I know it’s cliche, but size is just a number. You can walk into store A, try on pants, and find you’re a size 8. You go to store B next door, try on a similar pair of pants, and you need a size 12. You didn’t gain weight in the 10 minutes it took you to do it. Our body is our same body no matter what the label says. The good thing about sewing for yourself is all of the clothes you make will be “your size”. If you have a hang up about what the “number” of your clothes is, there are places you can order up size labels. Decide what size you’d like to be, order up some labels and sew them into your clothes. I have a friend who found an Oleg Cassini coat in a thrift store, and she bought it. When the coat wore out, she removed the label and sewed it into the next coat she bought. She kept repeating it, and for thirty years or so, she had a “designer label” coat.
Sewing patterns do not always map to clothing sizes in Ready-to-Wear. How could they when there’s no consistency there? But patterns do give you a road map to finding your size. The vast majority of patterns are sized by body measurements. A few pattern companies use finished garment measurements, and we’ll learn how that works when we actually start sewing.
To take your measurements to choose your pattern size, put on the undergarments you think you’ll be wearing with what you’re making. Measure yourself around the fullest part of your bust holding the tape measure taut, but not tight. Pretend you’re a teapot and tip yourself over. Place a finger where the bend is. That’s your “natural” waist. Measure yourself there. Then measure yourself around the fullest part of your hips. We’ll take other measurements before you cut out your pattern, but these are the three you need to pick a pattern.
If you’re choosing a pattern for a dress or a top, choose your pattern size by your bust measurement. If you’re choosing a pattern for pants or a skirt, use the hip measurement. If you’re making a full skirt that releases it fullness at the waist, use your waist measurement.
Some pattern companies divide patterns for women into Misses’ and Women’s. As sizes get larger, the biggest difference from one size to the next is the width across the shoulders and the length of the pattern. Plus-sized women have the same body frame size as women who wear Misses, but they carry more weight through their torsos. A plus-size pattern with a 40″ bust will have narrower shoulders and be shorter than a Misses pattern with a 40″ bust. It’s possible to make the appropriate alterations to a Misses pattern to make it fit, but starting with a Women’s pattern is easier.
If you’re measurements take you beyond the largest size, buy it and we’ll make it fit.