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One size does’nt fit all
Written by PippaFabric
Category: Patterns, sewing

One size doesn’t fit all.  Even in ready to wear the sizing differs from store to store as their muses change from teen to the more mature shopper.  It’s something that I come accross in class all of the time.  For those new to sewing and the issue of pattern sizing, it can be quite a traumatic session. How to measure and choosing the right pattern.  I’m still working on the best way to deal with it.  Smoothing the frayed nerves and disgruntled cries.

It has a common pattern

  • Shock, What! No Way!
  • Anger, I can’t be an 18! I only wear a 12/14 normally!
  • Disappointment. We’ve all been there.
  • Resignation, I still want to make the pretty dress.

It’s not a process I enjoy.  This is meant to be fun. 

It’s numbers, just numbers but why do they have such an influence on us? 

It’s because it’s personal, sizing is a big issue in society and the fact that it’s different wherever you go doesn’t help.  Then again how many of us measure ourselves to go shopping on the high street.

My common cries are:

  • ” Don’t think about the sizing, if it fits it will look fabulous”
  • “Nobody will know what size you’ve cut out”
  • “Nobody outside this room will know.  It’s like visiting the doctor, it’s confidential”  or “What happens at sewing class, stays at sewing class”

There’s generally a good 10 minutes of mumbling, occasional re-measuring and double checking but fortunately the desire to make something takes over.

If only it were all standardized.  Well it is, to an extent.   All pattern companies start with the same measurements and blocks.

The big 4 all work with the average measurements of the ASTM who do the research.  Though this hasn’t changed much over the years, they’re getting better.  Most still only work to a B/C cup but some are now adding options for cup sizes.  It’s worth mentioning that you should take note of the small difference between a ‘Misses and a Womens’ pattern.  If you want to look closer at the charts for Simplicity et al they have several pointers on the Sew direct website.

A misses pattern is cut for a well proportioned developed figure of around 5’6″ tall.

A womans pattern is cut for a larger more fully matured figure of the same hieght.  

Both of these have options for petite at 5’4″  

The indie pattern companies start with the same charts.  Some have developed their own sizing charts and done their own research to ensure the target audience is included.  Be it for the bust or the bottom these will often work better for the modern figure.  As patterns gradually become more size inclusive, it’s worth remembering that many indi pattern companies are singular people.  Not so many of them have a ‘team’ and as such are limited in what they can do.  As nice as it would be for it all to be a standard size I think it’s worth a note that none of us are one size in everything.  Some pattern companies will work better for you than others.  Take a look at their tester makes, check out the hash tag to see if there’s anyone there with a similar shape to you.  No one pattern or person can be everything to everyone and still give their best, find what works for you.


Some don’t use sizes,  using letters instead. This is a softer approach, I can see the logic.

Most will say, if in doubt, go up a size.  I’m kind of with them on this. 

It’s a whole lot easier to take a garment in than try to squeeze out a seam allowance on a too tight hip.  None of us want to hear the rip as a seam gives way when bending over.

I think it’s just something we just get used to over time.

RTW doesn’t help with it’s varied sizing.  Isn’t that often why we start to make?  To have something that fits us.  No gaping at the waist, no straining at the bust.

Let’s celebrate our figures!  We have curves.  No-one is a standard size but because we choose to make for ourselves it doesn’t matter.  Making for our own bodies and getting to know how we can make things fit gives us far more satisfaction once we’re over that initial shock.

If in doubt, make a toile!  Use up that old sheet that’s been sitting in the back of the cupboard, try it out.  What have you got to loose?

But I think that’s for another post. I’ve rambled on enough.

I’ll keep on with the calming of nerves, it’s just another type of therapy really.

The fabric Wrangler will see you now….


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