There are a number of challenging aspects of making great gloves. At the top of the list is correct fit.

In fact, fit is the biggest consumer complaint when it comes to gloves. To demonstrate, here’s a recent consumer letter that is absolutely typical:

“ … my biggest gripe with most gloves on the market today is that they seem to be fitted for slender Asian or European hands. I have broad palms and relatively stubby fingers, and 90% of the gloves that I try on don’t even come close to fitting properly. Your 4350’s are a wonderful exception to that paradigm…” — Alynn H., Jan. 31,2014 

So you see, we aren’t kidding when we say that a lot of glove manufacturers are getting fit wrong, at least for the North American market.

6 Key Factors For Perfect Fit

From a glove manufacturing point of view, here are the main culprits when it comes to poor fit, and how to fix them:

  • Dies that may be less than perfect
  • Mismatched patterns between shell and lining.
  • Inaccurate size grading.
  • Adjustments based on inaccurate fit models.
  • Pattern allowance based on stretch and non-stretch shell materials
  • Incorrect or inconsistent seam depth

Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas, to ensure that your finished gloves “fit like a glove”

1.  Choose the right dies for the intended end use.

The factory dies may be less than perfect for finished product and fit. In order to save cost, a factory may prefer to use existing patterns that are “good enough” … and fit will suffer.

2.  Develop or select patterns from the inside out.
Some trial and error can be expected but the final result should be a harmonized layering of shell over the lining.
  • If the glove is lined, check fit of the lining by itself (without the shell). It should have correct finger lengths, thumb position and overall length. The fit to width should be slightly loose. This is necessary to keep the lining from clinging to your hand and slipping against the shell.
  • The shell pattern must be measured accurately around the lining and insulation package. For example, if the lining pattern is 10 cm wide, and the lining package is 1 cm thick, the shell pattern should be 10 cm + 1 cm insulation allowance + .5 cm seam allowance = 11.5 cm.

3. Size/Grading rules of thumb (no pun intended) for sizing S,M,L, and XL:

  • Each finger and thumb increases/ decreases 3 mm in length with each consecutive size
  • The pattern width increases/decreases 3 mm with each consecutive size.
  • The distance between the thumb and finger increases/decreases 1 mm with each consecutive size.  This measurement is called the “bate”.
  • The distance between the thumb and the wrist increases/decreases 3 mm with each size. This is called the “top”.
  • Check out the Masley fit model system, which addresses common fit issues with traditional glove sizing and hand measuring systems.

4.  Find accurate fit models.

To correct fit problems based on inaccurate fit models, identify good fit model candidates for each size.

  • Find more than one individual per size.
  • Trace an outline of the hand on tracing paper or scan and print on clear acetate.
  • Compare fit model outlines. Overlay the outlines with the index and middle finger crotch as the common point.
  • The outlines should all be fairly symmetrical.

Experience shows that a percentage of people can have unusually short fingers (15-20%). Some have unusually long fingers ( 5-10%). It also not uncommon for someone to have 1 or 2 fingers with disproportionate length with the other fingers.

5. Select patterns based on the stretch properties of the shell material.

A pattern on a stretch material should be narrower than a pattern for a non-stretch material. The amount depends on the degree of elasticity.

6.  Seam depth is critical.

A normal seam depth is 3 mm, +/- 1 mm. The seam depth can vary depending on:

  • The width of the sewing machine foot.
  • The individual sewer’s skill and factory Q/C.
  • Sewing guides attached to the machines can improve seam depth consistency

Glove Making Manufacturing Kit

Achieving the Right Glove Fit: An Art, Not A Science

Making gloves that fit well should be a given … but judging by the consumer letters and reviews we see, that really isn’t the case.

Unfortunately, by the time your realize that you have a problem with fit, it’s too late — your sales are lackluster, and your customers are dissatisfied.

The way we see it, making top quality gloves is like making a great wine or painting — there’s more to it than meets the eye.  An experienced glove maker’s judgment makes all the difference.

If you liked this post on glove fit, you may also like:

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