This time I wanted to write about garment ease. You know the situation: you are about the sew yourself a garment, using a commercial pattern. You carefully measure yourself and choose the right size from the size-chart. It’s a larger size than the ones you normally wear, but it has your measurements nonetheless. Then you happily cut all the pattern-pieces and (hopefully) sew a toile.

However when you try it on, it looks like a tent! Why??

Well, it’s probably because of the ease that has been included in the pattern.

What is garment ease?

Ease is that extra room that has been added to the garment so that it feels comfortable to wear. You need it so that you can easily move in your clothes. This is especially important when working with woven fabrics. Even when you’re drafting fitted garments.

The amount of wearing ease depends on the type of garment, material and your personal preference. For example coats need more ease, because you wear them on top of other garments.

Then there’s also design ease. Some garments are simply designed more loose-fitting. Remember all those over-size -style clothes you’ve seen in the stores!

In case of stretch fabrics, there’s negative ease: In order to make a fitted garment, you need to make the pattern a bit smaller than your exact measurements. The stretch will make it fit anyways. The amount of negative ease depends on how much stretch the fabric has.

But even with stretch fabric you could have (normal)ease. You don’t necessarily have to make a fitted piece. Take for example cardigans or sweaters.

Where to add ease

So in which areas of the patterns would you find ease then? Well, think about your normal day and what kind of movements you make. Walking, sitting down, reaching forward or backward for something etc… Now look at these patterns:

garment ease: bodice

garment ease: skirt

garment ease: pants

As you can see, there’s ease around the arm to allow the arm movement in different directions. It’s not included in the pictures, but there’s also ease at the sleeve-cap to accommodate the curve of the upper arm better.

A skirt needs ease at the hip-line. You might add a little bit to the waist, too, depending on the fabric.

In case of the pants there’s ease at the hips and the crotch so you’ll be able to sit down.

For shirts and dresses there’s general wearing-comfort around the bust and waist, too.

Another case of ease is turning the little shoulder-dart into ease:

Cancel the dart and leave the back-piece just 0,5-0,7cm | 1/4in. longer that the front piece at the shoulder line. So when you sew them together, the backside of the shoulder will curve a bit and make room for the shoulder blade.

To see the difference between different types of garments, here are some examples of the amount of ease you could add at the bust-level (half):

fitted top: 0,5-1cm | 1/4-3/8in.

shirt or dress: 2-4cm/ 3/4-1 1/2in.

tailored jacket: 5-6cm/ 2-2,4in.

coat: 7-8cm/ 2,6-3,1in.

How do you know how much ease has been added to the pattern then? Just measure different sections of your pattern piece and take off your exact body measurement. The remaining amount is ease, which you can then reduce if you want.

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    • shapesoffabric Reply

      You’re welcome. 🙂 I’m happy you found it useful.

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