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question about ease

blingy | Posted in Fitting on

For some reason I cannot wrap my head around ease.  I know that if you measure your bust you need to make sure the garment is about 4 inches bigger but how about if you are only concerned with the back width?  I can make something and have it very big yet it is still too tight across the back.  I have increased the back width by trial and error but not by measuring.  I do this by making one garment after another until I get one that is a little more comfortable than the one before.  If I know the distance between the creases of my arms, and I am speaking of just my back now, is 17 inches, how much ease do I want to add?  I know I don’t want 4 inches here, this is just one half of the garment, so do I want to make sure the pattern measures 19 inches?  Frankly I am getting very discouraged.  I have spent thousands on fabric, machines, classes and time only to throw everything into the Goodwill bag, and I am not too sure they even want it.  I don’t have a sewing buddy, is there anyone in the northern Detroit area who is willing to volunteer?  Thanks!


  1. Goldenrod | | #1

    Your problem is a broad back. The trick is figuring out which part of your back is broad. Also look at your arms. Are they larger than skinny? There can be ample fabric in the back but too small sleeves will make the garment tight. And examine the shape of the armhole. You probably need to make some changes which can be very small.

    Finding other women who sew for themselves is difficult! All I have asked asked get a look of terror and declare "I cannot adjust the patterns."

  2. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #2

    Blingy,  ease is the moving/breathing room and is usually measured around the chest.  Take a camp shirt with a yoke for instance.  It is considered loose, so the ease is 5-8" bigger than the chest measurement regardless of size.  However, the back of this particular style is pleated into the yoke, which is fitted.  Other loose style shirts may have a dropped sleeve and no yoke, or a very low armscye.  Ease totally depends on the style.

    Fit however, is what you need to calculate to get commercial patterns to the same size as your body.  Now the US gov. took measurements after WWII to create the "standard" measurement.  These were updated in the 70's for the taller americans.  The commercial pattern companies still use these standard charts.   So, once you find exactly what it is you need to change, the changes will be nearly identical to all the different commercial patterns.  An excellent book on the subject is Fit For Real People by Palmer Pletsch.  You can probably find it at your library.  Once you know how much your body differs from the standard, everything you sew will fit perfectly.   Don't get discouraged.

    Ready to Wear is not regulated, so every company has their own measurements.  The RTW size equivelant would be pattern size 20, which has a back width of 16 5/8".  So based on that number alone and no other, you would need to expand every size 20 pattern by 3/8" in the back.  However, the knee bone is attached to the hip bone, you know what I mean?  There will be a few other things off of standard, like shoulder length, armscye depth, and don't forget shoulder slope.  The book covers it all.   Good Luck.   Val

    1. jjgg | | #3

      The answers so far are all on track, as are you with adding about 2 inches to the back width, but it might be easier if you have a RTW shirt that fits across the back to measure it and compare that with a commercial pattern. Do you have very prominent shoulder blades? that often requires shoulder darts to help give the room you need for movement. Are you trying to make a "fitted" top or a loose top?One style that helps with a very broad back is to have a back yoke and either gathers or pleats in the lower back. A shoulder dart can also be rotated into the yoke if you don't like the look of a shoulder dart and don't want gathers/pleats in the back.There are 2 types of ease - fitting ease and design ease. Fitting ease is the amount of extra room you need to breath - you don't want a top pulling and tenting across the breast (well, most people don't, although I see it often enough in poorly fitted tops) Design ease is the designers prerogative - how tight or baggy is a garment supposed to be. A moo-moo (remember them?) had tons of ease (a tent dress) where as a strapless gown will have no ease or even negative ease to keep it snug to the body (corsets have negative ease to squeeze you in)

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