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Pattern size
How do pattern sizes relate to store bought?
dcap
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Date: 2/11/14 4:30 PM

Hi everyone! I haven't sewn in years and my size hand shape have changed too! Where do I start to get close to my size in a modern day pattern? Are vintage patterns re-sized?
Also I need a good fabric store in the DC/N VA area. I find the selection here is not as great as my home of Seattle. Thanks!

MissCelie
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Date: 2/11/14 4:41 PM

Pattern sizes really don't relate to RTW size. And, pattern size standards are typically redone at different points in time. Chances on, the vintage size you wore before are not the same. But, all pattern companies post their suggested measurements online and you can read reviews here to see how much ease there is (or if the pattern in true to size).

Welcome back to sewing!

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Julkane
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Date: 2/11/14 6:09 PM

How do they relate? Simply put, they don't! You really need to check measurements well and even then, once you have the pattern, be sure to check the ease.

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aquamarineerica

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Date: 2/11/14 6:16 PM

Exactly what MissCelie said. Whatever you are in RTW, you certainly won't be when it comes to the patterns. Kinda depressing at times!

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Every day is a clean slate.
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EleanorSews
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Date: 2/11/14 9:56 PM

More often than not, you will be buying a larger pattern size than the RTW sizes you wear. It is only a number and it is based on some series of body measurements. The thing that matters most is the end result and how it fits.

Someone once said in another discussion here years ago, when size was being discussed, "there is only one size that matters...the right size", or something to that effect. She was spot on!

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"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin

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Aixoise
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Date: 2/11/14 10:17 PM

What's important in choosing your size is taking key measurements. You can find guides to taking them in the pattern books, online, and in fitting books such as Fit for Real People.

Meanwhile, here's a rough list: high bust measurement (often considered the best for getting a top to fit correctly); full bust measurement; waist - at the true waist point; and full hip. Consult a good book, or ask specific questions on this forum, and you'll get lots of help.

It is very true that pattern sizes do not correspond at all to RTW sizes (which often don't even correspond with each other from brand to brand). So grab your measuring tape - and a friend to help - and have fun sewing!

BrendaR
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Date: 2/12/14 1:15 AM

Found this on Exquisite Fabrics' website:

*(As an example, a ready-to-wear dress form in US standard size 4 has measurements: Bust 33-3/4" and waist 24". Many size 2 or even size zero clothes fit on a size 4 dress form, but the Burda pattern size would be size 8 at the waist and nearly size 12 at the bust. This sizing allows for even more variation in the human form and makes alterations more manageable.) So don't be alarmed by the pattern size number--even those with the tiniest measurements can find a pattern size that will be appropriate!)

Plumm
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Date: 2/12/14 3:40 PM

Patterns don't related to ready to wear sizes. I go by my measurements and ignore the size number on the envelope. There's no point in letting vanity put you in the wrong pattern size. In ready to wear, I can wear a size 8 pant, but that's NOT my pattern size. A number is just a number, but good fit is what is important.

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Plumm

GlButterfly

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Date: 2/12/14 9:45 PM

Pattern sizes used to be close to purchased clothes, then the manufacturers got the "vanity sizing" bug, several times, and now there's quite a difference. Pattern sizes haven't changed (in over 40 years) so if you were a 12 twenty years ago and your body didn't change one iota, then you would still be a 12. Not true of the everchanging store clothes.

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That's Gl = for Gloria, not G. I.

Fictionfan
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Date: 2/13/14 2:09 AM

ETA: Welcome to PR and welcome back to the adventure of sewing!

caveats to the above replies:

1) The size chart for each pattern company is individual to that company or group of companies.

The big4 (now 5 or 6 or ?) companies, which include Simplicity, McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, and New Look have the same size charts, so the patterns that you would be most likely to find in your local chain craft/fabric store will generally have the same sizing, theoretically.
KwikSew uses a XS-S-M-L-XL system
Jalie are D through AA, or something like that, depending on the pattern.
Burda uses different numbering system for any particular bust/waist/hip combination depending on regular vs plus, petite (short stature, not necessarily small in size) vs average vs tall.
Burda and Marfy are both European sizing, but they aren't the same system. Size 42 in Burda (large end of sizing) and 42 in Marfy (small end of sizing) are quite different.

2) Not all patterns published by any one company will have the same sizing designations. There are a few designers whose patterns have 'modern fit' or RTW sizing, or their own sizing that isn't like anyone else's sizing or proportions.

For example:
Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit line for Vogue patterns are based on a survey of women's measurements that was done 10 or 15 years ago. The proportions are different from the size chart that the main pattern companies and clothing manufacturers agreed upon as the standard about 45 years ago. The manufacturers began deviating from that standard about 30 years ago.
Calvin Klein patterns published by Vogue in the early 80s were based on the sizing that he used in his retail clothing. They were the first patterns that I recall seeing which did not follow the standard size chart that was set in stone by agreement of the different companies.
Connie Crawford's Butterick patterns say they use 'Modern Fit', something closer to the more-or-less standard sizes used by most clothing manufacturers.
Jalie patterns don't have the same size charts for every pattern. A size V in one pattern may be a size W in another, depending on what year it was published. Fortunately, all the sizes are included for each pattern.
Colette and Sewaholic patterns have their own sizing that is maybe closer to the not-really-standard RTW sizing in use now.
I recently saw that Sewaholic has only 1 inch difference between sizes, whereas most pattern companies have 2 inch gradations.

3) By reading PR threads and reviews, you can also find out interesting things about the various pattern companies that can be counted on to be applicable to other patterns drafted by that company:

The big4/5 have the same sizing standard, but the added ease makes for a different fit for each company. For example, Butterick patterns seem to have a closer fit than patterns from the McCall's, even though they are now the same pattern company.

Most pattern companies draft for a B-cup bra size for misses/women. I've read that burda and Colette draft for a C-cup and that the Today's fit or Connie Crawford patterns have different cup sizes depending on size grouping, with larger cup sizes for the larger sizes and smaller cup sizes for the smaller sizes.
McCall's, Simplicity, Vogue, and Butterick all have a small collection of patterns with separate pattern pieces for different cup sizes. If you need to do a full bust adjustment (FBA), this is a really nice thing to have done by the publisher so that you don't have to spend the time on it yourself. McCall's used to call theirs Made-For-You but now they are A/B, C, & D cup; Simplicity's are the B, C, D collection; Vogue are Custom Fit.

Hot Patterns has an L-shaped crotch curve that seems to fit many women well.
Burda pants patterns are less trouble to fit for many people in comparison to the big4/5 because of burda's crotch curve shape.

Kwik Sew patterns seem to run larger and looser than the other big4/5 companies.

Marfy and jalie patterns seem to have sleeves drafted for skinny arms in comparison to the big 4/5.

As others have said, be sure to read the size charts, once you've taken your measurements at the high bust/chest (use this for any garment that has shoulders/neck/chest parts), waist at the natural waist, and fullest part of your hip. Some companies also have back-waist length, shoulder length, biceps, etc measurements stated in the charts, in addition to the main ones.

A size is just a number or a letter. Unfortunately, it's a free-for-all when it comes to any kind of standard.
-- Edited on 2/13/14 10:42 AM --

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Fictionfan

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