When you’re looking at clothing patterns, you need to consider more than just your measurements and what styles generally work for your body shape. Ease is also a factor in determining the fit of a garment. When pattern companies such as Burda describe the fit of a garment with terms including semi-fitted, close-fitting, or very loose fitting, they are describing the ease in the garment. But what exactly is “ease”? In the simplest terms, ease is the amount of space between you and your clothing.
Ease varies between styles and between pattern companies, so you need to carefully read pattern envelopes and garment descriptions for hints as to what you can expect in the finished project. Some patterns have a silhouette drawn on the back of the pattern envelope that shows the outline of a person wearing the garment. This illustrates the pattern’s ease by showing the space between the person’s outline and the garment.
Vogue patterns have taken this one step further and have ease charts available in their catalogues and online. The chart details five silhouettes and the range of ease built into different garment types. For example, a semi-fitted dress has an ease range of three to four inches (7.62cm to 10.16cm), while a loose-fitting dress has an ease range of five to eight inches (12.7cm to 20.32cm).
But what if a chart, description, or illustration is not available? Look on the back of the pattern envelope for finished garment measurements. Subtract your actual measurements from the garment’s finished measurement and don’t worry about seam allowance. The difference is the amount of ease in that garment. If you’re in doubt, make a muslin. This way you can check the fit and make any necessary alterations before you cut into your project fabric. It’s an extra step, but it may save you a great deal of frustration in the end!