A key component of fine tuning garment fit is adjusting the grain of the garment fabric on the body. A perfectly designed and constructed garment will appear imperfect if it does not “hang” properly from a given figure. To adjust for correct grain positioning a horizontal and vertical axis must be identified on both the body and the garment pattern. Fabric is then darted and shaped to conform to the body while maintaining these horizontal and vertical reference points.
Darting affects fabric grain and garment hang as much as it affects shape and is present in all garment designs either in the form of sewn shaping or invisibly released as design ease.
The argument often arises that darting is not important in all designs. While it is true that some designs are devoid of visible darts it must be understood that the dart is hidden in the design, not missing, and that it is inherently linked to how fabric will hang on the body. Traditional pattern drafting methodologies use standardized shaping and darting for all body types but a quick look at the myriad of body shapes below will hint at why standardized shaping will not work.
Darting and shaping are inherent components of garment fit even if a design does not require “visible” darting. A garment made without visible darts simply includes the darts as design ease or excess fitting room. Design ease is an important consideration in size choice and one that often leads to incorrect size selection when choosing made-to-measure garments. Even if the garment design does visually reveal sewn darts and must be considered when evaluating garment fit because it controls the “hang” of fabric from the body.
The custom shaping requirements of a body are revealed as pleasing fabric grain and garment hang or as pull lines and restricted motion.
Consider the pattern customization illustrated below. The upper row illustrates base fitted blocks for three different figures. The second row illustrates the same blocks with 10cm of bust ease and 24cm of waist ease added. Notice that the waist ease is added differently for each of the three figures. Each pattern is customized with regard for a figures unique bumps and curves while still maintaining fabric grain. A certain amount of garment ease is added through dart omission with the remainder coming from side seam extension.
Creating garment ease from darting is a key component of customized fit and an essential element of fit preference that is often overlooked.