Design patterns and fittings

An integral part of a couturier’s expertise involves the fitting of a garment properly.

A good design may not necessarily be seen as a good design if it doesn’t fit properly and if it is unprofessionally finished. But almost everyone has come to accept ill-fitting clothing as being normal these days or is unaware of just how a well-fitting garment should look and feel.

For couturiers the matter of fitting a garment well on their actual client, who is the end user, is a crucial skill not only in terms of client satisfaction but ultimately in the couturier’s self-confidence.

This differs from designers creating garments to fit a ‘standard size’ for production as well as ‘made-to-measure’ which is produced to order from an adjusted block pattern. An inexperienced designer may well not realize a bad or impractical design until much later in the process – it might even be concealed until after a prototype has been invested in or until after an item has been produced.

No matter how many details of fit are considered for production line or readymade garments, they will never be a perfect fit for everyone or perhaps anyone. Production line specialists also do alter a design for its own efficiency consequently compromising what was originally planned.

Creating garments for any figure that has more than two dimensions (such as paper dolls), and specifically very curvy or atypical figures, requires much more thought and experience. Given that not every design will work with every figure, and I don’t mean hourglass versus columnar, I’m talking about the fact that some designs for curvy hour glass figures may not work as well for a more extreme hourglass figures.

Every seam, dart placement and easement affects how a pattern is cut. Making adjustments for a more extreme shaped figure is not just a matter of grading it up or down but reconfiguring the entire pattern shape.

Back to fit. Garments should neither fit too loosely or too tightly. Very loosely fitting clothing appears to have no fit at all and too tightly fitted clothing makes a person look overweight and awkward. Fabric should not bind, ruck, twist or buckle, should shape and hang and lie comfortably over the figure in designs with fullness of fabric or body skimming designs. Sleeves should be set in at the angle that the arm hangs – as everyone’s is different! The upper arm shouldn’t bulge in any sleeve. Trousers shouldn’t cut into the cheeks; they need to skim and slim front, back, around and underneath.

For women who have ample bust lines, it is particularly telling in wearing a ready-made suit jacket buttoned under the bust causing star burst shaped wrinkling fabric straining around the button (which it should never do) while the lapels reach away from the decolletage rather than caressing it. Most women have a larger set of measurements for the front half than the back half of the bodice – this is instinctive or obvious. However, if you lay a ready-made jacket flat out you will notice that the front and back panels are equally wide with some allowance for the bust curvature. Ladies, you should be able to button up a jacket and not provide excuses such as “Oh well, I just would leave it open anyway” Real power suits fit well and exude confidence not apologies. J…



Photos of YSL exhibit.

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