Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Measurement Charts Are Terrible

Apparently I was tempting fate with last week's post about measurement charts. I had finally put myself on the right track, swearing to stick with the charts on all untested patterns, as long as the proportions seemed right for my body. But alas. I'm now back off the bandwagon and back to thinking I should just eyeball everything.


Over the weekend I made a muslin of Simplicity 2443, an out-of-print pattern that I got in a pattern pyramid giveaway. It's SO cute on the envelope, and I desperately need to nail down a go-to knit tank dress pattern (okay...desperately might be a stretch, it's not life or death). Many of the reviews state that the straps are fiddly, and also being a little unsure of the sizing, I opted for a muslin.


You can always tell how someone feels about their muslin by the photos. Terrible lighting? Blurry? Frowny face? She hates it. And such it is with me and this dress. It was WAY too big. Let's take a look at the measurement chart, eh?


My bust is 33, waist is 27, hips are 36. That put me pretty close to the size 12, so that's what I cut, even though I've never come close to a 12 in Simplicity before. "Trust the chart!" my brain said. "It's always easier to get take it in!" said my pragmatic self. 

I turned it inside out so you
could see the style lines.

The bodice pieces fit well until I added the straps, then there was gaping under the arm. The waistband portion was 2" too big on each side. The straps were too long (it was much more low-cut than it looks on the envelope). Basically, just too big all over. I compared my corrections to the original pattern pieces, and they corresponded almost exactly to an 8, TWO sizes smaller. The waist I can probably get away with a 6. 


So tell me, sewing goddesses, what's a girl to do? Trust the charts? Ignore the charts? There are finished dimensions for the jacket, but I couldn't find any for the dress. Knits in particular can be tricky since they all have different degrees of stretch. Error on the side of too big, and then alter to fit? What's the secret?

10 comments:

  1. With the Big 4 I always ignore their charts. With any pattern though I usually start by picking the size that matches my bust measurements then I measure the pieces and compare them to my measurements and/or a RTW garment that's similar. This has really helped me.

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    1. You're probably on to something there, I imagine that I can trust the charts from indie patterns.

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  2. Measure the pattern pieces and compare to your measurements (with ease added in, of course). It sucks, but that's what I do now with all of my makes. It really reduces the frustration factor.

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  3. Your fitting frustrations remind me of similar frustrations I had regarding knitting patterns several years ago (the smallest size in the patterns were HUGE-what size small person has a 40" chest?).

    Did your pattern have a finished item sizing chart? Is there any mention of ease? You may want to base your size decisions off that instead as ease can be a personal preference. Also, you often should adjust ease based on the nature of the fabric; for example, you would want more ease with a think less stretchy knit.

    If there isn't a finished item chart, measure the pattern pieces... or avoid those patterns. With knits, err to the small side. However, with your muslin dress, you could have probably erred to the small side by a few factors.

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    1. I didn't see any finished measurements for the dress, just the jacket pattern, oddly enough!

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  4. I always measure pattern pieces. I still don't trust size charts.

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    1. I guess I should start measuring them too!

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  5. In my experience, commercial patterns tend to treat knit pattern sizing just like woven pattern sizing, building in the same amount of ease for both. Bad! The finished dress measurements may be printed on the actual pattern pieces... sometimes they do that. I almost always go down 1 size for woven patterns in Simplicity/McCalls/etc. and 2 sizes for knits.

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    1. I suppose they can't be bothered to differentiate? I mean, they ARE busy...making patterns :) I usually have the best luck with Simplicity, but not this time!

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  6. Unfortunately you do need to measure the tissue pattern for yourself on at least one pattern. But the good news is that once you know which size you are, it'll be pretty consistent within that brand / pattern line. The other thing that's probably relevant to check is the height they draft for - I think the major pattern companies generally draft for someone around 5'7", whereas most of the indies draft for someone shorter.

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