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Negative Ease in Knits

Slippers | Posted in Fitting on

I’m just starting to sew again after a 3 yr hiatus.  I don’t have a sewing buddy but do have 2 male roommates who are good-natured enough to help me with measuring and some light fitting.  But, because they’re guys, I can’t really get away with just wearing my underwear!  Tried online to buy a leotard but I’m 2 sizes bigger on the bottom then the top so nothing will fit right. 

I have a leotard pattern that is the right size in the top area but woefully smaller in the waist and hip area.  I can make the adjustments if only I can figure out how much negative ease I should be using.  I compared the pattern finished measurements with the bust/waist/hip measurements for that size and came up with some numbers but the difference (numbers) seem too weird to be right.

Does anybody out there know how to figure out how much negative ease I should be using?  I’m thinking that whatever works for a swimsuit should be about right for a leotard.  Thanks.


  1. starzoe | | #1

    Actually, it depends on the fabric. Some patterns (Stretch-and-sew in particular) will give you the finished measurements if you follow their fabric recommendations which include the amount of stretch. Most of them also give you the amount of ease so if you go by your measurements the leotard should fit. You might have to use more than one pattern...and again most of them are multi-sized so you need to buy only one pattern.Don't use negative ease. If you follow a pattern's recommendations and also put in your idea of a negative ease, the finished garment will be too small, ease is already built into the pattern.Let us know what pattern you are using. They do differ.

    1. Slippers | | #2

      Fabric is a 2-way 50% stretch (what the pattern calls for) nylon lycra (or spandex--I can't think which right now).   And I can't find any leotard or even 1-pce swimsuits in the pattern books out right now.  I happened to have this leotard pattern from a few years back that I never made.  Luckily it goes up to size 22; unluckily I'm a 26 on the bottom.  So if I make it as is there is no way it will fit me from the waist down.  I doubt I'd be able to get it past my thighs.

      I measured the pattern (as the only finished measurements it gives is back length and the width around the leg on the 1-pce unitards with legs) and compared the sizing chart (size 22 = B44, W37, H46) and the finished measurements (B40-5/8, W37-1/8, H43-1/4 at 7" below waist).  If I do the math they've deducted 3-3/8 from the bust, added 1/8" to the waist, and deducted 2-3/4 from the hip.  And the hip I'm quoting here is 7" down, I'm widest at 3" down at 49-3/4.  The pattern is a 1992 Butterick pattern (older than I thought).

      I thought if I re-drew the pattern to my measurements and factor in their deductions at B, W & H and gave myself 1" seam allowances I just might make it.  If it's too big I can always take it in.  If it's too small . . . well, you know how that goes.  This is why I hoped someone out there might know how to calculate the right figures.

      1. suesew | | #3

        I think you are on the right track. You might find that your first attempt at redrawing will give you a very unusual looking pattern. You can always blend lines - giving yourself ease that you can always take away if you don't like the fit on the first try.

      2. starzoe | | #5

        That pattern is going to need too many adjustments, my advice would be to buy a Stretch and Sew pattern that will fit your measurements. I believe they are available on line.

  2. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #4

    Slippers, I've got your answer.  Go to http://www.patternschool.com , punch in your measurements and his computer program will give you a free leotard pattern.  Read his site well, he's using a percentage to figure in negative ease.  Also has instructions for figuring the math and drafting your own knit sloper.  Awesome site!


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