The apex is a key location for pattern making, flat patterning, draping and adjusting a pattern for a custom fit. When you learn flat-pattern design, the apex is the starting point for rotating darts and creating any garment pattern you can imagine. When scaling a pattern for the perfect fit, you use the apex as a key reference point. If you draft a pattern from scratch, the apex should be the first mark you place on your paper.
When working with commercial patterns, there are some common-sense tricks that any sewist can use to determine this reference point that make it quick and easy to find. Some patterns have the apex already marked. Even if it is not marked, the apex is still there; you simply need to find it before you start to alter your pattern. It can be as simple as looking at the pattern and making a logical guestimate of the location, but for a more precise placement, follow the guidelines below.
We know the apex is the forward-most bust point. If you have a pattern with a bust and waist dart, the apex will be the intersection of the two when you extend the lines past the dart points. However, not all patterns have both a bust and waist dart. If you only have bust dart, extend the upper dart leg toward the center of the pattern. The apex will fall somewhere on this line. Similarly, if you only have a waist dart, extend it upward.
What if your pattern omits these fitting elements? There are still other clues to the placement. We know the apex is below the armhole. If you measure down the underarm by 1”-2” and draw a line across the pattern, the apex will fall on or slightly below this line. The apex is approximately straight down from the center of the shoulder, so we can draw a line down the pattern, noting that the line may slightly curve. The apex is just under halfway up from the waist. Most sewists can visualize this and make a quick mark on the pattern noting the approximate area of its location. When you are not making your pattern from scratch, you have to use basic logic to determine the location.
The placement doesn’t need to be perfect. You simply need a starting point; if the location is off, you can correct it on your fit sample. The joy of fitting is not in nitpicking the pattern, but quickly scaling a pattern to your body proportion so you can make a fit sample and then delve into your fashion fabric.
For more about finding the perfect fit for a upper body of any shape, size or length, look for the Joi of Fitting column, “The Long and Short of It”, in the April/May 2017 issue of Sew News. The issue will be on newsstands through May 14, 2017, and can be found in digital or physical form indefinitely at shopsewitall.com.