area, 1″ (2.5cm) at the waist and 3″ (7.6cm) at the hip area.
Design ease is any extra space that is purposely added to a garment by the designer to achieve a certain look, or drape. How much or how little is added will determine the silhouette of a garment; whether it will be close-fitting, fitted, semi-fitted, loose-fitting or very loose-fitting and is often added in addition to wearing ease.
Working With Knits
With knit fabrics, the garment’s finished measurement is often equal the wearer’s body measurements, but, this is not always the case. The knit fabrics structure, stability, and its percentage of stretch will provide a guideline for the ideal amount to add or not to add. Some fashion knit tops on the market today purposely have an excess of positive ease to create an attractive drape, movement, and comfort.
Read more about knit fabrics and learn the one thing you need to know about knit fabrics.
Negative + Positive
Garments made out of very stretchy fabrics, such as spandex leotards, may actually be made smaller than the body. Negative ease is often found in garments such as active wear and swimsuits. That’s because the fit is partially obtained as the fabric stretches around the body. Positive ease, as stated above, can be used for both knit and woven fabrics. However, it is a required in woven fabrics to achieve ease of movement.
How to add ease
It’s pretty simple to add to a sloper or sewing pattern. Simply add the desired amount to the pattern and then blend and true your seams! Watch the video to find out more…
Bust area – Add 2 to 4 inches to the bust measurement. The larger the bust and body size the more ease to factor in. Waist area – Add ½ to 1 ½ inches to allow for turning around, bending and raising arms. Hip area – Add 2 to 4 inches, again, the larger the body size or give of the fabric, the more ease to consider.
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