If you’ve ever been disappointed having to put something gorgeous back on the rack after trying it on and finding it really doesn’t fit, then you know that fit is a big factor in the success of a garment. During the product development process, you as the designer have a chance to tweak and adjust samples of your design to make sure the fit is perfect before it hits the sales floor. How do you know if the sample fits? I think there are three elements of good fit – size, shape, and movement.
Size is fairly straight forward. The garment needs to have the correct measurements to fit your fit model. Can your fit model get the sample garment on? If she can’t, that’s an obvious indicator that the fit is too small or that closures are too tight. Confirm that the sample is made in the size that your fit model typically wears and then take notes about how much to let out and where.
The garment measurements themselves will be determined by what type of design you are making and what the fabric is. The garment measurements usually vary from the fit model’s measurements in order to get the intended fit. For example, a fitted bodysuit may actually measure smaller than your fit model to account for a lot of stretch in the fabric and to get the fitted look. A woven blouse may measure larger than the fit model to give her wearing ease and to give the design a billowy look.
Shape is the second element of good fit. For the garment to fit well, each piece of the garment should be balanced. This means that side seams should hang vertically and not swing towards the front or back. Shoulder seams should follow the top of the shoulder evenly from the neck to the shoulder tip. Pant leg inseams and outseams should hang straight and not twist around the leg. The total measurements themselves may be correct, but you can’t just put the inches anywhere in the garment. The measurements need to be balanced around the shape of the body.
If the garment looks to be the right size overall, but there are a ton of wrinkles or drag lines pulling the fabric, that means that the shape of a garment piece is not fitting correctly. Common areas in which I see this happening are armholes, the side of the bust, the back waist, and pant crotches. All these areas are very curvy on the body and the garment pieces need to have the same curve shape to fit properly. Take pictures of any areas that show wrinkles or stress lines for reference.
The last element of good fit is movement. Clothing needs to be able to fit comfortably on a moving body and not just on a static form. Ask your fit model to walk around, sit, stand, bend, reach forward, raise her arms, cross her arms, and any other movement that your customer would be doing often in your design. Does the sample garment restrain or pull in any areas while your fit model is moving? Areas to keep an eye on for ease of movement are hip width and pant rises when sitting, armholes when moving arms up or forward, and back pant rises while walking.
Good fit combines size, shape, and movement. You’ll know the sample fits when all three work in harmony on your fit model to create a smooth, balanced garment.