Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads


HappyToSew | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello to all!

Just found this page, and I love it. Here is my question: Wan to make bias skirts in silky type fabrics for the summer. Have not sewn in awhile, realize, the pattern sizing does not conform to ready to wear sizing. When I look at the pattern measurements, for my hip size, 41″, it is recommended to buy a size 16! If I were to buy a size 16 skirt ready made, it would fall off me! Does anyone else have this dilemma, and if so, what was your solution? The skirts I want to make are simple, pull on skirts. Would appreciate any answers.

Thanks again,





  1. ElonaM | | #1

    It's really simple, Olgis: There is no relationship between RTW sizing and pattern sizing. None, except that RTW is "vanity sizing" (those little numbers make you feel small). The key in sewing is to measure honestly--and then use those measurements to choose your pattern size (or sizes, if you're using a multisize pattern, because most of us are one size on the top, another on the bottom, etc). The number, "size 16," is just a number. It really says nothing about your size or age, and doesn't mean anything in itself (although I have read that long, long ago, it referred to a garment that would fit the average 16-year-old girl).

    That said, I have found that certain patterns run large; that is, a size 16 blouse or skirt put out by Simplicity or McCall's may be quite large or even shapeless, compared to Burda or Vogue.

    So, your job in sewing for yourself is to record your real measurements, choose your pattern size(s) based on those measurements--and then you have to test-fit either the pattern or a trial garment on your body. It's not time-saving, but you will ultimately get a great fit. You might want to check out an excellent book on the subject: "Fit For Real People," by Palmer and Alto.

    1. HappyToSew | | #2

      Dear Elona:

      Thank you so much for your quick reply. You are so right, it is only a number. Looking forward to purchasing a size 16 pattern, fitting it, and wearing it with pride. Yes, McCall's does run a bit larger than Vogue or Burda. I also like Butterick patterns. Have  you tried the NEW LOOK patterns? Some are quite cute and really inexpensive compared to Vogue. What type of garments do you sew? What are you best at with regard to sewing? Look forward to hearing from you.

      Again, thanks.


      1. ElonaM | | #4

        You're quite welcome, Olgis--glad to be of help.

        I've been sewing since there were dinosaurs on the earth. For my men, I make shirts (especially nice Hawaiian-type shirts for my husband--he has 20!), casual pants, bathrobes, tees, and Polartec jacket-type things. For myself, it's pajamas, tees, Polartec winter things, classic shirts, and classic trousers, plus the occasional dressy jacket and skirt (not much call for those, though, with our very casual lifestyle). I make baby clothes for friends and relatives, because my son has not yet offered a grandchild.

        My favorite pattern line is Burda. They just fit me the best, with the fewest alterations. This is especially true of the pants patterns, from which I produce dynamite trousers (she said modestly). I doubt there is a better-shaped crotch curve on the planet than Burda's, except maybe the other German pattern company, Neue Mode. I do use a few Vogues, but they are almost entirely very old designer patterns, from back when Vogue built a lot of shaping into their patterns. This is not the case with the newer Vogues, I find. Simplicity or McCall's garment patterns are no longer in my stash; life is too short for their unshaped garments and rather awful instructions (though their hats and accessories are actually nice). I have used a couple of Style and New Looks for my MIL, but not for myself. They seemed very nice patterns.

        I do think, Olgis, that once you get the hang of the correct size and fine-tuning the fit, you will have a ball with your sewing.

    2. HappyToSew | | #3

      Dear Elona:

      Just finished reading the excerpt of THREADS magazine, on Fitting Patterns. Amazing! Just the kind of information I needed. Will purchase the issue this week at my fabric store. I am so excited, knowing I will be creating something beautiful very soon.



  2. HNYMAMA | | #5

    Go by your measurments and not your size #,  my pattern size is 4 bigger than my RTW size,  but the fit is perfect.  After all you will not be sewing a size tag in your new skirt;)

    1. carolfresia | | #6

      You could sew a size tag into your new skirt--and if you do, pick whatever size you'd like to be! A world in which everyone's a size 8, and feels good about herself: doesn't that sound great?

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All