Wednesday, October 3

Fitting Thoughts: Grading Patterns & Fitting the Unicorn

The aim with most of us in the sewing community is to work every day to get that perfect fit and to cross back and forth from one pattern company's patterns to another searching for a well fitted pattern. Would it be politically correct to say, in my opinion, that your search has been misdirected and ill-informed?
YouTube Video: Grading -vs- Fit Which comes First?

Searching for a perfect solution in a pre-drafted "pattern" which was based on a set of measurements, not your own, is always going to be problematic, thereby, creating never-ending obstacles for the average seamster.   

Yes, you read that right, Andrea, the tissue fitting, pattern measuring, "sometimes" muslin making, paper slashing/spreading pattern geek just admitted the God's honest truth.

Fit is not just checking for symptoms to determine a "fix" for each separate pattern.  Fit is an intuitive process that is understood only when a connection is made between the flat pattern and the numbers used to draft said pattern.


An understanding of the flat pattern is required before you can truly understand and overcome fit as a nemesis, and regard it as a welcoming step in the customizing process that comes only after the flat pattern making is complete.  Otherwise, you will be chasing after and falling for the latest and greatest fitting solution.  Thereby, pin-holing yourself  into a simplistic dependence of "handholding" with no true understanding of the concepts.  This hand-holding will limit your full ability to think critically and keep the process from becoming an intuitive extension of your thought process, where pattern drafting and fit become one.

My advice is to take the time to learn and understand that formulas are the problem and that you can not get around them as part of the fitting algorithm.  Patterns are drafted based on "numbers" which are plugged into an algebraic expression. (i.e. "X+Y=Z") This tells you how to geometrically guide your pencil to the end result of line drawing and connecting dots.  The process if exactly the same when numbers are plugged into a custom pattern drafting software.  Behind the scenes, there is always an orchestrator guiding the points of the digital pencil. 

Thus, when you accept a "fit prescription" without fully understanding the foundation of the pattern drafting process, and how these numbers relate to the garment on your body, you become dependent. That is Handholding.  You wouldn't blindly accept a doctors prescription medication without understanding the source of your illness and the affects it or the medication has on your body, now would you?

I challenge you to take time to learn and understand how these formulas and their affect on the shapes of patterns and the end result of how these lines relate to the different areas of your body. With the understanding of these fundamental concepts, your work with patterns and fitting will come naturally and you will develop a repertoire of fitting solutions.  You will begin to apply intuitively the needed adjustments to any situation without dependence and limitation to one form or type of adjustment. i.e. the proverbial FBA.
YouTube Video: Grading a Multi-Size Pattern
I speak often on pattern grading and how fit relates to the flat pattern, mainly, because they are intricately related when working to customize the flat pattern.  Grading is done, than fit is modified with essentially the same movements of the flat pattern as used during pattern grading.   To use only one process or remedy for an "adjustment" is to look through a pin hole, which limits the freedom of seeing the big picture.  I suppose you could call that: "Not seeing the forest for the trees."  Thats how I see it when I see folks resorting to one form of pattern customization, because that was the "prescription" they received from the doctor. 

What I believe, is that the absolute only way to get a perfect fit is to understand pattern making and fit in relation to the concept of grading.  I believe that unless the understanding is reached, then fit will always be as elusive as the Unicorn. 

 I am forced to keep all things in perspective as I read the words of one of my facebook acquaintances.  

"It looks like you have made grading and fitting and sewing so unnecessarily hard, a monotonous un-fun drudgery, that it's no wonder the whole industry does not quit in frustrating disgust.  There must be other ways that do not involve becoming a pattern scientist just to sew a few nice garments.  I can see all the sewing machines flying off bridges and out the windows of tall buildings as they scream....NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"  (FB follower)
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