Because cloth is primarily two dimensional and bodies are three dimensional it it necessary to shape fabric to make it conform to the curves of the body. Although fabric is not rigid and may be shaped with moisture and heat, this process of molding is somewhat temporary. Any extensive shaping to create three dimensional forms has to be done by other methods. A large group of these methods involve the control of fullness in fabric. There are four methods presented here, listed in order of increasing amounts of fullness controlled:
Ease is a small quantity of fullness, usually no more than 1 1/2" to 2", controlled so that the fullness is not apparent, only the new three dimensional shape created. The most common use of ease in a garment is in the set-in sleeve with a smooth sleeve cap.
Darts are triangular folds of fabric sewn into garments where a smooth fit is required and there is too much fabric to be eased smoothly in, or a seam line is not available.
Gathering controls fullness by pulling the fabric up very closely together so that it may be seamed to a smaller piece of fabric. Gathering controls a minimum of 1 1/2 times the fabric needed in a specific area and a maximum of 3 times the necessary fabric. For example, for a skirt with a 24" waist measure a minimum of 36" is needed to correctly gather into the skirt, but 72" could be gathered into the waistband.
Pleating is folding and pressing fabric at regular intervals to control large amounts of fabric. Pleats control a minimum of double the amount of needed fabric and some times as much as four to five times the amount. Pleats may be pressed down the entire length of the garment, or they may released just inside the seam allowance. This is done by simply not pressing the pleat into the fabric except in the seam allowance. All pleats are made by folding the fabric over on itself or by attaching a separate piece of the underside of the pleat. The second method is used to accommodate small pieces of fabric or when the inside of the pleat is a different fabric, such as cheerleading skirts. All pleats have four parts, and there are several kinds of pleating common to costume shops.
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