Metric or Bespoke?

What is the difference between the Bespoke and Metric pattern cutting methods?

People differ in shape and form, lenth and girth. This poses a huge problem for fashion designers who want to mass-produce a ready-to-wear line. What sizes should they offer? What shape should these be?

Fortunately human size variation, like most things in nature, forms a bell curve. Put simply the majority of people are shaped quite average.

Loads of studies have been done to measure significantly large groups of people and determine average body shape and size in order to develop size charts for mass production.

The biggest study of this sort was done in World War Two to determine a base chart for soldier’s uniforms. Most clothing charts were adopted from this and today it still forms the British Standard 3666 but with globalization, off-shore production and specialization a lot of companies have done research and developed size charts of their own to better suit their target markets and product range. The most recent was done by Levi for their Levi’s® Curve ID range.

If you have an ‘average’ body shape most of the ready-to-wear out there will fit you fine but for those with ‘irregular’ body shapes (the really short, tall, busty or pear shaped) finding the right fit instore can be a bit daunting or disheartening.

They often encounter such bad fit problems that clothes have to be custom made.

The Metric pattern cutting method was developed with mass production and ready-to-wear in mind. The basic pattern blocks are developed to fit a standardised size range, ensuring that the clothing sizes you offer fit the widest ‘average’ variety of customers. If you are a fashion designer starting a clothing line, the metric method would suit you best.

If, however, you want to supply a wider variety of sizes, offer made-to-measure services to fit each customer individually or sew for yourself, the Bespoke method would suit you better.

The Bespoke method was developed from a combination of British Saville Row tailoring techniques and French haute-couture dressmaking techniques. It creates an exclusive, custom-fitted pattern made specifically for the customer’s measurements and posture.

Metric pattern cutting books

Example of metric block user instructions

The Bespoke method: using rulers and charts

A Saville Row tailor at work

Haute couture pattern maker at work


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