"Here’s a suggestion for a new sewist question/answer. I’m a Jr. High Home Ec. teacher and one thing my students find confusing is pattern sizing (don’t we all). It might be a good idea to let the new sewers know that dress sizing and pattern sizing are not the same. Also some suggestions about what measurement to base their pattern size on (hip/upper bust), etc. might be good…."
I know that this is a challenge for new sewists because it seems that when you go to the pattern counter you should be able to pick a pattern based upon the size that you wear in RTW. And many new sewists are surprised when after making the garment per the pattern instructions, it does not fit.
The reason for this is because RTW garments don't have a standardized measuring system. Each designer/manufacturer is allowed to determine the sizing for their garments. It is the reason why you wear a size 8 in one line and a size 12 in another. Patterns, however, work on a set of measurements that are pretty average from pattern line to pattern line. Please note that I said "average" because the amount of ease in a pattern line is a whole 'nuther discussion!
So let's take this step by step. Before you hit the pattern counter, book or internet site, you MUST get a proper set of measurements taken. I know some think that a proper set is bust, waist and hips but that is actually just the starting point. I wrote a blog post on the extensive measurements I've taken, you can read it here. I truly believe that the more measurements you have, the better the fit you achieve. The big 4 pattern companies have a tech center or a place where they explain how to take measurements for using with their patterns...here is a link to the Vogue site.
When taking the measurements, be truthful. Don't fudge the numbers, don't get upset about the numbers and don't be scared of the numbers. Because everyday your body wakes you up and gets you through a day...treasure it. It's yours and it's precious.
Measurements are taken best when a friend is involved. That way you don't have to get into contortions or inadvertently read the tape measure wrong! *smile* Once again, I advise taking as many as possible...it can only help!
Now this next part is controversial. What measurements do you use to purchase a pattern? Personally, I think this is subjective ~ that there is no hard and fast rule. Because what works for me...may not work for you. But I know that people like rules. So the standby advice is to purchase a pattern that is closest to your actual bust, waist, hip measurements. The new advice is to purchase by your high bust measurement...but I don't do that! *LOL* I purchase patterns by my largest measurement which happens to be my hips/behind measurement. Though I think a new sewist should stick with the original rule of bust/waist/hip because you don't know what does and doesn't work for you yet.
As with all things sewingwise, there are exceptions. If you are a more experienced sewist, you have worked out the exceptions. As a beginner sewist you have to realize that this is a process. None of us were experts at the beginning...we worked through the challenges...even enjoyed them as we learned how to purchase the right style and size to fit the pattern to our bodies.
So to recap - to purchase the right pattern...you need an accurate set of measurements...once you have your measurements...then and only then do you want to look at the pattern tables to come up with the pattern size you need. Only after getting a clearer picture of what size you would be in a pattern, do I suggest purchasing one.
Okay some news & updates:
1. New Sewist Thursdays will be on hiatus next week. I'm on vacation and plan to sew, sew, sew so I will probably be blogging about my sewing progress.
2. Colleen will do another fitting post later in the month. I know you were looking forward to it this week but it will come...be patient! *smile*
3. Please continue to send questions to my email address. However, kindly remember to put "New Sewists Questions" in the subject line. I almost deleted one the other day!
Lastly...September is National Sewing Month! Please make sure that you support the month in some way since sewing is our artform and one that we are all so very passionate about!
I start vacation tomorrow afternoon and I'm soooooo excited. Sleeping late, watching junky tv, spending a little quality time with my main man, Danny and sewing, sewing, sewing! I'm going to try and remember to change out of my floppy t-shirt...but there are no guarantees! *LOL*
...and as always, more later!