Anyone who makes clothing knows garment alterations are a normal part of the sewing process. As such, rulers are used to make adjustments wherever they may be.
But, since our bodies are built with an abundance of curves, typical straight rulers often can’t get the job done right.
Curved rulers can be used for both pattern drafting and fitting adjustments around the curvy parts of our bodies. But if you’ve never used one before they can be a bit intimidating.
There three main types of curved rulers for sewing garments.
Some are essential for pattern drafting while others are useful tools for pattern or fitting adjustments. Read on to know what type to use for all your alterations.
1. French curve ruler
The French curve is the most common curved ruler used for fashion design (it’s the translucent ruler shown above). It’s especially handy for making common fitting or pattern adjustments.
2. The hip curve
The hip curve is an essential tool for making pattern as well as fitting adjustments at, you guessed it, the hip line. The tool is also great for making adjustments at the hemline, for lapels and at the elbow. Anywhere a slight curve is needed, this is a good ruler to use.
This type of ruler is especially useful for making side-seam adjustments. Once a side seam is pinned to fit, use a hip curve to draw in the new seam line that the pin line has created. The ruler is unlikely to conform exactly to the curve of the pinned line, so it will likely require drawing in the new seam line in phases.
Using a hip curve ruler for side-seam adjustments:
- Starting at the waist or underarm (for skirt/pant or dress) slide the ruler up and down along the pinned line until the curve of the ruler conforms to the pinned seam.
- Make note of the numbered measurements at the beginning and end.
- Move the ruler again to conform to the rest of the pinned seam, again noting the measurements. This is done to ensure both the left and right sides seams are drawn exactly the same.
3. The fashion or styling-design curve
This is one of the most common curved rulers used by the home sewer. While it can be can be used to draft patterns, it’s more commonly used to make neckline, collar and sleeve cap adjustments. In addition, it’s a great tool to use for convert darts into princess seams and it too can be used for making side seam adjustments.
This is a great tool to use to record fitting standards. I record my favorite necklines. I use the ruler to measure the curve of necklines I like from either my commercially made garments or the ones I have made for myself.
This ensures your necklines fall right where you want them — not too low or too high or wide.
When it comes to altering sleeves this tool is essential. Once a garment armhole has been altered, adjusting the sleeve cap follows. Use this ruler to record the adjusted armhole measurement and then transfer those measurements to the sleeve cap to ensure a great fit.
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