From Fit and Sizing

7 tips to better photos for fittings

1 nice_but_useless_ftting_photoWhen communicating desired fitting or design changes to a pattern maker -or even to use as a record of your progress- it is critical to take useful photographs. Taking the time to take good photographs can reduce your costs and your provider's frustration. If a fitting problem cannot be analyzed from a photo, it is not likely to be corrected quickly and will end up costing you more money and time. Toward that end, here are guidelines to taking photos for fitting that are sure to please everyone.

Setting up the fitting photo shoot doesn't require professional photographers and you don't need an expensive camera -as long as you have a steady hand and a cell phone that takes pictures. You will also need lighting that is bright enough to eliminate shadows. The photos I'm using as examples were taken with an older iPhone and the less than optimal shop lighting here, but even so, these photos are (tragically) 99% better than many of the photos I get from customers. Two other things to keep in mind are your model and to minimize distracting backgrounds. You wouldn't realize it but I've had backgrounds that were so noisy that I couldn't see clear outlines of the garment.

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Mindreading: a fitting lament of good, cheap and fast.

same_dress_different_sizes_smThere are many occasions in which I don't publish a post because I can't think of a title to reflect it. As this is one such post, your titling suggestions are appreciated.

So -I'm speaking to a caller this morning. She's upset because the pattern makers she's hired cannot fit a child's size 6 dress to meet her expectations. She also said something to the effect that it seemed that the pattern makers expected her to find a child fit model to put the dresses on, fit them and then get back to the pattern maker with any needed changes -and she said "As if . What do they think I'm paying them for?" She said that the pattern makers were out of line because she didn't have a size 6 child to fit it on and that it was unreasonable for them to expect her to advertise, interview and hire a fit model and she sure didn't have the time.

Being in the throes of task avoidance, I gently explained that fit is subjective; it is largely in the eye of the beholder and pattern makers cannot guess what a client has in mind. I described to her, the image you see at right. Pictured are two celebrities wearing the very same dress to very different effect (larger version). A pattern maker cannot read someone's mind to know the fit a client has imagined.

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A Treatise on Sleeve Drafting

armsyce_primary_range_of_motion_pivotCourtesy of Timo Rissanen who found out about it from Holly McQuillan -those links aren't gratuitous, you should be keeping an eye on those two- comes word of a a Ph.D dissertation. It is a treatise (I hope) on sleeve drafting written by Morris Campbell, lecturer at Massey University in New Zealand. The full title is The Development of a Hybrid System for Designing and Pattern Making In-Set Sleeves.

At right is but one of many images from the dissertation. I picked it because it illustrates the primary range of motion as I illustrated in my book on page 168 (chapter entitled Fundamentals of Fitting which as far as I know, remain undisclosed in any fitting books today).

I am not suggesting this work is the definitive beginning and end of all things sleeve drafting (although I hope it is) because I have only scanned parts of it. I won't have time to read it until, oh, June or July, as you should safely surmise by now considering my posting tardiness of late. Other than looking at the many interesting pictures and the many math equations that I don't have the understanding to process, I did scan the bibliography.

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Poll: What is your base size?

Inquiring minds would love to get your feedback as to the size you're using as the basis of style development. Please answer the poll below to the best of your ability (poll widget only allows 10 responses in case you're annoyed your size isn't shown). I realize there is some duplication; each size also has a letter option. If you make lettered sizing, choose the numbered size that is closest. For example, if your base size is a medium but it runs toward the smaller end of medium, select size 8 which is the smaller of the two size mediums. Etc.

Hmm. It would appear the poll I posted may have crashed the server. So sorry. I'll try to sort this out and repost later. I appreciate your patience.

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Should you use numbered or lettered sizing?

Keeping in mind that sizing is relative and that you can only afford to produce a limited number of sizes, how do you decide whether to use numbered (2-16) or lettered (XS-XL) sizes? The cognitive shortcut (pt.2) is to do what brands you aspire to hang with do because you don't have enough information (pt.2) to make a decision if you're just starting out. If you think the sizing typical of your market could stand re-working or you just want to do your own thing, you can break the mold if your resources permit the risk. If this describes you, here is some guidance to figuring out which size scale to use.

The difference between the two scales is fit specificity, sales potential, cost savings and price points per size. Here's a comparison of the two sizing strategies:

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When Brands go bad, fit goes you know where

Before we were so rudely interrupted, my sense of unease and dismay over inconsistent sizing within identical SKUs (as explained by our career tech designer) was growing. A consumer's expectations are not unreasonable if they try on Style #12345 and -if finding it to their liking decide to buy two or more of them- have every reason to expect that the ones they didn't try on will fit as well as the first. It is unreasonable to expect consumers to try on every single item of the same exact size, style and color. Size and fit consistency among styles of a given brand is something consumers should take for granted -if only because we ask them to.

Follow me: For better or worse, brands are a cognitive shortcut. In an overwhelming and cluttered marketplace, a brand's reputation makes purchasing decisions easier and faster. If that is where you want to be, meeting expectations becomes an implied contract with the customer. On one hand you expect the customer to trust you to buy your stuff instead of someone else. To me, a minimal part of brand value is consistent sizing; if consumers take you at your word and trust you, they shouldn't have to check up on you if they buy X quantities of an identical item. If you bought a set of tires and one of them didn't fit, your trust in that brand would (should) be seriously eroded. I don't see how this is any different when it comes to clothes. Sure you can say there are minute differences to be factored in with clothes because we are somehow more special than other classes of manufacturing (not) but this is also true of tires. Rarely are items identical to each other but performance tolerances are established, measured and met.

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Japan: The obesity police

illegal_tobe_fatIt's illegal to be fat in Japan. For reals. Okay, there are a few caveats. More specifically, you can't be fat if you're over 40.

Concerned about rising rates of both in a graying nation, Japanese lawmakers last year set a maximum waistline size for anyone age 40 and older: 85 centimeters (33.5 inches) for men and 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) for women.

I can't imagine how they'll enforce it. The article mentions offenders will get counseling; the companies they work for will have to pay more into a health fund for the elderly. Hmm. Where is Teijo when we need him? I'm sure he will explain in more detail.

So maybe you think the Japanese are being unreasonable but they could be more so. The IDF (International Diabetes Federation) recommends 35" waists for Japanese men and 31.5" for Japanese women. What I want to know is if the law applies to tourists. It goes without saying that this would never fly here...

See also: How Japan defines fat.

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What does a 1″ or 2″ grade mean?

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a follow up post to Pop Quiz: grading necklines -and as it has come up before, I thought to dispense with it for once and all time. Namely, what do we mean when we say we have a 1 or 2 inch grade (or however much)? This is not so easily summarized because it seems ambiguous if one doesn't understand the underlying references. I'll try to explain the primary tenets of grades which are:

  1. A grade describes sizing changes for the major fitting attribute only.
  2. Application of the grade is proportionate.
  3. Grading is a logarithmic scale. Or should be.

Defines major fitting attribute: Generally, when we say something has a 1" grade, we mean that the major or defining attribute of the garment will grow or shrink that amount. If the item is a blouse, it is understood that the bust measure will grow or shrink 1". If the item is a pant, it is understood that either waist or hip is the primary fitting attribute. It is also possible they both are, it depends on the company.

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Pop Quiz: Grading necklines

This amounts to an informal survey, it would be great if you could provide a bit of insight.

I had a conversation last week with someone who wanted to know why we grade necklines like we do -this refers to adult apparel. I'll number these so you can respond easier.

1. When we use a 1" grade, we typically grade the neckline a total of 1/2". Do you or don't you?

2. However, when we grade with a 2" grade, informal feedback says we grade the neckline only 3/4". Do you or don't you?

3. With respect to #2, why aren't we grading the neckline a full inch? If a 1" grade takes a half inch increase in the neck, it only stands to reason that a 2" grade would be double that.

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Review: Theory of Garment Pattern Making

Forgive me for forgetting and not looking it up, but last week someone suggested I should create a top ten list of pattern books. And the indirect result -sorry no top ten list yet- is this review. All because I went looking for this book to see if by chance, there might be a reserve of them available and sure enough! Some enterprising individual has republished it. Lucky you.

The author of The Theory of Garment-Pattern Making, W.H.Hulme, has been very influential in my development. I have two of his four books with another on the way. I was lucky enough to buy the third with diligent searching. I doubt it would have been available for me to buy if the seller had spelled the title correctly. Which is by way of explanation that Hulme was (presumably deceased, I don't know) one of those seminal thinkers few authorities will tell you about, or know to tell you about (so how authoritative are they?). Hulme has affected the thinking of -surely- Aldrich, Bray, maybe Cooklin but no one that I know of on this side of the pond. At the same time, I'm not certain how much of what Hulme wrote really is new but undoubtedly, one truly great contribution was curating. He separated wheat from chaff to organize an archaic and arcane body of knowledge into an accessible format for study and analysis. And study you will if you get this slim volume.

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