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Developing a sizing methodology for women’s sports compression garments

Department of Materials

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Dr Kristina Brubacher , Dr Simeon Gill No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

SCGs are skin-tight, elastic garments that are designed to apply pressure to the underlying body with the aim to improve exercise performance, shorten recovery and prevent injuries. In order for SCGs to function, pressure delivery needs to be controlled and consistent across individuals. This can only be achieved through adequate garment fit. Inadequate fit can lead to insufficient pressure delivery, whilst air gaps between the body and garment can affect thermal comfort and moisture management properties of SCGs (Luo et al. 2014).
To apply pressure, SCGs have negative ease, i.e. are smaller than the wearer’s body. Pressure delivery and the required level of negative ease depend on fabric properties. There is an assumption that adequate fit is easier achieved with knitted garments than woven garments, due to the multidirectional extensibility of knitted structures, which easier conform to the 3D shape of the human body (Brackenbury 1992; Krzywinski et al. 2001; Power 2004; Power and Otieno 2008). However, there are unusual difficulties in the development of knitted garments, as garment patterns need to be adjusted based on the stress-strain behaviour of the fabrics used in the garment (Chen 2007). It is, therefore, necessary to analyse fabric extensibility to achieve adequate garment fit (Troynikov 2008; Mullet 2015). This is a complex task, as SCGs are often designed to wrap muscle groups and apply varying levels of pressure to different areas of the body.

Our (currently unpublished) research has shown that existing commercial sizing approaches do not result in adequate garment fit and uniform pressure delivery across individuals. There is a lack of theory on how compression garment pressure profiles can be engineered for specific fabric properties across different sizes. There is a need to advance theory of pattern making and grading of garments with negative ease.

This project further develops our research by analysing existing sizing methodologies and their fit for active women across a range of body shapes and sizes. Through experimentation and statistical analysis, this quantitative research project seeks to identify key body measurements affecting pressure delivery and establish guidelines for the grading of SCGs to suit a population. The results of the project are likely to advance theoretical knowledge of the engineering of elastic garments, which will inform practitioners and has the potential to improve the functionality of compression garments for both sports and medical applications.

The project will make use of the following laboratories and technologies:
• 3D body scanning lab
• Textile testing lab
• Lectra CAD software
• Pressure sensors

Funding Notes

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Materials Science, Textiles or related subject.

This project is being considered for DTA funding. This would provide a full fee waiver and a EPSRC standard stipend. International applicants are welcome to apply but will require access to self-funding.


Brackenbury, T. (1992). Knitted clothing technology. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications. [online]. Available from: [Accessed February 15, 2016].
Chen, C.-M. (2007). Fit evaluation within the made-to-measure process. International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, 19(2), pp.131–144.
Krzywinski, S., Rödel, H. and Schenk, A. (2001). Links between design, pattern development and fabric behavior for clothing and technical textiles. Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, 1(4), pp.1–8.
Luo, J. et al. (2014). Fusion of Art and Technology in Professional Cycling Sportswear Design. Leonardo, 47(2), pp.176–178.
MacRae, B.A., Cotter, J.D. and Laing, R.M. (2011). Compression garments and exercise - Garments considerations, physiology and performance. Sports Medicine, 41(10), pp.815–843.
Mullet, K.K. (2015). Concepts of pattern grading: techniques for manual and computer grading, Third edition. New York: Fairchild Books. [online]. Available from:
Power, J. (2004). Knitting shells in the third dimension. Journal of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, 3(4), pp.1–13.
Power, J. and Otieno, R. (2008). Investigating the Relationship Between Anthropometrical Data and Fully Shaped Knitted Garments in UK Manufacturing. In Proceedings of the 86th Textile Institute World Conference. 86th Textile Institute World Conference. Hong Kong: The Textile Institute.
Troynikov, O. (2008). Smart Body - Ergonomic Seamless Sportswear Design and Development. In T. Guglielmino & M. Peel, eds. The Body - Connections with Fashion. IFFTI. Melbourne, Australia: IFFTI, pp. 1–20.
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