Friday, February 12, 2010

'Fessing Up: Taking Accurate Measurements

So, in the midst of all the body positivity going on here this week, I've been keeping a dirty little secret: all of the body measurements I've been sewing from are more aspirational than accurate. Yep, I'm one of those women who sucks in and pulls the measuring tape as tight as humanly possible. I also have a near-pathological fear of my waist measurement being over 30 inches, so I've conveniently recorded it as 29-1/2 inches for the last year or so. Ha! I generally wear my clothes rather fitted, so it hasn't been too disastrous up to this point. But lately I've noticed my garments feeling a little tight, so I decided it was time to face the facts. Last night I took a set of new, REAL measurements. No sucking, no pulling, no 29-1/2 inches.

So, things were definitely bigger than my fakey measurements. Surprise, surprise. They put me up a full size larger than I'm used to cutting out in contemporary patterns. But it's okay. It's OKAY. (That's my new mantra.)

Besides wanting to get honest with myself, the other reason I decided to get new measurements now is that I want to test and fit a basic pencil skirt pattern that will hopefully become a TNT ("tried 'n' true") pattern. So, in the scary moments of looking at the measurements, I just reminded myself that these numbers were going to help me make one hot pencil skirt that would feel a million times better than one that pulls across the hips and cuts into my waist.

So this weekend (with my new machine!) I'll be making a muslin of the BurdaStyle Jenny skirt with my own honest-to-god measurements. And I'm excited!

Now, time for you all to 'fess up. I know I'm not the only one guilty of sucking in and pulling when I take my measurements! Perhaps some new measurements are in order for you too?

P.S. One thing that struck me while writing the beginning of this post: I know some feminist blogs try to avoid mentioning any specific body measurements at all, as it can be triggering to those who have dealt with eating disorders. I've chosen to be somewhat frank about my waist measurement here because I think as sewists we can't be so afraid of the numbers that we won't even say them. Perhaps it would be liberating for me to publish the lot of my measurements for the whole damn internet to see! But if you disagree with my tactic, please speak up in the comments.


  1. When I sewed my first garment last year (your dirndl skirt, by the way), I was a little surprised at my waist measurement... 29" with snug measuring tape. I think modern sizing has just totally divorced our minds from our actual size. If my jeans are a 4 or a 6, shouldn't my measurements be smaller too? Ha. My husband always wonders why women's jeans aren't sized like mens jeans and I agree. When I bought my first vintage pattern I was so proud to say I was a 14!

  2. adding- I don't think it should be taboo to say your actual measurements. Especially in regards to sewing.

  3. I too have been known to take the false measurements especially when trying to loose weight. What is worse, when I look up my size on a pattern and it says I need one size for my chest and waist but one 5 sizes bigger for my hips I always say that it can not be right and cut the smaller pattern. The result is that the outfit looks horrible. I need to cut the hip portion of any outfit much large and just get over it. It will look, feel and fit better.

    43-38-52 There I posted my measurements!

  4. Great post! Over the past several months I myself have gone with "reality" in regards to measurements. In order to get the perfect fit you need to be realistic with your actual measurements. Nothing worse than making something beautiful and not have it fit because you can't face that the size you are sewing doesn't match what you purchase in RTW. Vanity sizing is the route to a lot of the misgivings one feels when having to purchase or make clothes. I for one get very frustrated with how I can wear a size 13 Aeropostle jean, a size 11 Mudd jean and then go into JC Pennys and have to purchase a size 17. Yikes...any wonder one is a mess when it comes to sizing and being truthful with their measurements. If the fashion industry and manufacturers can't maintain a standard how are we too?

  5. Also, I wish they did sell women's jeans as they do men's. Then we would have to get over the vanity sizing. We would be able to look in the mirror and see that certain measurements do fit and look better.

  6. Another great post, Gertie. Okay. I fess up, too. I need to remeasure. Because of my inaccurate measurements, I messed up some really nice fabric because I can't get the dress to close in the back.

    Congrats on your new machine. I'm sure you're enjoying it.

  7. *ahem* I have been meaning to do a current set of measurements for months now, and just haven't. All I know is roughly where everything fall measurement wise--but not exactly! ;) I think like you, I have a pathological fear of my waist or hips being a bigger number than I perceive they "should" be or even visually appear to be. I know in a way I'm jinxing myself with sewing (and in the long run just making it hard to take up that tape measure and just do it!). I keep making excuses: I just got through the holidays, I haven't been working out enough, I'm a bit puffy from the "monthly fun"... Blah, blah, blah. I guess in a way, this could be like any other fear-based avoidance in life: thinking about it is worse than it is in the end. Sure, my waist will probably not be the trim number I want it to stay at, but it'll give me a healthier view of myself--and improve my sewing. Plus, it'll force me to face the "number monster" and conquer it (hopefully... ;) haha!).

    So I think if I have a moment in the next week, I'm going to do a complete update on all my measurements--and be honest about it. ;) Thanks Gertie for the reminder and the courage to come out and post about this--you're a real inspiration! :)

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  8. I must confess that I take my measurements before every project, practically. But, I take them in centimetres, which mean nothing to me, so it's OK, and I use the Burda sizes, which also mean nothing to me. I've found this a useful tactic. Now I can also take them in inches, but I'm more familiar with the centimetre measures.

  9. I feel the opposite of 'most feminist bloggers' about measurements. I think it is healthy to put those numbers out there, to take the sting out of them. I'm trying to remember that the number on the tag (or the tape) does not define me.

  10. Measurements are just numbers, a starting point for a good fit. What difference does it make if your waist is 28" or 38"? As long as you know it and work with it.

    Last time I checked:
    36 1/4
    28 1/2
    41 3/4 (ok that 1/4 is REALLY important to me even though I use 42 in my head)

    I really just wish they would stay the same for more than 2 weeks in a row. ;)

  11. I have to say I am not sure how to take accurate measurements. Do you need someone to help or can you them yourself. I want to sew for myself and my kids. I also want to knit myself a beautiful cardigan. I am stuck on taking measurements to figure out what size I need. I mostly shop at thrift shops so I know size numbers have no meaning but that also means I have no idea what range to start in.

  12. I wrote about this before too ... the thing is, if you are honest with your measurements, your clothes fit better and that makes you look better.

  13. I think you have a lovely 'womanly' figure and would describe you as enviably average. I found an old set of measurements recently - 26" waist! - I did say OLD. But I feel better for reading this because my waist is now 30" and if it looks anything like as good as yours I shall be very happy. So deep breath I am now 38,30,40 and not the 36,28, 38 my brain can't get past. It's like joining MPA (measurements phobic anonymous). Thinking of your previous blog I have no idea if that makes me hourglass, pear or what but hopefully not carrot!

  14. I take measurements with each project too - mainly because I can never remember what mine are, but also just to be sure. I'd far rather have the perfect fit and I've made peace with my weird body shape.
    Besides, when you've got a garment that fits you perfectly and is flattering, it doesn't really matter what the measurements are. Isn't that why we sew?
    I'm on the metric side of the world, but here they are.... 82-69-94.

  15. Oh dear! I'm just facing the fact that during my pregnancy I really haven't got a clue as to which measurements I have to follow. Sure, the belly gets larger, I can figure that out, but also the bust measurements, is that taken into account in my contemporary size or should I go a size larger? My RTW size does NOT fit ... And I have a hard time finding cute maternity clothes patterns.

    Sorry. I'm rambling sort of off topic here. But body changes can be of the "planned" sort and still be very hard to face and figure out how to adapt to in sewing.


  16. Vanity sizing does all of us a big disservice. While I am not willing to give out my measurements I will say that I take them fairly frequently and I am honest about them and the clothing I sew tends to fit. But, I am often surprised when I take measurements of very slim women, my dd in particular. She is a size 4 in rtw, which I consider to be a pretty tiny size. She measures 37" in the hip. Doesn't that seem like it would be way to big for a size 4? These tiny sizes really condition us to think that the real numbers we are couldn't possibly be right.

  17. accurate measurements are incredibly important. i always retake my measurements when starting a new project, doesn't matter if it's only been a week. my body fluctuates weight easily (thank you mom, for the genes), and I have learned comfort over looking "fashionable" is the best choice for me. For me, if the clothes are not fit properly or comfortable, then the clothes are wearing ME, and not the other way around, and thus, look *terrible*.

    I also engage in the type of work that requires me to be able to move freely in clothes that are forgiving and sturdy, so even dresses and skirts I make have to fit those requirements. Again, I have to choose over comfort and proper fit before fashion ideal. It's the way I live my life. It took me over a decade to figure that out. Frankly, having a husband who encourages that has helped- not having that extra voice would mean I'd still be in clothing I'd have to force myself to wear for whatever misguided reason.

    I have learned to get over the numbers. I know there are some people who are bothered by them... I just tell my friends who still are to think of them as the means to understanding your own special proportions. If we did not assign numbers to them, there are people who would still be touchy about size in general. It's as if being perceived as big is some great sin- all of my friends who are considered plus-size dress FAR better than I can. To them, being "big" is not an obstacle to overcome in dressing themselves. They dress to their shape, and their tastes.

    And like so many, I do so very much wish that manufacturers would size women's jeans according to proportion and waistband/hip/length measurement, similar to mens clothing. It would save so much grief. I can't tell you how many pairs of jeans I've altered for friends because we are stuffed into a single meaningless number.

    I have also found that many many measurements need to be taken, as every person I've sewn clothing for is different- their proportions, that is. there is a distance of 9" between my waist and hip. There is one of 5" for another woman I know, and 11" for her cousin. A simple B-W-H measurement cannot tell me this. I have had to completely alter the exact same pattern to make that garment for each of them. I have found as redundant as it may seem to have that many, it has saved me many headaches, wasted time and fabric, and the outcome is an pleasing and *comfortable* fit.

    That being said:

    for extra perspective: at one point 5 years ago, I was 35 pounds lighter than today. the difference between my measurements then and now were exactly *1 inch*. For that reason, I've learned not to let the numbers get to me.

    <3 Beth

  18. I can see where publishing numbers might be somewhat "triggering" for people, because it provides a basis for making comparisons. I confess there is a part of me that reads your post and thinks, "I haven't had a waist under 30 inches since I was prepubescent, which must make me huge." That said, I am still in favor of actually speaking the numbers (I try to make a point of posting the size that I cut on BurdaStyle, too) because I think the more we say them, the less power they have.

    I have quite a few measurements after doing my crazy 3D body scan at the apparel department at my school (over 200 measurements, actually!), so I can now say with a pretty scary degree of accuracy what my measurements are: 40.26 bust, 34.47 waist, 39.17 hips. The measurement that I tend to lie to myself about is my waist measurement, which I usually say is the same as my underbust measurement, 32 inches. This is of course something that is totally counterproductive, because I certainly don't intend to wear my pants right under my boobs :)

  19. I had the same reality check this week, too. I've been under the wrong impression that my measurements are the same from three years ago, when, in fact, my hips and waist are a good three inches bigger...UGH!

    And why, when I wear a size six in everything, is my pattern size a 12? Pattern sizing and clothing size make no sense!

  20. i used to never know my measurements. a few years back, when i finally overcame my fear of shopping for vintage clothing online (i was afraid of fit issues) i had to start measuring myself. i was so afraid of things not fitting correctly, that i couldn't even fathom sucking anything in and measuring snugly. :) i was surprised to find that i was smaller in certain places than i thought.

    i wonder how long i had been looking at myself in the mirror, thinking i was bigger than i really was? how long had i been buying clothes that were too big for me because i thought i was a larger size.

    after realizing my true sizes, i went back to my old wardrobe, began trying things on, and taking a good look at how they fit. i ended up taking much of it in, or deconstructing it completely to make new clothes.

    taking my honest to god measurements not only taught me a bit about my body, but it taught me a bit about how i perceive myself.

    i disagree with the practice of avoiding measurement talk. anything can become a trigger when someone has suffered something so tragic. i believe it may do us women some good to hear the honest, and true measurements of other real women. no matter how big or small the woman, or the measurements.

    30 1/2"

  21. Having been raised with centimetres, I find I can divorce myself from inches very easily. I get the size on the envelope that corresponds to my waist measurements and give it no further thought than that. Because my hips have always been at least a couple of sizes larger than my waist, I always go for the fuller skirt version in vintage and tend not to do pencil skirts or wiggle dresses. There's such a differential that I find it really hard to make things fit in both places at once. I now understand a little more about pattern fitting and might want to give it another try though.

    What I find far more upsetting is coming across pre-pregnancy clothes that I kept on the grounds that I'd bounce back into shape... Ha! Turns out that wasn't to be (for various reasons that aren't all to do with weak resolve), yet I still cling onto those clothes in the back of my cupboard...

  22. Like ejvc, I take my mesurments in a system I'm unfamiliar with (inches! I'm Swedish, so I'm raised in the metric system), so there's no correspondance between the number and reality =) While sewing, I mesure in centimeters, but again manage to disconnect it to reality... Perhaps time to take the mesurments just for taking them? Time to face my insecurity! Thank you Gertie, for the little push! =)

    I only feel bad about mesurments when talking about them, when sewing they don't matter. Perhaps because I mesure, make a toille, fit it roughly and then always manages to cut out the pieces with too much seam allowance so I have to take it in... (Huge risk here of taking it in too much =) )

    As much as I don't like talking about measurements, I think maybe if they were not such a taboo, we would be more comfortable with them. Last time I checked I was 34-27-39 (no lacking in the hips departement here!), but like I said, I've got to go home and check. And then actually measure in centimeters so I know what those numbers stand for...

  23. my measurements change quite drastically throughout the month, which can be troublesome! So I usually add centimetres on to the true measurement (for that day) figuring that it's a lot easier to take a garment in than let out... Here's something weird and also troublesome. I stopped swimming regularly about 6 months ago and while my measurements are almost the same, fullness is now distributed in different places. For example, my back and shoulders are narrower but boobs are bigger, and my hip measurement, while almost the same in terms of fullness, needs to be measured lower than before so I seem to have drooped somewhat! The upshot is that the same clothes look different on me and some just don't fit. I remember being complexed by the numbers as a teenager but as a sewer that's what you have to work with.

  24. I take my measurements when I'm ordering clothing online, not as a sewist, and I'm generally pretty honest about those numbers. But what gets me is that sometimes my honest measurements end up getting me garments that are WAY too big. And I'm pretty sure I'm measuring at the right spots, as I've worked with Etsy vendors for custom-made garments before and gotten schooled!

  25. You always write such perfectly true posts! You're absolutely right about the way we often use a fantasy measurement mediated between what we actually measure and what we would like to measure.

    The thing I liked most about your publishing your measurements though was that I realised it makes absolutely no difference to me what you measure. You're an extremely stylish, attractive, well-dressed lady and the numbers are completely irrelevant to that; the comparison between a complete person's look and style and her measurements is like the contrast between the taste of a really good cake and the list of ingredients. One of them is the real deal; one is just a piece of paper! (Or put another way, it's like when we say to guys that it ain't what you got, it's what you do with it that counts!)

    Other people's measurements genuinely have no part in forming my opinion of them, so why does it matter to me to lie about the extra half inch on my own waistline? Thank you for making me confront the stupidity of that hangup!

  26. I'd like to take up the comment about triggering eating disorders through comparisons of measurements on sewing blogs.

    First of all I confess I have never had an eating disorder or disordered eating and so I could not possibly begin to understand the thoughts or feelings of those who have. So from my non-disordered-but-still-susceptible-to-influence perspective this is what I think.

    Us humble blogging/commenting seamstresses are a drop in the media tsunami of idealised figures and bodily comparisons. A woman comes across multiple triggers a day forcing her to examine her body and compare herself with the ideal of the moment. Now you might say therefore why should we add to it by posting our measurements in blog land? This is why:

    The subject we are discussing relies heavily on accurate and honest body measurements (as you've explored in your post Gertie), we are always discussing fitting issues wanting to pass on nuggets of gleaned information to others to save them the pain. OK, you don't need to reveal sizes to do this, but, recognising that they are important, surely a sewing forum or blog should be the one place where the actual size doesn't matter and the one environment where body shape is a question of engineering and puzzle solving rather than aesthetics. I suppose that I’m not saying that we should all post our stats but I don’t feel as if we should be ashamed of writing in an actual measurement where it would clarify a point, discussion or technical explanation.


  27. There are such a range in sizes for different patterns (in a vintage pattern I can be an 18 or a 20, a modern one a 16 and others a 12). It all becomes a jumble of numbers and has never bothered me. Sewing makes me happy that I can create something that fits those numbers and be proud of whatever measurements I have at the time. Which is the only part of sewing and being a curvy woman that bothers me. The fluctuation of weight we can go through can make me apprehensive to make a more complicated project. To spend time on something that I may not even fit into by the time it is done is intimidating.

  28. Gertie, are you reading my mind? I took new measurements last night so I could sew a skirt this weekend. That and order a bra online...

    I've always added to my #'s because people gave me a hard time about my smaller size. Stick girl was one of the names I was called. Lovely friends. I found it easier then to take it in later to adjust the fit of what I sewed. My way of dealing with sizeism if that's a word. Googled it and yes it is, scary!

    Why can't we play nice when it comes to people's bodies? We all are different shapes and sizes because we are different people. We deserve to have well fitting clothes and feel good about ourselves.


    I still have no idea how to answer "what size are you?"

    Damn frenemies!

    Love how you are developing this blog girl!


  29. Great post. And thanks for addressing the fact that actual numbers can be triggering for those of us who have struggled (or continue to) with eating disorders.
    While I consciously avoid talking numbers when it comes to weight and RTW sizes, I don't personally find talking measurements to be triggering. I think it's because measurements, as compared to weight and RTW size, are for the most part pretty removed from the public conversations about women's bodies.
    As a sewist, I feel that measurements are like fabric yardage - just something I need to know so that I can make a well-fitting garment.

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Invariably, I make or buy clothing for the size I want to be rather than the size I am. Then I sit around feeling sorry for myself because I don't have anything to wear, eat some chocolate and gain an inch or so. It's insanity! I look back to my younger self and think, "wow! if only I could be that size again", while at the time I was that size I was deeply entrenched in self criticism. What a shame that we keep ourselves in bondage to these arbitrary numbers and, most surely miss out on fully experiencing life. Light-hearted self appreciation(not absorption!) is much more flattering than our so-called ideal measurements.
    Okay Gertie, you've lit the fire under my 41 inch hips, no more wishful measuring:
    43-29-41 5"11.5
    Power to the people!:)

  32. What a great post! I have been guilty of this in the past but I really had to get over it when I got pregnant and just embrace my figure, otherwise nothing I sew will look good on me. I remember wincing when I looked at an old size 12 pattern sloper I made up early in college 10 years ago --apparently I had a 26" waist back then. And then there's the once perfectly fitted blue wool tweed pencil skirt I sewed up in 2005 that hasn't ACTUALLY fit me in three years but I can't bear to part with.

    Before pregnancy I was:
    bust: 38"
    high bust 33"
    waist: 28"
    hip: 38"

    And now... (23 weeks pregnant)
    bust: 42" (yeah, seriously... and growing, too... and FBAs were hard BEFORE)
    high bust 34.5"
    underbust (my new smallest point, since I have no real waist anymore): 32"
    the area formerly known as my waist: 36"
    belly at it's biggest circumference: 42"
    hips (much lower down than belly, though: 41"

    Honestly, I think gaining 22 pounds and so many inches in just a few months has really IMPROVED my body image and self-esteem, because I can't even PRETEND to be close to or cling to those old numbers anymore--fudging just isn't feasible!

    Not that pregnancy is required for improved self-image, of course--but looking back at all the times I sucked in my stomach under the tape measure or worried that a particular style of clothing would make me look -- horrors! -- pregnant -- I wish I could feel then the way I do now.

    Finally, I'm a bigtime feminist political cartoonist and while I understand that weight numbers and inches can be triggering for some, I do think that just putting them out there can be really freeing and help release the stigma.

  33. I take my measurements before every project, for better or for worse. I write them on a scrap of paper with the date and then I pin a piece of my fabric to the paper. I tuck it inside the pattern envelope. This way I have a record of my measurements along with the pattern that I modified to match those measurements.

    I like the idea that some day a seamstress will find my pattern stash and be thrilled find my notes and scraps of fabric so she can imagine the dresses I made.

    I've found it very reassuring to have honest numbers to refer to as I lose the last bit of baby weight. I feel flabby and huge, but my old measurements prove that I'm not huge. My measurements now are the same as they were a couple of years ago when I was at the high end of my normal range. My hips are wider and my butt in flatter, but the circumference is the same.

    36-31-44 with my lovely waist cincher for special occasion 1950's vintage/retro dress projects)

    My next big sewing challenge is to get a solid grasp of my vertical measurements. The intervals between B-W-H are just as important to getting a flattering fit as the circumference. Especially for a tallish person like me.

  34. They're just numbers ladies. JUST NUMBERS. They have absolutely no impact on how you look at all. Just for the hell of it here are my current measurments:

    Weird, right? That's why I sew, so I can still look super hot and amazing even though I have a very odd shape. Isn't that the point of sewing for yourself? To make superior garments that fit you like a glove?

    Also, just because you're comfortable in your clothes doesn't mean that you're unfashionable. You can have both. Really. I promise. Take it from the fat girl.

  35. I used to do this, then I got tired of sewing clothes that didn't fit! Now I take the right measurements, then I always make sure the garment will fit me. My hip measurement is much larger than the normal, corresponding waist measurement, so I always have to adjust the fit of any skirt so it fits over my big booty! yet still comes in snug at my waist. :)

  36. my measurements fluctuate a bit (thankfully, only by 1/2" or so, but i wear my clothes VERY fitted so sometimes it can be a problem!) so i'm never absolutely sure of my true measurements.

    for the most part, though, i am 35-26.5-36. the measurements don't really bother me - they used to, but then i realized that was silly bc although no one can see my measurements, they can definitely tell when my clothes don't fit! - but the sizing does. i wear different sizes at my bust/waist/hip (like everyone else!) and it is annoying to have to figure that out. not to mention, so many pattern companies change around their sizing and the amount of ease in the pattern (which is a Big Deal to me since i wear everything very close-fitted) so my size can vary from a 6 to a 14. i just wish it was more consistent, but eh, what can you do.

    anyway, to answer you question, i lied to myself about my measurements once. then i finished the garment and it did not fit and i was sad. never again, y'all. never again.

  37. I have the same problem but with opposite results! I don't usually sew from patterns (obviously I'm not a very complicated sewist), but when I do I'm so scared that it will turn out too small that I guesstimate and add inches to that so that I won't be heartbroken when it doesn't fit... And inevitably everything I've ever made with a pattern turns out too big, which is actually equally heartbreaking. I made myself a polka dotty green, black, and gray dress with a great pattern and now I can't wear it. Also can't give it to anyone or alter it without taking the whole thing apart. It's definitely time to retake our measurements and to be proud of the fact that we KNOW them!

  38. Awesome post. AGAIN! I'm with Jennywren on the MPA (measurements phobic anonymous. But I like honesty and it feels like a good thing to do SO... deep breath... 40, 35, 44.
    Phew. That wasn't too painful.

  39. Reality in measurements has been hard for me to deal with, and a huge part of why I don't sew for myself anymore. My bust/waist/hip measurements are basically all the same number.

  40. Great post! As a former costume designer it was sometimes really hard to get actors and dancers to cooperate when taking measurements, though I am guilty of this, too. I even had one disastrous situation where a dancer hadn't told me that she had gained about 10 lbs. since I had taken her measurements. Her pants ended up splitting onstage during a dress rehearsal. So, kidding yourself about measurements can have even more damaging results than just being honest with yourself about it. I always remember this cautionary tale when I'm tempted to fudge my measurements.

  41. I also take mine numbers with every project only because my weight can vary + or - ten pounds (!) as I go through my monthly cycle. At least this way I guaranteed to have stuff that'll fit whether I'm PMSing, it's That time, or the two weeks of recovery. It does require honesty and sometimes there's guilt. But you're right Gertie - honesty does lead to better comfort and a more flattering fit!

  42. Excellent post! During my first garment class over the summer, our instructor made us partner up and take each others measurements to make sure we were getting accurate numbers. While I struggle with the scale and being happy with the number, when it comes to sewing, I really feel like I have to have accurate numbers for my body. Here are the most recent:

    34 - 31 - 43

    I won't lie and say that it didn't hurt a little that the first skirt I cut out was a size 16 (ah - the horror!), but after seeing how well it fit and the lack of pulling across the hips actually made me look smaller... well, I was pretty damn happy with that size 16 skirt! ;)

    The vanity sizing in RTW is doing such a disservice to women. It would be nice everyone could be on the same numbering system and stick to it!

  43. What's frustrating for me is that most modern patterns, no matter how cute the girl on the front is, are sized to be baggy, almost. I guess older women are the main pattern purchasers, and they don't like their clothes snug, but I do! Actually, sometimes even on the models the clothes look dumpy and frumpy but I can tell they would be cute if they FIT like retail clothes!! Usually I accept that the pattern says I'm a 14, so I cut out a 12 so it might fit (and I use smaller than-recommended seam allowances), and it's too big so I cut it down to a 10. What's with that?
    Maybe I'm out of it but I've never heard of being against being frank about our bodies and the quest for perfection. We can tell what size bloggers are from their photos, so why does it make a difference to list a number?? The important thing is that our clothes fit and make us feel beautiful, no matter that our current size--you got it right there.

  44. For anyone that's had trouble taking accurate measurements, I highly recommend the Myotape body tape measure, which you can find for about $5 on amazon. I wrote about it recently on my blog: it locks into place and with a push of a button adjusts the tension for you automatically, so there is no temptation to pull it too tightly. I love it!

  45. You're so right though; being honest with measurements might hurt for a minute, but an ill-fitting waistband will hurt for a lifetime!

  46. Darn it Gertie! I now have to retake my measurements (which I didn't want to do unless I drop another 10-20 pounds!). Just kidding - it is a good reminder to retake your measurements before starting a fitted garment. I'll do it. I don't want to. But I will.

  47. Oh, honey, I certainly have struggled with reconciling what the tape measure says and what I *think* it should say...

    But I remind myself that when I take my *real* measurements, I'll be making something that will fit me comfortably, and will look 10x better than something that is too small.

    No one looks good when they're trying to fit (as my auntie would say) "10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack."

    Good luck with the muslin! This weekend will hopefully involve recycling some wool and angora sweaters into new berets and matching mittens for me, and some alterations to some thrift store finds.

    Sew on!

  48. Like some of the others here - I use a system that doesn't have as much meaning to me - I do my measurements in metric (although I am in Canada, that is probably what I should use, but I am old enough I am used to inches!). I am much more likely to use an accurate measurement this way!

    I do agree with the others who said that there is nothing wrong with posting your measurements, as it helps take the sting out.

  49. Haha! I love the term 'measurement phobics anonymous': "My name's Carina and I'm a 36-29-41" it's funny when you think about it.

    On a serious note: we're all beautiful to someone (and hopefully ourselves!); we're creative, have our own sense of style, and downright fabulous. So who cares that we have spare tyres and bingo wings and thighs that don't look like willow branches - we rock! End of story.


  50. My Granny made nearly all of her clothes throughout her life. She was a short woman with big boobs and wide hips who felt completely alienated by the popular styles of the 20's and 30's. So she learned to sew and made clothes that fit her properly.

    When I was about 12, she was taking my measurements for a pair of pants she was making me and she told me, "Honey, you're gonna be built like me -- short and all hips and boobs. You better learn to sew." Thankfully I took my Granny's advice because she was right. I clock in at 4'11" 44-33-45.

    On some level, I think this has helped me accept my measurements as I've never found myself fudging the numbers when I sew. I figure, people don't see the measurements when I wear a finished dress, they see the dress -- and a well-fitting dress is far more flattering than any 6 digits could ever be.

  51. Oh: I can measure in centimeters and take the sting out! Why didn't I think of that? I'm torn between attempting radical self-acceptance body-shape-wise (not something I have much success at), and using the sneaky metrics method to avoid triggering self-shaming thoughts in the first place. Ugh. Why can't I just choose to love what I see in the mirror, whatever it is?

    As for vanity sizing: 25 years ago I was a size 10 in RTW. Today I'm 30 pounds heavier... and last time I tried on a RTW 10 it was big in the waist!?! WTF!

    Jan. 1 measures: 38-32-41 (5'8"). Officially the worst ever, and not where I feel at my best. So, when hubbie got the P90X "extreme home fitness" workout DVDs I decided to try it, too. 17 days in I'm stronger and feeling tighter (and tired! but in a good way); have decided to sew no fitted garments until I'm done, and see how close I am to my "aspirational measurements" on Day 90.

  52. My measurements, fwiw:

    High bust: 41
    Bust: 43
    Waist: 38
    Hips: 44

    I'm 5'7" or so (depends how straight I stand up).

    I wear a size 18, sometimes 16, in RTW.

    Have to mention: People used to say someone was "big boned"; I really am big boned! I wear size 11 shoes (talk about stigma!). A friend made me a bracelet once for a present, and she figured if it fit her (she's well padded -- more so than I am) it would fit me. But I couldn't even get it fastened. My hands and wrists are positively bony -- I'm a musician and they are probably the most well-exercised parts of me.

    Anyway, no way would I deliberately wear something too tight. My clothes have to be comfortable or I can't think straight.

  53. I have an off-topic question. How do you print the patterns from the Burda website. Not all have the "copy center option. Do you print them to regular paper then transfer to tracing paper?

  54. i started sewing clothes because i'm rather small-boned... modern clothes never fit me quite well. it was because i could never find pants that fit both waist and hips (or everything was low slung-eeks!) i often wish i had more curves to fill out clothing and i imagine my bust more than it is and then end up having to take in things! i'm 32-24-33 at 5'.

  55. Rachael: I know the whole point of this post is not to judge by numbers, but I just had to say that your numbers make you sound like an absolute goddess, all tall and curvacious!
    Lindsey: Ha! Well said.

  56. I don't understand the whole numbers phobia that so many women have about their measurements. I just wish I could figure out the right way to measure so that I could get clothes to fit.

    With age, my "waist" has migrated! The narrowest part used to be nearer the belly button. Now it's quite a bit higher. So I have a 25 inch "waist", but a middle aged pot belly below that. The pot belly is too high to be part of the hips since the buttocks have drooped. (I'm in my fifties.)

    Since I have a long torso, I can use my new waist and look okay, but I have to make sure I don't choose clothes that fit closely below it. But anything with a waistband really rides up when I sit. I wish I knew what kind of patterns to pick and how to measure.

  57. The idea of taking your measurements in cm is a good one, not least because it's much more accurate than inches. However, it goes against my feminist ideals rather to hide from the measurements you really have. In the end, no matter how much we enjoy dressing these bodies of ours, they don't really matter. They don't affect who we are. A body is just the chest that the jewels are carried around in. It doesn't affect the value of the treasure :)

    My measurements, as of today, are 36, 27, 40, and my height is 5'3". I have a big rounded bum, saddlebags, curvy thighs, broad shoulders, a big ribcage, and a sway back. And that's great, damnit.

    That did feel oddly liberating..

  58. I'm fairly honest about my measurements - mostly because I used to buy (still would, had I $) lots of vintage on ebay/etsy. My 35.5 - 28.5 - 41(ish) (i'm a juicy little pear...) doesn't mean a thing to me, and I often add to the hips, because my thighs are rather large - mostly when buying/sewing something with a straighter skirt, to avoid thigh bulges, yuck. (Auctually, I tend too add too much to all measurements except my bust, for fear of things not fitting, and then I have to take in the things I sew...)

    Also - my waist measures 28.5, but when I buy vintage dresses I fit into a 27-28 waist - what's with that?

    I used to get so frustrated/discouraged when I was shopping for clothing, because nothing fit me, ever. Pants? No way. Shirts? I forgot to mention the more important measurements - AA cup, short chested, but without the tiny biceps that tend to go with petite tops.... and my lower half doesn't match my top, (um, can I get this dress in a 4P on top, and a 10 on bottom? didn't think so...)

    So all that frustration led to shopping only in thrift/second hand/vintage shops and knowing that I'll have to alter the things I find (which I don't mind when they cost $1, or are one of a kind and amazing) - and learning to sew things from scratch that fit. So I became brutally honest about my real size, and stopped caring about individual numbers. I'm at a point where I'll tell anyone my height/weight/measurements, and I don't care. (almost 5'4", 135lbs)

    This is huge for me, because I used to have (still do sometimes - only after going to the mall and being frustrated, though) major body issues. In high school, I was overweight, and only wore boys clothes, the baggiest pants and XL men's t-shirts. I lost 40ish pounds my senior year (yay for going vegan+eating healthy!), and after going off to college/having a job on my feet all day, I eventually got down to 120. Looked great, I liked that size, but I was 19, who stays that size forever? I'm 15 pounds heavier today - but I'm also 5 years older, and unemployed (=too much time being inactive). But I feel great. I'll never be 120 again, and that's ok.

    So, yes, specific body measurements are great. I'm not going to adversely compare myself to another woman, because we're not cookie cutter molds - and someone with my exact b/w/h measurements might look much smaller or bigger than me, so what do the numbers really matter as far as comparisons go?
    I think the other measurements are almost more important - shoulder width, bust apex, cup size, back waist height, waist-to-hip, biceps, thighs, etc.... that's where I have to make the most adjustments, and I'm infinitely more interested in finding how these measurements compare to others, and knowing how they have to change patterns because of said measurements.

    I'd be interested to see your actual measurements, Gertie, and I think you would feel amazingly liberated to post them. Honesty, right?

  59. I think it's pretty liberating to put measurements out there. I've been thinking about putting mine in the sidebar of my own blog so people can see how a certain size sweater from a knitting pattern fits with whatever amount of ease. I think being honest with myself about my measurements is extremely helpful to my body image. I'm also tempted to put them out there because I look smaller than I am in photos and I've had people say that I look petite.


  60. I recently read an article about crystal renn, her measurements being 38C, 30, 42. I having almost the same measurements (i'm a 34 waist) have found that being the same size as the world's most recognized and respected model has just reenforced my perception that woman of any size can look great in all clothing, just by wearing the right size and not trying to squeeze into that size 10 just to say we are wearing one.

  61. I have to say that numbers mean very little to me when it comes to questions of size. Fit is the most important thing when sewing one's own clothes, and cheating will only get you clothes that don't fit properly.

    Having said that, RTW clothes are doing a disservice to women these days. I think we are all staring at the size labels and measuring tapes from the wrong perspective. It is not that we ought to fit into a piece of clothing with a certain size tag, it is the other way around. Our bodies should come first, the clothes second.

  62. Inspiring post and comments! I'm going to take my measurements tonight (I actually had a dream about making the dirndl skirt on your site, I figure it's a sign).

    Totally as an aside: Gertie, where is that image at the top of the post from? It looks SO Familiar to me... is it from the Readers Digest sewing book? My parents had all those RD how-to books and I remember poring over them for HOURS when I was a kid.

  63. Yep, I was shocked when I had to take accurate measurements.

    41 bust
    35 under bust
    33 waist
    40 hip

    Throw in some broad shoulder and 6 feet tall - try fitting that!

  64. I'm actually surprised to see that you haven't been using your "real" measurements. Your garments seem to fit you really well. I am a 32" waist. I have had three kids and some things never shrink, but the number doesn't really bother me. I guess my jean size means more to me than my actual measurement. Most non sewers wouldn't know what a woman with a 32" waist vs a woman with a 29" waist looks like. I've never taken false measurements out of fear that my garment won't fit and I won't wear it. But, it usually turns out a little big even when I do take accurate measurements, which is fine b/c it feels good to have to "take it in"!

  65. I'll admit to needing to remeasure myself too. I've lost all of my pregnancy weight and everything that I have been altering for seems a bit off as parts of my body are swimming in fabric now and others probably need a little extra.

  66. I'm really bad when it comes to measuring, because I don't believe in the contemporary tables and chart! Haha! That's ironic isn't it? Well, I guess when I started sewing I was really following the measure chart and ended up a size 14 (European size 44) and the made up garment was way to big. As I become a better seamstress, I realized that say for instance, BWOF patterns aren't made for people wanting a snug fit, but for those preferring a loose fit. What that means, is that pattern measuring should be done on the pattern itself and compared to your own numbers. The reality is that if you want a great fit on your garment, your numbers are crucial. BUT, if you get a great fit, no-one will think of the numbers, because you'll look so much better! Maybe I'm obsessed with the garment's fit but I'm not very good with tissue fitting and measuring, and find the contemporary pattern's charts harassing mostly because they don't work for me. According to BWOF my bust and waist is a size 10, hip size 12, back length 4/6 and back width near 18! But if I use Vogue patterns it would be bust=14, waist and hip=16! My conclusions are: The measurements themselves are crucial, because sizing charts doesn't help! And a good fit is dependent on measuring directly on the pattern! Without talking about the measurements, the fit won't be any good!

  67. I just took my measurements again (49-42-45, at 5’10.5”). Clearly I am top-heavy, and that has brought me so much irritation, frustration, and unwelcome attention. And, of course, if it fits on top, it doesn’t fit on the bottom, and vice versa. I love dresses, but I tend toward separates because it’s easier to make them fit, at least in RTW.

    Ironically, as I was in the midst of reading these comments and thinking, “you know, it IS just a number, no one is going to know what size pattern you used if you don’t tell them, very few people can measure the human form with their eyes,” and so on, an acquaintance made a comment (elsewhere) that strongly implied I was a “wide woman.” And I got offended and angry, so I guess some part of me still buys into the numbers game.

    As I’ve gotten more into sewing, though, I’ve been more aware of things like vanity sizing and the Merona (Target) brand fitting my lower half at size 16, but other brands fitting me at 18. Well, clearly I am still the same person and the same shape in either brand of jeans (and I’ve actually started buying men’s jeans because they fit better, although there I take a 38-30, so maybe they’ve started vanity sizing too).

    So what does a size number really mean? Not much. It’s somewhat easier to deal with in patterns, but there is still some assumption of the female form having a waist 6” smaller than your bust, and hips 3” wider than your bust, but about 10” wider than your waist. I haven’t done the actual math, but I don’t see, at a casual glance, any numbers here that look like that. Which is actually nice, because it makes me realize that women are shaped like themselves, not usually like any dress form.

    So part of me thinks it’s ridiculous to worry too much about numbers, but part of me does not care to be referred to as fat. So I guess some days are better than others and even when I think I’ve surpassed the pointlessness of assigning meaning to our physical measurements, I usually haven’t. But it gives me something to aspire to.

  68. I finally had to bite the bullet and own up to my numbers (measurements). I call it owning the numbers. Even though I am not pleased with the numbers, until I decide to do what it takes to change them it is what it is. I need clothing now and since I've started using my correct numbers, my clothes fit better and look better. My measurements tell me that my body is a rectangular (lol).

  69. I'm not sewing quite yet but I when I buy vintage online (with only measurements to guide me, as sizes are so different now), I do go aspirational. Like some of those size 6 suit skirts dresses with itty bity waistlines? I bit the bullet, pull on the tighest pair of control top hose I have, and hike it up basically to just under the rib cage. I suffer for the retro fashions sometime, but I really should be less aspirational.

  70. I, too, suck in my waist and squeeze the tape measure as tight as possible. I like thinking I'm this lovely little hourglass; I am curvy, but more in soft, rounded way than the sharply angular waistlines illustrated on vintage patterns.
    I generally wear an 8, but sometimes a 10 or even a 6 depending on how the garment is cut. My measurements are:
    39" 29" 40"

  71. Great post! I always thought I took accurate measurements, but like you I sucked in when taking that waist measurement. After a few failures with pants and skirts I now do it correctly, to ease my backwards thinking I used centimeters for the first few garments and now I can do inches and it doesn't hurt.

    My current measurements are Bust 41.5, Waist 33 Hips 37.5
    As you can see I wear 2 different sizes and the big 4 patterns event the multi size patterns require me to buy 2 patterns. I use Burda and many indy patterns.

    Thanks for the encouraging post!

  72. Is it just me or do your body image posts get tons, tons of comments? I'm glad you're writing about it.

    I've been a member of many sewing communities and I've noticed that the older the sewer gets, the more likely they use their real measurements and have success with their finished garments. I tend to see a bit more vanity sizing stuff in twentysomethings than fortysomethings. The younger women can go on and on and on about sizes and numbers and the older, more experiences sewists just sew their stuff up in the correct size with the correct alterations. (Oh and I'm 33, by the way). But! This is just anecdotal and observational and I've often wondered. Take it for what it's worth. Part of it may be vanity, or not accepting oneself... maybe some of it is becoming a more experienced seamstress. I dunno.

    As for "fessing up": I'm a 44", 35", 43". Number are just numbers, as far as I'm concerned.

    I think I'm not pulling the tape measure tight enough around my waist - or something. I always end up with very lose waistbands. And my waist is a couple sizes larger than my high bust and hip measurements. Perhaps I should make a straight size based on hips - even though my waist is not 10" smaller than my hips and even the thought of wearing a too-tight waist is like, ugh.

    Thanks for a good post!

  73. About putting actual numbers/measurements in your blog...I think it's great. As a recovered anorexic wanting to share my story with others, I've thought a lot about whether or not to include numbers. I've realized that, looking back, I was going to do disordered things and have disordered thoughts whether or not someone included numbers in what I was reading. So, really, it doesn't matter either way (sort of unfortunately).

    I'm glad you're promoting body positivity and getting real with yourself too! I've found it's way better to have something actually FIT than fudge the measurements a little. In fact, if I make a garment too small, I end up feeling larger.

  74. When I was actively losing baby weight, I sucked in and pulled tight. Then when beautiful skirt/dress/etc didn't fit like a dream, it was my next motivation. It worked really well for me. Now I take my measurements with a snug tape, but not suck in and pull tight. The companies work on the assumption you'll pull it snug (hard for bustlines not to pull too tight... everything is so smooshy..)

    38, 27, 39. Bigger than I used to be, especially on the hips. Oh freakin' well.

    BTW, are you doing ok Gertie? There's just so many posts lately on body image, I hope you're feeling ok about yourself.

  75. i don't think hiding measurements does anyone a service. instead, it helps people understand that we all come in different shapes & sizes.

    i've been smaller, i've been bigger, but i think i'm cute no matter what numbers are on the tape :D

  76. 34-26-39!

    Gertie, we love you and your measurements. My dad used to say to me "No one knows what the size says inside the dress, or what your waist size is. They only see how well the garment fits you." And he is right! Measurements are meaningless except to make the garment fit you perfectly- and make you look great of course!

  77. I don't really get hung up on my figure measurements too much, but I do fudge my height.

    I like to tell myself that I'm 5'7". I wish I were 5'8", but that would be stretching the truth just a little too much.

    In the interest of conformity (!) my measurements are:

    32-33"depending on the week

    And I'm really 5'6".


  78. I took up sewing after hating it as a kid only because I'm 5'6" and 31.5-26-33. Skinny. This I don't mind, but sewing sure helps me adjust my RTW clothes to fit and I hate baggy clothes that swallow up my small frame. Sewing from patterns is scary sometimes if they don't put in how much ease. I wish all patterns had that!

  79. i'm so diggin' the people posting their measurements! i live in fear of making something too small, so i try to measure and then immediately force myself to forget!

    (pear ;)

  80. Not sure if anyone else does this, but I tend to overestimate when I take measurements - you can always make something, but you can't make it bigger.

    Plus, it makes me feel really good about myself when I can say 'Oh! I made it too big!'

    I do like that the Burda sizes are completely divorced from anything I "know" in my head from ready to wear. Not that ready to wear sizing means anything at all. I can go to Banana and have a pair of size 12 pants fit too small, and yet in another style, I swim in a 12....

    I recently told an ex coworker my weight, and she was shocked. Her exact words were "I would have guessed 20 lbs less". My response was that it's because I wear clothes that FIT. If it means that I go to the store, try on 10 pairs of jeans and still leave empty handed because nothing is fitting right, then that's the way it is (for a while I was a size 10 1/2 - everything was either too small or to big!)

    Fudging the measurements and making something too small does you no good. Too tight clothes only accentuate everything that you want to hide.

    42-37-41 at 5'5" (with a high bust, a long torso, a pot belly, and monstrous 17" calves....)

  81. My stubborn ideas about my measurements are killing my bank account. How many times have I bought the 4-10 size(s) pattern, only to have to go back for a 12 or 14? I think it's definitely time for a reality check, thanks for the inspiring post! :-)


  82. Oh, Gertie, I wish you had posted this about a week ago! I just finished a pencil skirt and, of course, when I went to try it on it was snug, or maybe even a little...tight. My skirt would be great for photos where I am standing still! As soon as I start walking, it starts a journey of its own, creeping up in a most unladylike way ;)

    I plan this weekend to take my real measurements. Or maybe I will wait until Monday. Or next week. ;)

  83. You know, I went through this same phase once. I took my waist measurement with abs tightened, first thing in the morning. It took several failed skirts and dresses that I had to give away because the waist was too small to stop and take some accurate measurements. On a slightly different note, I sew primarily from vintage patterns, and I find that they fit very well. However, with modern Big 4 patterns and RTW, the fit is obscenely off. I'm usually swimming in McCalls sizes, and according to the store that sells my favorite jeans, my waist is actually a full four inches smaller. What gives?

  84. I'm actually never quite sure how to measure my bust accurately. When I inhale, it expands by several inches. Do I use the smaller or the larger of the two measurements? When I use the larger of the two, I look lost in the too-large outfit. On the other hand, I don't want to appear to be busting (pun intended) out of my outfit if I use the smaller number. Quite aside form vanity, does anybody have a suggestion for how to address this problem?

  85. I do need to take new measurements. I recently gained about ten pounds.(all in my butt and thighs it seems) The only measurement I have that is up to date is my bust. THAT didn't change with my weight gain. Oh no, I couldn't get bigger there. Still 32". Sigh.

    I really have no idea now what my waist and hips are. My body has change proportion so drastically!

  86. I like things snugger in the waist than my true measurement. Mostly skirts and high waisted pants. This is partly because when I use my true waist measurement or the standard "with ease" waist band, things slip down and I get roll-over on the waist band, which is neither comfortable nor attractive.

    So yeah. I take my waist measure, and subtract 2" for my waist bands. It works for me!

  87. Oh, also. When drafting your own patterns, use centimetres! Most people in North America can't switch comfortably between inches and centimetres. It works wonders. :)

  88. Firstly, thank you for recognising that it might be triggering to start talking numbers. For my part, I actually find it affirming (now, anyway - at my 41.5kg worst, I can't say how I'd have reacted) to look at you and say, she has a 30" waist, and she looks great (you do!), so obviously there is nothing fat or scary or hideous about a waist measurement over 22", so get a grip!

    I am and have always been honest with myself about my measurements; my sin is to taunt myself with them. Currently I am 39-29-41, and on bad days do tend to compare that unfavourably with my smallest since puberty, 36-22-28 (I have solid, Teutonic bones).

    Honestly though, I'd feel better about my body if fashion, RTW or pattern-wise, didn't make it so difficult to get a good fit.

  89. I thought I'd add this P.S to my original post as I think it demonstrates how silly we (I) can be sometimes about sizes. I live in the UK, when I go to the USA because of the different sizing system I drop 2 dress sizes (RTW) the minute I get off the plane. When I try things on yes I do get a buzz when I see the label - how pathetic is that! I am not smaller. They are exactly the same measurements just different numbers on the label.
    On the down side I go up two shoe sizes at the same time, that dosn't seem to bother me so much though.

  90. Personally I think if you take ACCURATE measurements you will end up with a better fitting garment that actually makes you look slimmer and beautiful. And don't we all want garments that not only fit well but make us feel beatiful too?!

  91. I too have the phobic fear of the waist hitting the big 3-0.

    I have the same problem some other commentors mentioned--the measurments don't stay that constant. Right now they're around 39-29-39, but who knows what they'll be next week.

    Also, that "hourglass" definition as being a 13'' difference?? Crazy talk. I'll happily keep thinking of myself as an hourglass, thank you *very* much!

  92. I think publishing your measurements is a liberating thing. For me, I find people are always shocked when they find out how much I weigh (as in they think I weigh 115 lbs!). Most people aren't aware that the number of a dress size, pattern size, or even weight doesn't really have anything to do with what a person looks like. It's all individual and has to do with how your body is constructed. However, Hollywood messes that up with every starlet's publicist saying they're a size two and 110 lbs! I'm 34-28-38 and 138 lbs, size 8 retail, and 12 pattern. So there!

  93. Took my measurements recently just out of curiosity: 34-33-37. My bust and hips could fit smalls. My waist is like an extra large according to fitting charts, but I can usually squeeze into a medium pant. It's so bizarre. Even at my skinniest, I never had that nice hourglass figure. Sigh.

  94. hmmm... do men have this problem?

    in light years i am:

    i can't find my 'angstroms' measuring tape right now.

  95. It's interesting, I live in the metric system and with the burda sizes (that's germany) but I know exactly what you mean: my bust circumference is 98cm (always, doesn't matter if I lose or gain weight). So I'm pretty sure I'm a 42. The sizes in RTW lately tend to go down (like a M or 38/40 would fit!) and with burda I would have to go 1 size up (44). But as I'm sewing I know I have to use an FBA to fit my boobs and that I have to take a 40.
    The only measurement I try to fake is my belly measurement: shouldn't be more than 90 cm for health reasons and I desperately try to make it below ;o)
    Ok, there is a problem with my waist: it's quite high, higher than I care to sit anything anyway, so I just go for a bigger size in patterns there. Sometimes the biggest there is and taking it in later. (Should figure that out, shouldn't I?)

  96. The interesting thing about sewing for me is that it has totally released me from fear of sizes or measurements. I usually work from the actual measurements on the pattern and cut that size. My measurements are in this range as I seem to fluctuate a little from week to week. Sadly, my hips stay the same so sometimes I am more of a rectangle than others.
    34 - 36 inches
    28 - 29 inches
    39 1/2 inches

  97. I seem to over estimate (liek Binky) with my measurements and semem to always have to down size things I make - even though I stick to my measurements - I guess I am afraid of cutting the fabric too snug and not being able to wear what I have just spent hours making....+ I got caught out a fair amount in the last few years with buying vintage online - going by my actual measurements things should ahve fit - but when I go to put them on they dont.. so now I tend to buy with a little extra room around the bust just incase (as I can alway take it in a bit)...

    PS Gertie I too have a fear of my waist rising above 30inches - but well I just have to face facts that its not getting any smaller no matter what I do!

  98. I take measurements every so often... then proceed to ignore them! On the basis that I've started going to the gym and I like to wear things snug on the waist, I always buy skirts an inch or two (sometimes more!) smaller on the waist

    Tuppence Ha'penny

  99. Ok so I always thought I was an hourglass figures until I took proper measurements for the first time in 8 years and I turn out to be a 'Pear'(apparently)- 40 - 37-47 - and yet I feel like my large cup size makes me more curvy than this implies. I like to think of myself as an hourglass anyway, it sounds far sexier than pear or apple or grapefruit or whatever they use! Anyway, taking accurate measurements has given me the push I needed to lose some weight - 38-32-44 here I come (measurements from some years ago)!

    Love your blog anyway Gertie, it's so refreshing to have people talk about this stuff in an intelligent and non judgemental way.

  100. I'm currently making the Jenny dress! I will definitely be checking back to see how your project comes out. And yes, it's okay! (I was telling myself that a lot too when I was figuring out what size to make!) With all the time and energy it takes to sew one's own clothes, they better fit when they're done. Good luck on your skirt!

  101. I'm late to the party but this is incredibly timely for me so I had to comment anyway. I am currently in an eating disorders program and I want to sew all my own clothes in the nearish future. I need to wait until I am at a size that is both comfortable enough for me to stay at and healthy. I don't want to sew a whole wardrobe just to have nothing fit in three months because I'm changed weight again. I hate shopping for clothes not so much because the numbers are higher than I want them to be (and they are, that just isn't the main problem), but because nothing fits me at all. I have never been completely happy with how anything has fit. Things might fit in one place but not the other eight places they need to fit. I've been trawling sewing blogs like this for a while now and I have found it incredibly affirming to find people who are also not the "right" shape, at least according to whatever shape RTW clothing is made to fit. I think that having clothes that fit and not having to go shopping where I am demoralized by my ability to fit into anything properly will be a boon to my body image. The discussion here has been. Still, I know it will be hard. I fully intend to have my therapist help me take accurate measurements so that I can stop and freak out every thirty seconds if I have to. Goodness, just thinking about it gives me the willies, but I think I probably have to know what my body shape is in order to accept it and I certainly need to know in order to sew clothing that isn't demoralizing to wear.

  102. Late to the party also.... but I applaud your honesty and appreciate the real measurements. So here are my real measurements (today): 40-33-43

  103. So glad to find other women with block figures like mine. Which is something like 44, 40, 44. Which according to bought patterns make me a 22, 26, 24, or the other way round. Always have been three different pattern sizes and dont I long for the days when it was 16, 20, 18? I've never had a waist. My mum had a waist, should have like to inherit that instead of her nose!

  104. Hah, I found this old post while going back through your blog trying to find your measurements - I want to make the Sencha blouse, but I have had a retro-thirties shape from middle school onwards (all my measurements are always within three inches of each other, no matter which side of 30 or 40 those measurements fall on) and I keep trying patterns that look good on hourglasses and pears and being disappointed because I don't go in at the middle or very far out at the ends. No wiggle dresses for me! So yes, I kind of wish more people were upfront about their measurements, because especially when sewing vintage it's hugely helpful to know if I'm looking at something that would look awesome on my pear-shaped sister, my apple-shaped friend, or my own gracefully rectangular self.

  105. Hah ha, and then I read your rant one entry before on apples, pears, bananas, and what kinds of clothes they're supposed to wear. I think in my family we have two basic figure types, so hourglasses and blocks come up in conversation a lot: one figure type goes out in the bra and basically stays that shape the whole way down, and the other starts at the bottom by going way out at the hips and then way in and stays in the whole way up. So two types, two groups of women trying to dress themselves, and the ever-present question "yes, but do you need a concave waist/a convex busom to wear that?".

  106. I just started reading your post and I think that women put way too much stock in numbers and fruit comparisons. I'm really glad I started sewing early before I could become wrapped up in it. It's frustrating watching my friends freak out when I try to show them what pattern size they need to buy. It isn't till the project is done that they finally realize that it's just a number and that is only if I'm lucky.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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