Knits are evil

Speaking of the discussion forum, one topic I’d like to explore is -what I’ve thought- is the continuing degradation of skill levels among pattern makers owing to the unique properties of knits. By that I mean that as many fitting problems are disguised in knit garments, the professional development and growth of pattern makers is increasingly limited. Similarly, if one is not in the practice of developing patterns that rely on the manipulation of darting or areas of suppression, how can one evolve their skills?

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31 comments

  1. Dani says:

    Kathleen, my sentiments exactly. Any question I have asked regarding patternmaking for knits has usually been met with a blank stare. I think that lycra is being used as a crutch for poorly made knit patterns. Who needs a proper fit if it just stretches out in the right places? I will be waiting with bated breath for other responses.

  2. christy fisher says:

    As a knitwear designer, I disagree- to a point.
    I design KNIT garments.. that are KNIT..that is a whole ‘nother skill level and not to be scoffed at.
    I think you are referring to designing SEWING patterns with knit fabrics (jerseys, etc, that are so prevalent with the T shirt/sport trade)..I do think a most designers often “cop out” with the use of stretch fabrics. If knits are used well, they can be quite similar to using a bias cut (working the drape, etc.)..but I agree with the “fast food” patterns of a couple of cuts and an elastic waist being called a “designer garment”.

  3. Erin says:

    As a home sewer, I can say that the new availability of fabric with 3, 4, or even 10% lycra makes me more willing to try tricky patterns, because I know the fabric will “give” a little in the construction if I don’t get it exactly right.

    But when I look at a lot of the cheaper rtw clothing, there are a lot of lumps and bumps where I would expect darting but instead they just used stretch. So I go back to my sewing machine …

  4. Joe Ely says:

    Kathleen, an interesting “lean” twist to this question: What to end users want? Is there such a demand for clothes made with knit fabrics (read: are we so fat, as a culture, that we want our clothes to give and stretch a lot) that the final customer is not willing to pay for the skill associated with better design and tailoring?

    I hereby empty my knowledge of sewing. But am fascinated and appreciate how well you link your topic of expertise to the commercial elements of making clothes! Thus, I pose the question.

  5. Dave says:

    As an manufacturer of apparel, we struggle on a daily basis with patterns that are supplied to us by clients. Many are churned out on CAD systems, with little input on what fabrics will be used in the style. This can be a major challenge, and in some cases, several remakes are necessary before fit approval is given. Lycra further complicates
    the process. Women’s workout/yoga apparel is most difficult . When making pants, “bunching” in the front or rear rise can be frustrating , as I am not sure if any proper term exists or can be used, in mixed company that will not cause some degree of embarassment.
    Dave

  6. Alison says:

    I’ve seen it the other way around as well. If the fabric will stretch, a RTW garment that will need to look good on a variety of body types can be made more fitted, more tailored. Most crucially, the sleeve can be narrower. And in fact, the fashion recently has been for narrower sleeves.

    If there is no give in the fabric, then the give must be in the cut. Vionnet used bias cuts of woven fabrics to design garments that would look good on a variety of body types, but if you’re making a tailored jacket or a classic shirt with on-grain, unstretchy fabric then you need to introduce some kind of bagginess.

    Seems to me that lycra has been raising the bar in terms of expectations of fit just as often as it lowers it.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Kathleen, an interesting “lean” twist to this question: What do end users want? Is there such a demand for clothes made with knit fabrics (read: are we so fat, as a culture, that we want our clothes to give and stretch a lot) that the final customer is not willing to pay for the skill associated with better design and tailoring?

    I do think that people are willing to pay for products that do not insult their intelligence, their integrity and that are flattering. However, if all that’s available is crap, they want the cheapest crap. Who wants to pay top dollar for crap? You do bring up an interesting point tho with regard to lean and it’s a huge crisis nobody is talking about -it relates to fundamental retooling in the business- and that specifically regards the increasing sizes of pattern pieces. I wrote about it here http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/fit_and_sizing_entropy, the specific quote to which I refer is this:

    Consumers:
    Guilty of gaining weight to the extent that humans are falling outside of their natural scale and shape; sizes are so large as to be untenable to manufacture comfortably. The entropy of fit can be attributed to body shapes that are too large to cut anatomically correctly on fabric spreads of currently manufactured widths. If this continues, the industry will need even wider tables, wider spreaders, more handling equipment, and inventory space. Weavers and spinners will need new looms to accommodate the wider fabrics …the list is endless as are the costs. Our tables and looms were designed to accommodate a healthy variation of something approaching the natural weight of what a human should weigh. Expectations of greater design integrity can’t be justified if the costs of product development and facility infrastructure -industry wide, both vertical and horizontal- are incalculable. It’s cheaper to cut boxes.

    (and was very surprised that nobody barbecued me over it). The other thing that I’d add to this is that with the need of increasing table width, it will be much much harder to cut the fabric. Human arms are only so long and if fabrics get wider, you can’t reach into the middle of the lay from the side! Accordingly, I’d agree that knits have been a ready solution -albeit jury rigged- to the crisis.

    The other issue is that because people are falling outside the normal range of human scale, the ability to draft patterns according to standard practices has been diminished. The length of a shoulder line does not increase commensurately with such divergent increases in girth. For tailored clothes on woven fabrics, this means huge darts to pull in areas of suppression (the shoulder line is comparatively suppressed in relation to the full chest measure). Likewise -you may not get this Joe but this is for other designers in our midst- the size of the armhole doesn’t increase proportionately either (review the post http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/sleeve_cap_ease_is_bogus). What’s worse, the bicep becomes larger than the circumference of the armhole and it will be impossible to draft tailored sleeves in the traditional (without ease) way. Normally, the bicep equivocates to total armhole size for the maximum.

    Regarding costs…the fact remains that while there are heavy women who will pay money for nice clothing, the majority of heavy people are low income who neither have the need or means for tailored apparel. Thoughtfully designed items for the BBW will remain a niche market. It’s a real trick to draft clothes for this market. Particularly when you consider that physical differences (fitting variations) between people become exacerbated as one gains weight. It’s easier to fit a range of different figure types provided the figures are slender. With weight gain, the differences increase commensurately.

    Then Alison wrote:

    If there is no give in the fabric, then the give must be in the cut. Vionnet used bias cuts of woven fabrics to design garments that would look good on a variety of body types, but if you’re making a tailored jacket or a classic shirt with on-grain, unstretchy fabric then you need to introduce some kind of bagginess.

    The point I’m trying to make is that it’s harder to cut to shape as Vionnet did. There is no way that a pattern maker accustomed to working knits is going to have the skills and acumen to cut as Vionnet did. Yes there is stretch to bias but it must be quantified. Most knits have stretch according to an x or y axis…but bias is a Z which means you have to quantify the pull of both x and y to get there. It’s no trick to draft for girth stretch (which was my point) but it is a trick to cut on a z axis. One side of the equation gives less or more than the other. Patterns can look morphed when cut this way, shorter perhaps when the calculations of x/y have been quantified but the item lengthens when hung on the body. This is several levels above drafting for knits. Maybe I’m slow but it’s been a challenge for me to calculate the drag of different bias goods. My point is, knit stretches to compensate for a multitude of sins. I have very often had the problem that if a woven fits me in the bust, the neckline is gaping but this doesn’t happen in a knit. It is very difficult to correct for this in a woven; it requires a much greater level of skill than it does for knits. And if you’re only working in knits, you’ll never learn to correct for wovens -that is what I see as the core problem. The broad application of knit usage is stunting professional development of pattern cutters.

  8. christy fisher says:

    You said:
    “And if you’re only working in knits, you’ll never learn to correct for wovens -that is what I see as the core problem. The broad application of knit usage is stunting professional development of pattern cutters.”

    True.
    ..and if you are only working with wovens, you will never learn the true value of a knit.
    Knits cover a very broad spectrum. If you really LEARN knits (we make a lot of our own yardage on knitting machines) you will see that you can cut knits on the bias (a completely different effect than wovens..with unique design capacities), you can dart knits, fuse them for various effects, and shape within the formation of the fabric (make darts,etc. AS you are knitting the fabric)..The looms that make Tshirt knit fabric work the same way as the machines that make sweater fabric..it is all in the type of yarn and the gauge.
    Cutting and sewing DOES produce a different set of challenges for a patternmaker.
    Knits DO work SIMILARLY (I did not say the same) as a bias cut (I have used darts on bias cut wovens as well as knits)..knits do not stretch the same crosswise as they do lengthwise..that will vary according to the gauge and yarn as well. It takes a different set of math skills to REALLY work with knits well. To be a A+ designer, I feel you need to excel in BOTH knits and wovens and to understand how the fabric is created and how different fibers/yarns react.
    Invista (lycra) has added a whole ‘nother set of playrules to the mix.
    I do not find knits evil at all.
    I find them exciting.
    I DO find designers who are lazy and go to the most boring cuts (because they are easy)I find THAT evil.
    (but then again, I do not smoke or drink, so I am a “tailor who is not to be trusted” :-)

  9. christy fisher says:

    After reading all the previous posts, I think what you want to refer to as “evil” is “stretch” whether in in woven or in knit.

  10. MW says:

    Kathleen, an interesting “lean” twist to this question: What to end users want? Is there such a demand for clothes made with knit fabrics (read: are we so fat, as a culture, that we want our clothes to give and stretch a lot) that the final customer is not willing to pay for the skill associated with better design and tailoring?

    Kathleen and I discussed this topic before, a couple weeks ago. And I must preface this by saying, that Kathleen is already well aware of my stance on stretch wovens (to differentiate that from true knits).

    Stretch is a godsend to women with body types outside the range of your typical fit model. Does this mean that a woman is fat? NO. It means that her breasts, hips or rear end (and/or thighs) make her curvier than the slimmer body that clothing is often fit on.

    To make my argument, I have to remove obesity and weight problems from the equation, because I’m not talking about people who need stretch to cover the excess 20 pounds they are carrying. And on top of that, I don’t think most DEs here, design plus sized clothing. I am, however, talking about people with a different bone structure and body proportions than what the apparel industry currently designs for, but who are not fat or overweight in technical terms.

    One place my colleagues and I feel that stretch has really been a godsend is in the premium denim market. Without stretch, many of us would be forced to buy jeans many sizes larger to get them to fit in the hips and rear, but have an enormous gap at the waist.

    There is a huge sentiment that the clothing industry, in a general sense, does not design for this type of body. Therefore, many women buy wovens with lycra. Because I don’t (personally) feel that a large portion of manufacturers will ever cater to this body type (and that’s a whole other complex issue), then I feel that stretch wovens have their place. And while tailored garments have their place, to put it bluntly, sometimes a woman with big hips just wants to buy off the rack like everybody else. I mean, let’s be realistic, very few companies are going to fit on a model with this body type anyway.

    In summation, I feel that there is a strong consumer demand for garments with lycra. And to cut back on their production, to replace with finely tailored garments, would alienate a lot of women. And I’m sure many of you would say “well, but they could find a tailored garment in their size” to which I would respond “yes, but it would not fit their body.”

    While one could certainly argue that the abundance of stretch wovens points to a laziness in patternmaking and fit, the other side of that is that it has had a positive side effect for “curvier” women. Thus I can’t see it as a bad thing.

  11. Kathleen says:

    Miracle, you took my post far too literally. The title was a joke!

    However, I disagree with this:
    While one could certainly argue that the abundance of stretch wovens points to a laziness in patternmaking and fit, the other side of that is that it has had a positive side effect for “curvier” women. Thus I can’t see it as a bad thing.

    What you’re basically saying is that body typing is leading to skill degradation? And that’s good? If that’s the case, then you’re saying that heavy people can be blamed as the cause of skill degradation. You’re putting it as an either/or situation and it’s not. There have ALWAYS been curvy women, that’s nothing new. I am slender but I am curvy.

    Curvy has been co-opted to mean fat. Curvy does not mean fat. Curvy means a hip-waist differencial of .8 or lower. It’s harder to draft for large differences over smaller distances than it is to draft for smaller differences over longer distances. You might think this is no big deal but if curvy now means fat, then how can we describe women who really are curvy in spite of the hijaked social connotation? You couldn’t describe these women as “sticks” since it’s not true in anything other than a comparative (but not technical) sense and amounts to beauty-bashing; the latter saying more about the one who employs it than the one it’s being used against.

    From my post, The Zen of the survival of the prettiest http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/the_zen_of_the_survival_of_the_prettiest

    What’s new is that we have so few skilled patternmakers that can cut to fit that anymore. That’s why we use knits. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Pattern makers can’t cut for curvy anymore because they’ve cut their teeth on knits -and never developed from there- and now we need knits because pattern makers can’t cut curvy. The situation is not that curvy women weren’t being fitted before, it’s that pattern makers can’t cut anymore so yeah, knit denims were a great solution when faced with declining skills!

    The other thing you’re not looking at is the commodization of denim. As all the push manufacturers moved into that and cutting their boxy templates, (see push manufacturing, subverting the fit feedback loop http://fashion-incubator.com/archive/push_manufacturing_subverting_the_fit_feedback_loop)
    yeah, things fit worse than ever but it had nothing to do with “curvy” women. It had to do with the fact that patterns were being cut crappier than before (CAD templates that fit nobody) so now all of the sudden, knits are used as a tool to cut to fit “curvy” women. It’s not that “curvy” women didn’t have clothes cut for them before, it’s that we largely can’t anymore. Don’t you see? Knits are being used as a shortcut, to cover up the problem. It is not that knits are solving a problem -not if we didn’t used to have the problem before!

    And lastly, I like knits just fine. The point I was making was its contribution to skill degradation. Nothing more, nothing less. Knits contribute to skill degradation. Saying so doesn’t mean I don’t like knits or think we should ban them! That’s not a choice we have to make.

  12. bunching” in the front or rear rise can be frustrating
    Dave, I think the term you’re looking for is “cameltoe”

    Maybe I’m slow but it’s been a challenge for me to calculate the drag of different bias goods.
    Kathleen, you are so un-slow, it’s ridiculous to accuse yourself of that. The problem is, you’re trying to do it the hard way. even Vionnet didn’t calculate the changes that would occur on the bias, she just draped it from the beginning and let gravity do the calculations for her. I know you’re a highly trained patternmaker, but even you must admit that your “dart manipulation skills” aren’t always the appropriate ones for the job.

    I mean, let’s be realistic, very few companies are going to fit on a model with this body type anyway.
    hah! mine will. I started with the frustration of the “gap in the waist” and trained my ever-present need to stare at strangers towards their asses, and Guess What! I’d say 75% of non-asian women below the age of 50 have big asses, hips or thighs–1-2 sizes larger on bottom than on top is NORMAL. I think THAT is lazy patternmaking…(CAD? using dress-forms or “standard” measurements from the ’50s instead of fit models?) And I agree that lycra is just a cover-up.

    Most crucially, the sleeve can be narrower. And in fact, the fashion recently has been for narrower sleeves.

    My dancing tops have the tightest sleeves I own, and they’re woven fabrics without Lycra. And when I say “dancing,” I mean bellydancing, so my arms need to get into every position possible (and my arm sockets are more flexible than the average person’s). The thing that gives tight sleeves mobility is a properly cut armscye (and a gusset or other underarm solution), not lycra.

    If there is no give in the fabric, then the give must be in the cut…. if you’re making a tailored jacket or a classic shirt with on-grain, unstretchy fabric then you need to introduce some kind of bagginess.
    1) most natural fibers DO have give, even when cut on-grain. Polyester sucks in this regard, so that’s another reason to dislike polyester.
    2) “bagginess” is another lazy work-around for fitted shape. Unless by “bagginess” you just meant “wearing ease.”

    I totally agree with Kathleen on the lycra and unskilled patternmakers, and part of why I do is the “it takes one to know one” truism. I am perfectly aware that my patternmaker (me) isn’t that great, so I choose knits for many of my designs to hide her flaws until she gets better. (Woah, that was a weird 3rd person moment).

    IMHO, as always :)

  13. MW says:

    [quote]The other thing you’re not looking at is the commodization of denim. As all the push manufacturers moved into that and cutting their boxy templates[/quote]

    Well, see, that’s why I specified premium denim, because that’s a market I know well. By premium, I mean jeans that retail for $120-150 and up. Seven, True Religion, Citizens of Humanity… When one of the market’s most popular fit models started her own line (Paige Premium Denim), it generated a lot of buzz. Not only was she able to capitalize off the services she offered to the industry, but she highlighted a glaring issue– many companies were using the same fit model, fitting for the same body type. This creates a specific problem because I have friends who sell premium denim at the retail level and fit is definitely an issue when you have a body that’s not “slender”.

    The reason I think they make a great example is precisely because they are, by and large pull manufacturers, are not using cad templates, they are fanatical about fit, yet they are fitting for a specific body type. Since fit is probably the first and foremost selling point in premium denim (followed by wash), it’s an industry that is not lazy about it. Yet the usage of stretch wovens allows them to develop a line around a fit model, yet still have enough “give” to fit a woman who is in shape, but has a more “typical” (for lack of a better word) figure.

    You can view the website here and see her pictures. While she is probably “technically” curvy, she also has a body that’s not… well… very typical of the average consumer of premium denim.

    http://www.paigepremiumdenim.com/

    But to reiterate, I don’t think *this* industry in particular is actually suffering from a lack of skills, since they tend to hire the most skilled they can find. But rather, I think an issue where you use stretch wovens to accommodate a broader range of body proportions. As an example, I have a cousin who’s a five foot six size zero. If she purchases non-stretch denim, she often has to go up 1-2 sizes to get a good fit, a problem easily solved when a style is available with 1-2% lycra.

  14. Jan says:

    Finally a minute to respond to this. In the first place, RTW hasn’t been around that long in the grand scheme of things. Secondly, until fairly recently, women wore much more structured undergarments, carried themselves with a more severe posture and led more straitened lives. I think the more relaxed attitudes we have now for conducting our lives must influence how people want to feel in their clothing. Knits might not fit any better, but at least people can move freely in them. Not so many decades ago, no one would be seen slouching in public. (Think hats, gloves, handkerchiefs.) I, myself, never sew with knits and never wear them either, but my children do. Just think of the freedom we have to dress our childen in jeans and a T-shirt for school! I used to wear little dresses and a crinoline. Girls were never allowed to wear pants until the 70s. I wore a girdle because it was considered indecent not to. Knits and stretch reflect today’s easier life style.

  15. La BellaDonna says:

    My .02, for what it’s worth in these days of inflation:

    I consider myself completely obsessive on “fit,” whether for myself or a client. As a self-admitted obsessive-compulsive, it brings the obsession to a very high level. I recently spent a considerable amount of effort (OC!)to render a piece of attractive lightweight denim with 2-4% stretch usable, since the manufacturer had not. I was particularly drawn to this piece (and an equally attractive piece of linen/lycra), not in order to fudge the fit – fit is my priority – but to extend the life and wear of the garment, which was designed, basically, for heavy labor around the house (lifting, carrying, reaching). I find the percent of stretch useful, not because I need to compensate for an inability to fit (I practice on a body which is curvy in the .66 range), but because of a high degree of muscle expansion (which blew out two fur coats one winter). I find that the small percentage of stretch enables me to fit my clothing closely, as is my taste, without exploding when I pick up something heavy and my muscles expand.

  16. Dave says:

    La BellaDonna,
    Perhaps you should look at garments with a much higher lycra content so you dont keep blowing out your trousers. I also have seen some nifty faux fur that had some stretch to it. I think Glenoit makes it. That might help solve your outerwear explosions.

  17. La BellaDonna says:

    Dave, thank you for your suggestion, but I don’t actually WEAR trousers. Or jeans, except on the back of a motorcycle. No additional lycra needed. If you look at my post again, I was describing the specific parameters for a dress for myself. Kathleen is wearing out her jeans at the point of stress and friction (where the pockets attach and stretch). I was blowing out coats. My problem is not my backside and hip area (despite the .66 ratio), it’s the deltoids and arms. So far I’m pretty happy with my leetle teeny bits of lycra, as far as coping with that problem is concerned. I find that even a fairly minimal lycra blend helps a garment to maintain its shape, rather than bagging out after wear, and compensates for my growing up used to hyperfitted and boned garments, yet needing to move.

    I’ll be happy to check out Glenoit, but to tell you the truth, I’m on an eternal search for a company which I KNOW existed a few years ago which carried SILK fake fur, which I want want want, lack of lycra notwithstanding. If you can tell me where to find that, I will be everlastingly grateful.

  18. La BellaDonna says:

    …the fact remains that while there are heavy women who will pay money for nice clothing, the majority of heavy people are low income who neither have the need or means for tailored apparel. Thoughtfully designed items for the BBW will remain a niche market.

    Actually, Kathleen, I’ve read endless, bitter complaints about the lack of availability of nice clothing for heavy women, and the one question that gets repeated is “WHY?” No one has ever answered the “why,” because, well, it’s a very technical response, and you’re the one who actually knows why. Is it permitted if I quote
    … because people are falling outside the normal range of human scale, the ability to draft patterns according to standard practices has been diminished. The length of a shoulder line does not increase commensurately with such divergent increases in girth. For tailored clothes on woven fabrics, this means huge darts to pull in areas of suppression (the shoulder line is comparatively suppressed in relation to the full chest measure). Likewise, the size of the armhole doesn’t increase proportionately either. What’s worse, the bicep becomes larger than the circumference of the armhole and it will be impossible to draft tailored sleeves in the traditional (without ease) way. Normally, the bicep equivocates to total armhole size for the maximum. Regarding costs…the fact remains that while there are heavy women who will pay money for nice clothing, the majority of heavy people are low income who neither have the need or means for tailored apparel. Thoughtfully designed items for the BBW will remain a niche market. ? Do you want it attributed, if so? Or would you prefer to be referred to as “a professional pattern maker” and left anonymous, so as not to deal with frustrated consumers writing to you, as if you were personally responsible?

    Thanks.

  19. but because of a high degree of muscle expansion (which blew out two fur coats one winter). I find that the small percentage of stretch enables me to fit my clothing closely, as is my taste, without exploding when I pick up something heavy and my muscles expand.

    This is a really, really good point, and one that has drawn me into the study of fabric. The interesting thing I’ve found is that one hallmark of quality fabric seems to be excellent natural elasticity. Meaning, growing with you without bagging out. This is why, hands down, my favorite fabric to use for my super-tight fitted bellydance tops is old kimonos. Oh my god is that stuff elastic; even stuff that’s 30 years old! Whenever I see silk like that in stores it’s EXPENSIVE. I think the effect of fabric choice on fit-ability is underappreciated….and that Lycra is a way to make cheap fabric behave more like expensive fabric. (but I bet it won’t be performing nearly as well in 30 years. Ah, poor, unstable lycra.)

  20. La BellaDonna says:

    The interesting thing I’ve found is that one hallmark of quality fabric seems to be excellent natural elasticity. I agree, Jinjer, which is why I work most of the time with 100% natural fibres, and why, when I work with -and lycra, it’s cotton-and-lycra, linen-and-lycra, wool-and-lycra, silk-and-lycra. I don’t always need the lycra, but when I do, it’s because the elastic properties of the natural fabrics, on their own, do not suit my purposes for that particular garment – and I assure you, I am buying very high quality fabrics. I would be highly uncomfortable in bellydance tops super-tight-fitted through the arms without the addition of -and lycra. That’s my particular comfort level, and my degree of muscle expansion. Possibly also my degree of, ah, exuberance. My biceps, unflexed, are about 2″ larger than the standard for my size. Even cutting a tight sleeve on the bias, which is a wonderful way to get more give, doesn’t necessarily suit my particular idiosyncrasies; tight corsets yes, tight sleeves no. There are times when I want only the degree of elasticity provided by a linen tabby weave, or a cotton twill, or a silk and wool twill, or a silk taffeta. It just depends on the garment.

  21. Kathleen says:

    La BellaDonna:
    The blog is public. You can include that anywhere provided you cite the specific entry on my blog. Just don’t cut and paste so as to take me out of context. And thanks.

    On a personal level, I’d appreciate it if you’d mention I do not “hate” fat people. If it matters to your audience, I am a formerly morbidly obese person -from childhood. About 20 years ago, I lost 150lbs, so it is definitely not a situation where I don’t understand or have the arrogance of a naturally skinny person. If anyone cares to know my dieting tips (they usually do) I can say that the adoption of a low fat vegetarian diet is nice for staying trim.

  22. Dave says:

    La BellaDonna,
    Faux fur is actually a sliver knit. You can try contacting Susan Miller at Tex-Tenn (you know which state, right ? ) Glenoit is back in business under new ownership. I think the parent is called Hai Xing or something like that.They are based in China , with additional production facilities in Elmira, Ontario. Keep in mind they also sell complete garments/packages, so any designs you send them to confirm fabric etc.. can be subjected to “interpretation”. How big are your biceps, anyway ?
    Dave

  23. La BellaDonna says:

    Kathleen, thanks very much. I would like to post exactly what I’ve italicized; the “…” are indicators used in the legal field to indicate that it’s a partial quote, and I will refer it to the correct entry, too. And I really appreciate the permission to add your personal information. The folks on the blog (it’s bigfatblog.com) are actually none of them interested in dieting tips, or how to lose weight. Some of them are vegetarian, some of them are not; some of them are fat, some of them are not. They’re mostly just looking for a way to get along peacably in the world.

    Dave, thanks for the info on Glenoit. I’m not familiar with them myself, but I’m going to hazard that Tex-Tenn is … in Tennessee? And they make … Textiles? If not, I’ll find out when I google. My understanding of faux furs (i.e., what my brain translated what I learned) was “pile fabric with knit backing;” that is, “base knitted, fur added.” (Very old faux fur info, undoubtedly due for updating.) Not to be confused with a plush fabric, woven with an extra warp and cut. For all I know, soon they’ll be able to grow furred skin in petrie dishs to shape (like the human skin growth experiments), and we’ll have real fur that never lived on an animal some day.

    Kathleen, thanks again. I did post the information, and I posted it here: http://www.bigfatblog.com/forums/topic.php?id=311#post-3282

    I trust it meets with your approval.

  24. dan says:

    LaBelladonna and Dave,

    The best and biggest sliver knitter in the states is Monterey Mills, Janesville, Wisconsin. Sliver knitting was invented in Wisconsin, hence, three of the remaining six domestic sliver knitters reside in the state. They were recently acquired by the country’s oldest sliver knitter, Roller Fabrics (Milwaukee, WI). Their phone number is 888-276-5537.

  25. Sarah in Oregon says:

    I once worked for a designer who wanted me to develop a new knit shirt. She “hadn’t decided” on her customer’s demographic, age, body shape or what size she was going to use as her size medium. She did not tell me or show me who the fit model would be. With all that (lacking) information, I draped the design on my own size 8 form, sticking to the proportions in her sketch.

    She was horrified that I had draped the top. “I’ve never heard of knits being draped” she said.

    Obviously, it didn’t work out with her.

    I belive that draping is a perfectly good place to start when you are developing a totally new shape for a new market and are looking for good fit–even in a knit. Infact, the more sophisticated the shape, the better draping works…for example dresses with gathering etc.

    Any thoughts form other readers?

  26. I have followed this link to this page and just want to say that as a stretch fit pattern maker I would whole heartedly agree with most of what everyone has said. There is very little out there to teach stretch (I do swimwear and other close fit patterns online). I haven’t yet read the book referenced on the first link but intend to do so.

    I know all to well the blank stares from college teachers, but in their defence this is still a relatively new area of fashion … lycra in general use really only occured in the eighties. That means the industry spent the first 20 years working out what lycra was and it hasn’t really filtered out to the public yet … I’m sure corsetry was a guarded secret in the early days back in history as well! Fashion teachers are usually people retired from the the industry early and start teaching at 45 years old … meaning that’d be around now. There are some forward thinking people but they are rare and, hopefully, treasured!

    Thanks for a great site!

  27. Jennifer S says:

    I also just read this. I agree that sometimes people use stretchy materials as shortcuts, but knit patternmaking is NOT easy. I have made hundreds of knit patterns and I actually think that it’s more difficult than woven. I have also worked with woven (cottons, silk satins, chiffons, velvet, rayon, etc) and in general I think woven fabrics are more predictable. There are so many different kinds of stretchy fabrics that they all behave differently, shrinks differently. I agree that with knits more people(body types) can fit into the same garment but that doesn’t mean that they’ll look good in it. To make it look good worn needs a lot of skills in patternmaking also. I guess that depends on how much of a perfectionist the designer is. My ex boss was. And he had real fussy clients… So, IMHO good knits need as much work as wovens.

  28. sahara says:

    Stuart and Jennifer, right on!

    Many houses need to learn the difference between CUT AND SEW KNITS, where the knitted fabric is essentially treated like a woven, sans the fit elements (i.e. darts), and FULL FASHIONED KNITS, where individual pieces are produced by mathematical calculation, and linked together. Skilled patternmaking is necessary to both methods, but the former is ruled more by price point–– ala´ the difference between a skirt from Club Monaco, and one from St. John; body type has nothing to do with either.

    I feel the rise of the junior sportswear sector is the culprit. I’ve developed fabrics and sweaters for years, and it’s in cut and sew knits where the degraded skill set for patternmaking has become the norm, aside of the garment–-you can mess up jeans and tops equally–-leading to the acceptance of cheap stores who sell “seconds” (yeah, I said it) as discounted “quality”.

    Many companies attempt to save money by not hiring skilled patternmakers for cut and sew knits, allowing the woven patternmakers do it. Woven designers will tell me, it’s easier because I don’t need to do darts or princess lines. In other words––it’s easier to not know what you’re doing, because the stretch will make up for it––skill degradation at its best! And the fabric isn’t knitted well to begin with, but that’s another issue.

    At the end of the day, price point still rules––from poorly spun yarn, the cheap knitting of the fabric (circular knit tops biasing on you, no matter what your size), to shape-less patterns, drafted without regard to percentage of stretch of the badly knit fabric (“just draft it a little smaller than the standard”), to the distortion of the seams by bad sewing. If the price point is low enough, then folks buy it–they’re not gonna wear it that long anyway. It’s sad.

  29. Seth Meyerink-Griffin says:

    @ Jinjer Markley:T “{snip} This is why, hands down, my favorite fabric to use for my super-tight fitted bellydance tops is old kimonos. Oh my god is that stuff elastic; even stuff that’s 30 years old! Whenever I see silk like that in stores it’s EXPENSIVE. {snip}”

    I’ve purchased a few bolts of old (approx 25-50 years old; yellowed on outside layer and selvedges of the roll) kosode fabric (I don’t remember the technical name for the precise garment; it’s a very conservative style used for visiting friends, plain ground, very small damask details) that exhibited this quality. I believe that it’s due to the yarns being very tightly twisted prior to weaving, making it a form of crepe. Other Japanese silk garments I’ve seen did not exhibit this particular quality; it depends a lot on the intended use and the weaving process. I know that there is a wealth of information about Japanese clothing available, but it appears that some of the most comprehensive are in, surprisingly, Japanese.

  30. Bente says:

    Yehh, very, very interesting (sorry don’t have time to read all now, but later)! Thinking about how many hours I lay down to reach a good fitted t-shirt for boys! Who understands this? The neck line have to be perfect, the armholes rightly curved, the shoulders perfect, the fit and look (all components and shape) sporty, but sophisticated etc. Then, talking to “people” that has some connection in the business try to tell me that the cost is too high? Sorry, but I hate crap!!

  31. Elisabeth says:

    I taught myself flat pattern making and started using all woven fabrics. I avoided working with knits for posterity’s sake. However, I’ve now transitioned to working primarily with stretch jersey. I took my woven slopers and adapted them for stretch knits, and now have a “foundation” collection of slopers from which I build new knit patterns. I still use the same dart manipulation and pattern making skills as I would with wovens and I feel strongly that, just because it’s a more forgiving fabric or easier to hide poor skills with, it’s just as important to draft the patterns as I would for wovens. I believe this is what differentiates people who know how to make patterns from people who just started hacking away at some jersey. I completely agree that the advent of knit fabrics has made it much easier for people to hide behind poor skills. Then again, I’ve seen plenty of people do the same with woven fabrics! The customer is ultimately the one who either recognizes, “Hey, this doesn’t fit quite right, I feel like I’m ins ausage casing, it’s not flattering” and one who just doesn’t recognize poor fit and buys the garment anyway.

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