Friday, January 2, 2009

Another Knowledge Gap

I discovered a few days ago, much to my horror, that I have been balancing skirts and dresses wrong. To my credit, my roommate, who apprenticed at the same patternmaking studio that I did, claims that she also did not learn this valuable piece of information until after she left the apprenticeship. So I feel a little better....
I have always been under the impression that garments - all garments -- should be balanced in such a way that they are bigger in the front than the back by 1/4 to 3/8" per side. It turns out that while that is the case with the bodice, once you get to the hips it should be reversed. I admit, this makes a whole lot of sense and if I had thought about it, I would've realized right away that the bodice is bigger in front to accommodate the bust and the skirt is bigger in the back to accommodate the hips and the curvier the fit model, the bigger the difference between the front and back to insure a straight side seam. The general consensus seems to be that the two are blended to zero somewhere between waist and high hip, depending on the shape of your fit model.
I think I was confused partly because I know that pants generally have side seams set back about 1/2" because that makes the butt look smaller -- and if you look at patterns for pants designed for folks from cultures that appreciate bigger butts, like Latinas, you'll find that the side seams aren't moved back at all. This is what I've been told anyway.
Now for those of you who use blocks instead of draping, are your blocks already balanced in this way so that you don't have to think about it? That would take so much fractional math out of my life....


J said...

Has anyone ever explained arc measurements to you? These are short measures that tailors use to double-check the balance of patterns before they cut.

Think of it like this: when you look at the body you're trying to fit, see the shape. Notice the divisional plane front-to-back; and, then superimpose the side seam line.

Breasts, bellies and other things will hang to the front. And, the pattern needs to account for length in some areas commensurate with girth (e.g. Full-bust adjustment, full belly adjustment, etc.) Don't be arbitrary about these things, the differences are measurable. Measure the full bustline circumference, then measure how much of that circumference is allocated to the front body by measuring the arc between the L and R side seams.

The same with the butt. If you measure the volume of the mound, then you can account for it in the pattern. In some cases, you can begin drawing congruences between the size and depth of the darts and can incorporate thtt into the flat draft.

For example, when I make a shirt pattern, I use the belly arc measurement and then slash open the front along the waistline and insert a dart before I ever transfer it to oaktag and cut the first pattern. I also have a similar process for sloping or rounded shoulders. Because I've trained my eye to notice the anomolies, I can then slash/insert darts where I need them on the flat draft, eliminating some of the iteration.

hannah said...

Thanks so much for the explanation! These are all things that I am so interested in learning but don't have experience with because working in high fashion involves using very similarly shaped models over and over-
Months ago, when I wrote a bit about balancing patterns, I was writing about balancing them to fit fashion models -- I realized later that although the measurements and rules were approached as hard and fast by the studio where I worked, those rules only worked as such because we were dealing with such a specific body type.
I've been playing with fit on my commutes on the train -- looking at how clothes fit people and then figuring out exactly what changes I'd make to the pattern for their clothes to get them to fit their bodies.

Anonymous said...

Interesting note on the moved side seams on jeans. I hadn't thought about it so I checked my jeans and was surprised to see that both my favorite pairs has the side seam moved forward. They are both from the Lee/Wrangler brand (which is more of a "trendy" brand in Europe, the models appears to be completely different from the ones sold in the US). It's very clear on the Wynona model for instance. Now I don't have a big bootie, but I still love this kind of fit.

hannah said...

the last stitch:
I wrote that statement about butts in the original post unclearly -- the side seams on pants aren't moved forward to accommodate bigger butts, it's because it gives the appearance of a larger butt, which is what they're going for.