Patterns must grow longer based on girth pt.2

Judging from comments to the first entry, it is not universally understood that girth increases will require length increases in a grade. So, I made up one dress (1/4″ woven gingham) and put it on both balls to provide a comparison. Below is a small version, see the larger file if desired. The black marks indicate 1″.


It is not readily apparent owing to depth of field and differing positions when I took the photos but the hemline on the soccer ball is over 2″ shorter than that of the football. Again (as this seems to be a point of confusion, this is the same dress on both balls. The photo above shows the two balls side by side to provide comparison but the photos were taken separately and then spliced into one. 

Renee mentions that length increases vary based on relative position of the garment striking the body (or not). To illustrate this point, I thank Carol Kimball who sent me a file which I’ve amended like so:


Waist to hip: In that figure A is more slender than figure B, the side seam length of figure A from waist to hip is shorter in total length than the side seam length of figure B. This means that for today’s styling, grading for an increase in girth also requires a length adjustment from waist to the hip line for the various sizes.

Hip to hem: While it is also true that the side seam length of Figure A is shorter than Figure B from hip to hem, whether a length adjustment is needed is based on silhouette. For free flowing skirts, the hip to hem length is static for figures of identical height. However, if the garment tapers or is cut snugly to the figure, the hip to hem side seam length will also require adjustment.

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  1. Renee says:

    The waist of the larger size would generally be larger than the waist of the smaller size, with potentially an equal or typically smaller difference between the two circumference measurements (reference your post on plus size does not equal curvy). My shape changed this way with two pregnancies and I have the same or smaller hip circumference I ever did. I do have hopes to see my waist again in a few years, though.

  2. Kate Rawlinson says:

    As much as I appreciate the finer technical points of this discussion, I just wanted to say that I love that you made dresses for footballs.

  3. I knew that this was the case, but I never thought it would make that much of a difference. That was until I made a beach cover up for myself, and my sister in law wanted one as well. My sister in law is a good bit heavier than me, but I thought, “It’s just a cover up, it can’t be THAT much of a difference.” When she put it on, it didn’t look bad at all, but it definitely didn’t hang long like it did on me. I am about to try my hand at grading a basic top (shoulder seams and side seams, and that is all there is to it). It should be simple but we’ll see who’s laughing at the end of this experiment….me, or the shirt!

  4. Quincunx says:

    Oh, thank goodness it wasn’t just me. Now to pick out a width of eyelet–good grief, will the eyelet have to be graded also or somehow assessed otherwise to see if it still works? Now there’s a justification for a size break. “If the grading has gone through so many sizes that you’ll need to supply different width of trim just to maintain the design proportions, maybe it’s time to stop grading and make a different base pattern”?

    . . .and, because it took me awhile to realize it and lord do I need more caffeine at this hour. . .that is the same _dress_ on both balls, singular, it’s not two different dresses existing at the same time, there is a line and a gap of time between the photos, and did I mention I need more caffeine? And so the idea to have differing widths of eyelet was scuppered, for there was (repeating it back to myself) only _one dress_ to attach the eyelet to. . .

  5. Kathleen says:

    You guys are incorrigible. I mentioned to Eric that you guys were continuing to upvote Donna’s suggestion and he said I should bow to public pressure and put some trim on it. And that once done, I could call it a ballgown.

  6. Katherine says:

    Well, I knew this, but your photo really sends it home. Now I know why skinny girls can wear those short dresses…I always thought that it was my saggy butt hanging out…but that is only partly to blame!

  7. Katherine says:

    Sorry, I should wait until I stop thinking before typing…just a comment on fitting changes I make for this effect, taking into account that girth changes are not symmetrical around the body..

    I am a “skinny” pear…flat tummy and wide hips…so for skirts and the skirt part of dresses, I lengthen the side seam whilst keeping the CF length the same, by raising the waistline at the side seam. I have a friend with a large behind, so for her skirts, I raise the waistline at the CB whilst keeping the side seams the same. I imagine that for a large tummy, you would raise the waistline at the CF and keep the side seams constant.

  8. Quincunx says:

    Oh, that new bold formatting in the entry is kinder than a steaming hot cup of tea, but the misunderstanding was wholly mine. Thank you nonetheless.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Quinn -in deciding to edit, your comment never came to mind. It still doesn’t (and I’m not going to cheat by looking now).

    I decided to edit after several comments posted to this entry made it obvious the writers did not understand it was one “ballgown” used for both balls. Those were from new visitors so the comments were held for moderation and you weren’t notified of them if you had subscribed to comments for this thread.

    Point is, if several wrote not understanding, there were probably many more who didn’t write who also didn’t understand so it was my responsibility to clarify.

  10. Seth Meyeirnk-Griffin says:

    I understand that certain areas might need more length depending on where weight is added; more weight added in the front means more length in the front tapering back to the original length in the back (assuming that no girth was added there). First, is that a correct understanding?

    Secondly, how do you hem such a garment? I don’t like easing material in along hems (it always looks messy to me) so I generally opt for bias facings, which seems to be a fairly expensive work-around to deal with my personal distaste. …It also makes other alterations to the hem line very difficult, which is a less-than-optimal solution, particularly for a dress/skirt. (And yes, I know that a narrow rolled hem isn’t going to get much easing, but I still don’t like the way it looks and tries to roll outward, as on most [both] of my non-t-shirts.)

  11. Seth, point one, yes. Point two, carefully. I know what you’re saying and to some extent (or most often) do agree but I’ve also hemmed A-line full skirts with a deep turned up hem. I think the difference is this:

    A deeper hem (2″ plus) is used on higher price points, bridge and designer dresses and the like. These styles beg the use of catch stitching or blind hemming to finish the hem. It is much less difficult to hem because the joining of hem fabric to body fabric is not 1 to 1.

  12. Sandy Peterson says:

    As I was reading this post, my five year old daughter came up and said, “Is that Bob and Larry?” It was funny.

  13. Louise says:

    “Eyelet trim”? “Ballgown”?…. you’re killing me here.

    (I admit to struggling at first with part 1, because here in the UK, “football” and “soccer ball” are entirely synonymous.)

  14. Heather says:

    Great drawing…

    Really shows the trigonometry / calculous of what happens to all the surface measurements if you increase just one aspect in a 3D shape (i.e. the radius of the one plane). [I didn’t do well in calculous… so thank goodness for grading tools!]

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