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What Makes a Perfect Fitting Session?

The perfect fitting of a garment lies at the heart of your customers’ evaluation of an apparel product. With vast differences in body shape and size, fit problems form the basis of returns of online clothing purchases.

As part of the product development process, designers and their team, typically develop sample size garments for a specific size range based on their target market.

When a sample is finished, it is usually checked for fabric type, compliance with specified garment measurements, and construction details. However, it’s imperative that the garment is evaluated on a model in order to judge comfort, appearance and last but not least, fit.

A fit session is a meeting between the design and technical teams where they assess the fit of a collection.

A fit session is a meeting between the design and technical teams where they assess the fit of a collection. Fit samples (samples sent from the factory at various stages of development to assess the fit) are sent from the factory.

A ‘fit’ model who meets the customer profile in regards to size and shape is present to try the clothes on. The designer will make comments on the overall look of the garments, whether they’re happy with the trims used and placement of them and whether the quality of the garment is as they expected.

At these meetings, the pattern cutter will be on hand to make adjustments to the garments and to confirm approvals.

To ensure a perfect fitting session it is important to ensure the following:

Clarify the role and responsibility of attendees

There should be a maximum of 3-4 people present during a fit session:

  • the business owner,
  • a designer,
  • a pattern cutter and
  • an assistant

They will all have an opinion but it’s important to determine, beforehand, who the final decision maker will be.

It is difficult to address all of the issues that may arise if you’re doing the fittings and taking notes and photographs alone. An assistant would be useful to address these areas and will free you up to focus on the process of explaining how things should look, to the business owner while you support the pattern cutter.

Use a fit model who suits your customer profile size

Select a fit model who fits your customer profile size before any patterns are made. This ensures that all measurements are based on their spec.

Most model agencies will allow you to audition a selection of models and once you have found one who fits your profile, take their measurements.

Unfortunately, there is no true standard for garment sizing in the fashion industry. What one company calls a size 10 may not be the same for a different company and therefore each designer can create their own interpretation based on their customer profile sizing.

Some garment areas that will conform to standardization include neckline widths, sleeve widths, and the rise of a pair of trousers.

In order for your garments to fit all of your customers perfectly, you would have to create bespoke clothing.

Bear this in mind when you’re fitting garments on the fit model and don’t get hung up on chasing the perfect fitting.

However, if your designs are for the teenage market and you use a model in her late twenties with a fuller figure then your samples will not fit or look good.

Take technical notes during the fit session

The pattern cutter must ensure that all the garment measurements are checked against those on the Fashion Spec Sheet prior to the fitting. Should the garment measurements correspond with the Spec measurements but the garment doesn’t fit the model, then either the spec measurements will need to be altered or the stitching is wrong.

Either way, another sample will have to be made and another session scheduled.

Provide a ‘Fit Comments’ sheet for each style that is being assessed so that during the session, all amendments by the designer to the garments must be registered.

Once the fit session is over this information is then transferred in the form of notes and diagrams onto the specification sheet and added to the Tech pack.

After the fit meeting, the updated tech pack will be date stamped and emailed to the factory.

The garment patterns will then be adjusted according to the notes taken at the meeting or the order produced if everything was approved. It’s important that all Spec Sheet changes are made during every fit session and that your Tech Pack is updated as it enables the factory to keep on top of revisions and not make mistakes.

Plan your time effectively

Hiring a fit model can be expensive so try to stick to a schedule.

Be aware of the number of styles that you’re fitting and allow a certain amount of time for fitting each garment and maximise productivity.

Unless the design is complicated and in early-stage development, for a first fitting allow 20 minutes per style and 15 minutes per style for follow up sessions.

Prioritise Garments

Good organisation is the secret to a perfect fitting session.

Prioritise your garments to ensure that you fit the styles that you estimate will take the longest to do, or are most urgently required for production purposes.

Should you run out of time then the less urgent items can be dealt with at the next fit meeting.

Always be prepared

Have a selection of tools such as pins, scissors and a tape measure with you at the fitting.

Fabric will also be useful should you need to patch amendments on the garments or change necklines.

Other items that may be useful include underwear and shoes for the model. For future fittings remember to provide the same items so that inconsistencies do not occur.

Should you be fitting a two-part outfit start with the top and end with the skirt. This will prevent any confusion occurring for the note taker and photographer.

Stay focused

A common mistake that occurs during fit sessions is to jump between issues.

  • Start at the top of the garment and work your way down.
  • Should you be fitting a two-part outfit start with the top and end with the skirt. This will prevent any confusion occurring for the note taker and photographer.
  • Don’t get sidetracked and remember that this is a fitting session and not a re-design session. Should any design amends be necessary they can be done after the session ends.
  • All fittings attendees will need to be paid, so try to avoid any distractions that don’t relate to the actual fitting of the garment. Otherwise, it can all get rather expensive.

As the name of the session implies, “fitting” is the main topic of discussion.

However, the first time a garment is evaluated for fit is also the first time the team sees the design concept as a finished garment in the correct fabrication and on a live model. Inevitably all team members will have their own opinions to share so it’s important to be prepared for changes to the product other than those pertaining to just fit and finish.

Once the session is over, review the notes and discuss everything with your team to ensure that nothing is omitted from the tech pack.

For visual tips on how to have a perfect fitting session, refer to books like this one.