About Martine

I have been working in the fashion industry for 20 years now of which 12 years as a self employed professional. I specialise in fitting garments, made-to-measure and production processes. I really enjoy working in this field and also educting people in these subjects. I start this blog to bring some of my knowledge into the world and to receive feedback on it. Also, as blogs go... they assure accountability. I have had this plan to write a book on fitting for years and with this blog I wish to start developing material. I would love to do that with you so please let me know what you think! Hope to hear from you. Regards, Martine

Body mapping – a beautiful technique

Check out this video on the technique of body mapping. Body mapping is a technique of making a base pattern of a person through draping and systematically pinning away fabric. We use chequered fabric in order to see clearly what lines are not yet horizontal.

It’s in Dutch but I don’t let that bother you. I am guessing you can make out what this beautiful technique has got to offer you.

Hope you enjoy!

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Balance assignment

In line with the post on photographing fit models I have come up with assignments that I would like to add to my educational material. If you are interested you can do these, maybe even publish them on your own page and possibly let me have your feedback?

PHOTOGRAPHY
In order to learn about bodies, posture and fit it is smart to get an idea of your own body’s posture and possible skewness. Posture is at the basis of how a piece of clothing will fit and it is therefore very important for fitting clothes.

BALANCE ASSIGNMENT 1
Set up a photo gallery, Pinterest boards, PowerPoint presentation or what have you to gather photo and text material on the following subjects on the internet and / or in books.

– What is good, bad and perfect posture? How can good posture be determined?
– Posture therapy; find out what are the weak and strong muscles for e.g. a hollow back?
– Search on posture psychology, body language.
– If you have time continue with ‘no furniture living’. Enjoy!
– What is the effect of high heels on posture?

Objective: to get an idea of what subjects are related to posture, what good posture is and how it can be recognised.

BALANCE ASSIGNMENT 2
Use the instructions of the post on photographing fit models to make (or have made) 3 photos of yourself: the front, side and back view. Make sure to follow-up on every detail of the instructions. If you do not have a tripod, use a table, heighten the table with a chair or books to find the right height to photograph from. The photo’s need to be perfectly horizontal / vertical otherwise the next assignment does not work.

BALANCE ASSIGNMENT 3
Now look at the photos from the above assignment: what do you see? Do you see any imbalance between left and right, a high shoulder possibly? After having taken a look, start putting in the vertical and horizontal lines. Describe what you notice and where your body has imbalance.

Now also put in the circles as shown in the 3rd photo of the former post. Make sure to place them in the middle of the joints. When your shoulders are pulled forward, the middle of the shoulder moves more to the front. More on this topic in the post on shoulder position which will follow in due time.

Finish this assignment with checking how you feel about your body now that you have analysed it.

NOTE TO YOU: If you have difficulty with your body image or feel insecure about yourself, you might want to ask somebody whom you trust to do the assignment with you. If you have, or have had, or are on the verge of developing an eating disorder, do NOT do these assignments, or do it with your therapist. The assignment, when done in a group, can be uplifting if and only if, acceptance of yourself and the other is carried in the group.

The goal of this excercise is to get to know your own posture AND to realise that nobody is perfect. Not you, not anybody. One can actually say that if you walk away with a feeling that your body is the only one with funny things, you’ve got the exercise wrong; everybody has got funny unbalanced things.

Having said all that, I hope you enjoy the exercises and learn a lot from it. 🙂

Best regards, Martine

How to photograph fit models for posture assessment

When selecting a fit model you want to pay attention to his/her posture and sideways curvature. Small bust size of a model can be changed by adding padding to a bra but ‘bad’ posture is very difficult to change for one, and in the end it will bring more trouble than fitting on a real person is worth. So, make photos, edit and analyse.

Front view: The model stands relaxed in a natural posture with his or her weight spread evenly over two feet. When she/he wears a bikini or swim pants is in fact better for editing than wearing tights and a singlet. The feet are about 20 – 25cm (8 – 10 inches) away from each other; feet may spread, just as long as this is the most natural posture. Arms fall down along the sides, hands are relaxed. The model looks straight ahead. Long hair is tied up, away from the neck. Feet are bare, no shoes with heels.

Side view: Repeat the position of the front view but the model turns 90 degrees.

Back view: Repeat the above position but now you photograph the back.

Camera position: For taking these standard photos the camera can best be placed on a tripod which does not move or change height. The photo’s should be taken:

  • always at the same distance
  • level to the floor
  • in front of a door so the doorposts are visible too
  • at midriff or navel height
  • include the whole body.

After having taken these photos you may edit them as follows:

20150506 WOMAN BALANCE TOTAL WITH LINES

Front view: place a vertical line going through the navel, see how skewed the body is. Place horizontal lines at several points to determine ‘high shoulder’ and ‘high hip’ etc. Please be aware that literally nobody is a 100% balanced. Putting in these lines will inform you how unbalanced the person is, which might be handy when you need to compare people. Also, when you proceed with a model you know upfront what imbalances you need to be aware of.

Side view: place a vertical line from the mid of the ankle up. This line ‘should’ cut the body in half, however…. this is not a perfect world. And perfectly straight posture is rare. If you find a person with perfect posture HANG ON TO THEM!!! It will make your fitting life so much easier. Having said that: you might want to consider that, if perfect posture is so rare, it is very possible that your customers do not have it either. Specifically when your customer base is above the age of 60.

Please note: in the ideal world the circles which are now drawn in the visual middle of the ear, shoulder, body at waist height, knee and ankle will be in one 1 line which is perpendicular to the floor. That is a perfect upright position.

In the photo you see a red line too, this runs from what would be the center of the shoulder head to the middle of the elbow. Ideally this line runs perpendicular to the floor too. Check out my post on shoulder position to read more about his.

Back view: not shown. On the back you might even more clearly see skewness.

Please note: it is not my purpose to make anybody feel bad about their body or looks. It is however in the profession of fashion important to make choices and choosing for a balanced fit model is choosing an average fit which suits most people. Making the right choices comes with judging what type of fit model is helpful for the company and what type not.

Basic tip 3: anybody working in fashion should do this excercise on themselves in order to gain insight in your own body and realise that being skewed and / or out of balance is actually very common.

Hope you enjoyed, you are welcome to leave questions or comments below.

Best regards, Martine

How to hire a fit model?

In order to fit clothing samples and check the comfort of a garment, apparel companies use dress forms and live fit models. This post covers the process of selecting the correct fit model.

Before you can determine whether a fit model is appropriate for the job you need to have a standard body measurement chart of your requested fit model size. If all is well… your company has one. If not…. it is high time you went into the process of achieving one.

When in the process of hiring a (non professional) fit model make sure to mention the following to the candidates:

– Long standing and quickly changing clothes is required.

– Weight gain or weight loss above 2 kg can disqualify a fit model for the job. Generally a weight change of 4-5 kilo’s (8 to 10 pounds) makes for 1 apparel size difference. There needs to be a commitment to keeping the weight and shape the fit model is hired for. However, as a company you might want to make sure that you do not hire somebody who will get into psychological trouble with this commitment and develop an eating disorder. Which is why I generally opt for older people with a stable weight. Or women who, by daily profession, are used to dealing with body image such as people in sports or people with a medical background. Of course the 2 kg rule does not apply to children and teens that are still growing.

– Determine a BMI that is that of your customers and set a range as to how much a fit model may vary from that. Models with low BMI typically have very straight shoulders which are very wide in comparison to the rest of the body. The woman in the picture below also has breast implants so most likely she will hit the chest circumference of an size 4 or 6 but her shoulders are more built to carry a 8 or 10. When selecting a fit model you want to be looking for an average BMI. Unless your clientele consists of top models there is no reason to choose a person with a low BMI.

20150505 SKINNY MODEL STRAIGHT SHOULDERS

– The fit model job is in no way an entry into fashion modelling. A lot of people who do not work in fashion will think fit modelling is an opening. You might, in your add, explicitly want to mention that having a pretty face is not a requirement – but nicer. Nicer is better.

– Minors must be accompanied by a caretaker at least for the interview and the first 3 fittings. You want to make sure a minor feels comfortable at your firm. Do not make any exceptions to this rule; minors can be especially sensitive to comments on their appearance.

– In order to make the selection a little easier, make sure the models already send you the following measurements: bust, under bust, waist, hip at the widest point, upper arm, upper thigh, total length and weight. Make sure to send measuring instructions and a form with it.

– Bring several different heights of heels, warm slippers, a bathrobe, hair elastics or clips, a black panty hose or legging and a body hugging singlet with small shoulder straps to the fitting. Do not wear make-up which can stain on clothing.

– Always wear the same size and model bra with the same type of support. Wear underwear that does not cut into the skin. Generally a normal bikini slip or briefs are ok, as long as you are comfortable with it.

– A fit model needs a thick skin. The function is to fit clothing, in the process of the clothing will be discussed but also how the body of the fit model affects this. It is of course never the objective to be disgraceful towards a fit model but it happens that comments come out wrong. Instead of saying: ‘This skirt length is not suitable for your length.’ somebody might actually say ‘Eeeeeh, this makes your legs look fat!’ A fit model needs to be able to deal with that.

– Inform the fit model upfront that, when he/she is suitable for the job, measurements and photos will be taken. You might want to invite people to bring a friend along for the job interview – just to feel more comfortable. The subject of how to take and photograph will be a next blog post.

– In the first or second interview, take the following body measurements. Mail me at Martine@ztec.nl to receive your own digital Excel copy to adjust to your companies standards. German and Dutch translations are available. Click to enlarge.

Based on your standard measurement chart you will have to choose what model is closest to your ideal. Check out my post on ‘How to photograph fit models for assesment’ to decide between possible fit models. Take your evaluation of the posture assessment into account too.

Generally I think that placing vacancies at fashion schools, sport schools are the best way to go about if you like to select a non-professional fitting model. Or you can look to combine e.g. an office assistant or janitor job with a fit model job. Professional fit models can be hired from modelling agencies. However, rates as high as mentioned in this article are not common in The Netherlands.

I hope you enjoyed this post, you are welcome to leave questions or comments below.

Best regards, Martine

Basic body measurements – draft 3

20150504 WOMAN TOTAL ALL MEASUREMENTS

Yes! The draft 3 version of the basic bodies including all the markings and elastic bands you need for measuring. I would like to also thank you for the comments I have received on earlier work, they were of great help, so thank you!

Again, there is a little disclaimer to draft 3: a few tiny details are not totally aligned – but I can live with that. And again, please let me have your thoughts on these figurines.

Since I am not sure yet how I want to market the work in this blog I have added an all over print of my company website.

There is only one reason to mark the body as I have done and that is to measure correctly. No markings, no correct measurements.

Basic tip 2: Mark your dress form or fitting model before measuring. The results of your main and detail measurements will NOT be correct if you do not start with marking.

Want to know how to mark the dress form or fitting model? Stay tuned!

Please feel free to place your comments or questions in the reply area below.

Best regards, Martine

Basic body assignments

In line with the basic body measurements I have come up with some assignment that I would like to add to my educational material. If you are interested you can do these and maybe even publish them on your own page? Please let me know how you have experienced them.

INTRODUCTION ASSIGNMENTS BASIC BODY

When working in the industry of fashion it is very important to get an idea of what your customer looks like and what size he/she has. Working towards the real size of your customers will help the Design department to design styles that are suitable for the body type of your customers and use fabrics that suit style and body types. Having knowledge of the customers will help Development, Quality assurance and Fitting with their specific processes. Trying to find a fitting model for a size 6 while your average customer is a size 12 is….. illogical but not at al uncommon in the industry.

Obviously (?) Design, Marketing and Sales will mention that for ‘esthetic reasons’ the company does not work with women of a size 12 in advertising – but from a fitting point of view it is very logical to fit in the size you sell the most. In the end all comes down to taste, ethics, marketing and responsiblity. And… I am thinking we live in an interesting time where discussions about anorexic models are finally being held within and without the industry.  More needs to change though; I just Googled ‘beautiful woman’ and the first hit for somebody of African descent is at place 155. For ‘beautiful girl’ that is place 355. And these are just some figures showing how strange and out of balance internet and…. I am guessing, or, I fear, that our perception is.

And now the funny thing is, that everybody realises that there is something wrong with our perceptions when we come to make such comparison in race. However…. in the whole list of beautiful women or girls there is not one who is above a size 8 or above the age of 30. Obviously this blog is not about politics but I do want to, with some examples, point out that our perception is skewed. I have experienced that not seeing things as they are, does not help at all while making patterns and fitting clothing.

So, on you go! Here are some assignments to help you improve your ability to really see and understand bodies.

BASIC BODY ASSIGNMENT 1

Set up a photo gallery, Pinterest board, PowerPoint presentation or what have you to gather material on the following subjects on the internet and / or in books.

– ideal female body
– ideal male body
– ideal kids body (notice that you will mostly see measurement tables here)
– body proportions
– drawing a female body
– drawing a male body
– body perception

Objective: to get an idea of how the media show bodies and to get an idea of the discussions going in the media concerning body perception.

BASIC BODY ASSIGNMENT 2

Draw a male or female body from on paper. Make sure the figurines are at least 20 cm (8 inch) high. Draw a front view, side view and back view. Do so out of the top of your head. Spend at least 15 minutes on the assignment but no more than 30.

Possibly this is a frustrating experience, it does however directly confront you with what details of the human body you have no concept of in your head. It is important to develop at least a sense of proportion when working with patterns and fitting.

BASIC BODY ASSIGNMENT 3

Now do the same excercise as above but keep the tutorials that you browsed for earlier at hand. This will teach you how to look at a body and teach you about the proportions of a body.

BASIC BODY ASSIGNMENT 4

When you are, or want to be in kids clothing, do the assignments 1 to 3 for children.

BASIC BODY ASSIGNMENT 5

When you like you can scan the drawings of the assignments and save them. Following that, import the scans in a digital vector drawing program and copy them using vector lines.

If you have not worked with digital drawing programs before you might want to check out my blog post ‘Digital drawing’ (currently not available). Digital drawing is mainly not a requirement in positions where fitting is the main objective but it can be very handy when you do have these skills. Start developing them from early on and you will have learned a lot by the time you have finished the assignments on this blog.

Hope you enjoy!

Best regards, Martine