Here's What You Need to Know About Ease

quick tips Sep 17, 2019

This week I want to start a conversation about ease. It seems there is some confusion about where it goes and how much is needed so I thought I’d share some insight.

Let’s start with this:

There are three kinds of ease. Wearing ease, design ease and negative ease.

Wearing ease is the minimum amount ease over the body measurement needed in a pattern to live in your garment. It allows for just enough room to breath, sit, walk and do your normal daily activities. Each area of the body is assigned a standard amount but depends entirely on the garment and what activities you want to perform in it.

Design ease includes wearing ease and is the additional measurement added to the pattern that creates the style or silhouette of the garment. For example a boxy oversize top has wearing ease, for movement, and design ease to create the boxy look.

Negative ease is most often used for knit or stretch fabric garments that are intended to hug the body. This is the amount of measurement under the body measurement needed to create a snug fit and eliminate darts and seams for shaping.

Once you understand the differences between these types of ease, you can begin to see that some garments require more ease than others. If you’ve got your copy of The Perfect Fit Guide handy, you’ll see I’ve given you a chart with the standard wearing ease allowances for several different types of garments, but this chart doesn’t include design ease.

In order to understand the design ease that the pattern designer has included in the pattern, you’ll need to do some investigation of the pattern itself. Inside the Perfect Fit Guide I’ve given you a formula:  Body Measurement + Ease = Desired Fit

To determine the pattern designers desired fit you'll need to take the finished pattern measurements and subtract the pattern company’s body measurements from it. Notice, we’re not talking about your measurements yet. We want to figure out what the designer intended for the garment first. When you understand what the pattern designer has done to create the style, you’ll understand more clearly what you need to do to create the style and silhouette for your body.

For example, standard wearing ease in the bust is usually 2” (or 5 cm) for a fairly fitted garment. If you discover that the pattern designer has included 4” (10 cm) of ease in the bust, it’s likely that this is what was needed to create the silhouette and the fit that the designer intended for that garment. This means that you should aim for this when you create the garment for yourself.

Of course you can change this to your liking. Some of us need more or less ease for our comfort and our lifestyle, but at least understanding the ease the designer intended will give you a starting point.

If you don’t have your copy of The Perfect Fit Guide, you can sign up to receive your copy at or simply CLICK HERE. The guide outlines the 6 essential steps to getting the right fit and it’s yours free. Just enter your email address and I’ll send a copy straight to your inbox along with more tips and techniques for altering patterns for fit and style each week.

If you have questions about ease, don’t hesitate to comment below!

All My Best,