I talk a lot about fitting garments but in sewing there is a thing called over-fitting. This is where you obsess over every single wrinkle and drag line to the point where you take out all wearing ease.

What is wearing ease? It’s the amount of fabric circumference that allows you to move during wear.

To understand this from within your own closet, take your bust, waist or hip measurement and then compare that number to a garment you own. If the garment is a knit, you might have what’s called “negative ease” to account for the natural stretching, but if it’s a non-stretchy fabric you need ease.

There’s a fine line between a garment with a close fit and one that is just too tight. I’m not judging someone for wearing tight clothes but if a garment is too tight, you compromise the garment itself. The stitching can pop and you can end up tearing it. Even, say, a dress made out of a stretch woven can be too tight. Again, it’s a fine line, and I’m sure you’re aware of this line when shopping for yourself.

Below are two dresses in my early sewing that I over fitted. The one on the right has absolutely no ease in the hip area. It was unwearable. I couldn’t sit down or do much more than stand, lean or maybe go for a leisure walk. The dress on the right was over fitted in the bodice. In an attempt to fit the shoulders, I took out all ease and I couldn’t lift my arm beyond where my arm is in this picture.

After a couple more tries in the sewing department, I started noticing that adding in ease could often help, and not only with some of the drag lines that I was trying to get rid of. Interestingly, a little bit more ease (not a ton) also looked better on me. I didn’t look so awkward.

I also found that if I got a close fit along my back, it gave a nice silhouette–not over fitted, but tapered in. Like with last month’s post I did on fitting a shapeless button down shirt, taking in the back helped skim curves in the back and in the front and provide gentle shaping while not affecting the ease.


Below is a recent make. I had very little time to put it together as I wanted to wear it at an event. In light of my time constraint, I didn’t have much time to fit–or rather, over fit! I did my usual full bust adjustment but then left any ease intact. You can see the ease along the bodice, especially along the back. In turn, it’s a very comfortable dress to wear.

shirtwaist shirtwaist back

I know we all want well fitting garments. If you’re buying RTW, try it on and see if the fit is improved by taking in the back. If the shoulder seams are falling off your shoulders, take a little tuck and see if that improves the fit. If things start to look strained, pick another top or dress to take in to alter. You want to have enough fabric to take it in and still have wearing ease.

I hope this has been helpful. What’s your thought on ease? Do you choose only stretch garments? Do you find you can get good fit in a particular type of garment?