The importance of anthropometry to designs of facilities, workspace and equipment for human use cannot be overemphasized. Good design is achieved through the application of anthropometric data. In fashion design we traditionally use the ‘standing’ body. Over many years we have more or less memorized anthropometrics in relation to garments and can often eyeball what is a ‘good’ neckline, what is an appropriate dimension for a sleeve, where the elbow should bend and so on. Unfortunately we rarely consider the seated body and when attempting to do so measurements become disrupted since there is considerable anatomical variation and a variety of disabilities.
Avoidance of this subject by designers was probably not deliberate; the data will always vary due to the fact that no individual is the same and a nationwide collection of data may take some time. My intention is to focus on the seated body where there is consistent information, we can then offer a number of variable systems and recommendations. Since ambulatory disability includes those who use aid for mobility and are seated for longer durations, we can assume that a disabled seated body is relatively similar to an able seated body, although there are many exceptions. When we sit down, our muscle bulk and skin alters in shape and size, the waist expands, as do the hips, thighs and buttocks. The difference in body form and posture lies in the act of sitting, not in the ability or disability of the person. Many individuals with motor dysfunction experience difficulty with clothing, as a result of poor garment functionality and manoeuvrability. A problematic factor when designing for disabilities in particular wheelchair users is that there is a shift in proportions between the standing and seated body posture, which results in poorly fitting clothing that often looks unattractive. It is for this purpose that I created a manual that focuses on perfecting garment fit for the seated body. In this garment-building book, I hope to enlighten the design process with concise solutions that can enhance the user experience for a seated body.
In this introductory manual one can find a series of what I have termed “advantage blocks.” These advantage blocks target the problematic areas of garments and display them through relatable archetypal garments such as shirts, jeans, suit jackets and active wear and so on, for example a shirtsleeve development focusing on the elbow region.The advantage blocks displayed in this manual therefore present design solutions that show how to attractively and comfortably control and enhance a shirtsleeve in action.
The aim of the manual is to offer segments of staple garments that improve comfort and practicality and yet are tailored to be more aesthetically pleasing. The blocks I created were acquired through measurements that transferred the correlation between a standing and seated body. The results determined how a seated body would translate if we were to use the traditional block standards as a guideline. The objective of this manual is to illustrate my design practice through the patterns I use that can be applied to one’s own design work and hopefully help build a better understanding of the fit and solutions required for a seated body.