Sizing Notes

A Google spreadsheet summarizing all of my sizing notes can be found here.  It’s an ongoing, periodically updated reference* to the patterns I’ve sewn up, the size that should have fit based on publicly available information, and the size that did fit. My original rant on the subject is in this post.

It’s not everything I’ve sewn to date; but it will be everything I sew for myself going forward.

What sewers want to know, before they buy a pattern or the fabric to make it, should be quite simple:

How the size that fits compares to the size you’re told should fit.

Ideally, the size that fits should actually be the size you’re told should fit on body measurement charts, but that frequently is not the case.

You know what I’m talking about: how you learn, eventually, that certain companies or patterns “run small” or “have too much ease.” Only what’s happened first is you’ve spent a lot of time, energy and money buying and making up the wrong size, getting clothes that don’t fit and you don’t know why, blaming yourself and lack of skills.

There are workarounds. Some of the workarounds work; some of them work for some people and not others; some of them don’t work at all and seem to be more urban legend than anything.

But at the heart of it, the basic problem is a lack of information.

There’s no way to tell in advance which size is going to fit you, and the body measurement charts are no real help. Their relation to the size that will actually work best as a starting point for personal modifications is, often, inconsistent and completely opaque. Finished garment measurements, particularly for some companies, are only sometimes available, sometimes only after the pattern is purchased (making them no help in choosing what to buy), and (worse) sometimes inaccurate–making it necessary to double-check by measuring the tissue.

Customers are sometimes told to compare body measurement charts with ease charts and a pattern’s ease description–but this, besides requiring more math than I personally want to undertake at that stage of a project, is also often inaccurate.

So the spreadsheet summarizes the sizing and fitting information–publicly available and what I learn for myself after purchase–for the patterns I sew up.

What size do the measurement charts say I should be?

What are the finished measurements of that size? Are they available?

For companies that publish and promote such information, how much ease is there supposed to be? What finished measurement would you predict for a given size based on the ease and the body measurements?

What is the actual finished measurement, from measuring the tissue?

What size actually fits?

At the moment this is my own pet project, so all of the information on it is my own. Of course it will be more reliable and of more use to more people if sewers other than myself contribute; and I’d love it if customers of pattern companies I don’t use myself have information they want to share. So if you’d like to contribute your own sizing results, let me know!

And maybe it will just help a few people from time to time figure out what size to buy, if what they’re looking for happens to match up with my own idiosyncratic pattern collection.

Right now it’s entirely BMV and Burda magazine, because that’s most of my stash and what I most often make. But when I sew up patterns from other companies, whether indies or not, they’ll be included here too–and in the meantime I am again very happy to include your information if there’s a company you think should be included here.

*My main goal for updating as I write this is to update the waist predicated/actual finished measurements with bust or hips, since those are more often available on the website. But this is going to take some time. You’ll see a changeover as I go forward.

Ann Douglas

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