Ease & Design Ease in clothing : Why is it important to add this in sewing patterns

I know grown up girls who ignore their size and go and look at teen girls’ dress section in retail stores to find very tight-fitting clothing which will make them look slimmer and that much better. Do not mind that they can not even drink a glass of water with that dress on.

But for most of us, we like enough ease in our clothing to move freely and eat enough without that surreptitious belly tuck, when you see eyes skimming that area. Designing the correct amount of ease in clothing plays an important part in making us feel right about the clothing we have put on.

What is ease & design ease- a definition

In English language, we use the word “ease” with the meaning “to move carefully without force or effort”.

In designing, Ease is that extra measurement you add to a sewing pattern in addition to the body measurement so that there is enough comfort and ability to move freely in the garment. You can say, it is the measurement of the final garment minus your correct body measurement. It is referred to as the wearing ease of a garment.

Design ease” is extra measurement added in addition to the wearing ease to accommodate the extra design/style elements – like gathers, tucks, pleats, ruching etc, or to add to the silhouette of a garment like a balloon skirt. 

Then there is the term “negative ease” – when the fabric of the clothing has enough stretch (like knits) that even if the measurement of the garment is less than the body measurements you will get a fitted garment.

Garment ease allowances – design considerations

The garment can be sewn very tight fitting, fitting, semi-fitting, loose or very loose depending on the amount of ease added to it.

The amount of ease we add to our sewing patterns depend on many things. The first priority is to the comfort level of the person you are sewing for. This again depends on the culture of the place where he or she lives, the fashion of the moment etc. For a child’s dress, more ease is added than for adults just because it is appreciated. They like to move a lot in their clothing.

Then again the ease is dependant on the fabric you are sewing with. Stretchy woven fabrics like crepe do not need as much ease as a cotton or such fabric that do not stretch as much. Bias cut and knit fabric have stretch so you may need to do away with the ease altogether or even add negative ease (making garments with less than the exact body measurement keeping in view the stretchiness of the fabric, and the way it will accommodate the body curves)

Even if the garment is decided to be close fitting, how much ease you add will depend on whether the clothing is designed with or without fasteners. If there is a waist length or hip length opening fitted with zippers or button stand you can add less ease than if you mean the garment to be taken on or off through the head. If there is a sash added to the waist you can add more ease to the waist because tying the sash will make it as much fitting as you want it.

Ease of the garment is also dependant on the style of the clothing. A tent dress will have more ease added to the waist and hem than in the bust area. A mermaid skirt is very tight fitted in the waist and hip with lots of flare in the hem. A pinafore added over another garment should have enough room to accommodate the clothing inside

Bust ease/waist ease and Hip ease

Even for close fitting clothes, you will have to add some ease.

Bust ease: You will have to add about at least 1 or 2-inch ease for the person to move around in addition to the body measurement you have taken. Usually, a 2 1/2 inch ease is taken. For a more looser clothing ( though fitted enough), you can add ease from 3-5 inches. More than 5 inches ease is considered loose. Most shirts which are supposed to be slightly loose, have an ease of  6-8 inches added to them

Waist ease: 1-2 inch ease is added to this area for a fitted garment and for looser garments 3- 6 inches is normal

Hip ease: You may not want this area very tight as it can hinder movement. 2-3 inch ease is added to this area for comfort and agility for a fitted garment and the ease of very loose garments can go upwards of 6 inches

Note : Remember that the ease given here is for the total round measure and if you are drafting a pattern in 1/4 divisions the total ease to be added is divided by 4 and then added to the pattern.

How much ease for children’s clothing

Kids are always moving. By virtue of this alone, they need a lot more ease than what is given in adult clothing. It is also another very important consideration that if you put them in tight-fitting clothes they get cranky pretty soon. For sewing frocks and such, an ease of even 6 inches is given to the bust area keeping comfort in mind. For frocks with a sash, this ease is extended to the waist area and the fitting is taken care of by using sashes.

Comments 3

    1. Post

      Hi Desmond
      Your question is somewhat deep for me – i do not understand. do you mean the term eased which means to adjust and stitch one pattern piece to the other so that they fit together – as in ease stitching

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