Monday, February 13, 2012

Couture Dress WIP: taming the ease

Readers, as you know, I am working on a couture dress in Susan Khalje's online class on I was really excited to be a reviewer for the class, and so I decided to document my work in progress for you. The recommended V8648 arrived this Saturday...

...and yesterday, while marking all the seamlines on the pattern, I discovered an obvious fact.

I am talking about garment ease. Most of you will know that garment ease is the difference between our body measurements and the measurements of the finished garment. Depending on the fabric, garment ease can vary. Logically, the ease would be larger for loose silhouettes; and for fitted clothes made of stretch fabrics the measurements of the finished garment are often even less than body measurements (negative ease).

We know the basics, right? But I rarely bother to check the ease on the pattern. I usually do pattern alterations on a muslin ( I know it's not a good habit, but I am really more of a draper, really. Patterns frustrate me). Well, anyway, yesterday for the first time I paid conscious attention to the measurements on the pattern envelope, and, oh horror!.. Measurements for size 12 were way too small! and I have ordered sizes 6 to 12.

See yourself - the measurements for size 12:
  • Bust: 34" (87cm)
  • Waist: 26 1/2" (67cm)
  • Hip: 36" (92cm)
I don't even remember when I was that slim!!!! High school?

I was horrified because I realized I need some 5 cm (2 inches) more circumference. Grading up would mean more work, and I didn't want to order another pattern - so I went on and measured it. What I found out was that the Size 12 would not only fit snuggly, but it will provide 1 1/2 to 2" ease. How is it possible? The garment is described as a fitted dress. The difference of almost 4" between body measurements and the finished garment is too much, don't you think so?

I wanted to be sure and so, I went to and checked their ease chart. Here it is:

Right, 4" ease for a fitted garment!? I don't know why they do it, but I am usually much better off with  less than a half of this (3 cm or so). So, Size 12 would work at the end, but I will need to make sure that all the seams are where they are supposed to be.

Now, readers, are you all more diligent than me? Do you make pattern alterations before you cut into muslin or fashion fabric? What is your 'ease' experience with commercial or indie patterns? Please, leave comments! As for me, I am off to cut my couture dress muslin.

By the way, if you haven't heard of Susan's Couture Dress class, read this post and consider signing up. was very generous to offer 50% discount to Frabjous Couture readers - don't miss it!


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