Monday, June 23, 2014

Measurement Charts Aren't So Bad

If I have one bad sewing habit, it's that I never look at measurement charts (please tell me there are more of us...?). When I learned to sew, I was coming off a pregnancy and had lost all kinds of weight, so I got into the habit of always cutting the smallest size. The Big 4 patterns have SO much ease and that was what I was primarily sewing.

Fast forward two years. I'm at a healthier weight and I've been sewing more indie patterns than ever. I realized it was time to start paying more attention to size charts. Last week, I posted my Nautical Thurlows and mentioned I had some issues with fit. After the shorts were done, I finally got around to looking at the Sewaholic size chart (why I didn't do it before, I don't know! I said it was a bad habit, okay...).

Since I made pants, let's take a look at the hip measurement. My hips are 36 1/2 inches, which puts me at a size 0. Okay fine, that's essentially the size I made. Now let's look at the waist. My waist is 27 inches, which puts me at a size...6! No wonder I had fit issues! My proportions just don't match up with the Sewaholic size charts. These patterns are designed for pear-shaped women (which I am not) but I thought I could make it work anyway. With cold hard numbers in front of me, I've realized that this brand might not be for me (in terms of pants or skirts, anyway).

Now let's take a gander at another example, the Style Arc size chart:

I'm really drawn to Style Arc's recently released Jennifer City Short pattern. I ordered it last week and can't wait to get started (it's coming via post from Australia, so it will be a while before it's here). If you're not familiar with Style Arc, you tell them what size you want and I believe they send you one additional size adjacent to it. Obviously, that means you have to look at the size chart before buying.

With the measurements I gave above, I fit neatly into the size 8. No crazy grading between 3 sizes like with Sewaholic. Whether or not I have fit issues remains to be seen until I make the pattern, but I'm already feeling more confident knowing my body more closely resembles their chart.

There are two quick examples of why reviewing size charts does matter, particularly with pants. Have you ever found yourself completely incompatible with a specific company's size chart? All I can say is that I'm so thankful for all the different pattern companies, if one doesn't work out there are plenty more to choose!


  1. We are the same size! Are you a shortie like me? I'm around 5'4". I remember looking at the size chart when I made my Thurlows thinking WTH.. I think I started out with the size 6 and graded down to a 2 at the hips. So weird. They still could of used some work though.

    1. Yes! I'm 5'4" also! Yay size twinsies! Although I might be more long-waisted than you, I remember that New Look 6097 didn't hit you quite right on the waist and it was pretty perfect on me. Funny how two people can have the same measurements but the same pattern can work differently!

  2. I recently made the Thurlow Trousers (I have a 26" waist and 35" hips). Because the trousers sit below the waist, I found I could ignore the waist measurements and cut a size zero. After a 1/2" sway back adjustment, they fit great (I thought the waist was too big before the swayback). Sewaholic skirts are meant to sit at the waist, so that specific measurement seems more important. I am working on the Gabriola skirt now with a size 4 waist graded down to a zero; however, this is a skirt so fit is less important.

    1. I'm glad you mentioned this, I was wondering about it myself. I'll keep it in mind for future shorts!

  3. Oh, the fit issues I have had! I'm a bit embarrassed to confess that so far I have no experience with indie patterns :/ But I use Burda patterns a lot, and it really helps to be familiar with the sizing, although you might still get surprised by the odd fit now and then... I have some measurements that I automatically check on all of their patterns, and having a Duct Tape Double really helps too :)


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