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Patternmaking & Sewing Notes
by Don McCunn

Custom-Fit Contoured Waistbands

Nature never repeats the same shape twice. One area where this can be important is the shape of the waist-to-hip region of women. When custom-fit patterns are created for this contour of the body, skirts and pants will look their best. When the patterns are not fit to the shape of the wearer, these garments will not hang as well.

Straight vs. Contoured Waistband

The first photo above is a two inch straight waistband at the natural waist. When a waistband is at the natural waist (below the rib cage and above the pelvic bone) it does not need to be shaped. The middle photo shows what happens when the waist is dropped below that level. A straight waistband will no longer follow the contour of the body. The third photo shows how the contoured waistband conforms to the shape of the body.

But nature does not repeat herself. The photos below are of four professional models I have worked with.

Four different bodies

When you compare patterns created specifically for these models you will see how the variations in their shapes changes the patterns. I have included the shape of a contoured waistband from a Donna Karan fitted skirt pattern from Vogue Patterns (V2893) for comparison to the shape of these models.

Patterns of Contoured Waistbands

The patterns on the left are from center front to the side. The patterns on the right are from the side to center back.

Copyright © 2015 by Donald H. McCunn