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Message Board > Beginner's Forum > Pattern size by shoulder measurement or how to choose ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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Pattern size by shoulder measurement or how to choose
Patterns for tops or dresses
kc

kc
Beginner
MN USA
Member since 3/3/04
Posts: 24
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Date: 5/29/13 3:10 PM

I was always told by tailors who made custom clothes that the shoulder fit is the most important, and when I buy RTW clothes I always check the shoulder fit first. It seems to work well for me as I have a relatively flat chest (A cup) and I have broad shoulders. My measurements are

Shoulder width: 16.5 inches
High Bust: 39 inches
Full Bust: 38 inches
Hip: 38 inches
Waist: 34 inches

I am getting frustrated with pattern sizing, and not sure which size to choose that will result the least or easiest alterations. Since I'm a novice I'd like not to have to do any alterations at all. I would describe my body type as wide but flat, flat chest, flat rear. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks.

MarinaVK
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MarinaVK  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/29/13 3:52 PM

It really depends on the Pattern company, but in general going by bust measurement worked for me and my clients for tops. For bottoms - hip size is the one to choose. Now, I draft most of the patterns myself.

If you are working with the Big 4 patterns, like Vogue etc., I would recommend buying a fitting shell before investing money in patterns and seeing what fitting alterations you need for it. Once you have a fitted shell it will be much easier to adjust their patterns. Lynda Maynard has a good e-book (you can buy it here, on Patternreview) how to use a fitted sloper to adjust commercial patterns. And, I believe, there is also a class on Craftsy where she talks about the same thing - do check it out :)

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My blog: http://frabjous-fashion.blogspot.com
What I am working on now: one couture garment a month for my Burdastyle Couture Wardrobe Challenge at burdastyle.com

stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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Date: 5/29/13 4:19 PM

You definitely want to start with a good fit in the shoulders for most garments, but it's hard to buy a pattern according to shoulder size because it's not a measurement that most pattern companies give on the charts. That's why you'll generally see advice to buy according to your high bust, with the plan to alter the bust up/down if necessary. ...But you'll also notice that "high bust" is not a measurement on the chart!(Can't imagine why you'd be confused! LOL) Simply substitute your HB for the bust measurement. Most Big 4 (Simplicity/McCall/Vogue/Butterick) patterns are drafted for a B cup, so you may find some patterns fit you reasonably well, but with others you may need a small bust adjustment.

Once you start to work with enough patterns from the various companies, you'll get a feel of what size works best for you to start from, plus the standard alterations you tend to make to most garments.

Good luck!

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~Gem in the prairie

solosmocker
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Date: 5/29/13 4:26 PM

I subscribe to the Nancy Zieman pivot and slide method. She has you measure your upper chest from armpit crease to armpit crease. Then you compare your measurement to a chart to figure out which pattern will fit that complicated shoulder neck area best. A 14 inch measurement from crease to crease is a size 14 pattern. There is much more in her books on fitting. I use Fitting Finesse but there is a newer one available. Her method is simple and once you learn how to do it it just comes automatically with every pattern you make.

When I purchsed patterns by my actual bust measurement it was a failure and I never could get the right fit. Let us know what you decide.
HTHs.

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http://lasewist.blogspot.com/

Aixoise
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Aixoise  Friend of PR
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In reply to solosmocker <<


Date: 5/29/13 6:02 PM

"A 14 inch measurement from crease to crease is a size 14 pattern."

I'm not sure I understand this method. If I measure as you describe, I come up with a 15" measurement. This would put me in a size 14 or 16 pattern; however, I'm a definite size 10 in the Big 4. I alter for full bust and broad shoulders; but larger sizes swim on me.

Can you clarify? Or is there an online site where we can see illustrations of Zieman's measuring techniques?

Thanks!

kc

kc
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MN USA
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In reply to Aixoise <<


Date: 5/29/13 6:28 PM

Aixoise, I'm really a novice so this may be a stupid question, if you go by Zieman's method and the shoulder and bust fits, is it easier to alter the rest vs having the rest fit but have to alter the shoulders and bust?

solosmocker
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Date: 5/29/13 9:52 PM

delete, duplicate post
-- Edited on 5/29/13 10:03 PM --

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solosmocker
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Date: 5/29/13 9:59 PM

That is Zieman's point exactly. It is much easier to get the whole neck shoulder area to fit and then do a bust adjustment as needed or widen the hips and waist.

I am not sure what size pattern you would be in without her chart in front of me but if you are a "definite size ten in the Big 4"use what works for you. Just remember in sewing there are many many ways to achieve results as there are teachers. Zieman's methods have worked well for me.

KC, in your first post you mention you would like to not have to do any alterations at all. That is not a realistic view of sewing in my opinion and I offer this opinion with kindness and sincerity. Patterns are made to a standard, one that has nothing to do with retail clothing sizes. It is extremely rare for most sewists to wear a pattern straight out of the envelope. We all want Barbie's figure but really, only one in a thousand supposedly has a figure like her. Pattern sizes are not much different. We are each individual and it is probably that same one in a thousand that can make a garment without any alterations. The rest of us are required to learn how to alter patterns to fit our own unique and special shapes. There are many teachers, videos, and books out there to help. Many of us have tried them all, LOL! Fitting is that much of a journey. Just consider it part of sewing, just as necessary as doing the hems, which I'm not crazy about by the way ;)

This site is WONDERFUL for getting help with fitting issues, particularly if yo can share pictures of your process. You may want to read some of the threads on the fitting board and see the processes some of the sewists have gone through. It's a pretty fascinating, informative journey.

One thing I would suggest is getting Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Book . In it she talks about what is actually good fit. There were times in my early sewing life that I would try to sew something straight out of the envelope and I wore it. But did it fit right? Heck, no. Betzina gives a good education on what good fit actually is and that may help in achieving your alterations.


-- Edited on 5/29/13 10:02 PM --

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http://lasewist.blogspot.com/

GlButterfly

GlButterfly
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Date: 5/29/13 11:52 PM

With Nancy Zieman's method what you are measuring is the skeleton. No matter what size a person wears, their skeleton will stay the same. (There are always going to be exceptions). Thus, you are fitting to neck, shoulders, and upper chest.

Solosmocker, I think Nancy's chart is 14" is a size 14 and it goes up or down one size for each 1/2".

------
I have not yet begun to procrastinate

Update: soon I will decide when I will begin procrastinating.

Aixoise
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In reply to solosmocker <<
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Date: 5/30/13 0:01 AM

This is also the Palmer/Pletsch theory: take the high bust measurement and buy the pattern accordingly, as it is much easier to alter for bust, waist, etc. than to adjust the upper bodice - shoulders, armscyes, etc. That's how I came up with the size 10.

Thanks for the answer; and, as you say, many teachers, many methods.

Find what works best for you and stick to it. You'll keep refining as you make each new garment and deal with design ease, different fabrics, and any changes to your figure. It truly is an ongoing process.

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