Friday, January 31, 2014

SSDA 2: Hip Circumference and Fit


Before I start with the post, I wanted to tell you that in this updated draft-along there will be only one post about drafting as such. Most of the posts will cover measurements and their effect on the fit. I am doing it because I believe that it is possible to eliminate most of the fitting problems before they even arise. I want to explain the relation between measurements, simple drafting concepts and the fit, so you can apply them in your projects.

Many home sewers, including me, consider fitting as the most challenging part of the sewing adventure. Understanding the logic of each drafting step is key to understanding fitting as well. Critical thinking is not particularly addressed in pattern-drafting education. I want to change it.

To achieve this I divided the measurement steps into several posts, and for today's draft-along post I will focus on one essential measurement, hip circumference. Why? Because we create first fitting problems by relying on measuring instructions designed for ready-to-wear. However, they don't measure for our bodies, right? Take the classic 'Patternmaking for Fashion Design', for example: "Measure widest area with tape parallel with floor," it says.

Now, let's look at Liz and Kate.



For both, their buttocks are their most protruding, i.e. widest, body parts. However, in the front, they also got a protruding tummy. And on the sides, they got protruding hips. And to make it even more complicated all these parts protrude on different levels. And how about protruding thighs?..

Why does it all matter? Let's imagine a straight skirt as a cylinder, before it is shaped at the waist. And, let's agree that we are not working with stretch fabrics. To fit correctly, the cylinder has to fall straight from all protruding parts of the lower body.


I highlighted them in red on pictures. If we make the cylinder as wide as Liz's or Kate's true circumference around buttocks, we won't be able to fit their tummies correctly.



Since for both of them tummy (or mid-hip) circumference is less than hip circumference, the cylinder is wide enough to accommodate tummy area. However, the problem is that the tummy is protruding in the front, while the buttocks are protruding in the back. For this reason, following any known physical laws, the cylinder must distort. Below, you see what happens to the side seam. And the purple lines indicate possible drag lines that are usually visible when there is a fit issue I described.



The idea is that fabric will always be pulled toward protruding parts on your body if there is not enough width. Side seam serves as a great indicator of a fit issue, if hip circumference is too small: the seam will be pulled toward the front at the top,  and toward the back in the middle. Because of the overall distortion, the hem won't hang parallel to the floor as well.

Now, you may ask,  a standard dress form also has a slightly protruding tummy. How do the standard pattern-drafting methods go around it? The answer is simple: ease. They add ease to hip circumference, which compensates for this little extra volume in the front of a 'standard' body. If your shape is different, forget the ease altogether, you need to figure out how to measure your hips/buttocks taking into account your tummy and, possibly, hips and thighs.

Yes, hips. To make the matter even more complicated, let's talk about your hips. Look at your body and observe whether the widest hip portion is on the same level as the most protruding part of your buttocks. Mine are on different levels.  Hips are getting wider lower than my buttocks, Liz has a similar issue. It does affect the fit as well, but can be addressed by proper shaping of the side seam, and measuring hip circumference using a custom made hip measuring band.

CREATING A CUSTOM HIP MEASURING 'BAND'

Prepare a strip of poster paper long enough to allow you to wrap it around your hips (take appr. 1,5 of your hip circumference), and wide enough to go from your waist to 10cm (4") lower than your hip line (not buttocks).

Now, from one end of your strip measure the value of your true hip circumference, and make a vertical line. From there on, add up to thirty (30) parallel lines every centimetre, and mark the values.


Your band is ready.

MEASURING HIPS WITH THE  BAND

Now, grab two paper clips and wrap the 'band' around your hips in front of a mirror.  Secure the top and the lower edges with paper clips as soon as the cylinder feels snug  and falls straight, perpendicular to the floor. The open vertical edge of the cylinder should be aligned with one of the parallel lines that you drew on the band. Unfortunately, I don't have an image of me measuring, as I wasn't able to control the cylinder in the mirror and take pictures of myself at the same time. Hope it helps to show it just like this for now.



Adjustments: Now, you need to observe yourself in the mirror, the cylinder edges should be perfectly perpendicular to the floor, both from the side view, as well as from the front, like the shaded area on the picture below. Adjust the clips if necessary and only then note the value you got on the paper.



That's it, readers. The value that you noted will be the width of our skirt, with all the necessary ease already included! Please do ask questions...

HOMEWORK

For the next post, I would like to ask you to take picture of yourself in leggings/tights and figure hugging t-shirt.  You need to take image from all four sides, left, right, front and back. Place the camera approximately at the waist level. Watch the posture, do not tilt forward or backward if it is not your natural posture - camera makes us take very unexpected poses, so be aware of it.  Trace the outline of your body from one side, front, and back to a letter-, or A4 size paper and make a few copies of it. In the next post we will start discussing shaping.

54 comments:

  1. Fascinating... such a great post and very informative. Thanks for explaining this so clearly.

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  2. This makes perfect sense. I bet this would help with posture issues too. My daughter has a hip tilt so her hips roll forward..sort of a sway front. This plays havoc with side seams.

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    1. I guess a bigger issue there is darts and side seam shaping (or the side dart). I will post about it in two weeks.

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  3. This is incredibly fascinating. I've never really thought of it like this, but it makes perfect sense.

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  4. Thank you for this explanation--it is so logical. I bet it will help me with all kinds of fitting beyond skirts.

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    1. You are right. In fact, you should apply similar principles to the bust circumference as well. The difference is that you shape above and below the widest part of your upper body.

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    2. Hello would you be able to use this concept to make a slower?

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  5. Great series, I'm learning some new things already. Thank you much.

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  6. I will be doing this homework! I am excited to have a skirt that actually fits!

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    1. great, I am looking for a platform where we can exchange images and talk about the progress. Stay tuned :)

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  7. I am taking a Craftsy class on making a skirt sloper and converting it to different styles. Your lesson today is exactly my issue with the class. She is drafting for industry standards and I do not have a standard body as you've very clearly demonstrated that most of us don't. The women who've made the skirt muslin from the drafted sloper all have cupping at the lower stomach and they are thin women with relatively flat stomachs. I said that I wasn't interested in drafting for an industry standard since I will only be drafting for myself, but how do I draft for my imperfect body?

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    1. Adding to what I said above, your solution makes perfect sense. She is also drafting a one dart sloper, one dart in each quarter of the skirt. Never in my adult life have I gotten a good fit with a single dart.

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    2. I agree, Nancy. But she is a good instructor, and I'd still recommend her course to learn the foundation of pattern drafting, especially the process of creating different styles based on one sloper. I wanted to review her class, thanks for raising it here. As for darts, yes, one dart is good only for smaller curves.

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    3. I agree that she is a good instructor. I took her dart class and it was excellent. I already have a moulage, so I decided to take this class with her since she uses the basic sloper and changes it into different skirt styles.

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  8. Very interesting approach!

    A quick question, why do you recommend extending the paper only to the "hip line" rather than the "buttock"? Or maybe the question should be how are you defining "hip line" and "buttock"? On me, the widest part - what I've been calling "hip" measurement seems to be the fullest part of my buttock. So I'm a bit confused by the instruction.

    OK, maybe another question, I can see how this method would add ease in most cases. But would the ease added be enough for everyday movement - like sitting down? I've always thought the ease were for movement rather than to just to make the skirt hang straight when standing straight. Looking forward to finding out how this method works for all shapes & sizes!

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    1. Thanks for mentioning this. You are right, what I actually mean is 'saddle bags' and those are not the same thing as hips. I will correct the post.

      Actually, since it is the first time I put this material down in this form, I will add a Q&A post every week, so everyone can read comments and replies.

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    2. Ease. No extra ease will be necessary if you measure your 'hips' correctly. I drafted several skirts and they fit much better than anything based on commercial patterns, or methods that integrate ease. Now, if you do want to add ease, it is really your judgement call. Should you draft a trial skirt based on this method, I recommend going without ease first and then deciding whether you want more or not.

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    3. Thanks. I had the same question about the definitions. A book I mentioned a few days ago, "How Patterns Work," suggests that beginning pattern makers do a rough exercise similar to this for a general understanding of how a cylinder becomes a darted, seamed block. Basically, you tape a cylinder of pattern paper around the hips and crease the paper to make the cylinder fit. I think there's a similar exercise for the bodice.

      I'm looking forward to following this series because I'm not shaped like a dress form and the pattern making class I'm taking, while good for basic information (although it is not easy), is not going to be enough on its own for me to fit myself.

      I should add that experienced professionals can make a skirt sloper that's 95% of the way there with just a waist and hip measurement. It's amazing.

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  9. Just found your blog through a link from mpb. Will definitely by following along as these exact fit issues have become more of a problem for me as I have gotten more mature. Bookmarking now! Shannon D.

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  10. Thanks for writing about this topic! I have had exactly the situation you are writing about in that my belly protrudes in the front and my hips in the back. I did the paper cylinder experiment and found that I need an additional inch around my body than my hip measurement would indicate.

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    1. Darley, try to take one and the same measurement at least three times, until you get the same measurement more then once. It's a good exercise. Good luck!

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  11. Fascinating Marina! Thanks so much for this post!

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  12. Marina,

    I like your use of line sketches instead of photos. I have a couple of "real people" fitting books that show ordinary, or older women in their underwear and they look so exposed and stripped of their dignity that it's mortifying. You seldom see men presented that way. But of course, we have to be able to see the process. The drawings are a good compromise.

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  13. Thank you so much for this wonderful information it is explained so clearly. This is something I have been struggling with and now makes a lot more sense, now to get some poster paper and get measuring!

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  14. Thanks for such a great post Marina - I've saved this to my Evernote so I don't loose it :)

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  15. Balenciaga was quoted as saying that the smallest measurement of a woman's waist was an oval, from the sternum in front dipping towards the small of the back. Why do measurements need to be parallel to the floor?

    There are wonderful 1930s-40s dressmaking manuals that were posted online at "VintageSewing.Info" --now only available by the Wayback Machine-- which provide treatments for those bulges in the front, sides and back. When ladies had dressmakers and custom sewn outfits-- clothing made to fit their own body!

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  16. Thank you so much for the information on the custom hip measuring band. I never would have thought of it. I used it tonight to draft a pattern for my teenage daughter, and it was a tremendous success. It's simple things like this that make all the difference when drafting and sewing for difficult body shapes and proportions. Your help is very much appreciated. :-)

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  18. I really look forward to read the entire series of this, because I am a beginner in sewing, but I already realized that nothing from traditional patterns or pattern-making methods will help me to find the proper fit for my own body "quirks".
    In fact I am thrilled because the "Kate" body example looks almost exactly like me (except I have a larger waist and legs, and slightly lower crotch and bellybutton). I have never seen this on other blogs before ! So thanks :)

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  20. Hello Marina,

    Thank you for explaining this - your explanation is amazing and very detailed! I'm really pleased I came across your posts. After years of frustration and being disheartened I have hope again that I can draft a perfect skirt block :)

    I'm a bit confused with how to identify the "hip line". On your pictures they seem to be above the crotch area.. Is "hip line" the most protruding areas of your figure on front view (not side view)? Can it be below the crotch area? Or there is a standard where that "hip line" should be?

    Thank you!

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