Denim Expert Leonie Rutherford On Crafting The Perfect Fit

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Image: inside the Denimsmith factory. Image source.

Leonie Rutherford is a denim fit master. Having worked in the industry for more than two decades now, the Denimsmith designer understands it better than most and she has become a bonafide expert when it comes to the art of perfecting the hip waist ratio and adding balance through the butt. After all, making the perfect pair of jeans is no simple task. So, to find out a little more about the fit process, we sat down with Leonie to discuss her approach.

Rosie Dalton: Can you tell us a bit about your professional background?
Leonie Rutherford
: For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a designer. Early in my career, I understood that to be a great designer; you need to understand the design process from beginning to end. For this reason, I studied clothing design alongside pattern and garment construction, ensuring that my first job was as a sample machinist. I was fortunate to gain employment with an iconic Australian brand that enabled me to further my studies in Italy. It was in Italy where I worked with the leading 90s denim brands. When I returned to Australia, I focussed on becoming a denim designer. I have now worked in the denim industry for over 20 years, choosing to freelance with local ethical brands. 

Image: inside the Denimsmith factory. Image source.

Rosie: Can you run us through what goes into creating the perfect fit of denim?
: Creating the perfect fit includes three things: FABRIC + GOOD QUALITY MAKE + WASH. Jeans are known as a basic 5 pocket; however, the process is far from basic. It’s a complex process involving everything from mathematics through to chemistry. I have also found it advantageous to have extensive experience and a ‘feel’ for working with natural fibres, as natural fibres tend to have a mind of their own! The denim construction process itself is comprehensive. It begins with working with the fabric to understand it’s characteristics and studying its shrinkage properties. The next step is to develop a pattern in 2D, which leads to a garment in 3D, fitting and toiling until you have the finished product.

Rosie: Why is it important for you to create a pattern that works for every body – and what are some of the main challenges involved in this process?
: Designing over the years I have developed a good understanding of the Australian market; we are diverse and come in many different shapes and sizes. With rigid jeans, the hip waist ratio is vitally important. By adding bottom/hip room and darting the back rise to tuck the waist, you won't need to pull up your jeans all day.

Rosie: In your opinion, what makes the perfect pair of jeans?
: Comfort is No. 1 because you wear jeans so often. There is also a lot to be said for a balance in the back pocket too, making sure your derriére looks the best it can.

Image: inside the Denimsmith factory. Image source.

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