Standards of Garment Construction

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

How do you choose a shirt or jacket to buy? Do you look at how it's made? We want our clothes to look and feel good. In this lesson, explore standards of garment construction.

Clothes Are Made Of Parts

Have you ever looked closely at your clothes? How is a shirt or pair of pants put together?

Most articles of clothing are made of many pieces sewn together or connected in some way to make a complete garment. Standards of garment construction are general principals related to how well an item of clothing is built, whether or not it functions well, and the quality of its general appearance.

But why worry about garment construction? We want our clothes to look good and last for a long time. Good standards help ensure both of these considerations. If you're learning how to make clothing, it's important to begin with a solid foundation. Learning and understanding garment construction standards will help you to improve your skills and produce well-made, stylish items. Even large clothing companies set standards because they want the clothing customers purchase to meet their level of quality.

Clothing should be well-made for its intended purpose
Man with uniform

No one, whether a hobbyist or a large fashion house, wants to be known for poor quality clothing with shoddy workmanship. Have you ever bought an item of clothing only to find out that seams were loose, or a collar didn't lay well? That's what happens when clothing isn't made with an eye to standards. By following standards of garment construction, you can create aesthetically pleasing, long-lasting clothing for yourself and others.

Standards Of Garment Construction

Style and Function

In general, garments should be attractive and durable. Whether an evening gown, rustic jacket or informal pair of work pants, the clothing should function well and be made in a manner appropriate for its intended purpose. How the clothing is made shouldn't get in the way of how well it works.

The item of clothing should fit the body well, with shoulders, sleeves and other elements falling in the right places. If the garment is meant to be more tailored and fitted, which means contouring more closely to the body's shape, it should taper in the proper places and not have unsightly gaps or bubbles of fabric.

Clothing should look good and fit well
Line of dresses

The overall appearance of a clothing item should be unified and cohesive. Any fabric patterns, like stripes and plaids, should match well and be used appropriately. Patterns should meet at sleeves and other connection points in the corresponding horizontal or vertical manner. If blue stripes are running down the front and back of a shirt, they should also run down the sleeves. The garment should be constructed with the fabric grain, the horizontal and vertical threads used in the weaving process, running in the right direction.

Construction And Details

How a garment is made should be inconspicuous. You want to see clothing as a cohesive whole, and not notice awkward construction details. Seams, where the edges of two pieces have been sewn together, should be neat and uniform. All stitching should be straight and well-executed, and the proper types of stitches should be used in respective areas. You shouldn't see loose threads or the remains of any basting stitches, temporary stitches that hold pieces in place while a garment is being made.

Clothing should be made of quality materials. This includes the textiles, any decorative trim like lace and ribbon, and any notions. Notions are the small items like buttons, zippers and other fasteners. And the notions should be properly executed. Buttonholes should be the proper size, well-placed and well-sewn, whether done by hand or by machine. Any buttons should be securely fashioned. The same is true of zippers and other fastening devices.

Stitching should be neat and notions properly attached
Button on a cuff

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