Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Pattern Ease

Designer Joi’s Truth About Pattern Ease: Part 2



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.


There does have to be some sort of standard so patterns are consistent so it is not wrong, but most people expect a pattern to be exact which is unrealistic. Patterns are a wonderful tool for creating a garment, but a little modification is required.


I make a fit sample for every garment I create and through the years I have determined most people need much less ease than the standards charts prescribe because the excess is just that – working excess so they go around lots of bodies.


My best fitting tip is to make a muslin fit sample and pin fit the ease so you have a beautiful tailored look every time.  Tailored does not mean tight it just means polished and remember just because it goes around the body does not mean it’s a good fit.


Vertical areas on a pattern


Most vertical areas on a pattern do NOT need ease above the body measurement unless a particular style calls for it. The reason is that the fitting points on the pattern will not match the corresponding points on the body unless they measure the same. Vertical areas should match the body exact or within 1/4-1/2″ giving some “wiggle room”. Areas like shoulder to apex, bust curve, lower bust line, back shoulder to full back, lower body waist to abdomen, and waist to hips are examples of pretty literal areas of fit from body measurement to pattern.


If any one of these areas on a pattern is shorter than the body, then the pattern is too small, short or too tight. Or, if any of these areas measure larger than the body you have bagging, sagging, excess. As a result things like darts, apex points, design lines, seams and other details won’t match or touch that corresponding area on the body affecting the fit and overall look, scale and proportion in relation to the body.

Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Pattern Ease

Click photo to enlarge.

Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Pattern Ease

Increasing the upper torso in the shoulder to apex so it matches the body. The armhole is temporarily changed, but with some basic flat pattern the original armhole shape is redrawn in green. 

Ease or excess in a pattern should never throw fitting elements or design lines off the area of the body they are meant to fit. If that is happening then the ease is not working correctly.

Designer Joi - Perfect Fit Blog - Pattern Ease

Click photo to enlarge.

Join me next time as we discuss horizontal areas of fit and application.

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  • Cate Combs

    02.02.2016 at 18:11

    Thank you for taking the time to post this information. Alot of this information is new and is going to make my next project awesome! It’s also helping me with my knitting patterns.

    • joi

      02.02.2016 at 20:00

      You are welcome and we have been working behind the scenes for a long time to make this a great blog and to give you info that you WANT and NEED to know. Enjoy and let us know your success. I have some knit info that I will try to put into a post in the future.

  • B Moore

    03.02.2016 at 03:22

    Hi Joi, I’ve taken both of your fitting classes and have your book, but it is still great to review it in this format.
    Please keep them coming.

    • joi

      06.02.2016 at 18:21

      Thank you so much. The nice thing is I can go into so much more detail here. There are time limits in filming and page limits in writing and there is so much more to share. I could write a chapter on each body measurement alone. So I doubt we will ever run out of content. Stay in touch.

  • Kim

    03.02.2016 at 07:50

    Thank you for taking the time to put together all this valuable information. I have your crafty class and learned so much. You have a faithful follower.

    • joi

      06.02.2016 at 18:19

      Thank you so much Kim. I think we are all in a wonderful sewing family. So much more to come. . .

  • Marie Roche

    03.02.2016 at 11:28

    Again, very well written. Thank you for pointing out these specifics and I agree with Kate, this information is very helpful for knitting garments as well.
    Thank you

    • joi

      06.02.2016 at 18:18

      Thanks for your interest and support. Helping others with fit is my passion

  • Lesley Molloy

    09.02.2016 at 09:31

    I’ve been trying to make commercial patterns fit me for ages. I used your method to fit a dress and it worked! Just a few minor tweaks from the muslin. I always thought it was a waste of time making a muslin but, I have to admit, it saves a lot of effort (and disappointment) in the long run.
    I took your first Craftsy class and then bought your fitting book. I have to say I enjoyed them both.
    Thrilled you are doing this blog…thanks a lot

    Lesley (UK)

    • joi

      09.02.2016 at 14:54

      What a wonderful testimony about fitting. Making a muslin really DOES save time and professional expert fitters never skip this step. I am hoping to bring a post in the future on Skipping the tissue paper. To really achieve not just good but excellent fit the muslin fitting sample helps you to really see how the fabric fits the body and you can fine tune prior to cutting the fashion fabric. Once you get to the fashion fabric your sewing will be care free. Thank you for your support!

  • GreenGem

    14.02.2016 at 01:29

    Thank you Joi. I signed up for both of your classes at Craftsy!

  • Susan Fischer

    06.09.2016 at 18:02

    I have your Craftsy class “Fast Track Fitting” and have watched it and referred back to it numerous times. You have answered my questions re” various issues, but reading this blog, I had yet another aha moment. I guess it can’t really all sink in at once, as we would like. My fitting issues….and their resolution….seem to be a work in progress. Thank you for having so many different platforms and for being there to help. I discovered your blog through a recent article about you in THREADS. ….Susan

    • joi

      18.09.2016 at 19:10

      Thanks so much Susan! I love learning. I don’t think you (not you but anyone) are ever there you know. Especially in fitting with an unlimited amount of body types and styles fitting is one of those things you can constantly grow in. I LOVE the a ha moments. I have those too and it is really exciting! Sometimes in fitting I think sewists want instant results and are almost afraid to fail. Not you in particular, but I do run into that. Usually on Craftsy I will randomly get a student who never asks a question and then they say they did not learn anything in class because they did not get instant results. That is hard as someone who truly loves to help people get to that a ha level. Just this morning I was thinking about doing a post on learning to fail and why it is important to mess up so you learn what NOT to do. I actually enjoy messing up or not knowing something because it gives me the opportunity to learn and improve. I want to spread that mindset instead of being frustrated which I sometimes see in students. Well thank you so much, stay in touch and we have a BIG program launching this fall so stay tuned! I really appreciate that you shared this.

  • patricia

    18.02.2017 at 21:23

    Your design skills i reaily like mainly the crafting and vertical hem patterns i love that looking, the fitting is very good. and crafting design is very good. thanks for sharing good information blog i will learn more information form this blog once again thanking you.

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