Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The difference between Ease and fullness and how to add them to a pattern

You may not be ready for my last posting but this information can be helpful no matter if you have a sloper or not. We are dealing with three things that make our clothes wearable.

1. Basic ease-just enough to move correctly. Drafted into every pattern. (see chart in last posting) Will my pattern fit?

2. Design ease is what is added to give a fashion a silhouette, a certain look, a style or just to add to our comfort. Do I look up to date and fashionable?

3. Fullness is ease added other than on the seams of an outfit and in only the appointed location for the effect desired.

Let me show you what I mean....... Lets do WEARING EASE

This is a cute skirt I was making and the top is perfect for adding wearing and design ease.


Lots of seams to work with.

Lets say on the skirt I need 4 inches added to the waist and 2 inches added to the hips. What could be easier with 12 seams to add to. Don't count the fold in the middle we don't want to touch that. READY for some MATH.

4 inches divided by 12 locations

.33333 or 5/16 of an inch per seam...EASY

The other thing I could do is turn the darts into ease, you'd have to measure the distance between the two pieces of the skirt front and back before you do any cutting out. That could means you add even less on each of the 12 seams. Just draw a line up the middle of the dart and cut your pattern out there.

See the dart ease and other waist area's where I've added my 4". there is no longer a dart, it is ease now!

The 2" for the hips will take some study. This skirt has Godet's and we will have plenty of Fullness around our knees so we want to be careful not to take the hip amount down into the knee area unless we need the over all ease.

Lets do some test math.

If I do add the hip ease on all 12 seams what would that be.....2 divided by 12 is .166666... that would be 3/16 of an inch. This would mean I'd have to subtract to the Godot also so that pattern piece will still fit. Much too fussy for me even at 3/16 of an inch!

Instead I would take my hip out only on the outside 4 seams. 2 divided by 4 is 1/2 inch, a piece of cake!

Hint: I could taper the waist out for the 1/2" of the hip and add back in the darts. Remember my waist has added 5/16 for the waist so I would be adding another some of the 1/2 for the hips to keep the seam line smooth. Using only the 4 side seams.

Adding the 1/2 to each side of the outside hip and bringing it up into the waist and down to the hem without using the Godet seam

As you can see in this picture I still have my dart. Remember by adding my hip up into the waist I have extra in the waist and have added that amount into the dart. Some of the dart is still filled in for my waist measurement. A bit of sharing going on here. A little ease a little dart!

We now have 4 inches added to waist and 2 inches add to hips.


Now it's your turn. Look at the top above.

How many seams can we do changes in on the top?

These are princess seams and they need to go neatly down though the bust point on the front. If you make changes inside the curve make sure you don't move it out of place. You also must note any change that take place in the armscye. The sleeve will then need adjustment. You have a back dart that can become ease also but you do loose form.

OH EVERYTHING that touches something changes it!

In the case of needing more ease in the bust this is the PERFECT place to make changes in.!

Did you get 8 seams and 2 darts for changes?

Even 6 inches divided by 8 is only 3/4 of an inch per seam.

I often need that 6 inches in my bust ease!


Time for adding FULLNESS

My first thought is when my daughters needed maternity tops made. I took a normal top and added fullness as so.....Remember yesterday's posting of the blouse? Here it is with fullness added for a tummy.

I cut up to just below the bust

You may want that little bit of fullness at the hip just take two cuts.

How about fullness at the wrist of a sleeve. This will be gathered up and my cuff pattern will stay the same size, giving me a nice blousing look at the cuff. If I did this on a short sleeve and cut into the cap it would become a puff sleeve.

FULLNESS is added where you desire and as much as you desire
These two forms of ease can be added using several different methods.
Here I have shown you the "SLASH AND SPREAD" method.
Nancy's notions has a book Fitting Finesse that teaches the Pivot and slide method.
They all get you the same results and you can explore to find a method that works well for you.
With SLASH and SPREAD you must true up your seams before cutting (remember truing is taking your french curve or ruler and making the seams connect smoothly.
One last Ease is DESIGN EASE as in the examples below.

See how the pant legs change shape here. Remember bell bottom pants?

All this is DESIGN EASE. We don't need it to move in our clothes. It's all about fashion. What else can you think of where you see Design ease?

Yes FULLNESS is a form of making design ease but it can also be fitting ease.

Where do you see added fullness in these two photos?

The best thing you can do to learn to deal with ease is to look at every pattern you can

study out how it is made and where you can add and remove ease. What is possible?

I have not addressed Knits in these two posting and there is a lot to say about sizing knits

It will have to wait for it's own posting.....


  1. I have a couple of favorite books that demonstrate your examples of wearing ease and design ease Fonnell. There's: Patternmaking for Fashion Design, Designing Apparel Through the Flat Pattern and finally my favorite Practical Dress Design. The last was originally published in 1933 but I have the last revised edition from 1954. It's full of lovely drawings of different ways to add design ease into darts, yokes and any seam you can imagine. The vintage Lutterloh patterns used to include these kinds of details too but fashion in general seems to have moved away from these treatments. These little changes to a basic pattern can stretch your current pattern collection to such great lengths that you really can get by with just a basic set. It's certainly worth a little research if one has the time.

    1. Thanks for sharing your list of books. I will look them up.

  2. You can also check our links on the side for vintage sewing books that will show how to put fullness into your basic pattern pieces. It's worth a look see!

  3. I would just like to say that I really appreciate these tutorials. I am new to Lutterloh, and am delighted to see how versatile these patterns are.

    Cheryl in San Diego

  4. That's really good to hear. Thanks for you note? It's what keeps us going.


  5. Thank you Ann. I'm looking forward to your posting regarding knits and Lutterloh. I'm always drawn to knit patterns and fabric. I wish to sew 245 and 246 someday soon and this posting has really helped me understand how many seams there actually are!

  6. I'm glad to hear you're finding the postings on the blog helpful Ursula. It was actually Fonnell who wrote this particular tutorial and I'm sure she's pleased too. I have been working on a few knit patterns myself lately and have concluded that the "fit" of a knit is really a subjective matter. Working out a "master pattern" to determine basic wearing ease is certainly the first step. I have found that I like very little to even a little negative ease in my knits to create a close fitting garment. If you'll be working on your knit patterns along with your apron pattern feel free to email me or Fonnell if you need help.

  7. Thanks Ann and Fonnell for the post. I do have a question regarding ease. If we wish to remove some ease from a pattern... where do we remove it from? The center of a sleeve, at a fold, and center and/or back seam if there is one?

    Thank you both in advance.

  8. Ursula,
    Removing general ease:
    Remove ease at the side of a bodice, on the side seams, also on skirts and pants on the side seam.

    If you remove sleeve ease it is a bit different. You remove it from the side seams but need to walk the sleeve in the armscye and see if the sleeve still fits. Also if a sleeve is too big it can be the cap is too low or too high so there are multi-issues in a sleeve.

    If a sleeve is too small you may not be adding ease at the sides it may need to be in the middle.

    You didn't say what your problem was?


  9. Fonnell,

    I drafted a Lutterloh t-shirt last month and compared its sleeve with a commercial t-shirt sleeve pattern (that fits me well) and the Lutterloh slv pattern was over an inch larger in the bicep area. And the picture of the Lutterloh pattern is a tight fitting knit t-shirt.

    Thanks for your post.

  10. Hi! I'm working on my first knit Lutterloh shirt pattern. There is like NO EASE built into it! Oh my gosh! I working with pattern # 156 in supplement #274.

    Have you found that there's NO EASE or very little ease built into the knit patterns?

    I made it one size larger... still too tight!

  11. oh yes the knit patterns have given us all grief. I suggest you paper fit them, hopefully that is the stage you are at. Remember ease is a personal thing. I wouldn't make a larger pattern I would add ease to the one you have. Start by adding it on the sides only and see if that is enough. Ann and I both have run from way too small or way too big on the knit patterns. Also the knit fabric you use will make a big difference in how snug you make the pattern. Guess it's time for a posting on knits! I'm looking for your pattern so I can give you some more hints.

  12. Thanks! NO... only kinda did the paper fitting... I just never thought that it would be skin tight!!!!!

    It just caught me by surprise!

  13. Yipeeeeeee! I finished my first pattern with this system and it actually fits!!!(skirt) Thanks soooo much for the little tips/how tos! If I hadnt found this site I think I would have given up on lutterloh. You guys are awesome!

  14. finished a dress and now making a sheer top to go over top(im working on the paper pattern right now) sooo excited! Everyone likes it! I will send picture when its done. Thanks again and i look forward to more tips and tricks from you all!

  15. Hi Fonnell and Ann,

    I hope your summer went well! I have a few questions and I'm hoping you can answer them when you have a chance.

    I drafted t-shirt pattern #105 (MMV) and noticed there is a lot of ease in the pattern although the picture shows it is a well-fitted t-shirt.

    I do understand knit fabrics vary. Do you suggest I cut the pattern as is and fit as I sew it? Or do you suggest I redraft it in smaller measurements?

    Do you always use your standard bust and hip measurements when you draft your patterns? Or do you sometimes go up or down from your standard measurements depending upon the style of the pattern?

    Thank you in advance.

  16. yes use your standard size and draft the pattern. Take the stretch on your knit and adjust the pattern for that stretch. Ann put a link to a great article on knits in the material for the sewcial we last did. I'll find it and try to post it for you here.


    Here you go a nice article on knits and how to plan for them.. Hope it helps.

  18. Thanks for your tutorial. How do you add ease to a dartless sloper?

  19. most ease is added on the sides, you don't want anything added where it will put things off balance. The darts don't really count where ease is concerned. you use the dart to control the ease or to add design lines. They can be considered after things fit. Do you need to do a large bust adjustment? This can look like a need for ease and it is but only in the bust area.

  20. I get confused. Some people tell you to redraft up or down a dot or two while others recommend drafting to correct size and then removing ease at side seams. Which is the right way?

  21. Have you tried either of these methods yet to compare?
    There are a couple videos produced by the Lutterloh company that you can view here:

    These videos demonstrate the proper way to measure for and draw out your pattern.
    That being said, the best way for each person to accomplish this is to try it for yourself with the fitting vest pattern. Because it's difficult sometimes to see if you're measuring correctly you may need to make another draft with slightly different measurements to be sure you are getting the best fit. The important thing here is to make this system work for YOU. Everyone will need to make adjustments for figure differences such as sloping shoulders, thick waist or rounding back etc. but once you get the size to start with right these tweaks to the patterns should be minimal. If you've tried making the fitting vest and are having trouble perhaps you could elaborate on what's not working for you.

    1. I know my correct size. I was talking about when you use a stretch material for a woven pattern one site recommends going down a dot or two depending on the amount of stretch and others say to keep your correct measurements and remove the ease from the side seams etc.

  22. If a lutterloh pattern has the symbol for knits it means the pattern already has that ease figured out in it. That being said every knit fabric is different in it's stretch, so no matter you must test your knit fabric to see it's stretching pull and then paper fit the pattern to you. If your knit has tons of stretch and the pattern is loose a bit you might want to take a little out of the pattern via the seam allowance. If the knit fabric has very little stretch and your paper pattern fits very smoothly against your body you should add some via the seam allowance. This is just the beginning to understanding sewing with knits really.