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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What size pattern should you use?

Choosing a pattern size seems to be easy - the pattern companies tell you to measure your bust, waist and hips and choose a pattern size that is nearest these.  For jackets, coats, tops, and blouses it is recommended to use bust measurement.  For trousers/pants it is recommended to use the hip measurement.

I often find garments far too large in the neck and shoulder, while still being firm around my bust.  I figure the bust bit is easy to work out - I have a small back, so I need to make the front a little bigger than the back.  But it isn't so easy to make the neck, armscye and shoulders smaller.

Sandra Betzina, in her book "Fast Fit - Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure"  writes that for the Big $ (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall's and Vogue - you should use the high bust measurements as the upper chest area in these patterns is large.  The exception to this is with the Today's Fit range from Vogue patterns.

 For the other companies - Kwik Sew, Neue Mode, New Look, Burda, and independent companies - use the full bust measurement.

To take a full bust measurement measure around the fullest part of the bust and across the line of your bra band in the back.

To take a high bust measurement, place the tape measure under the arm and higher than the bra band in the back - your chest measurement.

I wish I had known this years ago - the Big 4 certainly don't make all this very clear.

I thought a few of you may also not know and would appreciate this knowledge.

Sarah Liz

12 comments:

  1. Thanks Sara Liz. I knew I had to take upper chest and do an FBA but thought that I had to do that for all patterns.

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    1. Hi BeaJay - I've written a reply to you in todays post, what size pattern should you use, part 2 :)

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  2. I have a 'sort of' back sloper (the back piece of my very first dress muslin where I actually managed to get it how I wanted it) that I use (when I remember) that has both the right upper back width and the correct armhole height. I also now tend to go by finished sizes for the big 4 rather then the actual sizes, because I don't like having the amount of ease that they use.

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    1. Yes, the finished size is a very useful piece of information to use. Your "sloper" is also great to have on hand - it will easily tell you whether something is close to your size.

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  3. I too learned this information from Ms. Betzina book and it really saved me much time in selecting patterns and doing adjustments. I also check the ease on the back of pattern envelopes and the paper pattern to help me choose the correct size. For dresses and tops, I switch between a size 4 or a size 6.

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    1. Hi Regina, yes, Ms Betziba's books are full of handy tips - I think learning from sewing books is starting to be essential :)

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  4. Hi Sarah. I have similar problems with patterns being too large in the neck and shoulder area. I find that no two patterns are the same and I have to make adjustments with each one. I usually select the pattern range closest to my measurements. I recently purchased a "Marfy" pattern which comes in single sizes and I used my bust measurement for that one.

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    1. Hi, yes it's infuriating how each pattern is different - I guess that is why muslins are advised, to test the alterations. I do hope your Marfy dress works well - be interesting to see how it fits.

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  5. I love all these bits of knowledge! my pants I just made said capri well they were to my ankels & way way too wide, after bringing up ,wayyyy up lol! & cutting down& tapering it became a custom made pattern lol!
    Helen

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    1. Hi Helen - the end result worked though - I guess you do have a pattern for future pants now - or at the very least a guide to your size and shape :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing this info Sarahliz. I too, have trouble with the neck and shoulder on patterns , being too big..

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    1. It's a pleasure Judy - now you know why the patterns are too big in the upper part of the torso.

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