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pattern sizes don’t match reality

mamasew | Posted in Patterns on

Is it just me, or are all patterns misleading ? As long as I was making clothes for my children, fitting was not an issue. When I embarked on trying to make a few things for myself, life changed. If I select a pattern size that seems right for me, it always ends up being too big. I have found that by selecting two sizes smaller than what I should take, alterations are minor. Otherwise, I take in so much everywhere that it becomes mind boggling. Any ideas on what I’m doing wrong? Or are the design ease numbers simply out in left field ?


  1. Sew Lady | | #1

    Hello, Mamasew! You are very observant! Yes, patterns don't fit as they used to. A few years back, ready-to-wear downsized all their sizes-the move was called "vanity sizing". For instance, if you wore a size 12, you would now wear a 10.
    I don't know where you are in your sewing abilities, but if you want garments that fit better, the rule of thumb is to have MORE seams. Yes, the more seams, the better the fit!
    Something that you probably have already tried is to make a muslin. I know that it seems to be a lot of work, but it is well worth the effort.

  2. From my Stash.... | | #2

    Welcome to the frustrating world of finding a brand of patterns that "mostly fits" and then tailoring the specifics.  There are a number of strings on fitting and patterns on this board, so you should probably do a search on "fitting", "patterns", "full bust adjustment", "narrow shoulders",  etc.  You can also check out the patternreview.com site.

    Since the brand you have selected is two sizes too large, after you read through these postings, I'll bet the following:

    - you'll try a couple of other pattern brands

    - you will focus in on the size of the pattern that matches the most important areas for your fitting - narrow shoulders, bust adjustments, all sorts of pants problems, etc

    - you'll still need to make a muslin for any fitted items. Ironically, a coat will be easier to make than a jacket since it requires less fit. And as we all seem to agree, pants are the hardest of all to fit.

    Having said that, don't get discouraged. We all have gone through this (and continue to do so as our bodies change) and still enjoy sewing.

    Good luck and good hunting

  3. fuzzer | | #3

    Hi mamasew,  I was lucky to join an ASG chapter & one of the members is a designer that did a fitting class.  It was well worth the effort and expense to have someone help with the fitting of the muslin.   No wonder quilting and crafts etc is so popular.  American patterns you will need to use the high bust measurement. For the European, Burda & some small companies, try for your true measurements. Good luck.

  4. solosmocker | | #4

    Patterns do not correspond to ready to wear clothing sizes in any way shape or form. You must take your measurements and go with that. Your bust measurement should be your high bust measurement. So if you have a 36 inch bust but your high bust is 32, get a pattern for a size 32 bust, that is for a top/ blouse or jacket. The exception would be large shoulders/neck area. For hips it is recommended you get a pattern two sized smaller than your hip measurement. So if your hips are actually 40 and that perhaps corresponds to a size 14, get a size ten. I know this is insane but it actually works most of the time. Get in the habit of making muslins and you will save a lot of aggravation. But don't let pattern sizing conflict with your concept of what you should be wearing. Just go by your measurements and stop worrying about actual size. I think I should be wearing a size 2, but my measurements say quite otherwise, ;) LOL! This is one of those cases where perception is in big conflict with reality. Good luck.

    1. MaryinColorado | | #5

      Solosmocker stated what works for me too.  I also hope to join ASG this year and get some help with fitting issues now that my figure is more complex in my fifties. 

      1. solosmocker | | #6

        I wish there was an ASG group here in way upstate NY. I have looked into it and no one is even close.

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