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How to choose your sewing patterns size

How to choose your sewing pattern size? Good question! Here is a classic scenario which may sound familiar to many of you 🙂  You’ve got yourself a brand new sewing pattern and you’re excited about making it up. FAB! You eagerly unfold it and start looking at the instructions..all fine so far until you start taking your measurements and realize some or even none of them match the measurements on the pattern. Oh dear! What to do now? Panic not my lovelies and continue to read on as I will explain how to easily choose your sewing pattern size 🙂

Let’s begin with a little introduction!
Most commercial patterns come with two different sets of measurements on the back of the envelope. These are the Body Measurements and the Finished Garment Measurements. Some brands only have the body measurements chart on the back of the envelope and the finished garment measurements printed on the pattern. Taking your own body measurements correctly is a very important part of how to choose your sewing pattern size. To make sure you are doing this properly I suggest you seek the help of a friend to get more accurate results.

To take your measurements, hold the tape around your body so that it is comfortable and snug. If it cuts into you it’s too tight and if there is room between the tape and your body, it’s too loose. Remember to wear your usual undergarments for more accurate results.

Once you have your correct body measurements, you can proceed to select your Starting Pattern Size.

This is done by comparing your body measurements with the body measurements on the back of the pattern’s envelope. To find your starting size match as many of your measurements as possible to the chart’s measurements. The result will be your starting pattern size.

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How to choose your sewing pattern size

Once you have these right you can move on to find your Final Pattern Size. To find this you compare your body measurements to the Finished Garment Measurements bearing in mind that the latter include 2” to 3” of added ease. Ease is the difference between specific body measurements and the finished garment measurements for the same body areas. This is added to allow one to move around comfortably in a garment. Without added ease it would be hard to breathe, sit, bend or walk when wearing it.

An important point to remember at this stage is to refer to the hip measurement for pants and skirts and the bust measurement for tops, dresses and jackets, so looking at this measurement in your starting size compare it to the measurement on the Finished Garment size corresponding to the same point.

Remember that the finished garment measurement would be 2” to 3” larger than your body measurement due to the added ease mentioned above. To check if the amount of ease included in the finished garment is right for you, put the tape measure around your body point in the finished garment size and check the amount of room between the tape and your body. If it looks like too much you can go down a size, and if too little you can go up a size instead.

To narrow things down even further, check the other measurements that apply to your garment such as the waist and the bust, if you are making a dress, jacket or top.

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How to choose your sewing pattern size

Don’t be surprised if you happen to be different sizes at different points. This is very normal! You could be a Size 8 at the waist and a Size 12 at the hips for example or vice versa. If this is your case, simply join up the points of each size drawing either a straight line with a ruler, or if the pattern’s shape is curved you can either draw a similar curve freehand or you can use a curved ruler.

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How to choose your sewing pattern size

To give you a better example I have drawn this little diagram of a pattern adjustment with different sizes at the Bust, Waist and Hips. Cute ay?

If your measurements happen to be in between sizes, always go for the larger size as it is far easier to adjust a bigger size than a smaller one! this is how you to choose your sewing pattern size my lovelies! However, bear in mind that you will probably need to do more tweaking to your sewing pattern as you go along. These might be different types of fitting alterations. Pattern fitting is a huge topic and these are just the very basics….Some of the most common adjustments you may find yourself needing to make when working with a commercial sewing pattern are: Full Bust Adjustments, Full Butt Adjustments or Full Tummy Adjustments and…the list goes on! These would be the topics for whole new classes or posts.

The art of sewing and dressmaking is a huge field which takes a long time to master, so be patient and be prepared to make lots of mistakes along the way. It’s normal! For the time being, congratulate yourself on having just learned how to choose your sewing patter size..You’re one more step ahead! Just carry on enjoying your sewing journey 🙂

Happy stitching!