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Sizing in Clothing

Sizing in Clothing

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Sizing in Clothing

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Apr 11, 2007


The basic concepts behind sizing systems currently used in the manufacture of ready-to-wear garments were originally developed in the 19th century. These systems are frequently based on outdated anthropometric data, they lack standard labelling, and they generally do not accommodate the wide variations of body sizes and proportions that exist in the population. However, major technological improvements have made new population data available worldwide, with the potential to affect the future of sizing in many ways. New developments in computer-aided design and sophisticated mathematical and statistical methods of categorizing different body shapes can also contribute to the development of more effective sizing systems. This important book provides a critical appreciation of the key technological and scientific developments in sizing and their application.

The first chapter in the book discusses the history of sizing systems and how this has affected the mass production of ready-to-wear clothing. Chapters two and three review methods for constructing new and adapting existing sizing systems, and the standardisation of national and international sizing systems. Marketing and fit models are reviewed in chapter four whilst chapter five presents an analysis of the grading process used to create size sets. Chapters six and seven discuss fit and sizing strategies in relation to function, and the communication of sizing. Mass customization and a discussion of material properties and their affect on sizing are addressed in chapters eight and nine. Military sizing and the aesthetics of sizing are detailed in chapters ten and eleven. The final chapter reviews the impact on sizing of production systems and specifications.

Written by an international team of contributors, this book is an essential reference to researchers, designers, students and manufacturers in the clothing and fashion industry.
  • Provides a critical appreciation of key technological and scientific developments in sizing and their application
  • Discusses how developments in sizing affect the mass production of ready to wear clothing
  • Reviews methods of constructing new and adapting existing sizing systems
Apr 11, 2007

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Sizing in Clothing - Elsevier Science

Sizing in clothing

Developing effective sizing systems for ready-to-wear clothing

First Edition

S.P. Ashdown

The Textile Institute

CRC Press

Boca Raton Boston New York Washington, DC

Woodhead Publishing Limited

Cambridge England

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page

Copyright page

Contributor contact details



1: History of sizing systems and ready-to-wear garments

1.1 Introduction

1.2 The emergence of sizing systems

1.3 The beginning of systematic pattern construction and sizing

1.4 The impact of fashion on the development of standard sizing for women’s ready-to-wear garments

1.5 Methods of sizing for the emerging mass production of clothing for men

1.6 Sizing for the mass production of clothing in the first half of the twentieth century

1.7 Sizing for the mass production of clothing in the second half of the twentieth century

1.8 Reflection

1.9 Further reading

2: Creating sizing systems

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Basis of existing international sizing systems: state of sizing systems in the industry and unification of sizing

2.3 Proposed methods for creating sizing systems

2.4 Changing and adjusting sizing systems

2.5 Future trends

2.6 Sources of further information and advice

3: Sizing standardization

3.1 Introduction

3.2 Standardization of sizes

3.3 Standardization of size designations

3.4 International sizing standards

3.5 Future trends

3.6 Sources of further information and advice

4: Sizing systems, fit models and target markets

4.1 Introduction

4.2 The apparel product development and production processes

4.3 Marketing

4.4 A priori segmentation

4.5 A posteriori segmentation

4.6 Target marketing

4.7 Fit models

4.8 Fitting futures

5: Pattern grading

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Historical background

5.3 Grading process

5.4 Examination of the relationship between grade rules and associated body measurements

5.5 Grading assumptions that are the actual basis for grade rules

5.6 Comparison of standard graded bodice with regression findings

5.7 Goals of grading

5.8 Conclusions and implications

5.9 Future trends and possibilities

6: Function, fit and sizing

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Human performance in clothing systems

6.3 Fit

6.4 Thermal aspects of fit

6.5 Conclusions

6.7 Acknowledgements

7: Communication of sizing and fit

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Communications from manufacturer to consumer

7.3 Communications from consumer to manufacturer

7.4 Impact of new technologies

7.5 Future trends

8: Mass customization and sizing

8.1 Introduction

8.2 Strategies and technologies for mass-customized sizing

8.3 Body measurement selection and application

8.4 Future trends

9: Materials and sizing

9.1 Introduction

9.2 Fit judgment framework

9.3 Non-stretch materials

9.4 Stretch materials

9.5 Effect of material properties on fit and sizing

9.6 Fit assessment

9.7 Future trends

10: Sizing for the military

10.1 Introduction

10.2 Fit and sizing for protection of the military wearer for the mission threat

10.3 Military sizing systems

10.4 Sizing for military populations

10.5 Getting the right size at the right time and right place

10.6 Future trends

10.7 Acknowledgements

11: Sizing and clothing aesthetics

11.1 Introduction

11.2 Fashion

11.3 Size and scale

11.4 Fit, size and re-forming the body

11.5 Size as a spectacle

11.6 Menswear and scale

11.7 The perfect body

11.8 Beauty, the individual and the fashion image

11.9 Conclusions

12: Sizing for the home sewing industry

12.1 Introduction

12.2 The development of the home sewing pattern industry

12.3 The development of sizing for the home sewing pattern

12.4 Measurements and sizes of paper patterns

12.5 Altering patterns to fit

12.6 Summary and future trends

13: Production systems, garment specification and sizing

13.1 Introduction

13.2 Quality control and specifications

13.3 Preproduction: design and pattern making

13.4 Preproduction: prototypes and development of size specifications

13.5 Preproduction: fabric testing and approval

13.6 Preproduction: marker making

13.7 Spreading

13.8 Cutting and bundling

13.9 Interfacings and sewing

13.10 Finishing and labeling

13.11 Prevention of errors

13.12 Distribution

13.13 Future developments

13.15 Acknowledgements



Published by Woodhead Publishing Limited in association with The Textile Institute

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First published 2007, Woodhead Publishing Limited and CRC Press LLC

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Professor Susan P. Ashdown,     Department of Textiles and Apparel, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, 327 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850-4401, USA

Chapter 1

Dr. W. Aldrich,     10 The Pingle, Quorn, Leics LE12 8FQ, UK

Chapter 2

Adriana Petrova,     Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, E405 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Chapter 3

Professor Karen L. LaBat,     College of Design, University of Minnesota, 240 McNeal Hall, 1985 Burford Avenue, St Paul, MN 55455, USA

Chapter 4

Jennifer Bougourd,     London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, 20 John Princes Street, London W1G 0BJ, UK

Chapter 5

Dr. Nancy A. Schofield,     Engineering and Technology Department, University of Wisconsin–Stout, 331 Fryklund Hall, Menomonie, WI 54751, USA

Chapter 6

Professor Hein A.M. Daanen*,; Peter A. Reffeltrath     Department of Human Performance, TNO Defence, Security and Safety, PO Box 23, 3769 ZG Soesterberg, The Netherlands

Chapter 7

Professor Jongsuk Chun,     Department of Clothing and Textiles, College of Human Ecology, Yonsei University, 134 Sinchon-Dong, Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul 120-749, South Korea

Chapter 8

Professor Suzanne Loker,     Department of Textiles and Apparel, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, 326 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401, USA

Chapter 9

Professor Donna H. Branson*,; J. Nam     Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising, Institute of Protective Apparel Research and Technology, Oklahoma State University, 431 HES, Stillwater, OK 74078-6142, USA

Chapter 10

Wendy L. Todd,     Department of the Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, 48110 Shaw Road, Attn Nawcad 4681 Bldg 2187 Suite 2240, Patuxent River, MD 20670-1906, USA

Chapter 11

Dr. Van Dyk Lewis,     Department of Textiles and Apparel, College of Human Ecology, 323 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-4401, USA

Chapter 12

Professor Susan P. Ashdown*,; Lindsay M. Lyman-Clarke,     Department of Textiles and Apparel, College of Human Ecology, 327 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-4401, USA

Pati Palmer,     Palmer/Pletsch Publishing, 1801 N.W. Upshur, Ste 100, Portland, OR 97209, USA

Chapter 13

Professor Susan P. Ashdown*,; Lindsay M. Lyman-Clarke,     Department of Textiles and Apparel, College of Human Ecology, 327 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-4401, USA

Jack Smith     5707 Hagen Court, Dallas, Texas 75252, USA

Professor Suzanne Loker,     Department of Textiles and Apparel, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, 326 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4401, USA


Professor Susan Ashdown

Since the time of the industrial revolution and the first widespread introduction of mass-produced clothing the apparel industry has struggled with the inherent contradictions of providing well-fitted clothing within the constraints of economical and practical sizing systems for the variety of people in a population. People vary along many dimensions, resulting in a multitude of sizes, proportions and postures to be accommodated. All these differences have an impact on the fit of the constructed tailored silhouettes of clothing that are prevalent in much of the world today.

Sizing issues are further confounded by differences in material properties and design features of clothing, manufacturing variations, cultural and individual fit preferences, variations in the way that sizing is communicated to the consumer, and difficulties in assessing fit and the effectiveness of sizing systems overall. The complexity of sizing for clothing is unmatched by any other consumer product. Most consumer goods from chairs to bicycles can be designed to be ergonomically correct for a wider range of variations in the population or can easily incorporate a level of adjustability that is not an option for most popular clothing styles.

The extent of the problem of providing good fit through effective sizing systems has been further confounded by the lack of useful data to address the creation and testing of sizing systems. Anthropometric studies to collect body measurement data of representative samples of civilian populations are expensive, time consuming and invasive for subjects of the studies. Data on the properties of good fit for various clothing types, the effectiveness of grading systems, fit preferences of the population, and preferred size designation codes are not readily available.

The result of this lack of data has been the proliferation of sizing systems developed by individual companies. These systems are primarily based on intuition and common pattern grading practices, perhaps modified by data on returns and feedback from their customers. These independent sizing systems are confusing to the consumer and do not accomplish their goal: to fit effectively the range of people to whom the apparel firms wish to market their clothing.

New technologies available to apparel researchers and the apparel industry, primarily the three-dimensional body scanner, are making it possible to collect, analyze and apply data in entirely new ways that can contribute to the development of improved sizing systems. The ability to capture and save three-dimensional images, to collect anthropometric data automatically from these images, to record and analyze fit in new ways and to communicate sizing and fit in the marketplace using new virtual tools under development promise to revolutionize sizing research.

The ideas presented here by experts in the apparel field represent the broadest collection of papers on sizing systems to be published in one place. The aim of this book is to review the state of sizing research and practise at this critical point in the history of ready-to-wear clothing, and to propose new directions for sizing research as new technologies emerge. We do not attempt to cover all aspects of the question of sizing worldwide, but to discuss a variety of pivotal or essential concepts and issues. The book is intended for a broad audience, including students at every level, researchers and industry professionals from the apparel industry.

The topics in this book were chosen based on a conceptual framework that I developed illustrating the complex interactions of factors that impact sizing to guide research into sizing and fit (Fig. 0.1). Starting from the top of the model down, the history of the development of sizing systems from traditional tailoring processes is traced in Chapter 1. The various processes of creating sizing systems from population measures, and the resulting sizing systems proposed by standards are described in Chapters 2 and 3. Industry development of sizing systems is discussed in Chapters 4, 5 and 12. Starting from the left and proceeding counterclockwise around the model, functional issues, both from military and civilian perspectives are reviewed in Chapters 6 and 10, together with issues related to materials and sizing in Chapter 9. Impacts of production and distribution methods on sizing are introduced in Chapters 8 and 13. The complex issue of aesthetic choices and how they impact sizing are discussed in Chapter 11. The important topic of communication of sizing is introduced in Chapter 7. The final set of issues from the right side of the conceptual framework relating to fit analysis are not addressed in this book; the reader is referred to the excellent book Clothing Appearance and Fit: Science and Technology by J. Fan, W. Yu and L. Hunter (Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge) for a thorough discussion of these important concepts.

0.1 A conceptual framework showing the topics and relationships of sizing research

My heartfelt thanks go to all the authors and co-authors of the papers in this book. In compiling a book of this nature, one wishes to involve the best and most creative people working in the field – those people who are also involved in a multitude of projects and have many demands on their time. Each chapter author and co-author has contributed excellent work to this effort, and I thank them all sincerely.

I would also like to acknowledge the following: my co-researcher in body scan research, Suzanne Loker, for her understanding and support of this project; the body scan research project manager and former student, Lindsay Lyman-Clarke, for her help with writing, finding images and formatting Chapter 13, miscellaneous help with other chapters, as well as her graphic skills in creating the format for the conceptual framework and the cover illustration; Chris Stoia and Robert Garner for their review of Chapter 13 on production systems, and their many insightful and useful comments; editors Emma Starr and Francis Dodds for their patience, support and understanding in the development of this book over the last 4 years.


This book is dedicated to Nancy Staples, friend and mentor, whose visionary work in sizing research inspired many of us. Her work in the technical aspects of sizing and fit was tragically cut short by her death at a young age.


History of sizing systems and ready-to-wear garments

W. Aldrich    Nottingham Trent University, UK

1.1 Introduction

From the middle of the nineteenth century, ready-to-wear clothing began to be available to the mass of the growing urban populations. The growth of the trade has been attributed to the development of the sewing machine and other industrial machine tools, but the expansion of the industry depended on a more vital factor, the development of standard clothing sizes.¹ This chapter charts the complexities of applying body measurements to mass clothing construction through the previous centuries.

Section 1.2 briefly describes the social, scientific and technical conditions that shaped the way that clothing was constructed before the nineteenth century and the emergence of standard units of measurement. Section 1.3 covers in some detail the early attempts to provide viable tables of body measurements and explains the growth of systematic pattern construction and early methods of grading, principally for men’s garments. Section 1.4 explains the factors that inhibited the growth of the mass production of womenswear. It describes the adoption and modification of tailor’s methods of sizing and pattern drafting for domestic use and the dressmaker trades, and also the growth of the commercial paper pattern trade. In Section 1.5 the more sophisticated methods of sizing and pattern construction for the growing ready-to-wear menswear trade and of the late nineteenth century are described and illustrated. Section 1.6 looks at the growing acceptance of ready-to-wear clothes as being of acceptable quality. It also discusses the social and fashion influences of the early twentieth century that not only changed the cut of women’s clothes but also facilitated the process of standard sizes and industrialised clothing methods to be established for the majority of the population. Section 1.7 describes efforts initiated in the latter part of the twentieth century, to develop some standardisation in sizing through body measurement surveys and the use of statistical methods. Finally, the chapter ends with a short reflective piece.

1.2 The emergence of sizing systems

1.2.1 Clothing construction before the nineteenth century

The origins of measurement standards can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and also to the enlightenment of the eighteenth century and the great interest in all fields of science and mathematics. However, systems of body sizes for clothing require more than stable units of measurement; they also have to be directly linked to methods of pattern construction. Little evidence of early attempts to systemise measurements and to apply them to pattern drafts can be found before the nineteenth century. During this period, men’s and women’s outdoor garments were generally similar; bespoke garments (made for individual customers) of varying quality were provided by tailors, who independently or with assistants completed the whole pattern-making, cutting and construction process in their shop. Ready-made garments of varying quality could be bought from clothiers who contracted work out to an emerging sweated labour force. In both trades only the foreman cutter was skilled and had regular employment.

‘In a Taylor’s Shop, there are always two Sorts of Workmen. Firft [First] the Foreman, who takes the Measure when the Mafter [Master] is out of the Way, cuts and finishes all the Work.… The next clafs [class], is the mere working Taylor; not one of them know how to cut out a Pair of Breeches; They are employed only to few [sew] the Seam to caft [cast] the Button Holes, and prepare the Work for the Finisher.… They are as numerous as Locufts [Locusts], are out of Bufinefs [Business] about three or four Months of the Year; and generally poor as rats. The House of Call runs away with all their earnings, and keeps them constantly in debt and want.’²

The need to produce batches of similar garments arose from the clothing of the army and the navy. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, regimental organisation began to take place; noblemen or wealthy landowners provided bodies of men for armed service to the Crown. They were paid ‘coat and conduct’ money, a levy for each man raised.³ Wars across Europe and colonial unrest during the eighteenth century resulted in the growth of standing armies and the need for large quantities of uniforms. These were provided by the clothier contractors; between 1769 and 1784, Richard Lowe, a sole supplier to the marines, delivered 127 245 garments.⁴ Lemire argued that, during the latter part of the eighteenth century, large numbers of men and women were very accustomed to buying clothes ready made up. Most of the clothes were bought from slop sellers who dealt in second-hand clothes, but who also sold cheap new ready-made clothes.⁵

Clothes before the nineteenth century were often created by taking a pattern shape directly from the body or were loose-fitting simple garments. Most of the patterns were made by mantua makers (women who made the simple garments) and were constructed by copying existing garments and adapting the shape. Tailors made the more complicated garments for men and women of means, such as breeches, coats and riding habits. Almost all tailors’ patterns were based on garment measurements. These were not units of measurement; the tailor used notched parchment strips, which were referred to as ‘the measure’ or ‘mefures [mesures] en papier’, to record the lengths and widths of a previous coat (Fig. 1.1); he then altered a pattern based on these notch markings. Creating well-fitting patterns by these means was difficult; they were seen as valuable and tailors were loath to divulge their practices. Few eighteenth-century tailors published pattern manuals. Two examples by French tailors that have survived illustrate small pattern shapes that a tailor would have to trace, to enlarge and then to adapt for different sizes. The tailor, De Garsault, included a pattern scale on the plates.⁶

1.1 Positions on the coat to be measured with a notched parchment measure giving the marked body positions (De Garsault, F.A. (1769), LArt du Tailleur). By permission of the British Library, 67.i.l.(4).

There is no doubt that tailors and dressmakers were attempting to use geometric shapes and ideas of proportion and scale in developing patterns during the eighteenth century, particularly for sizing cheaper clothing. The earliest British garment pattern book that appears to have survived was written for the benefit of Sunday school children at Hertingfordbury in 1789. The book contained plates of small-scale patterns for simple garments worn by the poor: ‘Patterns directions and Calculations, whereby the moft [most] Inexperienced may readily buy materials, cut out and value each Article of clothing of every Size, without the leaft [least] difficulty, and with the greateft [greatest] exactness’.⁷ The pattern book included illustrated plates of patterns, some of which had scaled sizes. In 1796 the introduction of a British tailor’s book on simple drafting by measurements claimed that ‘Patterns can be of little Service to any but Slop makers, where they have them from the fmalleft [smallest] Size to the largeft [largest] Figure upon proportional Scales’.⁸ It is the opinion of this author that the adoption of standard units of measurement by tailors at the beginning of the nineteenth century was the critical factor that generated the new ideas of applying measurements to theories of cutting.

1.2.2 Units of measurement

There are records of man attempting to standardise length in ancient civilisations in the Middle East where the manufacture of goods and commerce was developing. Small measurements were mainly related to the human body, the finger, palm, span, foot, cubit, step and fathom. In early Britain, the foot was the base for larger measurements, the pole, rod or measuring stick. As the length of the human foot varied, measuring sticks would differ from village to village. The Roman foot (pes), divided further into 12 unciae, was a different measurement from the ‘northern foot’ of the Saxons.⁹ In 1611, the French foot (pied) had eight different measurements. However, a measuring stick was a useful tool in that it could be divided into halves, quarters and thirds. As trading and commerce grew, the need for some standardisation of measurements was required. The inch (ynce) was known to the Saxons and, in Britain, the yard became an official standard of length in the twelfth century. Connor quoted from a thirteenth-century document: ‘It is ordained that three grains of barley dry and round do make an inch; twelve inches make a foot; three feet make a yard’.¹⁰ Standardisation of measurement did not occur in France until 1799; the unit, the metre, was based on the ten-millionth part of a quarter of the meridian. Although old measures continued to be used in many of the common trades, France declared in 1840 that it was against the law to use anything other than the decimal system. The metre became accepted as a standard measure across most of Europe but, despite recommendations in 1852 from a select committee of the House of Commons that Britain should also adopt the metric system, the imperial unit, the yard, prevailed.¹¹ This British system of measurement had also been adopted by the American colonies and persisted in the USA.

One of the earliest technical tailoring books, which illustrated pattern shapes but was mainly concerned with the amount of cloth of different widths required for garments, was written by a Spanish tailor, Juan de Alcega in 1589.¹² He used the measuring unit of a bara, also known in Europe as an ell yards). All his measurements were then given in fractions of the bara. Other smaller units used by European tailors or dressmakers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were the nail yard), the dedo yard), and the pulgada (approximately 1 inch). The French pied (foot) was divided into pouces inch); it was then divided into 12 lignes (Fig. 1.2).

1.2 A section of a craftsman’s square, showing the pouces and lignes

Although Groves claimed that needlewomen were using inch-marked ribbons taken from their yardsticks as early as the seventeenth century and were writing figures on them in the eighteenth century,¹³ two tailors are recorded as the inventors of the tape measure, but this is not until 1799 and 1809.¹⁴ Tailors and clothiers were also using yardsticks in the seventeenth century, but this was for measuring cloth. They were also calculating cloth amounts in inches during the eighteenth century. The tailor, M. Cook, suggested to his customers in 1804 that they used a string as a form of crude tape measure: ‘For gentlemen to give the Author instructions to make their clothes, after mentioning the height, fafhion [fashion], &c., muft [must] be meafuring [measuring] themfelves [themselves] around the breaft [breast] under the arms with a ftring [string]; and to mention the number of inches that they are round…’.¹⁵ This practice appeared to be unusual; most tailors still used the notched parchment strip (see Fig. 1.1) to record garment dimensions and to create their patterns, thus avoiding the need to calculate in units of measurement. The notched strip continued in use for many further decades.

However, the establishment of small units of measurement, the inch and the centimetre, and the adoption of the inch tape measure and metre ribbon provided tailors with the means to create tables of body measurements and to use algorithms to create pattern drafts. In the early part of the nineteenth century, tailors began to publish their methods and to argue about the merits of the different systems.

1.3 The beginning of systematic pattern construction and sizing

1.3.1 The growing demand for ready-made clothing

Most of the pattern drafts that were provided by the tailors in books, pamphlets or plates were for men’s garments, and women’s redingotes and riding habits. From the beginning of the nineteenth century, tailors experimented with methods of applying mathematical theories to pattern construction. The few systems provided by the clothiers offered simple drafts and grades for working garments. The need for army clothing increased during the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and the simple systems of sizing and grading provided by the clothing contractors were insufficient. There was also a demand for tailored livery from an aristocracy enriched by their colonial interests and new industrial development on their estates, and also a growing demand for formal clothing from an increasingly urbanised and administrated society. During the 30 years from 1841 to 1871, the numbers employed in banking, insurance and public administration rose from 93 991 to 598 579.¹⁶ Consequently, the number of tailors rose significantly during this period. The growth in demand for ready-made clothing had a strong link with retailing, not only in the growth of small shops, but also in the clothiers, merchants, slop sellers and some tailors expanding their trade by opening clothing emporia and warehouses.¹⁷ It appears that the number of tailor’s drafts published in Britain during the first half of the nineteenth century was greater than in the second half of the century.¹⁸ These early drafts are very important, because their ideas and methods of approaching the problems of sizing for pattern making formed the basis for the later more sophisticated methods and created the technical means to provide the mass-produced clothing of the twentieth century.

1.3.2 Measurements and systematic pattern construction by tailors

The purpose of collecting measurements was to draft patterns and to calculate the amount of cloth required for an individual garment. Three distinct methods of theoretical cutting can be identified: divisional systems which used proportions of the breast or a combination of the breast (by the middle of the nineteenth century this was taken under the coat) and back length to calculate point positions; direct measurement in which points on the draft were identified with direct reference to body and garment measurements; combination systems which combined the two methods. The latter is still the principal method of constructing basic garment pattern blocks today. Although the majority of the drafting systems were written for making coats to measure, many included size tables. This meant that other tailors and the clothiers’ cutters could use the drafts to produce patterns in size ranges, especially those that were based on elements of proportion.

Benjamin Read in 1815 published one of the earliest size tables, The Proportionate and Universal Table; he used inches and listed ten proportionate measurements (Fig. 1.3). He proclaimed it to be ‘A compendium of Arithmetical Calculations, for finding the principal and only leading points in the Art of cutting to Fit the Human Shape; which is so accurately executed that it may be relied on with the utmost safety’.¹⁹ Cook and Golding, also in 1815, devised a combination system, the divisions being based on theories of proportion. They set up a ‘School of Instruction in the Art of Cutting upon True Scientific Principles’. They declared that ‘The use of the inch measure has become so general, that we need not attempt a description of its superiority of the exploded method of measuring by slips of parchment’.²⁰ They listed eight measurements in inches for a man’s coat and breeches and included tables of proportion for men from 6 feet 2 inches to 4 feet 10 inches and also cloth quantities. Bailey’s list of garment measurements in 1815 extended to 13; he constructed a direct measurement draft which required more measurements.²¹ The positions identified by these tailors have remained as some of the basic control points in tailoring. At this time, tailors took all the measurements, including the breast, from their customer’s coats and not their bodies (see the diagram in Golding’s later (1817) book (Fig. 1.4)). Many tailors began to expound theories and to publish them based on the three methods: divisional, direct and combination systems.²² An example of the geometric complexity that was beginning to develop by 1836 can be seen in Fig. 1.5. As inches became accepted, measuring aids began to be developed and inventions for taking measurements were patented (Fig. 1.6). Some of these harnesses and devices were directly related to systems of drafting, such as Thomas Oliver’s shoulder measure invented in 1840. However, in 1884 Giles et al. commented:

‘Numerous, however, as have been the mechanical contrivances that have from time to time been introduced to the notice of the trade, and notwithstanding the cleverness and ingenious adaptability of some of them to effect their destined object, none of them have found any favour or secured a footing, and, if any are still in existence, their use is confined solely to those who went through the thankless task of inventing them.’²³

1.3 One of the earliest size tables (Read, B. (1815), The Proportionate and Universal Table , The Author, London): 1, breast, waist, thigh; 2, half-back; 3, back neck; 4, side seam hollow; 5, armhole; 6, half-front or top of the outside thigh; 7, fork width; 8, armhole for pelisses; 9, front edge to shoulder point; 10, diameter for a cloak. By permission of The British Library, 712.g.12.

1.4 One of the earliest plates showing measurements and also using inches (Golding, J. (1817), The Complete Tailor s Assistant , London (printed for the author)). By permission of The British Library, 7744. b.34.

1.5 A direct measurement draft of a man’s coat (Walker, G. (1836), The Tailors Masterpiece (sold by the author)). By permission of The British Library, RB23.a.17302.

1.6 A patented measuring device (Leslie, J. (1839), Measuring the Human Figure ). By permission of The British Library, Patent No. 8306.

1.3.3 Early methods of graduation

By 1820, tailors who had access to a table of proportionate body measurements for different sizes could use their direct measure or combination systems of drafting to produce ready-to-wear standard sized clothing. However, systems based on the breast or body proportions, and which used tables of aliquot parts, were more useful to tailors producing sized ready- to-wear clothing for the clothiers. McIntyre, the Glasgow tailor, who Couts claimed as the inventor of the tape measure, offered a table of aliquot parts designed ‘to find the Proportions according to the Breast-width for Cutting Garments, and to give the man that knows the Inches on the Inch-Measure an equal chance with the man expert in arithmetic’.²⁴ Tailors began to develop combination systems which accommodated both height and breadth, such as Adams’s variable system of drafting that was linked to a table which used divisions of heights and breast sizes.²⁵ The graduated square, marked with divisions of the breast measurement,²⁶ simplified the construction of different sizes and eliminated the need for tables of aliquot parts. The fractional measure was a parchment strip folded into halves, quarters, thirds and fractional parts; then it was marked. This allowed those tailors who did not want to use the inch tape measure to create sized patterns by divisional systems.²⁷ These fractional measures were still in use as late as 1833. Hadfield gave tables of divisions for breast and height and, although stating his preference for the ‘inch line measure’, he declared that by using the fractional strip ‘a person comparatively unacquainted with figures will be able to form a garment with the greatest precision…’.²⁸ The provision of garments for the military required large quantities of standardsize garments; therefore, military tailors were almost certainly the original source of systemised grading. In 1816, Christian Beck produced a system of mathematically calculated graduated measures in pouces and lignes. Le Costumomètre was based on half of the breast measurement (Fig. 1.7). These were marked with the proportional points that related to lettered control points on the drafts; proportions of varying lengths could also be applied from his longimètre measures.

1.7 The very early drafting and graduation system of a military tailor, which was based on drafting with horizontal and vertical lines (Beck, C. (1815), Costumometre and Longimetre , Paris). By permission of The British Library, 1231.i.26.

Many tailors and clothiers did not master or develop drafting systems, but they were able to continue in profitable business. They could copy or purchase full-size patterns; some of these came with marked rules at the relevant grading points. The drafts were sold in heavy parchment and perforated with holes to allow the pencil to mark the point; the earliest chart that has survived is by John Woods dated 1820 (Fig. 1.8), but tailors were still producing them in 1846.²⁹ Tailors could also buy sets of graded patterns from very reputable sources; Barde, in 1834, offered tailors 14 plates of graded styles for men, women and children on pull-out sheets.³⁰A crude but simple means of extending patterns can be seen in Wyatt’s draft from 1822 (Fig. 1.9); more complex variations of this technique are the basis of most modern grading systems. Byfield’s very basic system published in 1825 was based on enlarging the ‘square’ by the length and width measurements provided in his tables, and using the balance lines to identify points (Fig. 1.10). Byfield stated: ‘To the TAILOR, the SLOP- SELLER, and the DRAPER it will be a great help and sure guide’. His system of graduation enabled him to offer a wide range of sizes for an extraordinary number of garments for the slop trade. These included clothes destined for ‘Plantations in the West Indies, or in America, where Owners possess many Slaves, the quantity of clothing for them will be readily found’.³¹ Byfield included fabric quantities for each garment in every size and also provided lay plans.

1.8 Grading by marking points through punch holes on a card sheet. There was also a four-page pamphlet of instructions (Woods, J. (1825), Wood s Improved Scale of Inches for Cutting Coats or Jackets to Fit the Human Shape from 22 " to 50 " Breast Measure , The Author, London). By permission of The British Library, Tab 597.b.(62).

1.9 Grading by extending points (Wyatt, J. (1822), The Tailors Friendly Instructor, London (sold by the author)). By permission of The British Library, 1560/1201.

1.10 Grading by enlarging the square (Byfield, R. (1825), Sectum: Being the Universal Directory in the Art of Cutting, H.S. Mason, London). By permission of The British Library, 1044.k.3.

1.3.4 Graduation systems based on anthropometry

European tailors appear to be the first to be interested in anatomical body measurements and their relationship to proportion and pattern drafts, although these drafts were still based on garment measurements. One of the earliest records of a diagram of measurements on naked bodies used for pattern making can be found in a tailoring book by J.G. Bernhardt of Dresden 1810–1820;³² the measurements are also related to pattern drafts. Another early record is a system patented by the French tailor Michel Bailly in 1826 (Fig. 1.11). The breast measurement was the prime measurement on which many proportionate drafts were based; Lindsay in 1828 realised its importance: ‘I think a measure taken under the coat, the most correct way to get the true size, rather than taking it over the coat, where there are lapels canvas, padding and sometimes wadding.…’³³ Although many tailors continued in the old method of taking all measurements over the coat, the practice of measuring the breast and waist under the coat and the remaining measurements over the coat, became an established practice by midcentury.³⁴

1.11 Measuring the unclothed human figure (Bailly, M. (1826)). By permission of The British Library, French Patent Part XXII, No. 1921.

It was the study of anatomy, the mathematics of body proportion and its application to pattern drafting that was to bring about the most important contribution to the development of standard sizing. Based on an understanding of anatomical measurements, two different European tailors, Compaing and Wampen, constructed proportionate methods of drafting and also invented systems of graduated tapes. Guillaume Compaing was a French tailor who studied anatomy and mathematics; his system of graduation was based on a method used by architects who divided rectangles into squares to make drawings of a different scale.³⁵ He realised that, if a strip of paper of a different breast size was divided into the same number of units, any basic pattern construction could be then scaled larger or smaller. The system, originally offered in pouces, was later used in centimetres and inches by tailors across Europe and America. Some tailors and dressmakers offered patterns with measurements marked at the control points and graduated strips; only simple instructions were then required to copy the pattern in any size. This meant that a variety of styles could be offered. Following these simple drafts was within the capabilities of most tailors and dressmakers and was of particular use to the clothier–tailors who could now produce their ready-made clothes with a less-skilled workforce (Fig. 1.12). A German professor of mathematics, Henry Wampen, first published his ideas of figure proportions and garment cutting in England in 1837. For the next 30 years, he continued to refine and develop his ideas on anatomy, anthropometry and body proportions (Fig. 1.13). His system of graduated tapes took into consideration differing heights as well as breadths, but they were too complex for many tailors to understand.³⁶

1.12 Cutting patterns by graduated tapes of the breast measurement (Liverpool Cutting Society (1855), A Collection of Rules for Cutting: Comprising Forty Different Systems Selected and Approved by the Liverpool Cutting Society , Liverpool Cutting Society, Liverpool, Plate 8). By permission of The British Library, 1269.e.35.


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