The first hurdle when using a commercial pattern is working out which size to cut out. As you saw in my previous post I often come up all over the place on the body measurements chart and have to use the finished garment measurements to decipher what size to cut. this can be very confusing not to mention disheartening when you normally buy a size 10 in the shops but come up as a size 12 bust, 14-16 waist and 16 hips! or in other cases your measurements are way off the chart for a pattern that should fit you according to the sizings. just last week in the beginner dressmaking course we had a lady who measured up off the chart on all accounts, so i checked out the finished measurements- this included a massive 10 inches of ease!
So we measured her hips astride as shown
and we decided around 3 inches of ease would be plenty considering she is happy with more fitted garments.
She cut out a size 18 and this fitted comfortably- perhaps even a little on the larger side!
The BIG problem is that the list of standard body measurements which most commercial pattern companies use was last updated in the 50s. Back then, let's face it, we were all a lot more active and upright for a lot more of the day! Basic tasks were much harder especially housework chores! We didn't sit at computers all day or spend evenings watching TV. Our lifestyles are very different these days and therefore so generally are our body shapes.
We are also used to the sizes we buy in high street shops. These often are cut generously to flatter us into buying. And hence when we measure up as a size 16 when we are used to buying a size 12 we are a little confused!
I've always been lucky that most patterns from the "big 4" commercial pattern companies fitted me reasonably well with a little adjustment.
I am a traditional pear shape (smaller bust, small waist and larger hips) and this suits the traditional cut of most commercial patterns. However, I soon found this was NOT the case for a large number of others!
My first real eye-opener was a lady who had a larger bust (ff cup) and struggled to get tops to fit her. I found out with a bit of research that most patterns are designed to fit a B-C cup and therefore the pattern needs to be altered to fit a larger bust. Now I include a full bust adjustment tutorial in the dressmaking for beginners course for larger busted ladies so they can alter darts on patterns to fit a larger bust.
I personally have spread a little in the hips department over the years! Now I come up at around a 12 bust but 14 ish hips on commercial patterns- so to amend the pattern I graduate from a size 12 to 14 from the waist to the hip point. For me this is a fairly easy adjustment as I have done a fashion and pattern design degree and have 10 years + experience but it might be enough to put off many new dressmakers.
Other pattern adjustments which I've had to make to fit garments to individuals included shortening the pattern, lengthening certain areas, adding into the waist for apple shaped ladies... the list goes on.
But wouldn't it be great if there were patterns available with these adjustments already made? With patterns cut to suit the key body shapes with easy shortening and lengthening guides?
So together with fellow fashion designer Florie Struthers we are launching the "Real patterns for Real women who Love to Sew" Project.
Our aim is to do just that!
In order to gain a real view of home dressmaker's body shapes and dressmaking preferences and challenges we are hoping to gather information fro at least 1000 women!
Please help us to create fabulous patterns for real women by completing this short survey.
And if you can please SHARE, SHARE, SHARE with your fellow dress making friends to help us reach our 1000 women target!