Designer Joi’s Truth About Pattern Ease: Part 3

Designer Joi's Perfect Fit Blog


What I find in fitting and through all my experience is that commercial patterns often have inches and inches of excess ease so that a pattern can fit around many body types and sizes.


For example, a size 16 jacket pattern from a random company says it will fit a bust that measures 38 inches. When you cut out the pattern pieces it is printed that the pattern actually measures 48 inches around at the full bust. Therefore, there is 10 inches of ease in the garment. That 10 inches will fit around a lot of variations of a size 16 body. Now this amount of horizontal ease might be a perfect fit for you, but tight on someone else, and baggy on yet another.


Patterns are great starting points for a garment, but they do need some tweaking for achieving successful fit.


Just because it goes around you does not mean it fits correctly or looks good. Have you ever seen a trunk show  where people are trying on “no fit” or “easy fit” garments? They put the same boxy jacket on different shapes, sizes, widths, etc… Then everyone ohh’s and ahh’s at how amazing it looks.


I never see anyone tell someone to scale the patterns to fit difwferent bodies or proportions or admit that the “perfect fit”, or “no fit” garment, while going around the body, does not actually look good on some people (that is without a little extra TLC of customization).


If I had a dollar for every short petite, person engulfed by boxy wearable art someone else would be typing this blog LOL!


Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Unfitted


Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Unfitted


Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Unfitted


This series of photos is an exaggerated example of fitting a shirt.


The unfitted shirt has about 4 inches “design ease” to allow for wiggle room and a nice drape on the body. Many patterns will have 6-10 inches of “ease” to allow a garment to go around many people, but any more ease on this garment would look sloppy.


The semi- tailored fit has some tapering in the middle to allow for more definition at the waist, but there is still “wiggle room”.


The very- fitted example is exaggerated and looks a little tight and most people would not wear a shirt that snug. However, some garments might be fitted to that degree depending on the fabric, the design and the wearer.


It is important to realize that  tailored, tapered and fitted does not mean tight, uncomfortable or body hugging which are often words that scare garment sewers from many styles. Don’t confuse this on patterns and you can always add ease to any pattern or style you think will be too snug.


No these are not three different shirts either!


All I did was take a giant garment fitting clip, you can use a close pin or your sewing pins, pull in the back and look in the mirror to determine what degree of fitting and tailoring you desire. If you do this in the muslin or fitting sample phase then you can mark your preference on the pattern and once you cut the garment pieces out you can sew the garment start to finish with a perfect fit. Pre-fitting saves a lot of time in the long run.



This is a longer discussion, so coming up next Part 4 and the conclusion of this thread about pattern ease: An in-depth look at horizontal areas of fit on a pattern and how to apply ease correctly- it’s probably not what you think.


After that a fun fitting post titled Broken Leg Day Blog: How a broken leg last week (my hubby’s) reminded me of an interesting fitting issue I encountered when I apprenticed for a tailor in high school, and how that experience helped me solve a fitting solution for a major jeans manufacturer when I was in college.

Designer Joi: Fit Doctor

Real Fitting Solutions for Real People

Click the images above to learn more about Joi’s Favorites!

Designer Joi’s Blog Copyright Statement


We hope you have enjoyed this blog. No part of this blog may be reproduced without expressed written permission from Designer Joi.  Please do not re-blog one of my posts on your own blog! Please do not repost my photos on your own blog, FB, magazines or other social media without written permission. You may review the blog on your blog, repost a quote or small portion to discuss on your blog and then reference this blog including blog address and refer your readers to this blog.


You may print off posts for personal use only. Content is not to be used in class settings w/o contacting Joi first in which case she may help you in class, provide expanded content and you can in turn link class to Designer Joi resources. If you want to become a Licensed Designer Joi Fitter please contact the studio.


If you have seen my content posted on another blog site please let me know.


Designer Joi® is a registered trademark of Dress Forms Design Studio, LLC.


 Copying is Stealing!  Have integrity!


For questions or permissions contact


Thank you for supporting my blog and keeping our industry honest!


  • Melissa

    05.03.2016 at 19:01

    Thank you for the reminder of what the design meanings for fitted, tapered, and tailored do not mean! I admit I have put back several patterns for fear that they will be too tight. I have subscribed to your first Craftsy class and am getting the other one today. I am a numbers person and find your fitting style easier to understand and apply. I will be making my fitted dress sample this spring. Getting my sewing room put together now.

    Can’t wait to hear the story in your next blog. Thank you and God bless your faithfulness in sharing your gifts and talents.

    • joi

      21.03.2016 at 15:35

      Hi Melissa. Thanks so much! I thing there is a lot of old fashion teaching methods out there that give hard fast rules when in sewing and fitting there are so many variations and different ways to do things. When I first started to sew that is even how I was taught. It WAS frustrating and confusing. People are taught to fit and sew using methods that worked for bodies 75+ years ago when you could use generic “tailored, tight, loose” descriptions when everyone wore girdles and the same styles. So that mindset worked. Today with so many body variations, garment styles, new fabrics etc.. that does not work. Everyone needs to be taught how to work a pattern correctly which is what I do. I LOVE what I do so thank you so very much and I DO feel it a calling for sure. More coming this week as I finally finished the long series on ease. Next I will share the Broken Leg Day Post which I am excited to share. Stay in touch!

  • Virginia Bergvall

    08.03.2016 at 00:57

    I just found your site. Love it. I recently bought one of your fitting videos from Craftsy and was blown away. I’ve been sewing for many years and have been trying to make a shirt for myself for I don’t know how long. I have so many books on fitting and even a couple of CD’s. I’m 78 now and this is on my “Bucket List”….. to make a shirt that FITS. Your method is the only one that makes sense to me. I was really thinking there was something wrong with me because none of those other ones didn’t seem to work. Over the years my shape has changed quite a bit. That happens. I’m still short, though…. only 5 feet tall. I sewed for my girls when they were young and that was so much fun but haven’t done much until I retired. Now I’m also doing some alterations, which got me back into the feeling that I loved about sewing. I still want to make that shirt! So thank you.

    • joi

      21.03.2016 at 15:31

      What a really nice comment Virginia. I am so glad that you love sewing again! Keep me posted on the shirt.

Post a Comment