Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pattern Sizing

It's time for another edition of Sew-Time Wednesday!

This week's topic is Pattern Sizing.  Sewing sizes can really trip people up, especially when you look back at vintage patterns.

In today's world, we strive to be one size smaller or to fit into a range of sizes such as 4/6.  You might not realize this, but pattern sizing has made some significant changes over the years in order to make people feel better about themselves.

Before we really get into it, this first image is a measurement chart.  It can really help you out to know these measurements.  It will allow you to alter patterns to fit you better.  Perhaps you have narrow shoulders or wide shoulders, same goes with hips.  When you think you shift in size a little bit, fill out a new measurement chart.

Here's a Chart of Women's and Misses' Body Measurements (in inches) from a 1956 issue of Vogue Knitting:
SIZE: 10 12 14 16 18   20
BUST: 28 30 32 34 36 38
WAIST: 24 25 26.5 28 30 32
HIP: 31 33 35 37 39 41
ARM LENGTH: 16.25 16.5 17 17.5 18 18

Here's a Chart of Women's and Misses' Body Measurements (in inches) from a 1945-49 Advance sewing pattern (4510):
12 14 16 18   20
30 32 34 36 38
25  26.5  28 30 32
33 35 37 39 41
Width Across Back,
4" below neck:


 Compare it to a current Misses' Size Chart:
Dimension/Size 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Bust 32-34 34 34 35 36 37.5 39 40.5 42 44
Waist 22-24.5 25.5 26.5 27.5 28.5 30 31.5 33 34.5 36.5
Hip 33-35.5 36.5 37.5 38.5 39.5 41 42.5 44 45.5 47.5
Back-waist length 14.5 14.75 15.5 15.75 16 16.25 16.5 16.75 17 17.25

See the differences?

It is said that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16.  Don't fool yourself by thinking that she was plus-size.  Looking at the size charts, she was equivalent to a modern day 4/6. In fact, I've highlighted the correlating sizes, just so you can see how the charts line up.

You might wonder why people are larger now - overall.  Technology honestly.  It wasn't uncommon for people to be more mobile by foot in the 40s and 50s, but by the end of the 50s and especially in the 60s, vehicles were more and more common.  Television became more prominent in homes, leading to an increase of hefty people.  Telephones became common for every household and now they're more powerful than a computer from 20 years ago. Computers, microwaves, box stores, games, etc.  It's all designed to make your life easier and more luxurious, when in fact it just makes people lazy, disrespectful, ungrateful, and disassociated from each other.

I think those reasons are a big part of the reason why people (like us) desire to live the vintage life (#vintagelife).

When I look at patterns to determine the size to make for myself, the first thing I look at is the bust.  I have a 36" bust and really hate it when shirts pull weird or are stretched too tightly.  After the bust, I check the waist.  Generally the same size for the bust will work for the waist.  When it comes to the hips, that can be a real issue.  My hips, at the widest point are a full 44".  As you can see, this can be pretty difficult to get around - unless I'm making a dress or skirt.

When you have your measurements written down, figuring out your pattern size can be a lot easier.  I have narrow shoulders, so I will usually use an 18 (vintage patterns) for my top, but with the shoulders reduced to a size 16.  I also have to make adjustments for my large arms.

Pull out that measuring tape!  Know your measurements to make a better fitting garment!  When you make adjustments, mark with some chalk.  Measure twice because you can cut only once!

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