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Selecting patterns and sizes
candi7
candi7
Member since 3/1/13
Posts: 15
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Date: 4/5/13 6:28 PM

Hi all!
Well, I haven't officially finished sewing my first garment, lol, but I have been purchasing more patterns for dresses I like-it helps that our local Joann's had Simplicity for 99 cents last week, this week it is Butterick and next week it's McCalls lol. Now my first question is, as a beginner, how do you know which dresses are easy? My first dress was the McCalls 5094- and although I believe I have the hardest part (bodice) done, this is not an easy pattern for a beginner hehe, wish I thought of that.
http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/m5094-products-5064.php?page_id=108

I have purchased about 10 patterns, and now looking at them and trying to figure out which one would be easy for my next dress-any tips for what to look for?

Second question is size! I had to fiddle so much with the bodice I sewed even taking smaller seams to have it fit right, and I believe that I am still confused about sizes and figuring out which size I should cut. Each pattern seems to have a measurement chart and then a finished garment size and looking at these, I get two different sizes-which do I follow? And is there a trick to figuring out if your pattern pieces will fit before you cut your fabrics?

Sorry, I know lots of questions and basic to many, but I am confused about this.

Thanks in advance for the help all!

tigergirl
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In reply to candi7 <<


Date: 4/6/13 0:41 AM

Quote: candi7
Now my first question is, as a beginner, how do you know which dresses are easy?

That will really depend on the person but:
- how fitted is it? (the more fitted it is, the more potential fit issues you might have)
- how many details does it have? (pleats, zippers, gathers, pockets, buttons & buttonholes etc.)
- what is the recommended fabric (some are notorious for being nightmarish eg. slippery and/or slinky fabric) and have you used it before?


Quote: candi7

Second question is size! I had to fiddle so much with the bodice I sewed even taking smaller seams to have it fit right, and I believe that I am still confused about sizes and figuring out which size I should cut. Each pattern seems to have a measurement chart and then a finished garment size and looking at these, I get two different sizes-which do I follow?


The finished garment measurement will usually be bigger than the measurement chart measurements because the finished garment includes both wearing ease (so that you can move) and design ease. Supposedly, you cut the size that corresponds to your measurements on the measurement chart. In reality, it seems that a lot of women cut a smaller size (or two) than that because the Big 4 pattern companies tend to put way too much ease into their patterns.

Two popular ways of choosing which size to cut:
Take measurements from similar garments in your wardrobe and choose the size with the finished measurements that match your current clothing.
If you're making a bodice, choose the size with the bust measurement that matches your upper bust measurement. If you're making a skirt, choose the size that corresponds with your hip measurement. Of course, then you have to fine tune the fit for all of your other measurements unless your body conforms to the body the pattern makers had in mind (mine surely doesn't!).

Quote: candi7

And is there a trick to figuring out if your pattern pieces will fit before you cut your fabrics?


On the back of the pattern envelope it tells you how much fabric you will need for the different sizes of the garment, depending on the width of fabric you're purchasing. The instructions sheet shows you suggested ways to lay out the pieces on the fabric so that they fit. I don't always follow their suggestions, they don't always show the most economical way. Usually you don't need quite as much fabric as they recommend but I've found that these days it's a lot closer than 25 years ago when they really overestimated.

I hope all of that makes sense.

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Marie367
Marie367
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In reply to candi7 <<


Date: 4/6/13 9:27 AM

Good for you finishing up your first garment! Yes most patterns, even the ones that are labelled easy are not always easy. Once you get basic garment construction down then it gets easier.
Fit is the hardest thing about sewing. A good starting point is the upper bust measurement and the hip measurement then add the other measurements. Use the pattern measurements on the envelope and match with your body measurements. A garment made from a non stretchy material needs more ease (the extra fabric built into the pattern so that we can move in it). I have found that McCalls tend to run a little large in most of the patterns I have used and Simplicity patterns seems to be closer to the pattern measurements. I say that but it can vary. Tigergirl gave some good ideas about measuring your RTW clothes.
Then of course there are the fit issues. There is alot of help on here on fit, so ask questions. I would also suggest a good sewing book which you can usually get from your local library. I like the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing-I have an older version that only cost a few dollars on Amazon but it covers all the basic skills and many advanced.
I would also recommend Kwik Sew patterns. They are not always the most up to date fashion wise but their instructions are very good and could help you get the basics down.
It sounds like the pattern you used needed to be the next size up-sometimes it is trial and error and that is why many of us make practice garments (called muslins) to get an idea of the fit of the pattern before using better fabric. HTH

candi7
candi7
Member since 3/1/13
Posts: 15
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Date: 4/7/13 3:53 AM

Tigergirl, thank you so much for the detailed reply! Especially about the difference between measurament charts and finished garment measurements- I felt the light bulb go on lol.

Marie, thank you too for the encouragment and book recommendation. I have ordered it on Amazon and can't wait to get it and start reading it. I have been quilting and doing some home decor sewing for about three years and decided to try garment sewing-definitely different Thanks for the help.
-- Edited on 4/7/13 3:54 AM --

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