Monday, January 22, 2007 in all about me, crafty things

Patterns and sewing and sizing and rants

We went to the fabric store today, the girls and I. “Hey, haven’t seen you guys in ages!” the owner said when the other customers cleared out. Yep, I’m sure it’s been at least 2 or maybe even three years since we’d been in. One, I haven’t much felt like sewing and two, they sell fabric by the pound and also have patterns on clearance for $1 at any given time, that’s why.

So we indulged a bit, because if you were my husband you would say that yes, it’s an indulgence because surely I could make something out of the stacks of fabric and patterns I already have, but we called it a Home Ec class. The girls have been in a sewing mood lately, and I’m running with it.

I don’t normally pay too mcuh attention to sizing on patterns as they usually make it easy for you to pick the right size according to your actual measurements (the whole point of sewing things at home) and if something is the wrong size, I have enough practise I can size the pattern up or down a bit if I have to.

I think they’ve all gone crazy.

Sarah and I have been working on a pattern for a corset-like vest, snagged from the costume section. Yes for a dollar. Actually less because we bought so much she gave us a further discount. After we snipped out all the required pieces, I helped Sarah figure out what size we were going to use on the multi-sized pattern. Unbeknownst to me, she had already gone through the steps herself and was so put off by the answer, was sure she’d done it wrong. According to them, she’s a size 12.

Now, I know it’s just a number, but holy jumpins! Do you think the garment and sewing industry can get together on this one and decide on something close to using resonable body sizes for models and baseline measurements and maybe smaller numbers?? The pattern companies will tell you over and over again to not pick a pattern based on your Ready To Wear size as they are usually “off” or figured out differently. (Everyone uses a different base model as a starting point. Purely a PREFERENCE.) But why is there such a HUGE discrepancy? Sarah can walk into any store and fit into a small or extra small. Size 0 thru 4. Now, I happen to know her measurements and I happen to remember mine at her age, which are the exact same as she is now and back then I was a SEVEN. So yeah, these things also change over time.

So I did the next thing to do: check the finished pattern measurements to see how much ease was allowed. It’s a close-fitting vest. There should be little to none. Back of the envelope, where it normally is printed, tells me to look at the pattern tissue. I have the peices in front of me. For the vest, the finished bust measurements are not on it.

Then I had to go through and unfold and RE fold every single pattern sheet in the envelope. I hate trying to get those back in. Sheesh. You get a gold star if you guessed that they were nowhere to be found. For everything else in the pattern, just not the vest.

Third try. Measure the pattern, which I did. I placed the pieces all on the table with seams lined up and even at the biggest size (12) it is supposedly going to be skin tight. Yeah, I have been there before with patterns. I know when we cut it out it will be huge anyway.

I’ll let you know how it works out. I also be back with more on a related topic, as we changed the line of the vest front. No, I did not measure the pieces with my changes. I measured the original ones. *sigh*

Next step, we will fit the pattern pieces to her, then cut them out of the fabric. Before sewing, we will pin or baste them together and check the fit *again*.


  1. A friend left a comment on my sewing post about a book on sizing. She pointed out the standard — they assume a b-cup. But your story sounds worse.

    Even with the jumper Tigger and I are making, Her measurements make it look like she should be making the 6 or the 8 (kids size) which didn’t seem right. We’re making a 10 and fixing the length. I hope it isn’t too huge. I’ll maybe do a few measurements before she cuts it out.

    I think this is one of the reasons I wanted some basic information about making my own patterns, but maybe that is too complicated. Good luck.

  2. Are you sure it’s not a UK pattern? Size 12 in the UK isn’t large at all…