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Tutorial 1. Choosing a Suitable Dress with Regard to the Child's Body Proportions.

Tutorial 1. Choosing a Suitable Dress with Regard to the Child's Body Proportions.

This time I will be working on a dress for a 12 year old girl. Her name is Noa and her height is 150cm. 

First of all, let us choose and customize a suitable dress for her.

I start from determining the correct position of the waistline. I have already tied a cord around Noa's natural waist.

And now I want to find the golden ratio position of the waistline:

As you can see, Noa's natural waist is already in a golden ratio position as it is:

The position of a girl's waist tends to improve proportion-wise as she grows up.

People often ask me how to determine the best proportions for a garment.

In fact, there is a very important rule: the entire garment must be based on the same proportions! If the garment divides the child's body in golden-ratio parts, then the elements which make up the garment itself should also be in a golden ratio to each other. If we choose certain proportions for the child, we should stick to them in the garment as well. For example, if you divide the child's body into 1:4 parts, you should also divide the garment into 1:4 parts (by positioning pockets, flowers, bows, and other elements correspondingly, using a waistband of an appropriate width, etc). If you stick to the golden ratio, use it in the entire garment.

As for Noa's dress, I want to divide it into two equal parts (use the 1:1 ratio). This ratio is considered static, stable, and calm. It is often used in formal suits and casual wear, as well as garments from combined print and mono-coloured fabrics. If you want to make bright print fabric calmer by using a matching mono-coloured fabric, use the 1:1 ratio. It will be more natural and pleasing to the eye. The mono-coloured fabric will look less boring while the print fabric won't flick before your eyes too much.

The choice is usually influenced by several factors. The first factor is your intuition. The second factor is your experience, and the third factor is some or other point of reference. In many cases, skirt length serves as a point of reference. If you want a mini skirt, then you mark the desired level and start looking for the best way to divide the whole garment in parts harmoniously, i.e. figure out suitable proportions.  Knee-length skirt, below the knee skirt, maxi skirt, etc. The dress must be divided into well-proportioned parts based on the length of the skirt:  bodice - skirt - waistband - decor; bodice - skirt; cups - free flowing skirt, etc.

Choose the right proportions when choosing the dress model. It can be based on the girl’s head-to-height ratio, on a golden ratio, or on the stable 1:1 ratio. Another stable ratio is 1:4 or any ratio of Fibonacci numbers. If you plan to sew a multi-tier skirt or some other multi-tier garment, the tiers will look very good if their widths are in a ratio of Fibonacci numbers to each other. The final choice depends solely on your experience, knowledge, and intuition.

Let us return to Noa though.

I have opted for the 1:1 ratio to achieve a perfect balance of print fabric and mono-coloured fabric.

First of all, I need to divide Noa's body in two equal parts (the area from the shoulder line to the floor).

The desired length of the skirt is marked with a blue guide.

Why did I choose the shoulder line as the starting line?

The thing is, the dress will feature shoulder straps. Shoulder straps are also part of the garment and this should be taken into account when dividing the garment in proportionate parts. If I were sewing a strapless dress, I would have simply marked the level of the top edge of the bodice.

It would have also affected the length of the skirt:

As for me, I want to turn shoulder straps into a bright, eye-catching element of the dress. They will have a width of 1.5cm and they will be tied in bows on the shoulders. In other words, they will be part of the decor and involved in the process of dividing Noa's body in parts.

Back to the task! I have already marked the length of the skirt. Now, I mark the top line of the dress and divide it into a skirt and a bodice which are in a 1:1 ratio to each other.

Then I divide the bodice into cups and bottom, with the same ratio, i.e. exactly in half. The top half will be the cups area and the bottom half will be the rest of the bodice.

I have marked all key lines of reference required for taking measurements and determining the length of the bodice, the length of the skirt, and all other important parameters.

I have found a picture of a dress which resembles the one I will sew for Noa just to show you how it is going to look on her.

I adjust it according to the chosen proportions:

The dress "fits" much better now. I am simply showing you how you can try any dress on your client on computer to make a better choice.

Here is a picture of Noa made during a fitting. I got everything right as you can see!

Let me remind you that you can either measure the girl along the marked lines or simply use Photoshop rulers. As for me, I prefer using Photoshop and it works very well. If you are not very confident at using computer software, simply use a regular measuring tape. You can hang a measuring tape or a height chart on the wall, too. A height chart will be seen very clearly in pictures. Regardless of the method, you need to mark and measure all major heights and lengths. After doing so, you can construct the bodice of the dress following the step-by-step explanations from a separate chapter: Drafting a Bodice for a 12 Year Old Girl (Based on Calculations). The chapter includes all measurements and a detailed explanation of the pattern construction process with valuable comments. It will help you understand how to divide a garment in parts, how to calculate all lengths and use them to draft your own pattern, etc. But, first, let me show you how to take measurements.

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