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Pattern Sizing

Kris1225 | Posted in Fitting on

So I understand that you choose your size on a pattern by your measurements.  The last 2 dresses I made I found myself firmly in the “12” column.  One pattern a Vogue dress, the other a New Look dress. 

However, when I made the dresses, both ended up being 3 sizes too big in the bust and 2 sizes too big in the hip.  Both.  On the second dress (the Vogue), I made a muslin first and ended up cutting the bodice in a 6 and the skirt a hybrid between 8 and 10 since I am pretty straight-figured.

Is it possible that the sewing patterns are vanity sizing?  I am about to cut Simplicity 0345 and don’t want to cut another giant dress.  

My measurements are 34-27-36.  



  1. HelgaPataki | | #1

    sizing indicator

    Check the back of the envelope.  Is there mention of measurements on the completed garment.

    1. Kris1225 | | #2

      Well, this particular pattern envelope back is completely misprinted.  The pattern is for a dress sized 4-12 amd the back of the sleeve is for pants, skirt, jacket and vest size 10-28W!!  

      I did lay a well-fitting bodice back from the Vogue pattern on the Simplicity pattern and it fits exactly in the size "4" lines.  Simplicity's website puts me at a size "12".  Sigh.  

      1. HelgaPataki | | #3

        Did you substitute fabric?

        Did you use the recommended fabric?  i.e. if you chose to use a knit with a woven fabric, the garment will be larger.   Can you provide a link?

  2. lou19 | | #4

    You need to check pattern envolope- or sometimes pattern -  for finished measurements. also the description.  Loose fitting, semi fitted etc. I prefer pattern with photos rather than illustations to get idea of fit for some items.

    Fit is also something that varies from person to person. I've made bridal gowns and found some ladies hated the feel of a fitted dress as they always wore loose clothes, While others mistakenly thought a satin gown could be made with no ease at all,  not realising that satin doen't stretch like their favourite knits.

  3. Teaf5 | | #5

    Pattern fitting

    Take a close look at the description of the pattern:  "fitted" "closely fitted" "loosely fitted," etc. make a huge difference in the actual size of the pattern pieces and finished garment.  Those terms define the amount of ease (extra room) of that particular design.

    As the other poster said, if you use the wrong fabric for the particular pattern, you'll end up with a differently-sized garment.  That's partly because "fitted" styles use heavier, stiffer fabrics, while "loosely fitted" ones are designed for soft, fluid fabrics.  A dress that calls for linen will not work well in drapey rayon, and one designed for a very loose fit will not work well in woven cotton or linen.

    If you've confirmed the fit and the fabric are within the recommendations, you can check that the finished fit will be what you want by tissue fitting the pattern:  cut out all the pieces, pin them together along the seam lines, and try on the tissue half-garment.  Tissue is stiffer than most fabrics, but you'll be able to spot glaring problems, such as overall size.

    1. Kris1225 | | #6

      I am doing everything right regarding fabric choice.  I think it's just ease preference and small bust.  I like everything smaller.  

      This is also SImplicity 2444 for reference.

      I ended up making a photocopy of the pattern and cut a 6 in muslin to check fit.  Should be interesting... 


      1. HelgaPataki | | #9

        trivia> varying fitting proportions

        you have a point there.  if 2 people have the same size by theory the garment fit is identical is not true -- one was small frame but fleshy whereas the other was large frame but lean.  but by theory both are some in skeletal frame and weight

  4. Kris1225 | | #7

    So I fitted the bodice in size 6.  It was too small by a smidge.  I let out the seam allowances to 1/4 inch and now it's pretty much perfect.  Very curious now about the 8.  I think if I recut, I'd cut an 8.

    1. Pattiann42 | | #11

      So I fitted the bodice in

      Don't forget ease.  Too "fitted" and the garment may become uncomfortable.

  5. stillsuesew | | #8

    Long ago somewhere at a sewing class I learned to measure across the front - above the bust just a couple of inches below the neckline - from armhole to armhole.  14" = a size 14.  Every half inch difference up or down would be a change in size.  13 1/2 would be a size 12. and so on.  Most garments hang from the shoulders and around the neckline and this is where good fit starts and where it it difficult to make roper adjustments..   I measure 14" and I tend to use size 14 patterns and increase for length of torso, length of sleeve and make a large bust adjustment on virtually every pattern.   Then I also look at the measurements on the pattern and actually measure the pattern to see if they are correct and to my liking.  And paying close attention to ease in the pattern as others have indicated is important also.

  6. Pattiann42 | | #10

    Pattern Sizing.

    No to the vanity sizing.  Commercial pattern companies are required to follow a federal standard and designers do not.

    These suggestions from Vogue may help to select the pattern size for best fit - http://voguepatterns.mccall.com/how-to-choose-your-correct-size-pages-339.php

    More from thread's - https://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4964/choose-the-correct-pattern-size/page/all#Pattern companies

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