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Is there really a standard in pattern sizing?
Why do pattern companies' patterns vary?
threadandthumb
threadandthumb
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Date: 12/11/11 10:41 PM

I am an on again, off again, frustrated sewer. I love sewing, but get frustrated at the lack of consistency in sizing. One company makes a pant too large - huge, really. Another makes it too small.
What is the key to knowing which company sizes its patterns on the generous side and which are skimpy? If there is a thread regarding this, please direct me. Thank you!
The Thumb

jannw
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In reply to threadandthumb


Date: 12/11/11 11:48 PM

There is about four pages of Pattern Sizing threads! Hit the search board button at the upper right side and put in "pattern sizing".

The big thing to remember is to use your actual measurements. Forget about your rtw sizes..those have nothing to do with pattern sizes.
Do check the pattern pieces for the finished size of the garment. That includes the wearing ease..and that what can vary greatly in each pattern company.

The body shape each company designs for also varies. Hopefully, you can find one company that fits you well. New Look and Simplicity seem to be for a young body with a lower bust. Butterick and Vogue have a higher bustline, and McCall's seem to be very contemporay designs with lots of ease. That's what I've found with my body!
Good luck!

-- Edited on 12/11/11 11:49 PM --

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2010-115.5
2011-80.25+30+donated
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Everyone who sews seriously has a stockpile of fabrics, because it is natural to purchase more than can be sewn in any one season" Singer, Timesaving Sewing, 1987

Coconuts
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Date: 12/12/11 0:16 AM

My theory is that pattern designers know that they're working off of a block from when women wore minimizer bras and girdles, and some designers compensate for that by adding more design ease through the bust and waist, while other designers use those measurements because they're what's printed on the envelope.

But no, there is not a standard that I know of. It seems like the Simplicity Project Runway patterns skew more towards the pattern envelope numbers, but I may have just read the reviews of the ones that are smaller.

Debbie Cook
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Debbie Cook
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In reply to threadandthumb


Date: 12/12/11 9:03 PM

Quote: threadandthumb
What is the key to knowing which company sizes its patterns on the generous side and which are skimpy?

Others may disagree, but I've found the Big 3/4 to be fairly consistent within their own lines (there are always exceptions to anything), but you HAVE to go by both your measurements and the ease chart definitions for fit (or measure the pattern flat, deducting seam allowances to get the ease). Plus you have to know what YOU prefer for ease. One person may think a certain amount of ease is perfect and another may think it's huge or tight. Measure some RTW you like and compare the garment's measurements to your body measurements to get an idea of the wearing ease you prefer, and then pick your size and style with that knowledge.

Burda is also consistent, but more closely-fitted overall.

Learning your preferences takes practice/experience. Make muslins or tissue fit to give yourself a fair starting point.

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"I base my fashion sense on what doesn't itch." Gilda Radner
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Nancy K
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In reply to threadandthumb


Date: 12/12/11 9:07 PM

Most American pattern companies put finished garment measurements on the pattern. Subtract your measurements from these and that is the ease that was designed into the pattern. Now measure some garments that you like the fit of and measure them at the pertinent points and this is the ease that you like. Start with your measurements, bust for tops, hip for bottoms and then compare the pattern measurements to the measurements you have from your rtw clothing. Don't forget to mark the sas on the pattern(the width of a tape measure is 5/8")
and measure between the seamlines.

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CM_Sews
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In reply to Debbie Cook


Date: 12/12/11 10:25 PM

Debbie, excellent advice, and excellent advice all around.

I have also found the Big 3/4 to be fairly consistent within their own lines. The advantage is that once you determine the alterations that you need to make, you'll know that you'll need those same alterations on each pattern. Wearing ease can be very different from one pattern to another in the same pattern company, so measure, measure, measure.

The illustrations and photos on pattern envelopes can be misleading. Sometimes the garment is pinned behind the model to improve the fit in the photo, which leads to much confusion if one sews up the pattern without measuring the pattern to determine the wearing ease before you start.

CMC

solosmocker
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Date: 12/20/11 7:20 PM

I've always found these discussions about the differences between pattern companies interesting, mostly because I really don't see any difference among the big four. Its all about correct measurements and forgetting any notion you have about what size you wear if its based on retail.

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marec
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Date: 12/20/11 8:04 PM

I took the advice already posted above when it was offered to me a few years ago. Flat pattern measure is the way to make sure you are getting the ease you want. I don't see a big difference in the Big 4 except for ease due to style. I can "read" a pattern envelope much easier now and see where they may have fudged on fit during photography. I measure the pattern now if I am unsure. I also add larger SA if I am making pants or a skirt.

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Elona
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In reply to threadandthumb


Date: 12/20/11 8:04 PM

There is no company that consistently runs generous or skimpy. It is all about your measurements and learning to adjust a generalized feminine pattern that is pretty close to those measurements.

That said, I find that Burda's size gradations are subtler and more finely drawn at key points than those of the Big Four American patterns, and Burda's crotch curve, in my estimation, is about the most anatomically correct that is available for women.

I would suggest you get really familiar with what is called 'flat-pattern measurement,' in which you lay your pattern out and measure six ways from Sunday before cutting into your fabric. You will be comparing your measurements with those of the pattern at critical points.

Since you don't have a ton of experience yet, you might also find it helpful to get out some RTW garments whose fit you like and measure them for width, length, and so on. This would give you some idea how much 'wearing ease' you feel comfortable with. Knowing this, you could compare the hipline width of your favorite pants, for example, to that of a pants pattern.

threadandthumb
threadandthumb
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Date: 1/17/12 12:33 PM

Thank you thank you! To all who replied. I've not measured flat my patterns before so that will be something I do from now on. Now that my desire to sew is greater than when I was in my teens and twenties my concern for "getting it right" is greater as well.
I also think muslins or mock-ups (term used in sewing?) will be part of my sewing techniques.
Again, thank you!
Mary Ann

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