All About Pattern Sizing
Most sewing pattern companies base their pattern sizing and garment styles by your height and how fully developed your figure is. The standard body style is always compared to the Misses body type, because that’s what pattern makers first started with. Gradually, they developed other figure type patterns to accommodate our different bodies.
There are several things for you to consider to help you determine a good pattern for you.
Ease should be a consideration. Many beginner patterns are not closely fitted to the body – they have lots of added “ease”. This is the number of inches designers added to make the garment fit a larger range of bodies, without the trouble of trying to make a lot of fit changes. The patterns aren’t usually “one size fits all” (like that stuff from the 99c store). But a pajama, robe pattern, apron or bathing suit cover-up are not usually tight fitting. That’s why these patterns are great for beginners, quick projects, or as gifts.
Remember: Close fit takes time, lots of ease is easy!
How you will be using the garment is another consideration. For example, if you are going to make a garment to wear at your banking job, you probably don’t want to look at the patterns in the sportswear section of the pattern book.
Another consideration is the fabric type. It's usually best to pick a fabric that's listed on the back of the envelope, otherwise you will create challenges that you may not want. If you have a certain fabric in mind for what you want to make, choose a pattern that was made for that style of fabric. Yes, you can always adapt patterns to a different fabric, but designers have chosen the style for a purpose, and the ease may be off if you chose a fabric that isn't listed.
Every body has certain styles that will flatter, and others that may be very unflattering. Do you want to be looked at because the garment or fabric is wrong for your body type (i.e. grandmothers wearing a short skirt, juniors wearing a long black dress, and it's not halloween)?
Good designers usually have a body type in mind when designing patterns – and the pattern companies put the different body types into different “chapters” of the pattern books. If you are a junior, the best place to see the most current styles is to look at the junior patterns. Misses are the most common, with lots of choices.
To determine your body type, use the chart below:
What Pattern Size to Choose
Once your pattern type and style has been chosen, look at the measurements on the back of the pattern envelope. If you are between sizes, use the larger size, and you’ll have plenty of fabric to take in. If your pattern choice is loose and flowing (lots of “ease”) go for the smaller size.
If you’re making a blouse, shirt, jacket or dress, pick the pattern size based on your bust or high bust measurement.
If you are making pants or a skirt, use the hip measurement.
Use your current measurements to compare to the pattern. If you don't have current measurements
here's how to take them to help determine your correct pattern sizing.
Know for sure that your measurements are accurate (like you didn’t suck in your tummy, or round up or down to get a “better” number)
Most pattern measurements will not fit you measurements exactly by proportion. But most patterns are now multi-sized, meaning there will be several pattern sizes in one pattern envelope. So you can pick the lines for any of the measurements on the pattern envelope – to get you close to your own measurements. Also, most patterns use 5/8” seam allowances, so you will have plenty of room to make adjustments.
Don’t however, expect to make all adjustments just in the side seams. A good fitting book, or taking a class in fitting will help you make bigger adjustments.
There’s some fantastic software available that you can purchase to fit and design to your own measurements. If you’re not ready to tackle that kind of commitment, pick a garment that has lots of ease, or make a pattern from a garment that already fits you.