How to Sew Something that Fits: AKA, Why I Always Include Those Sizing Notes Now

Putting the Conclusion at the Beginning

Everyone who sews knows there are big sizing inconsistencies with the Big 4 pattern companies, and that these companies have no intention of admitting to, let alone fixing, those problems.

So let’s help each other out.

I’ve written a novel here about how unpredictable Big 4 sizing is, and how none of the information available publicly ends up being helpful in deciding what size to purchase. But this isn’t just venting. There are two things I’m hoping to do:

  1. Reassure beginning sewers that it’s not their fault that projects don’t fit the way they’re supposed to.
  2. Encourage those of us who write pattern reviews online to be more detailed about how we ended up sewing the size we did. I’m willing to bet none of you make up the size you’re supposed to be, according to the sizing charts. But in reviews, most sewers only include what size was eventually used, and not how that compares to the size we’re supposed to be according to the charts. Unless someone has been following a particular reviewer for a while and knows what size they are supposed to be, that’s not helpful; a sewer still can’t pick a size for themselves.

If this post can inspire you to always include information about what size you used and what size you are supposed to be in every review, whether on blogs, review sites, instagram, or facebook, we can make this a little less frustrating for each other.

Ready?

Hydrated? Caffeinated? Recently snacked?

Ok:

How To Sew Something That Fits

In theory, one should be able to buy or trace a pattern according to one’s measurements and the published sizing guide and, barring individual body idiosyncrasies, make up a garment that more or less fits. Alas, this is not the case, as you’ve read me bitching about more than once. Over many years now of sewing clothes for myself and my daughter, I’ve developed a way of choosing a size and making it up that will end up with something close enough to a good fit that I can alter it with a few tweaks, so long as its construction is fairly standard. (i.e. basic darted skirts and bodices, pants or shorts with front fly construction, princess seams, etc.)

It’s a total pain in the ass.

1. Choose a size based on the finished garment measurements.

If I can get them. Indie pattern companies are pretty good about putting those measurements on the pattern envelope and/or the website. Big 4? Not so much. With Butterick-Vogue-McCalls, the finished measurements aren’t even necessarily on the pattern tissue. I recently tried to make up a BMV knit pattern where the finished measurements were not on the tissue; it wasn’t worth my time and I threw it away. I just opened the packet for a Vogue knit dress pattern, and the finished garment measurements aren’t on that tissue either.

On the BMV website, the finished garment measurements most often available are back length and hem width.

finished garment measurements
From a butterick pattern I recently bought. Good thing it was only $2

This doesn’t help me decide which size to get.

2. Double check those measurements by measuring the pattern tissue.

Because sometimes they’ve done the math wrong, and it’s better to find out before you’ve cut the fabric. Or they haven’t included the measurements at all.

3. If I’m between sizes, I size up.

4. Alter in ways that I always have to alter everything because bodies are weird.

For me, this means shortening bodice backs, measuring back widths and ensuring there isn’t too much excess along the zipper, doing an FBA, adding to the rise and crotch length for pants and shorts, checking hem lengths, and usually reducing the armscye (particularly with the Big 4).

4. Cut and sew.

Having done the above in advance, the fit on the first garment will usually be good. No muslin required. Again, that wouldn’t apply to something complicated, but even there starting with this will get me a lot closer than starting with the pattern tissue out of the envelope.

The only part of the fitting process that is, or should be, inevitable is altering for my body’s specifics. No pattern company is going to get that right. But steps 1 and 2 should be unnecessary. It should be possible to choose a size based on body measurements and know that the resulting finished garment will relate to the body’s measurements in a predictable and useful way.

What Doesn’t Work

People have developed a number of work-arounds that they feel quite passionate about, but none of them work for me.

  1. Pick a size based on your high-bust measurement!

The theory is that if you choose your pattern size by comparing your high-bust measurement to the published full-bust charts, you’ll get something that fits in the shoulders, back, armscye, etc., and the rest is easier to fit.

I wish. First of all, there’s still way too much fucking ease. This would only work if the size charts were reliable in the first place. Secondly, this will work only for women whose bust is approximately where the bust point on the pattern is. If your boobs are higher or lower than average, this will increase or decrease your high-bust measurement, making the approach utterly useless.

Speaking for myself, my high-bust measurement is about 36″. This is still a size 14–two sizes bigger than what actually works for me with most (but not all!) BMV patterns.

2. Look at the measurements charts and the ease charts and pick a size based on the measurement plus the ease!

Nope.

ease chart
From the butterick website. You may be surprised to learn that a “fitted” shirt can have 4″ of ease around the bust. Also note their use of language: “exactly what to anticipate when it comes to fitting.” Also note that they have a column for “bust area” ease that includes skirts, which have no bust component, and a “hip area” ease that includes shirts, even though they have no hip component.

Below, find a handy chart showing the ease and finished waist measurements of what is supposed to be my waist size of my most recent BMV projects. (Click to enlarge)

Let’s pause and share a moment of silence for the sheer amount of work it took to put this chart together. Also: the knits are highlighted green to make them easy to find and compare.

Of the twelve, a full eight have finished garment measurements that are either below or above the predicted range based on body measurements plus ease. That’s 2/3.

Moreover, they don’t always err in the same direction. While M7351 has 1 1/2″ more ease than it should, V7937 has 3″ less.

The ease charts no longer reflect reality, and a “close-fitting” garment–in jersey! FFS–can have multiple inches of ease, and that ease may or may not be what was predicted in the ease chart.

This chart is only available on the Butterick site. I’ve used the first column of ease because it is a confusing mess of a table (why are skirts in the bust area? What are shirts in the hip area? What about waist ease?) and also because all or almost all of the garments I’ve listed here fall in the first category of garment and/or have a bust measurement.

(One garment, V7937, is a skirt and so could arguably be considered to fall in the last column. But the actual ease in the hip area is still far under the ease chart guidelines, so it would fail no matter which I chose.)

3. Once you know what size works for you with a company’s patterns, just buy that size and then make the same alterations with all of them!

Nope.

Looking at the same chart, you can see that for Buttericks, Vogue and McCalls–all operating as part of the same company, using the same measurement and ease charts–anywhere from a size 10 to a size 14 will work for me.

There’s no pattern for which size will work based on fit, style, fabric, or anything else. Knit garments (highlighted in green) could be anywhere from a 10 to a 14. Woven garments can also be anywhere from a 10 to a 14. Whether it’s close-fitting, fitted, semi-fitting or loose also results in no predictable sizing. The one thing that is predictable is that whatever size ends up fitting me, it won’t be the size 16+ that is supposed to.

And it’s often not possible to get size 10, 12 and 14 in the same envelope, so I have to guess. I often guess wrong, which is what all of those “14 but quite big”s are about: 14 was the smallest size in the envelope and it was still too big.

I don’t like guessing, so I rarely buy BMV patterns these days.

(Simplicity is no longer available in Canada, so I have no Simplicity results to share. I’d be happy to include/link to yours, though.)

Why The Hell The Big 4 Pattern Companies Suck at This

Decades ago, clothing retailers cast off the shackles of standard sizing for women’s clothing and we entered a brave new era of vanity sizing.

What is a pattern company to do? Keep the sizing and ask women who wear a size 8 in a store to sew up a size 16? Or change their sizing to keep pace with changes in the manufacturing industry?

While they won’t admit to it publicly, they bravely opted to do … both.

They kept the sizing charts the same, so that nominally a woman who buys a size 8 in a store will need to sew up a size 16. But they (appear to) design for RTW sizing, more or less, so that if a woman in a size 8 buys a size 8 pattern and sews it up, it will often (but not always!) fit.

This is often described in short hand as “too much ease,” but it’s not really an ease thing. If it were, if I made up a 16, the basics (shoulders, back, armscye) would be essentially correct; it would just be loose or baggy. But the shoulders and backs are often too big, the armscyes too deep; it’s clear that the size 16 is designed for a woman much larger than I am, even though that size 16 reflects my smallest measurement.

This worst-of-both-worlds solution created a system so confusing for the average beginning sewer that it remains, to this day, the single number one most common and controversial issue among home sewers. The pattern companies don’t admit it, of course, but it is blatantly obvious to anyone who’s been sewing for long enough to have experienced this (unless they are brick stupid, and have managed to convince themselves that sewing is supposed to be so hard that sewing up a muslin for every new t-shirt or blouse pattern forever makes some kind of immutable and inevitable sense). (I mean–you know all of your storebought clothes were made by third-world teenagers who likely don’t have a high school education and have never received formal training in fit or alterations, right? Please someone explain to me why what is so simple that companies on the one hand justify paying poor girls pennies an hour to produce them, on the other hand is so complex that different companies state we should have to make multiple versions of a simple t-shirt before we get one that fits reasonably well.)

End result is that the sizing charts are garbage. They provide no valuable information for the purchaser. The information that the purchaser now needs is the finished measurements for bust, waist and hips, so that they can select a size based on how big the piece of clothing is going to be. But this information isn’t available, for most of their patterns, until after you’ve bought a size; and even then, sometimes it’s not printed on the pattern tissue. And when it is provided, it may not be accurate.

One might think that this enormously disrespectful manner of dealing with one’s customers would result in a complete absence of customer loyalty. I mean, if you were trying to buy a pair of shoes, and you weren’t allowed to try the shoes on or open the box first, and there was a published size chart measuring the width and length of feet but that, you found after purchasing a few pairs of shoes, had no relation to how big the shoes were so they were constantly falling off your feet, and you tried to find out how much room they added to those measurements so you could use this a guide to picking a size but the company acted like this was a fucking state secret, and then when you found the information it too was completely inaccurate–would you ever buy a pair of shoes there again?

No. And indeed customers have switched. Indie companies have sprung up in the wake of this (they have their own sizing issues, idiosyncratic to each company, but the dissatisfaction with sizing in the Big 4 has created a market niche that has been amply exploited) and many home sewers have abandoned the Big 4 pretty well outright by moving to pattern magazines or self-drafting, purchasing Big 4 patterns only when they are deeply deeply discounted and resigning themselves to a certain amount of guesswork in size selection.

It would be one thing if the Big 4 would say something like, “We know we’ve made sizing choices historically that have resulted in a confusing mess for customers. We’re not sure how to best fix it yet but we are committed to doing so by [date].” But no. Customers hear instead, “Choose a size based on your measurements and the ease guidelines that we no longer will share with you! You can always pick a size based on the finished measurements that we keep in the envelope and won’t let you see until after you’ve bought it! If we even bothered to put it on the tissue! And then you can’t return it when it’s not the size you need! Just sew a bunch of muslins for every garment you make! It’s normal to have to make the pattern half a dozen times before you can get it to fit! Obviously you don’t REALLY want to sew, do you?”

Pattern Magazines Suck a Lot Less

BurdaStyle does have ease issues, but considerably less so. Their charts put me in a 40/44, and I typically cut a 38/42, with the ever-present FBA. Still, that’s only off by about an inch.

burda sizes

Also, because there are no seam allowances in the patterns, measuring to confirm the finished garment size is a piece of cake. There are no ease charts to mess with. You pick a size based on your body measurements, and then adjust as needed. So here’s the chart for my last five Burda projects.

Look at all those lovely n/a’s! I don’t have to worry about the predicted ease. I don’t have to worry about finished garment measurements. It doesn’t matter if it’s a knit or a woven, a coat or a swimsuit. While it’s off by one size, it’s a predictable one size; I can trace out the 38/40/42 (or its tall/petite equivalent), measure the key points to ensure it’s the amount of ease I want, do my standard alterations, cut and sew. And at the end, it will either fit or be close enough to fitting that I can adjust it.

Moreover, I’ve so far found this to be true across european sewing magazine patterns, comparing between Burda, Knipmode, La Mia Boutique and Patrones. If I used my body measurements to pick a size, it will either fit or be off by one size. (So far. If longer experience shows I need to take that back, I will.) I’m making a pair of pants from a recent Patrones magazine; I traced off a size 44 based on my actual measurements compared to their size chart; and the only sizing issues I am having are for my own idiosyncratic adjustments (crotch length, inseam, etc). Otherwise, IT FIT.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I have an easier time getting a pair of pants that fit out of a sewing pattern when I start with a magazine published in SPANISH, where I can’t even read the damned instructions.

Indie Pattern Companies are Variable

 

There are a few indie companies that are much more reliable with sizing and fit. Grainline, for instance, tends to be baggy in everything. She puts the finished measurements on the website so you can check before you buy; they’re consistent and accurate, in my experience, if you like that aesthetic. How To Do Fashion is, so far for me, pretty much bang on. I can pick a size based on body measurements and it will fit really well, even through the shoulders and armscye, so that all I have to do is an FBA and shortening the back etc. (I’ve made one blouse muslin so far, and another pattern was almost done but it’s for summer so I may not finish it before next summer. Posts will come eventually.)

Once you know how big the garment is going to be, compare: to things you already own and like, or have tried on in a store, and to your own actual measurements. Find the size that is most likely to fit the way you like. Start there.

It shouldn’t be this hard. But it is.

In the Meantime

When you write a review of the pattern, help your fellow sewers out.

Include the size you made.

Include the size the measurement charts would put you in.

Maybe discuss how much ease there actually is, how many sizes down (or up? Does that ever happen?) you had to go to get it to fit. Compare to the ease indicated in the pattern description. Did it say it was close-fitting but then you had to go down three sizes and it was still big? Did it say it was loose and then you made it up and it was not so loose after all?

If a pattern company consistently produces patterns that fit you well based on body measurements, please tell us! They deserve our business.

Make it so that a beginning sewer, finding your review from google, not knowing anything about you or your size except for what you put in that one review, can make an informed decision about what size they should purchase for themselves.

I’m planning on making a page sometime soon to summarize all this and keep it in one handy place. If anyone else would like to contribute with your own sizing/fit adventures, let me know.

16 thoughts on “How to Sew Something that Fits: AKA, Why I Always Include Those Sizing Notes Now”

  1. Thanks for this. I shifted to Burda magazine in the 1980s. Now I know why I found it so much easier, although I do have to adjust for lots of personal fit issues.

    1. Oh for sure. Bodies are weird; most of us aren’t lucky enough to be close to the fit model, proportionately.

      Most of my sewing is from the Burda mag these days, but sometimes I just don’t want to face the pattern tracing stage, you know?

  2. I have to finish but I really think it’s important for people to muslin something and see how it fits and go from there. Why is Big4 regarded differently than Indies? You can’t choose a size from one to the next and know it works.

    For some of us Big4 actually does work! Which is why I would say make a muslin and see. I choose by my HB and make standard adjustments on every pattern. Sometimes (but rarely!) it doesn’t work. Same with Burda. And I’ve had horrendous fit with Big4, Burda, Grainline, Sewaholic, etc. so I stuck more to Big4 because I rather gamble under $5 than $18+! :-p

    I sometimes include my measurements with reviews. And on PR, I have my measurements in my signature. But I also know I like a close fit.

    Oh and also! while the bust measurements aren’t needed for skirts, hip measurements can very well be useful in shirts and tops. My hips are a size bigger than my waist 🙂

      1. Phew! I was wondering where you found the time to sew all those muslins. 😉

        I’m not asking the Big 4 to compare reliably with indies, or any other companies. I’m asking them to compare reliably to *themselves.* Based on the pattern, I’ll need anywhere form a size 10 to 14, and those are typically sold in different packages; I have a solid stash collection of envelopes containing patterns that are either too large or too small, that I only found out *after* I bought them, and now have the choice of either grading or buying the pattern again. This is unacceptable.

        Anything produced by humans is going to be flawed, and sometimes patterns will be sized badly regardless of the company. And some indies are terrible (but I couldn’t get into that without making this post even longer. That said if anyone has sizing info on any indie company that they want me to put in the table, I’d be happy to). But even the terrible indies put the finished measurements on the package, and most of them put all of the sizes in one envelope. Either one or both of those measures would allow customers to know that they have purchased a size they can use (assuming the finished measurements are accurate, and since I’ve learned to double-check them, they aren’t always).

        Ideally they’d draft patterns that fit the body size they’re supposedly for. This doesn’t happen. There is simply no justification for including 4″ of “ease” in a fitted knit garment, which isn’t even ease because the shoulders, necklines and armscyes will also be too big. However, since they’re apparently determined not to even admit that this is happening, let alone fix it, the least they can do is put finished measurements on the website and the pattern envelope (all three, bust waist and hips) and/or put all sizes in one envelope.

        And I would bet my house that if we define “works” by “I can sew up the size indicated by my body measurements on the package and it will reliably fit well,” that the Big 4 don’t “work” for you, either. You’ve found workarounds that are reliable and produce good results for you, and that’s great, but lots of people can’t use them. Ultimately what I want though is to help purchasers get the information they need from *somewhere*; if you have Big 4 (or any other company) patterns where the body size was a reliable guide to what size to sew, where the stated ease on the package matched up with the actual ease given on finished garment measurements, I’m happy to include them in the table.

        My guess on the table is that it’s a typo: skirts are only in the bust category, and shirts are only in the hips category. This really doesn’t make sense unless it’s an error.

      2. The ONLY pattern companies that I have ever “chosen my size by body measurements on their chart” and had a garment that FIT was Jalie, In-House patterns, Sewaholic and Style Arc. That’s it.

        Not any of the Big4. Not Burda. Not Ottobre (*close* but I’ll have to sew something fitted to gauge). Not Grainline. Not Closet Case Patterns. Not Named. Not Cashmerette.

        So because I can’t look at their size chart and choose a pattern size and have it be correct, none of those companies “work” either??

        But that’s ME. Maybe someone else has a different story? Butterick has explicit directions for choosing sizing on their site. I follow it, it *works* for *me*. Choosing by my HB actually works, not in my imagination works.

        I just told a friend that working on a NL pattern had me super annoyed because it’s SO MUCH TISSUE. New Look always includes all sizes but MOST Big4 patterns usually include multiple views and/or garments whereas Indies are almost always one item.

        I 100% agree that B/W/H finished measurements need to be on the site if not the envelope back. I can see an issue with “real estate” on the pattern envelope but not the website. There’s no reason.

        And I HAVE had patterns with zero finished measurements but that is not the norm. Says my combined 240 reviews on Big4 patterns (not to mention multiples! Like the 7 pair of V9032 I sewed!).

        I’ve run my mouth so much I feel I may need a post about this! Just because I became quite curious at looking at my pattern companies used vs. their size charts!

      3. Yes, absolutely. I’d say they don’t “work.” Pattern sizing should relate to body size in a consistent and predictable way. Where it doesn’t, this would be best pointed out in reviews so future customers can choose a size, or decide to bypass it as being too much trouble.

        I think it’s always fair, and helpful to other customers, to be as critical of any product as that product warrants. God knows there’s lots of scope to be critical of many aspects of many patterns, Big 4 and indie and in-between. All of that criticism is potentially helpful to customers. But there’s no way I can put it all in this post. If this post inspires you or anyone to share criticisms of other pattern companies–that’s good!

        ALL of my future makes from all pattern companies are going to have the same sizing info posted. The ones that are consistent and reliable will show up over time, as will the ones that aren’t. And the more people that do the same, the more information that will be available to customers to weed out the crap, based on majority or consensus opinions over time.

  3. I find the upper bust measurement works ok-ish for me. Sort of. Because when I think about it, it involves a lot of filtering and other steps. For instance.

    I pick based on my upper bust, but my upper bust is 41″ and usually there’s not actually a 41″ size so I just sort of go for what’s nearest let’s say the one with a 42″ bust size is size 18. BUT. I don’t use that size on my actual upper bust. I use the size down, in this case the size 16, for everything above my armpits. I grade to the 18 at the armpits and do an FBA of somewhere between 1″-1.5″. I have a low bust point so I usually have to move that down somewhere between 1″ (for most indies) and one time, FOUR INCHES – the bust point was miraculously marked on this pattern and it was basically over my heart. That was a butterick, and it was one of the first Big 4 patterns I tried to sew as a novice. I gave up very quickly. I still have the pattern, even though I wouldn’t fit it now, and I genuinely have a mild trauma response when I see it. I should get rid of it, huh…

    This method works for me because I always always have to make other adjustments anyway, based on the shape of my body. Usually I have to take fabric in from the lower back and the upper chest, sometimes I have to move the shoulder point or the shoulder seams. This grading and FBA is enough to get it close enough to see where, and enough extra ease to make those adjustments in the proper place. So it’s sort of accidentally helpful, plus meaning I fit into a lot of patterns that, if I were going by the actual measurements, tell me I’m about five sizes too big for! Of course this does mean I ALWAYS need a muslin, but I’ve just accepted that now. Sigh.

    I use this technique with indies too, and I do almost always need the same adjustments but just… less drastically. For instance I have recently sewn a Laneway Dress by Jennifer Lauren and it fit almost perfectly out of the packet with just my standard grading/drafting changes. I was so pleased with my muslin I sewed it right up with no other changes, and on wearing it’s clear it needs maybe 1cm taken out of the centre front. If I had done the same on a big 4 pattern it would need more like 1″ taken out. Probably. Maybe more, maybe less, maybe it would even be too tight there! Who knows! It’s an adventure! I really bad adventure!

    Anyway basically this whole thing is pretty much why I still blog, because it helps me see the adjustments I always need to make. Also because I always read as many blog posts about a pattern as I can find before making it to give me an idea of the general things that might need changing, and I feel like it’s important to give that information back to the community. I am trying to get better about including a TL;DR synopsis at the end of sizes and measurements and adjustments, because I tend to get wordy (as evidenced by this comment!)

    So I guess, TL;DR – yes!

    1. Yes, exactly. It can only be a good thing if we are clear about how accurate the sizing is on the patterns we use. I tend to read a lot of reviews & posts too about patterns I’m thinking about, and I find it frustrating when they either don’t mention their chosen size at all, or don’t relate how the size they used compares to the size they should have used based on the information they had (whether that’s the sizing chart, finished measurements, or whatever).

      That sounds like quite the process you’ve developed for choosing a size. My goodness. That must have taken a lot of persistence and time to figure out. And yeah, it’s the unpredictability of Big 4 sizing that bugs me. Just give me something reliable that I can use to pick a size! Other companies do this routinely; why can’t you?

      1. You know, I didn’t even realise until I typed it out how convoluted it was! I just do it now, but yes, it took a lot of trial and error and a lot of muslins and just-ok makes. In a way it was almost an advantage having a plus size body because there are a lot of tutes on FBAs and how to fit a curvier, larger body, and I sort of always assumed I’d need to do lots of adjustments anyway.

        I have mostly sewn Butterick and Mccalls and a few Simplicity, and I mostly sew retro reprints, and I find the sizing reasonably consistent within each line (not between McCalls and Butterick though which is just nuts, since they’re THE SAME COMPANY). But when i sew a more modern pattern it’s much less predictable. I have no idea why that should be. Maybe one person does the repros? They have a more consistent block? It seems totally arbitrary. It’s not even about the how much ease issue, it’s that they’re more predictable which is really what I want. Personally I don’t care if I always have to pick a size that is five down or up from what I should be, as long as I KNOW and it’s not got a 60% chance of being totally wrong.

        When I first started sewing I sewed a lot of Ottobre magazine patterns and it’s still always a relief to go back to them because they’re so accurate! I should sew more of them but I always forget them in the new pattern excitements.

        Also, patterns that have finished garment measurements, but only the length from neck to hem, are terrible and I hate them. Honestly what am I supposed to do with that information??

      2. The Buttericks/McCalls thing is just nuts. They’re the same company, as you noted–using the same size and ease charts and the same descriptive fit language. And yet it doesn’t connect to actual fit at all, or at least not in any predictable way. And yes, it’s the consistency and predictability that is so crazy making. Newbies are screwed regardless but at least there’s some hope of figuring it out eventually.

        I do find Ottobre very reliable for kids stuff; I’ve sewed from them a lot for Frances. There was one that was a total disaster, but in all the years I’ve been using their magazines–just one. And that is for a kid who needs a lot of adjustments and alterations.

        I’ve read/heard people saying that length-to-hem measurement helps them as either very tall or very short people know if they can make a garment work for them. And I can see that. But it’s generally the same, or almost the same, length for all sizes; it would make more sense to say “back neck to hem length x to x 3/4” and then list more useful finished garment measurements by size. As it is, it’s not useful information to help people pick a size, or determine (at either end of the size range) if they’re going to be able to make a pattern work for them, period.

    2. So:
      1) you have to grade patterns to fit your body (that isn’t a pattern company sizing issue–you just don’t match their block).

      Learning I could just grade was a fantastic discovery. In all pattern companies I’ve used, I am a 3 sizes for B/W/H and I grade accordingly. The exception for me is Sewaholic where my measurements line up in one size but since it’s a pear-shaped block I have to watch the shoulder/bust fit because I have a 7″ difference between full and under bust.

      2) The JL pattern did not “fit” as it still needs adjustments. But it’s wearable (fair enough)??

      I’m just observing that many people state the same “workarounds” with Indies as Big4 but Big4 gets all the criticism. I don’t understand it.

      1. This is disingenuous. You know full well, because we both participate/d in the forum in question, that indies come in for all kinds of criticism. Much of it is well deserved.

        Craftastrophies described in her comment how this workaround does not work for her in Big4 because of the unpredictability in sizing. I’m not sure why you overlooked that.

      2. I should have phrased that more coherently about the JL pattern – of course I always have to make adjustments, because everyone does, because no one is going to fit into any pattern perfectly. But with the JL pattern I made my standard ‘this is the way I differ adjustments’ and did not have to do anything else. The fitting still to be made is just my perfectionsim – I’d be happy to make ten more as is. I’ve never had that experience ever before – indie OR big 4 – except with Cashmerette (but JL’s aesthetic is much more in line with what I want to wear than Cashmerette). Lots of that is luck and just happening to fit into a block. But definitely some of it is good drafting, proper grading etc.

        Usually in big 4 I am making those standard adjustments and then also adjusting for incorrect ease or weird grading, it usually takes at least two muslins before I feel ok about it and then usually there’s some other major fit flaw that I didn’t catch until I wore it for a day because I was too focused on fixing the glaring flaws.

        One thing with the JL pattern was that the cup sizes seemed to actually be graded properly – I actually avoid Big 4 with cup sizes, I’d rather do an FBA than have to take in inches across the chest, which I always have to do with their DD sizes.

        For me, it’s not that I have to do the work arounds – of course I do! No one has a ‘standard’ body! We’re all working off different blocks. It’s the lack of consistency, so I can’t say ‘ok it’s butterick, I will need to do an FBA and take the shoulders in’. Whereas with well drafted indies, my experience is that I CAN learn my adjustments for that line.

        That said, there’s definitely some piling on/confirmation bias. When I get a dud indie pattern I don’t say ‘all indies are bad’. But I do tend to get extra frustrated with Big 4. I guess I figure that they’ve been doing it for decades, they should have it down by now! Whereas I am usually cautious with indies because often they don’t have professional pattern drafters on staff. I tend to avoid buying an indie pattern unless I’ve read lots of reviews and have a sense that it’s well put together. I’m not paying AUD$25 for something that isn’t well done! But I also don’t have access to $1 sales here for the big four, so I’m usually paying $5-10 for them even on sale. For that, I expect at least basic good drafting.

  4. I really think it is an issue with BMV. I can’t even use vogue patterns – too small; Butterick woven patterns fit ridiculously large on me even when I use the high bust measurement and their knit patterns are often between okay or they can be too tight or too large and rarely have finished garment measurements; and McCall’s is okay in wovens but not in knits. Simplicity is fabulous. I’m just getting into them. I really wish they were available in Canada. I have to rely on US friends to send them to me. 😦 Now, I don’t have a huge experience with Simplicity but the two patterns that I tried were great. One needed an FBA to fit and the other I sewed up in the recommended size and got a pretty good out of the envelope size. I did make a third back as a beginner and that didn’t turn out, but I knew very little about sewing at that time and chose the wrong size. Burda is amazing and by far my favourite. I wish they had more available in the plus size range. And then there are Indies, which are inconsistent in quality and sizes. I have a few favs that are amazing: Cashmerette, Muse Patterns to name a few.
    I can understand that BMV likely uses a different block based on the brand name, but not differences within the brand name and such weird amounts of ease that match no industry standard out there. 😦

    1. I’m excited to hear you saying Simplicity is more consistent because I broke down and bought two of theirs (because I really, really wanted those sleeves and I didn’t want to order them on their own). And I’ve started picking up Burda envelope patterns because at least they have all the straight sizes in one envelope, so I know I’m going to end up with the right size in there somewhere. I haven’t finished one yet but so far it seems to compare well with the sizing in the magazine, which is helpful. (i.e. off by one size)

      I don’t know if you’ve heard of or tried KnipMode, but they make all of their patterns available in the entire size range, up to something like 54. And I think they sell pdfs of their magazine patterns on their website so you don’t need to subscribe or order issues. It’s in Dutch but, you know, a pleated skirt is a pleated skirt–at this point I think you’d be fine without instructions. I’ve only tried one of their patterns so far and the sizing seems to be pretty much like Burda–off by about one size.

      And you know anytime you want to come over and trace off any Burda Plus sizes–just let me know and bring a bunch of tracing paper. 😉

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