Maw & Mo Sew Along: Pattern Sizing

This is a continuation from an earlier post.  In this post, we’ll talk about figuring out our unique pattern size… even though the envelope has standardized sizing, very few of us look like a fit model’s measurements!

We are working on Simplicity #2305 by Cynthia Rowley.

Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2305

I’ve seen quite a few people give up really early on because pattern sizing is a serious blow to the ego after being lavishly pampered by ready-to-wear vanity sizing over the years.  The thing you learn after making a couple of garments is that numbers are just numbers… and the numbers you really care about are your own unique combination because that is what is going to get you that perfectly tailored fit.  I think sewing is one of the best things you can do to develop a strong sense of self-acceptance because you come to see your body measurements as just a thing.  I know that for me, I become far more consumed with making my fabric and seam lines fit my unique measurements just right so that I look my best, rather than judging myself because I don’t fit a ready-to-wear garment.

Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2305 pattern envelope back

The pattern sizes give you bust, waist, and hip measurements as guides to choosing the best size for you.  The problem is that very few of us on this planet perfectly fit the proportions of a fit model.  So, it’s always best to choose your size based on your largest measurement.  If you have really drastic proportion differences, you will need to learn how to tailor in to the smaller parts of your body… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

bust waist hips

Here’s an interesting comparison:  Madelyn and I have the same bust measurement, but our body shapes are totally different.  You can find a ton of body shape guides out there with different names for the different types.  This one would classify Madelyn as an apple shape and me as an hourglass (that’s what I get for having a b’donk-a-donk).  Madelyn and I dove right in to this dress without making a muslin.   A muslin might have helped, but when you’re just starting out it can feel really tedious.  Since this dress didn’t have darts and any imperfections in fit could be fudged in the blouse-y-ness of the bodice, I thought we would be OK. I also noticed that the model was styled with a belt on the front of the envelope and it make me think that the dress would benefit from extra cinching no matter what.


Mo’s doppelganger!

When I examined the structure of the dress, I developed some personal concerns over the fitted waistband and the side zip closure.  I know for my own body that I have difficulty getting side closure garments on and off with ease.  Mo and I talked about Les Ta-Tas and The Hootage in our last video and I know that the top of my rib cage is significantly wider than the base… probably because The Girls need plenty of structural support.  (My flat chested friends sometimes say, “I wish…” and I always say, “They’re not all they’re cracked up to be.”)  So, I made a judgement call for myself to sew up one size and I made a size 18 dress.  In the end, I’m really glad I that I did this because for a handful of months right after I made this, I really needed that extra room.  (I’ve lost some weight since then, so this dress is starting to look really loose… time for tailoring!)


Maw’s doppelganger!

Madelyn had a bit of a conundrum because she has a bust & hip measurement in such drastically different sizes.  That is an intimidating thing when you’re making your first dress!  What *do* you do??  In Madelyn’s case, she went ahead and sewed a size 18 to accommodate The Hootage and we decided that if there were really drastic fit issues in the end, we could alter her dress.  Toward the end of our sewing expedition, we discovered that Mo’s dress was a really large size 18 because she had sewn with a seam allowance of only 1/2″ instead of the graded 5/8″ provided by the pattern.  We’ll go into this more soon, but before you start sewing you should be aware that it’s important to follow the seam allowance guides if you want to match the measurements on the envelope.  When you’re more advanced, you can give yourself a little extra garment ease by doing things like sewing on 1/2″ seam allowance, but it’s best to follow the instructions verbatim when you’re first starting.

So, Moxie Peeps… What do you all think about pattern sizing?  Have you had amusing adventures like Mo and I have been enjoying?  In our next installment of the Maw & Mo Sew Along we’ll look at fabric.  I used fabric from my Frugal Fabric Challenge and Mo bought a beautiful sapphire blue charmeuse!

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