Member since 7/6/13
Date: 7/24/14 7:22 PM
I'm sure this has been asked a bazillion times, but I'm asking again. I love vintage patterns and seriously could spend a weeks paycheck scooping them up online. But, how hard/easy are they to fit? Should I buy according to my bust measurement, even if that means my waist measurement is off by like a mile? Call me cheap, but I refuse to spend a cent on a vintage pattern that I don't know will fit me. Thanks in advance!!
Member since 5/2/09
In reply to renjon7798
Date: 7/24/14 8:38 PM
Then you should probably not buy a vintage pattern, unless you can also see a view of the back of it or on the pattern envelope flap of it or someplace on it, that shows the bust, waist and hip measurements for just the size it is. Just because, even though the wearing ease of something always has been able to change over your body measurement in inches, by just clothing style and whomever made it,in any year over all of them, it's only in the last few decades they have even been putting the actual garment measurements by inches of fabric size on even the back of any sewing patterns at all. And they don't always do that on them now even. I think often in lots of decades past, they maybe have just given you a hem width on them, on the back of the pattern sometimes though. It's safe to assume most times, that the garment size width for each size at bust, waist and hips "unless just for knits" is most times at least the body width or more though.
Ladies pattern sizes for even size 8,12, 14, 16 ect, changed a bit in what your body measurements were supposed to be for those between 1970 and now even. I can even see that on the back of patterns, McCalls in particular. I don't know what exact year that happened in. Also if you get into anything older, then to even wear the clothes in the pattern, they probably expected you to have pretty close undergarments, as to what was often worn then too, on you first, when even measuring your body to some inch # for your body on the pattern envelope.
That can even change a whole lot on one person, in even a few moments if actually wearing something not often worn now, like a high pointy bullet shaped bra, or a corset, or some bustle or hip padding or something like that. Just since not everyone wears those things all the time anymore.
If the body measurements for the size you buy of some old pattern are yours though, or a bit larger then most times I think you are safe to assume it will at least go around you, in most places. If it's a top or a dress, then bust might be important. If it's a skirt unless it's one tight to your hips and not flared or gathered, then probably the waist measurement is more important. If a skirt is a circle, gathered dirindle, or flares out from the waist, then even if your hips are a bit or lot bigger than the pattern size measurement on it, maybe it does not even matter a lot of the time.
I've got original patterns going from the 1890's on up, and if someone did not already cut pieces off of them, that I can't tell that by just looking at them (which can happen pretty easy, if they are just plain blank tissue paper with no printing on them sometimes up to certain years) then most times if I buy a size printed on them, that most matches to me, in the underwear I plan on wearing with them, while wearing them, then they would at least fit over me. But any alterations to them to make them fit me better, where I might happen to deviate from a pattern, would still have to happen, just like if they did on today's patterns too actually.
If you want to know if an old pattern has been altered or not, by the first person whom sewed it though, and to avoid just blank tissue paper with some holes punched in it, in some past years, at least McCalls patterns seem to have ink on there, always on the tissue paper of them since about 1924 and on up. so for just that one problem, they might be a good choice most times, as you can tell if they have been cut strange and actual areas of the patten pieces cut off on whim or need by even the previous owner and sewer of them better than some others that are only blank tissue paper instead for those kind of years. So that most times is a good thing.
If just blank tissue paper with various holes just punched into them, and sold precut like that, back then, then you are more down to trying to compare them to some pattern shapes maybe drawn out on the back of the pattern envelope instead. And even seeing if they match up or not, and maybe no fold out instructions either, just some sewing hints listed on the back of a pattern envelope instead even sometimes.
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Member since 1/20/08
3 members like this.
Date: 7/24/14 9:00 PM
In purchasing vintage patterns, keep in mind that even if you found one that fit your measurements, there will still be alterations because we do not wear the extensive foundation garments that women did in the past. That means that not only are our proportions different now, but even our shapes…even bra cups are shaped differently now.
I would recommend that you get comfortable with alterations before you purchase any vintage patterns, as all of them will need altered.
Member since 5/11/03
In reply to renjon7798
1 member likes this.
Date: 7/24/14 9:43 PM
Vintage patterns are not really harder or easier to fit than a modern pattern: the alterations will be dependent on how similar your figure is to the pattern. I would choose by bust for dresses or tops and hips for skirts, same as for a modern pattern. If you sew a size with a 36 bust in a modern pattern, start with a 36 bust in a vintage. It is also possible to grade up or down a size. The most recent issue of Threads has an article on grading patterns. I always make a muslin for vintage patterns as the fit varies between brands and years.
It's unlikely that any pattern will fit perfectly without adjustment. The waist is easier to adjust than the bust (or hips for skirts/pants). I have bought vintage according the full bust that corresponded to my high bust and did a full bust alteration and I have also bought by my full bust and done a narrow shoulder alteration and had successful garments. The last vintage pattern I traced and then graded up a size. Then I had to alter the waist and hips because they were still too small.
But, there are so many multisize vintage reproductions now that you may want to try one of them. I like them because I can blend sizes an don't have to grade up or down.
A good fitting book will help enormously.
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