Can We Put Your Mind at Ease?

By Debbie Bowles and Sheryl Belson

A few years ago, I adapted my knit Grainline Morris blazer pattern so I could make it with some luscious silk matka. I made all the pattern adjustments to shift from a zero-ease design that works with the stretch of a knit to a design that would work with a non-stretch woven. I finished the blazer and couldn’t wait to put it on only to discover it was a bit too tight across the upper back. I hadn’t added enough EASE! I know I am not the only person who has experienced this.

Plano ASG would like to put your mind at ease with some information in this blog as well as a free downloadable template showing you the minimum amount of ease you need to add for a comfortable fit. Knowing the right amount of ease to include in your garment is vital to getting the right fit and avoiding an outcome like the one in my blazer story.

What is ease?

In its simplest form, the definition of ease is the additional room in a garment in excess of the actual body measurement. But there is much more to know about ease than this simple definition. There is wearing ease, design ease and negative ease. Each of these impacts the finished measurement of a garment in different ways.

  • Wearing ease provides ease of movement. It is the difference between the actual body measurement and the finished garment measurement. The template will help you understand this kind of ease.
  • Design ease provides the style. It is also referred to as style ease or fashion ease. It is additional ease added beyond what is needed for movement to create specific styles ranging from close fitting to very loose-fitting garments. It also comes into play when the design of the garment includes things like pleats, gathers, or tucks.
  • Negative ease is associated with fabrics that stretch (such as knits or woven fabrics with lycra added) or are cut on the bias, producing a certain degree of stretch. In this case, the finished garment measures the same as the actual body measurements, or more often, even smaller. The degree of stretch produced in each fabric plays a big role in how much negative ease a garment will need for good fit. Negative ease is used in garments like activewear and swimwear.

When choosing the size you will make in a pattern, look not only at the body measurements, but also the finished garment measurements. Many patterns will include this information for at least the 3 primary measurements – bust, waist and hips. If your pattern does not include this information on the pattern, you can calculate it yourself by simply measuring the pattern pieces in those locations and removing the amount included for seam allowances. Compare the finished garment size to your personal body measurements to be sure you will have a comfortable fit before you even cut it out.

We hope this gets you started on your journey of understanding ease and fit. This is a topic often discussed in our monthly group meetings. Our Designing Divas group (4th Tuesday mornings) and our Channeling Chanel group (Every other Wednesday evening) focus on this kind of topic frequently and would love to meet you. We would love to walk alongside you in your sewing journey!

Click on the image to download this free template. Please leave a comment if you do! We’d love to hear from you!
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