Designer Joi’s Truth about Pattern Ease PART 4

Looking Deeper: Horizontal Ease & Areas of fit in a pattern

MYTHBUSTER: Not all areas around the body need ease or some may only need a minimal amount.

Anytime I fit a pattern I start with what I call the “t” section of the Center Front or Center Back. This area is a mainstay for fitting any garment.  On the center front torso this would include the apex to apex and the area directly below and above the apex. Vertically it would include the Notch of the neck to the natural waist. The whole center front section on the torso and into the lower body rarely needs much ease above body measurements unless a design or style calls for something different. For example if your apex to apex measures  8 inches, then the pattern would measure 8 to 8 ½ inches at most. The little “wiggle room” allows for natural body fluctuations especially in the bust fitting area but not so much extra that the fitting elements do not fall correctly on the body.


Many commercial patterns include excess ease, and as I have mentioned before this allows patterns to fit around a larger number of people. From a product development perspective that is smart. However, for the sewer we need to know how to “work” the pattern.


This “T” area of fit down the center front will usually match body points literally or with a small amount of deviation from the pattern to body meaning that the markings on the pattern will literally touch the corresponding part of the body. Some people know that bust darts, apex and princess lines for example should fall on that part of the body, but there are a lot of sewers just that settle for them simply placed on the body.  For the most flattering look and absolute best fit, these elements are working to fit the garment as intended and to do this they have to fall on the correct part of the body.


If the apex to apex on a garment is too big the front will be baggy, the breasts look larger, darts and seams won’t fit and fall inaccurately and will gap open. If this area is  too small the front will pull tightly and display drag lines. Unless there is a creative design reason to make a pattern bigger or smaller than the body measurements in this area, most patterns such as  a blouse, shirt, jacket and most torso garments will look best when the pattern is scaled to match the body literally in the “T” area.


If the “t” area of fit has little to no ease that means the “ease”, “wiggle room” and “design ease” will be applied in other areas of the pattern. If you only need minimal “wiggle room” ease for basic movement than most of that will be added to the side seam because you are not using numerous inches. If you want more fullness, than you want to distribute it throughout the pattern.

This photo illustrates adding width to the front of the pattern to increase the apex to apex area. It also increases the waist and upper chest length. If you do not need to add in those areas there are ways to polish the pattern in the muslin fitting and work around that. We also add  width to the side front body of the pattern instead of adding at the side seam. There is already seam allowance in the side area.


Adding within the body of the pattern allows for a more natural and even placement of ease in the torso. These are two different areas of the pattern that fit different areas on the body, thus you would not combine them and just adjust at the side seam which is what a lot of people will unsuccessfully do. (Photo taken from Create the Perfect Fit: Measuring and Pattern Fitting for Real Sewing Solutions by Joi Mahon)

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