Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Should Pattern Companies Update Their Sizing?

Question of the day! Do you think pattern sizing is outdated? We all know that the major pattern companies use a system that's quite old - meaning that it hasn't been affected by vanity sizing or the whims of the garment industry. But that also means that it's stuck in a static, decades-old status quo. Are there changes you think should be put into effect?

I've been thinking about this recently based on my own decision to get brutally honest about my size. I'm thrilled with the way things are fitting lately, but I'm surprised to find out that I'm borderline "plus" or "women's" size. For my BurdaStyle Jenny skirts, I have to cut a 44 in the hips. This is the last size before plus sizes start. I recently made a Simplicity blouse in a size 16. According to the info on the pattern envelope, the next size up is 18W, meaning women's - as opposed to misses' - sizes.

I hope I don't sound like I'm in denial here. If I'm practically plus-size, so be it. But there certainly seems to be a large disconnect somewhere, considering that I wear about a 10 in RTW, which is squarely a misses size.

This definitely points to the lack of patterns for larger women. BurdaStyle only releases some of their patterns in plus sizes. And I know that plus-size women often feel abandoned by the Big 4 pattern companies when it comes to cute patterns in larger sizes.

However, there does seem to be a shift happening in independent pattern companies. Colette Patterns and HotPatterns sizing runs closer to ready-to-wear. For what it's worth, I've now seen smaller seamstresses complaining that the smallest size in Colette Patterns is too big for them. Is it possible that there really is no way to please everyone?

[Colette Patterns Size Chart]

This isn't an argument about whether there's an obesity crisis in our country or not or a place to point out that women's bra sizes have gotten incrementally bigger over the years or whatever. It's just asking the question: what can pattern companies do to better serve their customers? What do you think, lovely readers?


  1. I don't mind what set of numbers they use, but I want them to be accurate! I find Hotpatterns and Onion to be accurate, but not Simplicity which seems to have a crazy amount of ease. Burda magazine seems accurate, but I bought one of their patterns in an envelop, and it had about 4 inches too much ease!

    The particular numbers they use to identify their sizes doesn't matter much to me, but the actual measurements do. As discussed on the Selfish Seamstress blog, the waist measurements seem to be particularly fanciful.

  2. Yes and no, would be my answer. While I like the idea of the major pattern companies updating their proportions and sizes to modern needs, at the same time I think it's important to realize that no matter how "updated" companies are with their size charts, each woman will need to fit her body individually. I have yet to find any company (even among the indie ones) that I can just use a pattern "out of envelope". So I guess I really struggle with figuring out why updating sizes is such a big deal? Except that yes, I think that offering a wider range of sizes (especially expanding the misses' design market into the "plus size" one--I hate how gals who are over the "18" on the pattern size charts are shortchanged!!! :( ), would be beneficial to the companies and sewing public.

    I guess too, part of my reticence with updating sizes is wondering if pattern companies will stop offering smaller sizes. In the Colette Pattern range, I waver around a 2 (and usually have to do a sba since there isn't much up top--a 34" in Colette Patterns is like a 36" on me! ;). Sometimes I find indie companies tend to be too big, even though I am by no means really small or petite (at nearly 5'6", I figure I'm pretty average!). So I guess it's a question of balance more than updating sizes for me: how do companies strike a certain happy medium to offer a range of sizes to customers of every size? I'm guessing that although it'd be more expensive, offering more fitting solutions and options for making patterns petite-able or "plus size" would be a good start.

    Ack. I feel like I've just rambled here! lol. I guess what I'm getting at is that if nothing else, pattern companies need to take a look at how the market has evolved over the years. Regardless of updating the size charts (because really, you should be sewing from your measurements, not your rtw size and irregardless of the dress size number!), they need to take a look at what things they can do (like offering more options for plus size and petite) to corner more of the market and make it even more appealing to home seamstresses.

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

    1. I think you made her point. Sizing isn't accurate and the mix of sizes available is insufficient.

      All sizes should have the adjustment lines for petite and tall figures.

      Using bust measurement as the first criteria for size is ridiculous.

      Women with a 36" bust would all choose the same size. A woman who is a 36A is completely different than a woman who is a 32 C but they could have the same bust measurement of 36". The high bust measurement isn't good enough.

      I don't think Gertie is talking about expanding sizes. The whole system needs to be changed. We don't need Petite, Womens, Half-sizes. Plus sizes and Misses. They don't make any patterns in most of those categories so just drop them. Put height adjustments for tall and petite in every pattern. It's the easier alteration.

      Almost everyone seems to be a larger size on the bottom. It should be the opposite. It's not that almost everyone is shaped wrong. it's the sizing that is wrong.

      We need a new system designed from scratch that has nothing at all to do with the old system.


  3. I feel updating the sizing is required. I don't know anyone who has the proportions the big pattern companies work with. They are obviously aware of the situation as Vogue patterns also has the 'Today's Fit" Patterns which reflect more modern day sizing. Consistancy in sizing would be great too.

    We will probably all have to make adjustments to patterns even with a change in proportions. However, the adjustments might be minor rather than major.

  4. in the end I don't think what they call the sizes matters, they could just go by letters for all I care. I just wish there was more of a range. like you said, burda style doesn't always go bigger on every pattern so there are some patterns that I miss out on. simplicity has so much ease, that I don't know what to do with it all. but vogue sometimes isn't consistent with their sizing options. sometimes a pattern will go to a 20 or 22 and sometimes it will just stop at an 18 for some reason (michael kors I'm looking at you).

    I don't think every company can please every sewist, and we do need the variety. it gets tiring that the big companies use a B cup for their patterns. let's just say that I'm happy that Colette exists. and like casey said, you're most likely going to have the tweak the pattern anyway. maybe what we need is to stop calling things "plus size" or "woman" and just go by the numbers. a little standardization would be nice, when you first start sewing it's hard to manage all the different sizing names/templates/standards? (not sure what to call it). I used to not understand why sizes in european patterns would be in the 40's and american would be in teens or 20's.

    umm I'm rambling and I haven't finished my tea yet.

  5. I'm another one who's bothered more by the limited range than by what they call the sizes. I don't know if pattern companies are going by return-on-investment or by trendiness or what when they decide what sizes to cater to. I doubt that body image or social issues are at the top of their priorities. But if there are large (no pun intended) niches in the clothing market that are not being catered to by clothes sellers, it seems logical that pattern companies would do their best to attract that crowd -- large women, tall women, petite women. Seems easier to add a size to a pattern drawing than to manufacture clothes in that size and put them in stores.

    I just had a shock when I promised my brother I would try to make him a shirt sometime... and found out there are no patterns in his size. He's big, but there are a lot of big guys out there, so WTF?

  6. I don't care what # they call the size, since I look at the measurements anyway. Thankfully I'm in the range of 10-12, so I don't have a problem finding a pattern. But I do think it would be nice of the pattern companies to grade the sizes up or down more ...

    I would like to see an additional measurement on the envelope too, for the ease.

  7. By the way, I'm size 36 in the stores (in Israel we use European sizes) and size 38 in Burda, so it seems vanity sizing hasn't gone as far in Europe as it has in the US!

  8. I've been having the same problem as you, Gertie, where I wear a 10-12 in RTW but when it comes to buying patterns, I'm close to getting sized out of the market. I'm a taller than average woman so my measurements match my height accordingly, but it depresses me that if I border on needing plus-size patterns that don't exist, I can't imagine what actual plus-sized women must go through.

  9. They don't need to assign measurements sizes. It completely throws me off. Just leave measurements. Women who sew already know how many inches they are in various places

  10. I absolutely agree pattern makers should have a broader size range. I am technically plus sized, and to be honest, there are very few patterns that appeal me. On another related rant, being plus-sized doesn't mean I lost my waist in the process, which apparently both retail and pattern makers think is normal.

    So I vote for more sizes! I don't care if my size is a 20, a 50, or a J, as long as I can find something close to my measurements.

  11. I don't think there's a single solution that will make everyone happy. RTW sizing is all over the map, in my experience. I take an 8 in most midrange RTW, but in labels like Donna Karan, Michael Kors and some others, I'm as "small" as a size 4. If you compare the current Big 4 standard measurements against the measurements from the same companies' patterns from the 70s and before, you see that they have updated their sizing, too.

    That said, I'll grump for a moment and agree with Karin that some pattern companies draft so poorly that the standardized measurements don't mean bupkus. It all comes down to finding a pattern line that works for you.

  12. I have been using Burda patterns for 15 years now, and I am quite used to their sizing. According to their size charts I am size 38 for the tops and 40 for the bottoms. However, while bottoms usually are correct with the measurements, I often find tops to be too big. Hence, I frequently trace size 36 for the tops. And when I trace dress patterns, I trace them in size 38 for both top and bottom, and it usually fits. I find that rather confusing, and I'd like to have sizing measurements that I can rely on.
    And, I am quite confused by the size chart you've posted (is that the Collette Patterns'?). According to it, my measurements range from size 2 for the bust, to size 10 for the hips! That's a range of 5 sizes, and I don't find my body that unproportional.
    I have also used patterns from the Italian magazine La Mia Boutique, and their sizing is also different, and unreliable - I traced the patterns in larger or smaller sizes depending on their size charts, and still got some really awkward fit - the hips were too tight, and the bust was too loose...
    As Karin have said, I don't care for size numbers, but for the accuracy.

  13. Please protect me from pattern sizing updates! I've just learned how to work with these sizes. But I second the poster who said they could just call them by letters.

    Seriously, though, there are a lot of figure types, no one pattern is going to be good for all of them. I avoid Sandra Betzina patterns because the description of the fit sounds like it is going *away* from the direction that fits me! But I can also tell this because of the measurement charts they publish, and that's what I look at, whether it's Big4, Ottobre, Burda, Collette or any other pattern manufacturer.

    I absolutely agree that the pattern companies should actually *use* the size measurements (I recently sewed a simplicity top in my ordinary pattern size 14 and had to redo it all to a 10!). And I think it would be beneficial to increase the range of sizes -- although as Carolyn pointed out, when you get into the larger sizes you need to change the grading algorithms -- ie arms do not just get longer and longer... I have heard that some companies, like Petite Plus, have really worked with this, and I think Carolyn recommended the Khalia Ali patterns for Simplicity? Perhaps the slightly different fit of different pattern ranges is a good idea as well.

    Things I love about pattern sizing: multiple sizes make it much easier for people like me who actually vary 2 or 3 sizes from bust to waist to hip; multiple cup sizes - although I can usually get by with a B, this is a wonderful thing the pattern companies can do to suit many more women right away. If only you could buy RTW in all these sizes!

    I am also very pleased with McCalls for offering the Palmer/Pletsch patterns with lots of fitting instructions, and also Simplicity's Fantastic Fit line. I don't particularly like non-standard pattern sizing because then I have to work everything out again - but then, that's why I have my sloper pattern hanging on my wall....

    See, I don't think it is the pattern company's job to make a pattern that fits *me*. I think it is their job to produce an excellent pattern that fits together well to a consistent size; and then it is my job to select the flattering style and make the very personal alterations I need. I mean, is it their responsibility to account for all women with square shoulders? I just don't see that. And I don't care whether I'm a B, a 42, a 14, or an alpha or diamond size, as long as what they give me on the envelope is what comes out on the tissue.

    So then the question is, should pattern sizes be RTW sized, ie should patterns go from an 0 to 18 rather than a 6 to 24? Sure, whatever, just let me know.

  14. Although I think extending the number of sizes for any given pattern, like the range demonstrated on the Collette pattern, would be a great idea.

    Beyond that, you really can't expect pattern companies to cater to your specific fitting issues. It would be totally economically unfeasible, they would all go out of business, and then we'd have no new patterns whatsoever.

    I have to make several changes to every pattern I use, but I don't gripe about it, I just deal with it. My body does not conform to the average on which commercial drafting is based, but it's impractical for them to draft any other way. I don't get annoyed at the pattern companies for the alterations I have to make (except with companies like New Look that are simply drafted badly, so I don't buy them, or Butterick, or McCalls, or Burda envelope patterns), I just figure the time to muslin and adjust into the project at the outset.

    If it really bothers you so much, learn to draft your own patterns. Although it's likely you'll still have to do some tweaking on those!

  15. Pattern companies, like RTW retailers, are stuck in that same old marketing grind with the plus-sized patterns, it seems - they don't sell many plus-sized patterns, because there aren't many plus-sized patterns sold, and therefore no one comes to buy plus-sized patterns. This is probably much more drastic for pattern companies, because of the learning curve involved in becoming a regular customer. I feel for the petite women for whom old-school sizing is the last chance to find a dress they don't swim in, but yes, at 5'8" I too am about to size out of un-plus Burda patterns (in my case it's the waist - I have almost no bust-to-waist-to-hips change and am still way down the chart with my hips. I'm less a pencil then one of those big crayons, but the idea's the same) and oh my god, plus-sized Burda magazine, how many times can you sell the same wrap-front dress and claim it's a new idea? And how am I supposed to cut one size down in the hips if that's in a different magazine?

    Of course, I'm a pretty... freeform seamstress and have never really made a pattern following all the instructions and had it fit right - I usually get as far as the muslin and start letting things out and taking things in and throwing in a bunch of darts and deciding the sleeves just need some catchstitch, really. I think the new round of pattern-making books are a great thing in this regard, because they offer far more control over the measurements of the pattern and don't leave me boggling at the pattern paper wondering who on earth has a twelve-inch bust to hip change anyway. (Though since I started reading sewing blogs, I've learned that there are a lot of wasp waists surviving in this country and thank god the small-middled have vintage patterns, because RTW has left them behind too.)

  16. It's really not the sizing that is inconsistent, but the amount of wearing ease that the companies draft onto their slopers. The other issue is that they add the same amount of ease no matter what the size, so that while a smaller body needs much less wearing ease, a larger one needs more. I find that Burda works the best for me and I've learned how to fit them for my body. That is the key, no matter what the companies draft, none of us are the same. I for one find it easier to fit a pattern to me than to find a rtw garment that actually fits well. This is even more apparent the better I get at fitting. I generally sew Vogue, but not the other of the big 4 for a number of reasons, but Vogue is more annoying typically split the envelope after a 14 which is what I need for the upper body. I have been known to buy 2 patterns when they are on sale just to make my life easier. At least in Burda I only have to add a bit to the bottom, not 4 sizes.

  17. Its the proportions that bother me. I'm built like a column though so that could be why. I'm also tall which doesn't help. I tend to prefer otto and jallie though and at this point I've decided to just pay more for things that work well on me. I do have some Collette ones on the way with high hopes.

  18. I agree with Karin and Ann, that the pattern companies need to do a better job of sticking to their own measurements.

    I don't really care what they call the sizes; A, B, C or 10, 12, 14...if the measurements on the envelope would just coincide to whatever size those measurements coincide to.

    I also think that it is important to find a company that works best for you. Many people like Burda because it is drafted with less ease and fits more like ready to wear. I prefer Burda because of that, but my mother likes the Big 4 simply because of all their ease, but that is wearing preference.

    I think that with all the variation in body sizes and shapes that certainly the Big 4 should consider adding more options for petites, more options for plus sizes, and more patterns that offer different cup sizes.

    In my mind, the reason that most people sew today is because they want well-fitting clothes that fit their tastes, not because it is more inexpensive to sew your own clothes (I think I spend just as much sewing for myself). So the companies should recognize that and offer a greater variety of sizes, no matter what they call those sizes.

  19. Personally, I don't mind what numbers they ultimately assign. However, I *do* expect that when a pattern gives particular measurements as being associated with a size on their pattern, that it will be accurate. The last thing I sewed was a retro apron - I think from Simplicity - and even though according to their size chart, the size I chose should have fit me properly, it is *HUGE* - to the point where I am drowning in it. I double-checked everything, too, as I'm a chicken before making those cuts and always second-guess myself about everything. It was rated as an easy pattern, too, so I would really expect that there might be more of an effort to avoid frustrating novice seamsters like that!

    So, for me, accuracy and consistency, regardless of the size numbers assigned, are the most important factors.

  20. I'm a Burda size 38 (by measurements and by experience. Anajan, maybe your back and shoulders are narrow?) and I only require minor alterations when using their patterns. I appreciate that their sizing is consistant from pattern to pattern.
    In the shops I'm usually a size 36 but that's ok. I know there is a slight difference in sizing between patterns and RTW and it's easy enough to adapt.
    I do think US brands, pattern companies as well as RTW, are more confusing because they tend to vary much more, (probably because US population spans a much wider range of sizes than Europeans) and I'm always a little nervous when using US patterns because I never know what to expect. I guess it would be easier if everyone stuck to the same standards but I realize that's pretty much impossible. I've tried some HotPatterns and they were so difficult for me to fit. I've finally come to the conclusion that they are designed for a different body type than mine. I admire Colette patterns, but haven't dared to try them yet because the styles seem designed for curvier figures.
    So maybe you just need to know your pattern companies and learn by experience how their sizing works for you.

  21. the companies also need to realise that not everybody has an hour glass figure.
    I'm an ex swimmer and am built like a wardrobre !!!! broad shoulders and not much of a waist.
    If I have to go by the measurements I end up being 3 different sizes from size 18 -22 sometimes 24.

    Thanx to all you gals and your blogs today I started dressmaking lessons and with my measurements made my own skirt pattern, basted the skirt and darts, have cut skirt out and is now waiting to start the sewing process....I'm so pleased with myself.............also because I have to learn all the sewing terms in Italian...so it's 2 lessons in 1.......sewing and Italian !!!! LOl
    joan in italy

  22. I agree with many other people--it doesn't matter what they call the sizes, it just matters if a good range exists. I applaud Colette for doing this, but even so, Colette patterns are not small enough to fit me (I'm very petite). I try to think of it as an opportunity to learn more about fit and alteration, and I'm getting the hang of it. I don't expect pattern companies to cater to my individual needs, but I hope they do accommodate most people...and it seems like they may not even do that as well as they could! I guess that's why the binding on my "Complete Book of Tailoring" is falling off...

  23. I'm in the camp that doesn't care what they call the sizes as long as the measurements are accurate. When I was new to sewing, the big4 put me off sewing completely for a few years because I thought I must be doing everything completely wrong for everything to fit so badly! Now I'm completely wedded to muslins, I would never make anything without one because I find it the only real way to avoid major disappointment. Except with Jalie- oh how I love Jalie's accurate size charts! If they say it will fit your measurements, it certainly will.

  24. I think the numbers they put on them don't matter as long as we can follow the measurements listed, but that they just need to include larger sizes for their misses patterns and not bump those sizes off to "plus size", especially for - as you mentioned- some people who might wear misses in RTW. However, the greater problem I find is that you actually can't depend on the measurements on the label to suit yours because of the ridiculous ease added on. Pattern companies, specifically the big ones, really need to include a more reasonable amount of ease and clearly label the amount of ease. I don't want 4" of ease in my supposedly "fitted" dress.

    As for me, I don't like the idea of going closer to RTW sizes in patterns, because it can cut smaller people out of being able to use them. Where I could cut a small size (4/6/8 depending on pattern or company) from a big company, it appears from the measurements that I would have to cut the 0 from Colette Patterns and then even have to grade it down a little (I haven't yet had the opportunity to try them out, though). And I actually find this strange, because I usually wear a 4 in RTW - rarely a 2 and never a 0.

    In my opinion, pattern companies just need to make a wider range of sizes available.

  25. Maybe this is only a new feature to me because I am still a little green in the world of self sewing.....but just this last weekend purchased a button down shirt pattern from Simplicity (3684) that states on the envelope that there are "separate patterns included for B, C, D cup sizes." Now I'm not going to lie - I'm a little excited to see how it turns out since I am a bit on the volumptious side upstairs and have had a hard time making some other patterns work for my girls.......so we will see. But maybe they are listening and the winds of change are blowing....

  26. Reading Gertie's blog and several others has inspired me to get back into sewing after a 15-20 year hiatus (I wasn't that proficient then so maybe I should just say I'm a beginner.)
    Thinking a simple skirt would be a good place to start so I took advantage of Hobby Lobby's $1.99 McCall pattern sale this weekend. After carefully taking my measurements, I trotted off to the store, perused at the pattern envelope and... promptly passed out!
    I have bravely decided not to be overcome by numbers even though "they" say I need 4 sizes larger than I buy in RTW. My body type is best described as no waist or no hips (which sounds better? Ach!) so I know I'm not easy to fit. What has me concerned is that I had to buy the larger range of the multi-sized pattern and if their measurements aren't somewhat accurate it may be beyond my skills to scale down. Based on common sense and all your comments on the unreliability of pattern measurements, I WILL be making a muslin on this one (a first for me) so we'll see how it goes. I guess $1.99 is a pretty minor risk! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and inspiration with those of us who need both!

  27. Personally I just wish they would print more measurements on the pattern. I often use the printed bust and hip measurements on big 4 patterns to make a good first guess about what to cut. But more measurements would be really helpful (like shoulders or sleeve circumferences. Of course you can measure these yourself but I find it gets tricky to estimate with darts and seam allowances. Oh and if they could print more actual garment measurements on the envelope too that would be fantastic.

  28. Something about pattern sizing that bothers me is the narrow differences in the lower sizes. It seems to me that if you took an 8 and a 10 and increased the difference in the waist measurement by say 1.5" instead of 1", more people both small and large would be included in the same size range. I find it irritating that when you get to the larger end the patterns get more shapeless and the difference jumps from 1" to 2" or more.

    I'm usually the largest or second largest size in the Big 4 patterns, but I'm also almost 6' tall so I hardly count myself as "Plus" sized even though most shops would put me there. It forced me to learn to do FBAs, which was awful but so useful, and once I started buying patterns by my high bust and just opening the things and reading the finished measurements, all the confusion went away. I even started drafting my own from scratch now that I get it, and when you draft your own, you can name it any size you like or no size at all! Mine tend to be called "vampy" or "casual" depending on the degree of fittedness, and that goes a long way to removing me from the sizing system and all in entrains. I cannot recommend this approach enough - trace off your big 4's or draft your own, name them something fun, and never look back!

  29. I think the sizes should reflect measurements, the way mens clothes are. For instance, a size 34 blouse would be for a 34" bust, a size 38 skirt would fit 38" hips. I suppose dresses could be sized according to either bust or waist or hips and then you'd have to do modifications if you straddle sizes.

    However, I really really really wish patterns would show FINISHED measurements. Some do, and some show only one measurement, like the hips, when what I really want to know is the finished waist measurement. I made way too many hugely baggy outfits before I realized that choosing a size based on my measurements alone was not working - I need to know how much ease is built in, and size down if it's too much. But a lot of patterns don't tell you how much ease there is, which is really frustrating. I would also appreciate patterns stating how much ease there should be. For example, for a dress you might want 1" positive ease at the bust, 0" ease at the waist and several inches of positive ease at the hips if it's a full skirt.

  30. Yes and no. I don't think that the pattern companies or any other company will be able to make everyone happy with a new sizing chart. I really do think its just a matter of what your measurements are. I think they could offer a sizing chart in a more friendly way though, say going off of bust size rather than assigning a random number to a set of measurements. I think that way, people wouldn't feel like they were bordering on plus sizing or petite sizing.

    Since every body is different though, I don't know that this would really help. I think that its just a guide to help you find your general size, but you are more than likely going to have to make some sort of adjustment somewhere. I don't know of anyone who doesn't. In the end, it's just a set of measurements.

  31. A good point I've seen popping up in the comments is the idea that pattern companies should print more of the measurements on the pattern pieces (including ease). I cut out an older pattern yesterday, and going by the hip measurement, decided I didn't need to grade it up like I thought I would. I'd sure appreciate if pattern companies included the finished bust/waist/hip measures; at least that would give me a consistent standard to choose which size to cut out! Half the time, I end up having to shave off some inches if I forget to measure the pattern pieces myself beforehand. :p So frustrating (and a time waster!)

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  32. A wider range of patterns would be great, but I think that's a matter of pattern range as opposed to the sizing system. The sizing system doesn't make as much difference to me as being clear about how much ease is included. I like that Vogue offers an "ease chart" to help translate pattern descriptions (fitted, semi-fitted, etc.) into numeric ease measurements for bust and hips. I haven't sewn enough of their patterns (yet) to judge how accurate or consistent it is, but at least it gives me a clue about finished measurements when they aren't listed on the enveloped!

    Here's a link: http://voguepatterns.mccall.com/ease-chart-pages-347.php

  33. I agree whole-heartedly with everyone who feels that it would be great if the pattern companies printed the actual measurements of different parts of patterns on them. And with everyone wishing that ranges would just be wider in general!

    I love it when a pattern envelope puts the finished measurements for each size (even though they often just do for bust, would be great for other areas) on an envelope so I know how much ease they REALLY mean by "close-fitting" or "semi-fitted."

    I think it would be hard to update sizing in a way that makes everyone happy. Those "Today's Fit" patterns are only "Today's Fit" for certain women with certain figures--pre-pregnancy, I was an hourglass and my measurements pretty much EXACTLY corresponded to a standard pattern size 12 and later, after I gained a bit of weight, a 14 (if I went by my high bust).

    My main issue has always just been the whole B-cup standard. I'm happy to see that more pattern companies are providing patterns in multiple cup sizes up to D, though I suppose it would be too much to hope they'd ever go up to E or F. Still, it's easier for me to do an FBA for my G-cup bust starting from a D than a B!

  34. I would personally appreciate more measurements on patterns. Shoulder to waist, arm length, back width, hip to knee, etc. Being very tall, these are the numbers that would be most helpful, but again, that is just me. I don't think there is a way to please everyone with sizing, especially since most people are multiple sizes throughout their body.

  35. Myself, I would want more pattern in petite sizes (that's on the length, btw). Every pattern company seem to have just a few, and every time I google it I always get "plus sized petite", which also is wrong. I guess I'm not mainstream enough, and pattern companies don't get a profit by selling pattern in my size.

    The standard pattern sizes dates from the seventy's, and I guess that the average person has changed quite a bit. I recon I would be a bad idea to change the sizes, though. The confusion! But to include some sizes larger wouldn't be unfair.

  36. I have a big issue with petites (pun intended). I am 4'11"- but petites are designed for a woman 5'4" tall while standard sizes are for a woman 5'6" tall. Seriously. I have friends who are 5'6" and buy the petites because they have short torsos and long legs. I, a true shrimp, don't stand a chance with patterns (or ready to wear for that matter).

    I get having to nip in, let out, and dart here and there to get my exact measures around, but when you have to hack off 5-6" in the torso on the petite patterns, well you just don't stand a chance.

    I, for one, would love to see them do height ranges along with width ranges. A true petite (say 5' or 5'1" height), a standard, and a tall would make many of us very happy.

  37. honestly, i'd rather do away with the idea of "sizing" completely.

    would that make the manufacturing process that much harder? yep. but it would save agony for people buying the clothes, and maybe, just maybe, people may start buying clothes because they fit them better. the fact that a size 12 pair of jeans isn't going to be the same size as a different brand of jeans, even if marked size 12, tells me that the sizing charts are off to begin with. they're guidelines, not actual rules ;)

    no matter what, people are sensitive as to what "size" they are. Men, women, it doesn't matter. attempting to make people somehow feel better by assigning a number, or changing the number to a lower one when it comes to clothes seems ludicrous to me. on a very personal level, i find it insults the intelligence of the person trying to buy or make clothes to begin with. my shape in a size 12 is completely different from a friend of the same size. we can't wear the same clothes... so why assign some kind of numerical value to them?

    use the numbers that are accurate and truly pertain to the measurements and fit the person buying/wearing them wants or needs. i wonder if perhaps that happened we'd care less about "size" and more about whether or not our clothes fit, look nice, and feel good, numbers be damned.. instead of going through the torment of weight and size issues.

    In terms of updating the way patterns pair measurements up together? yeah, could use a tad bit of a change. boobs are getting bigger, and some leeway in how bust patterns are measured and printed would be nice. (especially depending on how the design is cut.. some cups do better than others in certain styles, neh?)

    i've never been able to cut and wear pattern as is in any one size. designing the patterns to be more flexible when working with multiple (ugh) "sizes" on one body would help immensely.
    and being consistent about publishing design and wearing ease would save me hours of pain. Ease is a huge issue for me. i always end up tailoring something down even after my muslin because how i thought it is not how it *does* fit.

    <3 Elisabeth

  38. It's not so much as I think they need to resize the patterns themselves, but if they could include an extra sheet and marks on the parts on how you could change the pattern to fit you I think it would go a long way to fixing the issue.

  39. Hi Gertie! As a plus sized lady, I definitely wish there were more patterns available to me. I'm plus-sized in ready to wear garments, let alone in pattern sizing. I just bought a vintage pattern and am going to attempt to size it up... so we'll see how that goes :)

    I agree with what most of the commenters here have said - to make sewing more appealing to the public, a wider range of sizes would be awesome. I don't care how they are labeled, and I'll leave my rant about plus sized things costing more and being uglier than straight sizes for my own blog. :)

  40. I'm all for eliminating "sizes" altogether and simply using body measurements. Even so, with the Big 4 I have to take flat pattern measurements to figure out the finished garment measurements before I cut anything out -- they put way too much ease into everything!

  41. I have yet to read all the comments and I will go back and do that so that i can better contribute to the conversation.
    I think expanding the size ranges is a fantastic idea. What if the sizes weren't used but measurements were? kinda like the vintage patterns where they are listed by bust or waist size instead of a random number.
    i also wish more patterns listed how much ease was used in the pattern. knowing my measurements isn't helpful when there is 5 inches of ease in a fitted garment.

    I am also on of those tiny girls who is s.o.l. when companies decide to shift their sizes. And the only person who ever understands my difficulty in finding clothes that fit is my boyfriend's mom who is tall and plus sized.

  42. I don't know about whether pattern companies should update their sizing, but I am amazed that according to the Colette size chart I wear a size 14 (except for my waist). In RTW I wear 18, sometimes 16 (by virtue of vanity sizing), and per the big pattern companies, I wear maybe a 20 (though I haven't sewn anything from them in years).

    Obsession about what one's size "means" reminds me of the tortures of being a teenager. All I care about now as a middle-aged woman is whether something fits, is comfortable, and looks nice.

    The fact that people make their own clothes so they can customize the fit seems to make the sizing issue a moot point. The advice to buy patterns per upper bust measurement for tops and dresses and hip measurement for pants and skirts would get you into the ballpark, wouldn't it? And people with larger and smaller measurements than the upper and lower ends of the chart can adjust the pattern accordingly, right?

    I'm saying all this as someone who has not sewn an entire garment in a long time -- still gearing up for that -- though I did just read "Fit for Real People." That picture of a group of women who all wear size 10 but who are completely different shapes is extremely educational.

  43. I don't care what size they put on them I just want things to fit if I cut it out to my measurements. The last pattern I made should have fit me exactly based on the measurements but it's huge. It's like buying jeans with my boyfriend. I pick up sizes 8-14 depending on the brand and might come out with one or two that fit and they'll be on opposite sides of the size range. He goes in with a waist and height and comes out with the same jeans no matter how many different brands he picks up. I think going by measurements would just be easier for the the customer. I would spend a lot more money on patterns if I new that what I made in my size was actually going to look like the picture. I'm tired of shopping 1.99 pattern sales and only coming home with things I kind of want and still get disappointed to find out I would never wear something that fit so badly.

  44. I've never sewed clothing from new patterns so there isn't much I can add, but I am wondering what exactly "misses" and "women's" sizing entails, and why it should be bad for you to be a "women's" size, if you are an adult woman?

    I think I agree with Casey, though. I think there should be a wider range of sizes, but it doesn't seem like the numbers already existing need to be updated. Most people will still need to cut a size in that and a different size for that, and make other adjustments.

  45. I don't understand why we are still buying patterns on paper. I want the pattern companies to come up with software accessible via internet that allows input of measurements and drafts the pattern for the measurements I have entered. There will still be some tweaking of fit, but that is our craft. I work with Bernina My Label and Wild Ginger pattern master boutique. Both software products work pretty darn well.
    Printing the pattern pieces and taping them together takes very little time, with practice.

  46. I knew you would have a ton of comments on this one, and have only skimmed, but it seems that most are saying that it doesn't really matter what the sizes are called, as long as the measurements are there to go buy. I agree 100%.

    Vanity sizing in RTW has just gotten crazy, and it's not helping sewers (or anyone) come to grips with their own sizes. If you saw my body, you would be astonished to know that I can actually wear a size 8 from some stores! 10 years ago, that 8 would have had to be at least a 14 or higher.

  47. Oh, how I agree with Casey!
    Gertie, you asked if there is no way to please everyone, but honestly, isn't this why there are plus-sized patterns and sizes? Bigger ladies can use bigger sizes.

    While it is true that many modern women are much larger than our vintage counterparts, many of us are still small. Being only 5 feet tall with a 32 inch bust, but still being woman-shaped (as opposed to girl-shaped and able to use girls' clothes), I would be so sad (and less clothed!) if little sizes were done away with in a general pattern upsizing!

    Maybe the real solution to this problem is that companies, indie and corporate alike, simply make more and cuter plus sizes. Since more women are plus-sized now, and many of them are sewing, the demand is certainly there!

    As a final note: Isn't it true that RTW size numbers have gotten smaller as the actual clothes have gotten bigger? I wonder if we women need collectively to admit our real sizes instead of tweeking the numbers. Because, yes, I'm small, but the number shouldn't be 0! Some women are smaller than me, but there aren't any numbers left! Wouldn't it be nice if we could quit moving the numbers around, and let 24 be 24 and 4 be 4?

  48. Uggh, the last thing that the pattern companies should do is update their sizing to reflect RTW sizing. RTW is so completely and totally all over the place, I'd really have no idea what size to sew.

    I would sooner that they abandon sizes all together, and just go by measurements.

  49. There are a lot of posts about grading and size ranges on Fashion Incubator - she has said that you can only grade within a limited size range, and after that you need a whole new draft. And that this is the main reason that most rtw lines are for a specific size range. It's just too expensive to do multiple drafts for a single garment. I would guess it's the same with the Big 4 -- they sell those patterns so cheap, I'm sure the budgets are tight.

    I wonder if as more people sew if more patterns will be offered in petite and women's (curvy/plus/whatever) sizes? Or if some independent labels will focus on specific ranges the way clothing manufacturers do?

    Personally, I don't care what the size says, it's so meaningless. I'd just like to see better drafting and quality on the patterns!

  50. Tuppence - one of the reasons I primarily sew with vintage patterns is because they came in Junior Petite - labeled as "specifically for 5'1" and under". My mom always used those patterns when she sewed stuff back in the 60s and that is what I use today (I'm 4'11" too).

    Because of my size, I cannot shop in RTW, and is precisely why I started sewing. However, I still rarely find a pattern that fits out of the envelope (I have had luck with some vintage Jr. Petite or Sub Teen patterns). I always have to adjust and tweak and add and subtract. I recently took a pattern drafting class and I learned that because of my weirdo dimensions (my back is longer than my front and I have a normal length torso despite being in general petite, and my arms are way too long) I will always make adjustments. Once I had my basic sloper drafted I compare all commercial patterns do that and make adjustments before sewing, and even then I usually have to muslin first.

    Learning to draft really is the key to a better fit - once you can identify what your basic needs are you can modify anything.

    Regarding sizing and numbers - the number means nothing. TO put it in perspective, my fiance is 5'10", 36 chest, 29 waist. He is an XS or S in men's clothes and struggles to find jeans that fit (29/32). For reasons I won't go into here, he also occasionally dresses in drag, and I have taken to sewing him dresses because it makes it easier to find clothes for his alter ego. I have used size 16 patterns and they need to be graded up in certain areas to fit him. He wears padding to give him proper curves and he has a killer hourglass figure when he's in drag, but I often have to use modern plus size patterns to get the right fit (I am more comfortable grading down than grading up).

    So, if my skinny 10% body fat guy is a women's size 16/18 in pattern sizes (he's a 4 in RTW), it clearly means that the larger number may not technically be a plus size, especially if you have an overall larger frame. I imagine a lot of women his height with real curves are going to face that same dilemma of being technically plus size in a pattern.

  51. I read somewhere that a majority of women wear a larger size on the bottom than on the top. If this is the case, it would make sense to either adjust patterns so that more of us wear the same size on top and bottom, or include "add a size (or three) to your hips and/or waist" lines that would make it easy for beginners to make the alteration.

  52. I agree with what a couple of the other folks have already commented here. I think that sizes should be done away with altogether, no 2, 4, 6, but revert back to measurements, so if it is a 34, it is a 34" inch bust.No room for vanity, or fluctuation between being a 4 in one company and a 10 in another or other such annoyances.

    And the second is putting finished measurements on the patterns, because some patterns have insane amounts of ease. I remember cutting out a Vogue size 14 skirt, which should have given me a nice fit according to measurements, and ended up with a skirt that was at least 3 sizes too big. It involved way too many pleats etc for me to be bothered redoing it, so was recently chopped up and made into a pair of shorts for a toddler instead.

  53. Like most people here, I don't really care about how they label sizes, I just wish the information were better. Obviously most of us aren't going to be able to wear most (if any) patterns straight out of the envelope. But we pick the size based on our measurements so that we don't have to alter as much. So it's really frustrating when you make something up in the size that corresponds most closely to your m'ments, and it's enormous or tiny - and when you make it two or three sizes larger or smaller, it fits perfectly... I've had that happen to me a few times. It would be nice if the garments were drafted with approximately the same amount of ease as is shown in the model photo or illustration. I also recently got a pattern that included the ease measurements in the instructions. This was from a small, indie pattern company - so if they can do it, why can't the Big 4? Or KS? It was insanely frustrating to me as a beginning sewer relying on BMV and Simplicity (and before learning about muslins) to make up patterns that were enormous on me, and that I didn't have the experience to fit.

  54. This is such a good question. My personal answer about what would suit me in pattern sizing: Special A-cup pattern pieces and larger waists. I don't mind grading to a size larger for hips, and sometimes this takes care of what Karin called "fanciful" waist measurements. Still, it would be nice not to have that moment of letdown when I look at pattern sizing and see that I'm far from the mark. Even in the past when I was very thin, I still didn't have that ultra-defined waist and found myself being down on my body for not conforming to imagined standards. Silliness! I don't know how pattern companies could make us all happy. No one wants to be left out, on either end of the size spectrum. And everyone wants the right fit, even though we all have different bodies. Conundrum.

  55. Each company has their own sloper/fit model that they work with so there will never be consistency between the pattern companies or clothing manufacturers. Experienced sewers know that RTW and pattern sizing mean nothing to each other but it's the newbies that find this most frustrating and the pattern companies could do a little better on the education front, perhaps doing away with the arbitrary numbers altogether. I measure, trace and make muslins before bombing ahead so at least I save myself alot of headaches but publishing finished measurements on the instruction insert would be so helpful: back length, skirt length, sleeve length, etc. We can't be all things to all people and neither can the pattern companies but they could do a couple of things: toss the arbitrary numbered sizing, expand size ranges where design allows, inlude multi cup pattern pieces when possible.

  56. The sizing charts don't bother me much but I can't stand how pattern companies assume women all wear the same cup size!

    True, the big 4 do come out with certain patterns that cater to many shapes but the majority of patterns simply get wider. I would be much more inclined to purchase more patterns if I knew i could make it and not have it look off on me.

    A pattern size 14 fits my bust at the fullest point but because my back is narrow and my cup size is above a B, the shoulders and neck are enormous!

    Two women may have the same measurements but have completely different shapes due to having differently sized cup sizes/behinds.

  57. I'm one of those plus sized women who wish they made patterns bigger. And I also wish they would include things like inseam length. I mean, I'm 6'0, so one of the main reasons I make my own clothes is that I can actually get pants that are long enough that way. Even the "Tall" sizes in RTW are too short. For years, I wore mens jeans just so they'd be long enough!

  58. I find the waist measurements rarely match the hip measurements.

    I think there is no way to please everyone. But with more and more independent pattern companies on the rise, I think we'll start to see a better selection.

  59. I agree that bought patterns can be a drag but I have a short wasit, sway back and sloping shoulders so I will always have to adjust.

    What I would like to see them do is state more information about the pattern on the envelope so it does not feel like such a lucky dip.

    Information about how much ease is in the pattern would be great on the envelope as well as the pattern. In some patterns the sizing is on the tissue pattern for goodness stake.

    Plus more investment in instructions would be so awesome. Even a standard sheet in every pattern for the most common adjustments for the garment type like bust adjustment in blouses for example.

    Sizing is an issue, when i sewed my first skirt I made a 16 with my measurements and had to cut it down to a 12... very confusing. Then in my next pattern I cut a 12 and could not get the skirt passed my thighs! It was the same pattern company... tut tut.


  60. There has to be a better answer to the size question over all. I'm a size 10 in the pants and size 14/16 in the tops for RTW. Which makes me anywhere from a 16 through a 22 in patterns. And even then, I am altering altering altering. No wonder people are terrified to sew! They get a pattern, they think it will fit, they make it, it doesn't fit, someone says it needs "alterations" they freak out, and their sewing machine is not touched again for another decade!

  61. I agree that fitting muslins and adjusting patterns to fit your own body are an important part of the sewing process. I also agree that it would be fantastic to be provided with more information about final measurements and ease, and for patterns to be more consistent in their sizing, to make this process less frustrating!

    The new thought I wanted to add is that it is important to remember that not only do RTW sizes vary from company to company - they vary from country to country. I'm an Australian, and while obviously there can be variations from one store to the next, US sizes are generally one to two sizes bigger than ours - i.e. US size 6 is equivalent to a 8-10 here in Oz. If pattern label sizes were changed by the Big Four to reflect RTW sizes, no doubt this would be based on US sizing - so it would do little to help those of us sewing on the other side of the world - we'd still be going by our measurements!

  62. I agree with Azadeh and Casey... I am small and worried about being sized out of patterns (I am already sized out of some patterns that start at a 10 with lots of ease, or Burdas that start at a 38 in the magazine.) I used to wear a size 6 or 8 in the 90s in RTW, and am basically the same size now but I wear a 2!

    I would kill for better measurements printed on the package - why can we not have detailed schematics? Knitting patterns have them, and they used not to have them either! I could care less what the number says, I just want accuracy of finished measurments and I know for myself how much ease I need. I have found the Vogue chart of ease for their descriptions (semi-fitted etc) to be pretty accurate, but Vogue patterns fit me really well - better than any other company so far!

  63. I think they should update the sizes!
    I purchase Collette patterns because she knows what real women sizes are.
    I know you always measure twice and cut once but it would be nice to have a standard.

  64. I think the term "vanity sizing" is misused. I think the goal of most companies is to fit the most people within their target market, which we'd probably all agree is a reasonable approach. Therefore, sizing is based on averages across a group. As most of us know, bodies have changed significantly over the last 50+ years. People have gotten larger, busts have increased, etc. So doesn't it make sense for sizing to reflect that?

    To develop the Colette Patterns size chart, I did quite a bit of research and looked at scientific studies of body measurements across large populations. My goal was to have a reasonable range that would include as many people as possible. Unfortunately, when things are based on averages, there are bound to be some who are left out. In fact, just because a number is average doesn't even necessarily mean that there is any one person with that measurement!

    Also, what sarah said is true... beyond a certain size range, proportions change significantly and you do need an entirely new draft. You also need the infrastructure and skill to do that sort of specialized drafting.

    Anyway, I think the great thing about patterns is that you *can* go by the measurements and ignore the size number! With RTW, that is not always so easy.

  65. I know back in the day the pattern companies measurements were based off surveys taken of womens measurements and that's how they worked out averages and their sizing charts, perhaps this is something they should do again??
    I think it's great there are more companies like Colette Patterns offering variety and nice designs in plus size category, Its something i think the bigger companies are going to have to improve.
    :-)Ruby Slippers
    blog | rubyslippersvintage.blogspot

  66. What I've taken from this discussion is the following: the pattern companies are giving us instructions to CONSTRUCT a garment but people want instructions on how to FIT a garment. The vintage patterns I've used (few) say: baste and check fit. It would be nice if even this minimal level of instruction was included, but basically, you need to get a fitting guide (person, book, DVD) before you sew garments, and that's the long and short of it.

    And, I have a 15" difference between my waist (28") and hips (43") which sometimes decreases to 13" depending on how slim I am. We are just all different. I think I kind of agree with Robin that they should do more to make custom-fitted patterns.

  67. I haven't read all the comments, but I'm with Casey on the 'keep your size range as large as possible' bandwagon. Of course you'll have to fit a pattern properly unless you're wonderfully average, but as an example, my waist measurement would be an inexisting -2 with a Colette pattern, and I don't consider myself as petite.

    It just came to my mind that pattern companies also have to think of European customers: we're generally smaller than Americans, so maybe that's an explanation. But on the other end, Burda magazins patterns often begin at a 36 or even a 38, and while European, I'm a frustrated 34...

  68. Oh, and I forgot to precise: I'm really not a sewing hero at drafting, fittig and grading.

    I know I might just have to learn more, but I still think it's easier when your various sizes (hips, waist and bust) are already drafted on the pattern.

  69. I could kinda care less about the size number.... what I DO care about is how that number can be misleading when the outside of the pattern envelope does not accurately (or usually at all) disclose the wearing ease and/or finished garment size. This information is vital if you are deciding between purchasing the larger pattern set or the smaller where there is no size over lap.

    Here is what I want/need; Not the wearer's body measurements, because we are all different and have to alter things anyway... but the bust, waist and hip circumference of the FINISHED GARMENT.

  70. I too don't care what they call the sizes, I do wish they would extend the ranges. And put the high bust measurements on the size charts!!!! As said earlier, just because we're big doesn't mean we want to wear sacks!

    And on multi-size patterns instead of size 12-16 and 18-22 patterns for example, have size 12-18 and 16-22 patterns. Different size cup sizes also nice.

    I don't expect all companies to be able to support all sizes. But you'd think that if the "big 4" are owned by the same company, they could split up the "specialty" sizes, 1 could be for petites, 1 for tall, 1 for large sizes, 1 for ??.

    I'm going to have to re-visit the independent companies, it's been a while since I've looked. At that time, it seems that they were mostly dresses (not something I wear).

  71. I'm a tall plus size. I buy a pattern based on my high bust measurement. RTW should change their sizing to bust or hip measurement rather than their random number scheme they currently use.

  72. I'm gonna agree with everyone who called for INFORMATION from the pattern makers. It drives me insane when the finished measurements are not marked anywhere, and in fact I'd like more of them. Lengthwise measurements sure would come in handy before the muslin stage. Think of the time I'd save if I knew I had to lower the bust point by x and shorten the waist by x. Yes I can measure these on the pattern, but to me it points to a certain lack of confidence in home sewers to know what to do with that info. I mean, they have to know that everyone is altering their patterns, it would be nice if they helped us out with a little data.

    I haven't tried the Palmer/Pletch patterns, but I'm very curious to give them a whirl.

  73. Absolutely they should update their sizing methods.

  74. Everyone has already said that we need a larger range of sizes no matter what you call them and I agree! Jalie patterns already do call their sizes by letters rather than sizes, which is nice.

    I'd add that it's important that they have a larger range of sizes ALL TOGETHER IN ONE ENVELOPE. Even though I'm a "normal" size in all dimensions, I often need to grade between at least 3 sizes if I'm making a dress since I have a 36 inch bust, a 27 inch waist and 34 inch hips. This has me moving from a mid-size to a really small one and they are NEVER in the same envelope in the big 4. I'm not really sure why not either as many (most?) women are different sizes on the top and bottom. It's frustrating and has really turned me off using their patterns.

  75. I definitely think it is time for some updating. They need to be accurate and not quite so much ease.

  76. I think the biggest problem is the use of ease and not printing the finished measurements on the envelope (as opposed to on the tissue as is currently done).

    Here in Australia I'm a 10-12 RTW (6-8 US?); according to the measurements on the envelope I'm a 16-18... but I make up a 10-12 and it usually fits me pretty well with minor alterations. I have no problem following the measurements on the back, but because of all the ease added these measurements are made useless! If they printed the finished measurements, it would make it much easier!

  77. I think there can't be a lot of benefit for us in adjusting sizes in sewing patterns. We are all altering them to fit our own unique bodys anyway. What I wish for is more information on the pattern itself where to alter what! I use burda and ottobe and there are no suggestions. Especially if you are varying in height!

    In sizing itself, I think there are designs that just don't flatter every size and that this should be the only criteria for the sizes in which the pattern is available.

  78. The pattern companies seem to be missing a trick to me. If they did more larger sizes they might sell a lot more patterns. But the truth is that once you are not just a plus size (ie larger but still in proportion) but actually overweight (by BMI etc), your body shape becomes less regular and any pattern you buy will have to be adapted in some way to fit you.
    Vicki mentioned Vogue's Sandra Betzina patterns. Ironically they are completely out of proportion for me. I avoid them like the plague. Vogue's standard sloper, however, fits me perfectly on shoulder slope, hip curve, you name it. Twenty-five years ago I was a Vogue size 10. Now I am a Vogue size 14. That seems about right to me. I only need to make a swayback adjustment and it's fine. Burda is also pretty good for me (largely because tracing makes things very easy to alter), but Simplicity - I look like I'm wearing a trash bag! So what's the point in them changing? Somebody's sloper will come close to you and you have to work from that.

    More sizes, though? I think (and hope) we'll be seeing that soon, especially if we can all be persuaded into downloading and printing out patterns and so cutting the companies' overheads.


  79. What an interesting question. I haven't gotten to read all the responses, but I have a few thoughts that might be repeats. I agree that a greater range would be good - I'm a Burda 38, so I find patterns easily, but I think everyone should be able to find patterns as easily as me. I'm still a beginner, though, and I'd frequently like a better fit than I get. It would be helpful if more patterns included guides for flat measurements. If I knew where to check what the finished waist/bust measurements would be, I could adjust those better before even cutting a muslin. That being said, I tissue fit my most recent attempt and still have strange fit things going on in spots that I thought were working, so maybe I'm experiencing user error. Still, I think understanding where the bustline or waist is intended to be would help me - I'm not sure that I've ever really understood those things that well since I'm shorter than my RTW size is designed for. Thanks for the question - it's got me thinking about just how to get my clothes to fit better, as well as how the system might be improved!

  80. I knew this post would get some really interesting comments! Haven't read them all yet, but I am in agreement with those who think we should skip sizes, and just go with body measurements and/or finished garment measurements. I find it immensely helpful when the finished bust/waist/hip is printed on the pattern as well!
    I'm an average size though bordering on petite, so I can find a way to work with most patterns - and I'm pretty used to making anywhere from a 6 to a 16 depending on the style, pattern brand, and desired fit of the finished garment. If the sizing model was to be revised, I can't imagine how it would be designed to please (and fit) everyone.

  81. The old sizes are the standard measurements set down by the Standards department, and they set sizes for everything. I get really annoyed because some designers lower their sizes as a marketing tool, when the number on the tag has NOTHING to do with the measurements of the garment or the body in it. As somebody who fits an old-size 16 (Marilyn Munroe was a 16, thankyou), most RTW is sized as 10 (Australian sizes), but when I can fit into something tagged 8 or 6, I dont feel super-skinny, I feel annoyed at the idiots wasting my time by printing the wrong numbers! And as many people have already stated, as sewers we already know our measurements, these seemingly random size numbers are frustrating, confusing and useless!

  82. I would never want patterns to change to RTW sizing because the sizing of women's RTW clothes is not at all consistent. I hate shopping for RTW clothes because I never know what sizes to try on. It varies from brand to brand. I don't have time for that.

    BTW, I really wanted to make that cute Colette blouse you made, but my bust is smaller than their size 0! Oh, well.

  83. +1 for more options for adjusting patterns. There is no reason for pattern companies to change their sizing charts, which are roughly based on an average measurement for that size. And ANY "average" will not fit everyone perfectly because an average is based on a range of measurements. And when you're grouping measurements together to divide into individual sizes, there's both statistical analysis and some arbitrary line drawing. It's not all-inclusive, it's an average or median. Almost EVERYONE will need to make some adjustment to every pattern to fit.

    The best solution would be to include more options, markings, measurements, instructions, for making necessary adjustments to patterns. Not just "lengthen/shorten here" lines but bust cup, hip curve, anything. Obviously this would still leave some people out of the size range but it will make individual sizes more inclusive. And if highly adjustable patterns become the standard, the sizing standards would have to change. Sizes should then be based on the most difficult measurements to adjust--like shoulders, over bust. Start with that and use the adjustments to make it fit the more easily altered parts.

  84. It doesn't bother me that my real world size is a 4/6 and my sewing size is a 12/14, as long as I am able to quickly find what I need. (which I can do because patterns have a sizing chart on the back).

    I DO wish that pattern companies would do a better job posting measurements including ease. Most companies only say bust measurements with ease on the package, which always leaves me guessing what size I really need until I open up the pattern and find where it is printed on the pieces. What this means for me is that I often buy material for my "measurement" size, and then end up making a much smaller size to do away with the extra ease, thus having typically at least 1 extra yard of material left. It's such a waste! Also, at times I'm not sure which size pattern to buy, as 12/14 is often the split point between the smaller-range and the larger-range of sizes.

  85. hmmm, i don't really care if they change the numbers or not. i'm a dressmaker's size 14 (how my gramma referred to sewing sizes once they started to differ from store bought sizes).
    but, with so many people taking larger sizes now i think they should make those available.

    i love sewing bc you can customize everything. as lomg as pattern companies create a base for people to work with it's up to them to make it fit :D

  86. No, because I already have a hard enough time determining what size I am in RTW. My body size has been constant for a loooong time, but the size that I wear has gone all over the place.

    I just want the patterns to match the measurements they're supposed to match. If I make a pencil skirt for a 30 inch waist, the finished skirt should be 30 inches, plus a REASONABLE amount of ease. It shouldn't fall down on its own!!

  87. I really don't understand the sizes on patterns. I'm still fairly new to dress making and have been building up my skills making crafty things instead. I find it very hard to see which size I am. In a shop I am Size 6/8 (UK size) and on the dresses I am size 10, but I can still get into junior patterns too. I'm sure I will understand it one day how it works.

  88. I agree with those above that think they should switch to a different labeling system (give each size a letter or, hell, a symbol) but patterns need to stick to the actual measurements - chest, hip, bust, waist whatever - that they say they will.

    I, too, steer clear of the "today's fit" type patterns. I don't want something that's loose and flowing around my waist. I would like to see more pattern companies include bodice variation for B cups (standard I assume) and then one for D-E cups. And not just on patterns that don't NEED it (I say a multi-cup size pattern for a loose stretch top the other day - why bother?)

    I'm not a brand new sewer, but I'm certainly no expert. What confuses me the most at the moment in distinguishing what size to cut when they only list Bust on their size charts and not Chest or Upper Bust sizes to compare those to.

    At the end of the day, we know our actual measurements. Disclose those in full, stick to them, and we won't care what label you put on it.

  89. I haven't read all the comments (there are 89 not including mine!) but I read some of them and as a petite lady, I'd like to contribute. I am fine with the way the Big 4 patterns are because they at least have my bust size (32, I'm a puny A, borderline AA cup without a bra) and I just need to make an adjustment for the waist (although I should really lose a few pounds and get back to a cardio routine). There ARE women out there where the measurements work, I'm an 8/10 on patterns and size 0 - 4 in clothing from stores.

    I have not tried a Collete pattern but I didn't realize they only go down to 33" bust! That is ridiculous! There are tons of flatter chested girls out there (I'm Chinese and we tend to run on the smaller size, men and women's fashions alike). Petite people need some representing too....I'm 5 feet tall with a 32" bust.

    I'm all for expanded sizing for on the other end of the spectrum just so much as the petite end is not compromised!

  90. I think size numbers just ought to be chucked, period. They're far too arbitrary. Do it by bust/waist/hip measurements like men's RTW often does.

    Like many other commenters, I'm much more bothered by limited size ranges, poor styles in the upper size ranges, and inaccurate sizing, than I am by some dumb number. I'm a 12 in RTW (I think), a 16 in "middle-aged" patterns, and an 18-20 in truly vintage patterns. WTF? It makes way more sense just to say I'm a Bust 40/High Bust 38 and Hip 44.

  91. this is why I always make a muslin. it's alot of trouble. but when I'm done. I have my own sized pattern. And I'm with all the people here. they just need to be accurate. but playing with vintage patterns means you don't know if the fit is going to be different so making a muslin is the best answer that I've come up with. And learning how to grad patterns has been really helpful.

  92. according to the above chart, there's a size 0. huh?
    nothing is size 0. if it has numbers, it's not zero. what's that all about? being skinny isn't skinny enough?

    and really, now. heavy women do not end at size 18. walk into any good plus-size store. or any bad one, for that matter. sizes go alllll the way up there. why shouldn't fitted patterns go all the way up also. and i don't mean those drapey things that have obviously been drafted up from 'size 0'. you could get three necks through one neckline in one of those patterns. i'm fortunate enough to be able to draft my own patterns, but i don't always want to and why should i have to? my $18 for tissue paper is as good as someone else's $18 for tissue paper.

    i keep hearing that more and more of the population is now 'overweight' by someone's definition. why aren't patterns companies rolling with it? this is not news, people. this is old. instead of continuing to raise prices for patterns, perhaps the big 4 should be revamping to better suit the needs of the big woman. by selling more patterns they might be able to keep their prices stable.

    that's my story and i'm stickin' to it!

  93. Just read this post but I would like more info regarding measurements. For example why are there so few garment measurements on a pattern envelope? I just started my first store bought pattern- a Simplicity dress 6123 (I always copied existing clothes I liked to learn how to sew) and it only has the bust and hip finished garment measurement, this is a dress with a fitted waistline so wouldn't the waist be a very important finished measurement?! I have resorted to measuring the waist on the pattern piece which is challenging as it curves. It is also not mentioned whether this finished garment measurement has the seam allowance already removed, I can only assume it does as a garment has seams when finished....

  94. I hope the pattern companies DO NOT go to vanity sizing in sewing patterns. Sewing patterns provide the only true reality check for the obese. I have a size 12 jeans that I purchased in the early 90's. I use this pair as my fat gauge. Unfortunately they don't fit right now, but as the sizes adjust upward in RTW, people living off of burgers and fries continue to believe they are not obese since their jeans fit. If you are sewing a top, buy the pattern according to the largest bust size that fits your measurements according to the envelope and then learn how to adjust to fit. If your favorite pattern can only be found in a size 16, then learn to pattern grade.

  95. That last comment is just rude & stupid. Yes, I am obese for all sorts of reasons that I am fully aware of. It doesn't take a too smal pair of jeans to remind me that I am obese. And finding patterns in my size would not lead me to wolf down fries & burgers!


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

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