How to fit a garment
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY FIT A GARMENT
You successfully passed the design process, found a good factory, sent them all the information needed to start the product development, and now you are waiting for the first protos.
There has been an enormous amount of thought processes and work to get all the information to the factory. Now the product needs to both look good, feel good and do what you intended it to do.
When opening the box at the arrival of your first proto, you have mixed emotions flooding your body. You feel really excited and at the same time extremely nervous and anxious about the result. In my 15 year career as a designer, I have never seen a PERFECT first proto, just to get your expectations straight. There are always changes in the first proto, both in fit, details, and workmanship. No matter how extraordinary your design is, what counts is the fit and the comfort of your product. You are designing sportswear and comfort in sportswear is paramount! Depending on what type of sportswear, either full performance or urban sportswear the products need to have functionality in the fit. The wearer should feel extremely comfortable and never hindered in their body movement. The products should look great on, function and move with the body depending on what the planned use is.
Before you start
As soon as the garments arrive at your studio, unpack them, let them lay flat on a table for a little while and then measure them. I know you will be super eager to try them on but this can wait. It’s important to measure the garment before you have tried it on otherwise you stretch the material out. Measuring the proto is important because you will see the discrepancies from the original measurement list. With the discrepancy info, you know what is right and what is off when fitting the garment.
All garments should be fitted on a live model. They can feel how the garments sit on the body and how they move. If something is uncomfortable you will know it and have a chance to improve.
Your brand has it’s ideal customer in mind and this ideal customer has specific measurements that you will stay consistent with throughout all the products in your range. Your customers should feel accustomed to your measurements. They should know that when they buy different garments from your brand they have the same size and type of fit, no matter what the product is.
As for the fit model, this person has the measurements that your expected customer has. Decide on the sample size, usually, it’s L for men’s and M for women’s in functional apparel.
Be consistent and stick with the same model throughout the whole product development process. You will have a better result fitting and commenting on the garments.
Have a little fit-session box with all your necessary tools and extra garments. For example some base layers and long johns in case you have to fit shell pants or jackets. An extra midlayer for fitting winter outerwear. You don’t want to run around the studio to look for all the stuff. Be prepared and efficient. The model doesn’t want to wait in wain….
- tech pack print out/ style
- comments sheet/ style
- measurement list/ style
- fit model with the right measurements (your brand ideal measurements) be consistent
- mirror – full length
- pins – straight
- tape measure
- chalk, marker pen or narrow marking tape
- camera or the camera on a phone
Good lighting in the studio helps you see everything clearly.
Start with looking at the discrepancy measurement list. What is off and what is correct. With the information, you know how to look at the garment, what to change and keep.
Then start with the overall feeling of the garment. What catches your eye? Have an overall view then go deeper into detail. Start from the top and move downwards.
The garment usually tells you what needs to be adjusted. There should be no pulling or tugging, no creases, no bagginess or droopiness. If it is a yoga top you’re fitting, then let the model do yoga movements and see if the garment moves with the body and not on the body.
Have the model move, run, jump, sit and put the arms over the head. Do the movements that are required for the intended use, be it yoga, skiing, biking, etc
Preferably the model is used to wearing your type of garments and feels if something is off.
What to look at
Ease – What is the general fit on the body? The model should comfortably move in the garment no matter what the material is.
Set – this refers to creases and wrinkles in the garment because of poor fit. The garment can be too snug or too loose.
Balance- when looking at the garment 3 dimensionally it should “hang” proportionally on the body. There should not be any pulling to the back or pressing over the chest. The left and right sides should be symmetrical.
Line – the design lines on your garment should follow the body lines. If the intended design has normal side and underarm seams then these should be visually right on the vertical sideline. Check that the lines you have intended in your design are placed exactly where you want them to be on the garment. Redraw new lines if you are not satisfied.
if the garment is tightly fitted bare in mind the seam placements. You want the seams moved away from places where the wearer can get chafing. For tops, the problem areas are under the arm area, right on the shoulder seam, right on the elbow and right over the chest – nipples.
For bottoms, the problem areas are right over the knee and the inner leg/crotch seam. If possible also avoid seams over the seat.
If you have tops, midlayers, jackets, and bottoms in your collection make sure to fit them in correlation to each other. What I mean is, if you have a midlayer that should go over a top and under a jacket make sure you fit all of them, layer on layer. Can your model move comfortably in all layers?
Let’s say you are fitting a trekking jacket. Your customer will probably wear a backpack some time. Make sure the model tries the garment on with the gear. Does the hip belt sit below the hand pocket opening? Do the shoulder straps land right on the shoulder seams? Do you have ventilation zips on your jacket – can the model open and close these with the backpack on?
What is the intended fit? Look at the sketch and compare it to the garment on the model. If the midlayer was intended to have a really dropped back hem, does the garment on the model have that?
Test all the garments with the intended gear, for example, a pair of climbing pants should be tested with a harness on, ski pants with ski boots, a downhill mountain biking short should be tested with all the protection gear underneath, etc.
Remember the details
Garments with pockets can be tested to see if the pockets are big enough, make sure the phone fits in the phone pocket, the ventilation zippers are in reach and that thigh pockets are big enough to fit a map in. Make sure to test all the features on the garment, that it’s easily maneuvered and in reach. If pockets are too small that will be irritating, and if the pockets, for example, have the wrong construction your things will fall out when you sit down… no one wants to lose their phone nowadays….
On garments with velcro tabs, hood adjustments, and cord stoppers, double-check that everything is easy to use. Preferably to be adjusted with one hand. Let’s say you sit on a bike or hang on a climbing wall, you only have one hand available.
There will be several protos that need to be fitted: 1st proto, 2nd proto, salesman sample, size sample and pre-production sample. The closer to bulk production the less things you will have to change and comment. The pr- production should be spot on, exactly as the bulk.
On the first proto you will also have to make sure that the labels, trims, and embroideries are exactly where you intended them to be. If not, measure and indicate the changed position in the tech pack and in the comments notes.
Testing, testing, and more testing
As early as possible in the process, it’s good to start testing your products, both in physical performance and through washing. Put the garment in the washing and see how it behaves. Also do take the sample out for a ride to see what needs to be changed. The sooner your garment is tested in real life the better it is. It goes without saying that the test person should be the same size as your fit model, otherwise you will not get a correct fitting/testing evaluation. When a product is tested in real life, all the small changes will make a huge difference in the final garment and its performance.
Even normal everyday use is better than no use/testing at all. If you are sample size it’s a good idea to test everything yourself because you will know when something is off. A seam that is chafing, a strap that you can’t reach, a leg entry that’s too wide, something that’s just plain ugly… you will see it all.
The fit sessions are time-consuming, and should never be rushed. This is the time to really look at the garments because if you want to make any changes, the time is NOW. Make clear and very detailed notes and explain everything like it’s meant for a 3-year-old.