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Extra Long Rant

/Start Rant

If PDF designer misuses a term and someone is misled into thinking they're getting something they're not really getting, for some reason, they all seem to email me and ask if is fair and how to fix the problem. My first advice is always to talk to the original designer and ask them ... it's not my job to fix problems that someone else is getting paid for ... but I can teach you how to spot potential problems before they arise. Of course I'm happy for people to post pattern problems in the group if they get no luck with the other designer and we can all try to advise ... that also creates better awareness and understanding.

Terminology is important. The fashion industry has long used certain terms to mean certain things such that all the people involved understand what each other mean. There have been many legal cases based on misuse of accepted terms and all I'm aware of were always ruled in favour of what the industry would generally have meant by the terms in dispute. Thankfully common sense usually prevails when someone misuses a term because it seems out of context and so it gets questioned, but not always.

Do you remember my disdain for the expression "seamless" to describe actual seams that were simply hidden? The industry accepted term is "concealed seams" ... if you once said seamless to describe the way two pieces of fabric were joined together, a pattern maker would look at you like you'd been smoking something. Indeed seamless meant something else entirely, and still does ... circular knitting techniques where a single panel is shaped without the use of an actual seam. But I've ranted about that a lot already ... like ...

What does "full coverage" actually mean? Yeah you knew this was coming right? In recent months the term is popping up all over the place in the backlash against hungry butt. I've long known that when the public starts to use the same expression to describe a problem in fashion, then the style either changes or dies ... we're seeing that now with the narrow lower back bottoms. While the style has been pretty successful for several years now and many do like it, it's failed as something from which other styles can evolve because rather than be based on a stable design, it was in fact the end of a line of evolution ... it just can't be pushed any further (unless you want an actual thong back which already exists). It's biggest problem is it's completely unstable ... hence the term "hungry butt" now takes your mind straight to a narrow butt that's collapsed into a thong.

If you'd gone to fashion school you'd have learned about the concept of evolution in fashion and how, as a brand, you need to make allowance in your styles for new designs to evolve from old ones. But wait you say ... I like to create entirely new designs all the time and they don't need to evolve from each other. Well unless you're a very high end designer or brand with a dedicated following of fans that buy simply for the label then that's not going to go as well as you think. For the far greater majority of brands, reality is that people return for a second sale because of fit and comfort, rather than the style (which got them to buy on the first occasion). You get more sales by evolving from older designs ... this is a well establish fact irrelevent of those who disagree. When you change style significantly, you lose return customers. Remember that ... it's the basis of why surf brands don't appear to have evolved significantly in the last 20 years ... sure you get current styling in the traditional triangle bikini and brief, but at a much less obvious level than fashion swimwear. Surf wear (general swimwear aimed at teens/early 20's) hasn't changed all that much in 20 years on hindsight.

But what has all this got to do with "full coverage"? Well the one thing I see over, and over, and over again on all PDF groups, Etsy, IG and fashion discussion groups is "Do you have a full coverage version?". It's unmissable ... and many of the PDF designers, for example, have already realised that's where the demand is and have gone into reverse to make a full coverage version of their pattern. But mostly they've missed the point. Instead of creating an actual full coverage bottom, all they've done is take the same piece and "evolve" it slightly wider .... instead of calling it full coverage they maybe should have said "wider seat" or something to indicate it was still the same design that will still suffer from hungry butt just like their narrower version, and leave most of those customers who had that problem somewhat disappointed. Why? Because of terminology and a lack of understanding of how the body is shaped.

There are two types of people using the term "full coverage". The first are those who actually do want something just a touch wider (a slight step back along the evolution of the style). The second are those who want something that is actual full coverage in the correct sense of the term ... and what's that? ... full coverage, in an industry accepted sense, means beyond the crest of the cheeks .. the point at which stability becomes predictable. Full coverage has an actual start position in the correct use of the terminology ... the seat width must be at or beyond the crest of the cheeks ... not just slightly wider that your original hungry butt design ... if it's still inside the crest of the cheeks at seat height then its still not stable and it's still going to get eaten. Why is that important ... because your customer complained about hungry butt and you told them you had a full coverage option to resolve that but it didn't make the tiniest difference ... instead there was now even more fabric stuck between their cheeks than before.

My standard blocks have a slightly cheekier cut than full coverage but still nothing like current swimwear styling. Obviously, because they're blocks you can make whatever design you like from them. I've done that because its an easy start point. True full coverage usually requires a convexed centre back seam to maintain even tension so I never put that on the standard blocks because it becomes more difficult to modify ... and people didn't really call out for it like the reverse in styling we're seeing now. So I've created real "full coverage" blocks that do go beyond the crest of the cheeks and sit comfortably outside the leg crease under the cheek. If you want to modify those again then you can ... but you can't take the standard narrower blocks and just grade them wider for full coverage ... the whole shape has to change on the majority of people.

OK there are some who grade out slightly and lower the leg line to improve stability and that can be very successful on slimmer/younger women with firm bottoms, but most people I see asking for full coverage don't quite fit that category so I can't in all good conscience advise people to do what they have as it won't work successfully for the majority ... a new block shape is required. Have I said that enough?

My advice when you see designers claiming to have a full coverage option is to ask if it's just a little wider than their standard offering or is it a whole newly designed bottom panel to sit at or beyond the cheek .. at least then you may have some recourse if you still end up with hungry butt in a social media environment that misuses terminology to make sales (I'll get to "sustainable" practices later)

I should mention, in swimwear there are two acceptable uses (from an industry communication stand point). The other most obviously, refers to an all over fully covered body including sleeves and legs, for either religious or sun safe reasons ... but you aren't easily going to get the same hungry butt in a full cat suit or the like.

/End Rant


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