Shirt/Blouse/Jacket Fitting Series Part 2 - Fitting The Body SFW
|Your Best First Impression
Step 2: Properly Fitting Men's & Women's Tops
|by Alexander Kabbaz, Master Tailor
| This is two articles rolled into one:
Properly Fitting the Body Shape
Fitting Differences Between the Male and Female Body.
|It is difficult to show, with any degree of accuracy, the inter-gender body-fitting relationship without realistic images of the human body, some of which may be considered "not safe for work". This is a significantly less accurate version using black & white "outline" renderings. Click here for the Full Color version.
| My two most recent fitting articles dealt with the upper parts of shirts, blouses, & other tops such as jackets, including properly fitting the Shoulder Slope and Shoulder Shape. Under the wild assumption that those were understood, it's time to tackle the parts which depend upon the shoulders being correct ... the garment's front and back.
The subjects being intertwined, this text will cover the proper fitting of the human body and discuss the gender-based similarities and differences.
Male/Female Shape Differences
| Furthermore, although people come in an infinite variety of shapes, this article is based upon the "normal" or "average" male and female body types. Suffice it to say that no matter the variation from average, all clothing patterns need to begin with the average shape as a template. Alterations are made from there.
Here are the dimensional proportions which are considered average:
Commonly expressed as Chest/Bust - Waist - Hips:
Body Fitting Points
Man: 42-34-40 over distances from shoulder of 10-19-25 - A total distance (nipples to hips) of 15"
Woman: 36-24-36 over distances from shoulder of 9-15-19 - A total distance (nipples to hips) of 10"
A couple of questions explain the significance of these detailed measurements:
Q: Why have I listed the distance down from the shoulder in every case?
Have a firm grasp on the importance of measurements? Good. Now let me further confuse the issue.
Now for the hard part: Fitting. Assuming that you have the correct Shoulder Slope and Shoulder Shape, fitting the front and back should not be too difficult. In reality, if your front and back pattern has been created using the standard shape with adjustments for your particular measurements you should already have achieved a decent fit. Let's work on refinements.
Taking the Necessary Measurements
|Now refer to the shirt pattern (above) on which I have removed the sleeves for clarity. The red line on the front & back is the chest; green the waist; blue the hips. Adding the 8-7-7 fullness (by dividing it equally between front and rear), the front chest will be 23" + 4" = 27". Draw half of this measure (there are two fronts) on each red line. The rear chest is 19" + 4" = 23" which you'll draw on the rear red line. Do the same for the Waist and the Hips. You now have your ideal measurements marked on your pattern. Gently curve the lines from Chest to Waist to Hips connecting your marks and your pattern is finalized. Or is it?
Traditionalists, of which I am admittedly one, consider the use of darts in mens' shirts to be the sign of either a cheap "custom" shirt or an inexperienced shirt fitter. Having said that there is one qualification. If the circumferential difference between the chest and the waist is greater than 14", e.g. Chest 52", Waist 36", fitting sans darts is extremely difficult. Here is where lies the greatest difference between the male and female body. The "average" woman of 36-24-36 has not only a 12" difference between Chest/Waist and Waist/Hips, but those differences are over a considerably smaller distance than an average male body. In womens' shirts and blouses multiple darts are not only necessary but also are considered quite fashionable.
|To create a dart, note the dart diagrams for the front and rear darts. A dart is sewn by holding together the two wide points and sewing to them from the top point and then from them to the bottom point. In the case of bust darts, they begin at the side seam, pinched together at the wide point, and are sewn closed to the end point.
|There is an alternative method to accomplish the same effect as front and rear darts. This is called "Princess" (or "Prince") seaming. Note the seams on the black & white shirt. Not only do they offer style enhancement by emphasizing a fit, trim waist, they have been cut where they join so as to remove the fabric which would otherwise be sewn into darts.
The only area not covered so far is that from the chest to the shoulders. You may see a vertical wrinkle in the front just where it joins the sleeve. This can be easily cured by cutting the armhole slightly deeper in this area. Do this by pinning the wrinkle, measuring how much you have pinned, and cutting slighly less than you measured out of the front armhole. In the rear, there should be at least a wrinkle's worth of extra fabric at the back of the top where it joins the sleeves. Without this you will either not be able to lift your arms ... or you will split open the shirt in doing so.
Fitting the Top of the Top
|That just about sums up fitting the body and the differences between the genders. However, this article wouldn't be complete without a few notes about issues which are actually quite common but may strike you as abnormal.
Mens' rear waists can, especially on those with excellent posture, be quite a bit smaller in the rear than the front. Not only is the waist suppressed in back, but abs and stomach contribute a great deal of size in the front.
Notice the Front Hips Suppression
Although I mentioned bust darts as being used on womens' shirts, many older men have "moobs" - especially those who worked out when younger, developing large pectorals, and stopped or reduced their workouts as they aged. In this case, the bust dart is the solution for men as well.
A Bespoke Shirt
| So what wasn't answered? If I had known before I started writing, it wouldn't have been omitted. If you think of something which was missed - or simply have a question - please write to me. You'll get your answer and I'll be able to improve this article.
Thank you for your time.
|Copyright © 2020 Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons. All Rights Reserved.