In this video, Robin covers wearing ease, design ease, negative ease, and how to calculate ease so that you get the right fit when you sew a new pattern.
- Pattern size chart
Hi, I’m Robin! I lead the pattern development team here at Seamwork. We are a community of sewists that are all about designing and sewing our own wardrobes. Check us out at Seamwork.com.
Sewing is so powerful. Rather than settling for ready-to-wear clothes that don’t quite fit properly, we get to create our own clothes that fit our bodies the way we want. We get to choose the fabric, the color, the size, and we can alter the patterns to fit our unique beautiful shapes. One of the most important concepts in sewing is ease. So why is ease so important? Because it’s what allows us to move in our clothes and it affects the overall design and shape of the garment. In this video, I’m going to teach you all about the basic concepts of ease, including how to calculate ease and how to keep it in mind while sewing.
Ease is important for both the garment’s fit and its design. “Wearing ease” is what allows us to have movement in our garments. If we sewed a pattern in a woven fabric that matched our exact measurements, it would fit like a second skin, and we would have no range of movement! So, we add ease. “Design ease” is added to a garment to influence the overall shape and silhouette of the style. A close-fitting garment—like the Christina pencil skirt—has less ease. A loose-fitting garment—like the Tacara knit dress—has more ease.
Before you pick a size to cut, it’s important to check two measurement charts—body measurements and finish garment measurements. They may or may not be on separate charts. Seamwork has both included on the same size chart. Here I have the size chart for the York. The bust measurement on a size 8 is 37 inches. The finished garment measurement is 40 inches. To calculate the amount of ease, you subtract the body measurements from the finished garment measurements. So, 40 minus 37 equals 3 inches of ease in the bust on a size 8.
Now let’s talk about negative ease. While woven garments add ease, many knit garments subtract ease to get negative ease. “Negative ease” is when the finished garment measurements are smaller than the body measurements. A close-fitting tank top or T-shirt will likely have negative ease. I’m wearing the Seamwork Margo. Margo has negative two inches of ease in the hips so what that means is that the finished garment measurement of the Margo is 2 inches smaller than my body measurement.
You might be wondering how patternmakers draft to include ease. Each company has their own standards for the main measurement points on the body— bust, waist, hip, etc. The patternmaker will start with these standards and then we’ll add or subtract ease to achieve the silhouette that the pattern designer has sketched out.
Here are 3 tips for using ease while sewing. Tip #1: keep ease in mind when deciding which size to cut. Do you want your garment to fit more closely or do you want it to be a little roomier? Calculate the amount of ease for the main measurement points, and keep that in mind when choosing which size. This is especially helpful for when your measurements fall between sizes.
Tip #2: you can often size up or down if you prefer more or less ease. Keep in mind that when you size up or down, it will affect all of the pattern measurements, including measurements like the shoulder width, the bicep, and the sleeve length. You may need to measure portions of the pattern and compare them to your own measurements and then adjust as necessary.
Tip #3: measure your body before every sewing project. Our bodies can change and those fluctuations may affect fit or silhouette—but that’s okay, because you have the power to add more or less ease to alter the pattern to fit your perfect shape.
If you enjoyed this video, be sure to check out Seamwork, where every month we share informative articles to help build your skills. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more inspiring ideas and techniques. Follow us on Instagram to stay in touch and keep up-to-date on all things Seamwork. Thanks for joining and happy sewing!