3D Scanning: The answer to easily getting correct measurements?


When I first heard about the 3D body scanning machines, I was excited.  I thought that this was the answer to getting exact measurements for block making.  I read about it online, and it said that the machines were free to use, and it would print out details of your measurements.

When I went and tried it out, all I got was the basic measurements: Bust, Waist, and Hips.  (Note: this is in Australia, is it different in the USA or other countries?).

I also got other information which I wasn't really after such as weight, percentage of body fat, waist/hip ratio, etc.  I also got a print out of a 3D representation of my body.  What I didn't get was what I wanted: my detailed measurements such as Centre Front Length, Centre Back Length, Full-Length Front, Shoulder Slope.... etc.

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Across Shoulder: The Gotcha


The Across Shoulder measurement is usuallydefined as;  Shoulder Tip to Centre Front Neck.

The image that would accompany it would be something like the introductory image on this page, showing the Centre Front Neck to be the pit of the neck which is the top of the Bodice Block.  This measurement which is found in other patternmaking instructions (sometimes with a slightly different name) is usually shown in images as a straight line, or sometimes with a slight tilt upwards to the neck.

This caused me a lot of grief.   I couldn't understand why my Bodice Front seemed wide in the neck with the shoulder slope too slanted.  I was using my measurements, and I checked them again and again.

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Body Forms


Body forms can be very useful for sewing and patternmaking. The challenge is getting one that resembles your figure that is affordable.  There are a number of options:

Basic Cheap Dress Form

Basic cheap dress form purchased from a fabric/sewing store (such as Spotlight in Australia).  You can also buy them online.  Some of these are expandable, some not. Even the expandable ones are (in my opinion) not that good unless you have The Standard Figure.  The shortcomings are not just limited to the fit, they are the quality of the product; lightweight and not sturdy, difficult to pin in places where the expanding produces gaps.

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Bust Cup Sizes

bust cups x

Bust Cup Sizes for Blocks, Patternmaking & Commerical Patterns are not to be confused with Bra Cup Sizes. They may not be the same, and may be very different; e.g. you may be an F cup in bras, but be only a C or D cup for patternmaking.  

How are Bust Cup Sizes Defined?

For the purposes of block and patternmaking, bust-cup sizes are based on the difference between the measurement of your Upper Bust and your Bust.  If you subtract your high bust from your full bust, the difference determines your cup size. 

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Cutting Bias Strips (of Consistent Width)

bias finished top

For a long time I avoided using bias finish on my necklines and armholes even though  I preferred the look of bias to facings.  It wasn't only the sewing of the bias I found difficult, it was cutting the bias strips so that the width was consistent.  The methods I tried were (a) drawing chalk lines directly on the fabric, and (b) washing the fabric with starch to give it some stability.  Neither of these worked for me.

Drawing chalk lines on some fabrics is very hard; you sometimes can't see the line on patterned fabric (and the instructions you see in videos or tutorials always seem to show the person doing it on plain fabric), the chalk catches and pulls the fabric, the fabric moves as you draw on it... the list goes on.  I never got consistent width bias strips even on the more stable fabrics.  Trying chalk lines on viscose was a disaster and the width across the strip varied up to 1cm (.38-inch).  Washing the fabric in starch didn't work for me, and the spray on ironing starch was also next to useless.

The most frustrating thing of all was to spend a lot of time cutting bias strips to end up with strips that quite uneven, even when using stable fabric.  If I a slippery or unstable fabric such as drpaey viscose, it was impossible.

The way I now do it results in consistent width lengths of bias. It's easy to draw the bias lines and easy to cut.  It does involve some work, but anything worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth doing well often takes time. That's my motto anyway.

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Ease in Patterns and Blocks


This article will give you a guide to adding ease when you want to add ease to create jackets, coats, shirts, etc.  Note that these are not step-by-step instructions for creating these garments; this article is only an overview on adding ease.  The measurements given are standards, they are not set in concrete.  Consider them a starting point.   I am limiting this article to garments created with the Bodice Block, not Skirts or Pants.

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Fabric Burn Test Chart

fabric burn test chart

If you don't know what kind of fabric you have....

I sometimes buy fabric at a thrift store, and sometimes I'm not sure what kind of fabric it is.  I don't usually use synthetic fabric for making clothing, but if it's cheap enough I'll buy it to stablise other fabric*; it is especially useful when cutting slipping fabrics like viscose, and even more so when cutting bias strips (Note: The fabric has to be really cheap to make it worthwhile, as it end up being a 'throw-away' fabric). However before using it as ''throw-away' stabilising fabric, I check by doing a burn test.  I am sometimes pleasantly surprised and find that I have ended up with some good quality fabric.  The burn test isn't 100% reliable as there are fabrics that a mix of synthetric and natural, but it's a good starting point. 

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Fit vs Size


"Let me get you Another Size"

All my life I have had difficulty finding clothes that 'fit'. In my teens in outback Australia in the 70s, before the days of bootcut, relaxed fit and the myriad options available today, I suffered (greatly) to wear jeans.  If they fit around my bottom and thighs they were HUGE in the waist, and wearing them without a belt wasn't an option.  If I wore I belt, they would be too tight in the crotch,  they would cut in and I would be in agony by the end of the day.

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