Hi Everyone!! Once Again Thank You All So Much!! I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of kind remarks, support and questions I’ve received about Part 1 and 2 in my Pattern Fitting Series. It gives me such a wonderful feeling to know that I’ve given you information that has been so helpful!! I wanted to let you know that I did a FAQ blog post to answer additional questions I’ve received since I started this series. You can read it here, FAQ, if you missed it. I hope you find it helpful. Please continue to send me questions!!
Welcome to Part 3: Selecting the Right Size Pattern, in my series on Pattern Fitting, “My Approach to Successful Pattern Fitting”.
It’s time to start demystifying pattern sizing. In a perfect world, we would all be able to rely on the size measurement chart on the back of a pattern envelope and they would all be standardized. We all know that’s just not the case. It’s so disappointing to rely on those measurements then put your time, effort and money into a garment to find in the end that it just doesn’t fit properly. Even if there was some sort of “standardization”, we would all still need to know how much ease they add before committing to a particular size pattern. The pattern companies use descriptions on their pattern envelopes as being “Loose Fitting” or “Today’s Fit” or “Amazing Fit”. Honestly, what the heck does that all mean?? Am I considered an “Amazing Fit” or what?? We’re all a “Unique Fit”, that’s it!! This is the major reason I’m teaching you how to measure your patterns because you can rely on measurements. The tape measure doesn’t lie!! Choosing the right size pattern is one of the biggest complaints I hear most often from people. I’m speaking about the big 4 pattern companies, Butterick, McCall’s, Simplicity and Vogue. I’ve not used some of the wonderful patterns from a variety of independent pattern companies on the market so I can’t speak about their size measurement ranges. If you’ve had success with those patterns, stick with it!! You’re ahead of many others. If you’ve come this far with me, doing your measurement chart and spending time figuring out how to add ease, then it’s time to put those measurements to the test.
I’d like you to select a semi-fitted blouse pattern for continuing on with this pattern fitting series with me. It can be a one piece front and back with darts or not. It can also be a princess line pattern if you choose with either center shoulder or arm hole princess seams. I’m going to suggest you purchase or possibly already own a pattern with multiple sizes included. It’s much easier to explain how to adjust and alter a pattern if there is a basis and variety of sizes for you to follow. I’m trying to explain everything in the most user friendly terms. So select a pattern where you fall within the range of the sizing offered. I find it helpful to choose a pattern based on an area that needs special attention. For example, if you do an adjustment for a full bust on most patterns, this time choose a pattern that fits your bust. I find it easier to illustrate and explain how to taper and “true” seams in other areas than to make the bust larger. Please make sure when you select a pattern that you open the pattern and look at the measurements on the front pattern piece. Most patterns will have the bust and waist measurements printed right on the pattern. Make sure your “working measurements” fall within the range.
Butterick 5300 Front showing bust measurements.
Butterick 5300 Front showing waistline measurements.
Butterick 5300 Sleeve showing measurements.
Selecting the right size pattern is only half the battle. It’s also important to choose the right pattern for your particular figure type. First I’d like you to take a moment to think about your shape. Think about what your body type is and what fitting issues you’ve needed to address in the past. Now think about a garment you’ve made or purchased that looks nice on you. Something you may have received compliments on from others when worn. No, it doesn’t have to fit perfectly. I understand that you could just copy it and move on. I just want you to be aware of your figure and what looks best on your shape. For me to explain pattern fitting, it’s a complete package. Why bother to help you get a better fit if it’s not a silhouette that will flatter your shape?? It’s hard sometimes to imagine yourself in a particular garment. Pattern companies do very good job at illustrating a design on a tall thin model which makes it look beautiful, but don’t necessarily resemble our shapes at all or how it would look on other body shapes. More and more patterns companies are realizing the importance of their styles being illustrated on “real women”. Women have shape and curves. Let’s find out what flatters your shape and fit it with perfection!!
As you continue on with this series, I will be making suggestions for fitting a semi-fitted blouse pattern. It can have a collar or not. You can make that call. I will do my best to include each body shape and make pattern suggestions for you. I would however like you to select a blouse pattern drafted for a medium weight woven fabric. The fiber content is not important as far as cotton, poly, or blends etc. Possibly a piece of fabric from your stash. Drag out those bags you had hidden away and forgotten about long ago. If you are going to use a woven with Lycra content, then you may have to adjust the amount of ease you added from Part 2 in the series. Now I’m going to describe different body types for you to relate to. With each body type I will be offering pattern suggestions. Butterick 5300 is one of the patterns I will measuring for demonstration. It’s a basic blouse pattern with a semi-fitted silhouette. It’s also offered in cup sizing.
For those of you with a small bust line, with a straight shape without a very defined waistline, I would select a pattern without much shaping. Why try to build in and alter darts and fitting seams when you just may not need to. Here is a pattern with center front shirring. Shirring in this area of the front will make the bust appear larger. I would suggest type of pattern for your silhouette. If you’re more shapely than straight, the first pattern has princess line seams and can be fitted easily.
For those of you with a very curvy shape, I would select a pattern with more shaping darts or princess lines. If we think of ourselves in three dimensional terms, we can visualize how a flat piece of fabric must be shaped with darts and seams to accommodate our shapes. The more shape we have, the more darts, seams and shaping we need.
For those of you that have a very shaped center back (dowagers hump or sway back), I suggest you select a pattern that has a center back seam or a yoke. This will make adding that alteration to your pattern easier. Just keep in mind if you do add shape to a center back seam and you choose a pattern with a collar, the collar will need an alteration as well. A shaping of the back alteration can also be achieved by having shoulder darts as well.
For those of you with a full bust and a small waistline, I suggest a princess line pattern or a pattern with multiple darts in the front and back. The princess lines can start at the center of the shoulder or the armhole. The choice is yours. Patterns that offer cup sizing as a feature would be a good option for those with a full bust as well.
For those of you have with a very narrow shoulder line, I would suggest a sleeve with a little bit of shirring. Not a full on puffed sleeve, but one with some pleating or gathers at the top. If that’s just not your style, a regular set in sleeve with a small shoulder pad will work fine an well to build the shoulder out a bit. Not a pair of pads designed for a linebacker of course (80’s horror). A small shoulder pad can be a good friend for those of us with narrow shoulders especially if the shoulder line is narrower than our hips. A modified dolman as in the Vogue Pattern below would also be a good option. Notice how the shoulder and sleeve are in one piece. This means there is no break in the should line and will create the illusion of a larger more proportioned shoulder. I would not suggest this square design details on anyone with a fuller bust line.
For those of you with very broad shoulders, I would suggest a raglan sleeve. The seam lines created with a Raglan sleeve naturally bring the eye in toward the center of the body therefore narrowing the shoulder line. This pattern offers princess line seaming which would work well for many silhouettes. A princess line seam starting at the center of the shoulder would also be a good choice because it would break the line of a broad shoulder.
For those of you that are full in the bust, waist and hips, I would suggest a tunic style top. You may have narrow hips also so this style should work well for you. With this type of body shape, the most important area to fit is usually the shoulder line. Many times even though the body is full figured, the shoulder line of patterns are too wide and can hang off the shoulder in an uncomfortable way. This is not a flattering look and can be improved.
You may find yourself fitting into one or more of the categories I’ve suggested. Please remember of course that these are just my suggestions. I can’t see you so these are just points for you to take into consideration. Below each picture I’ve provided the link to each pattern. Take a look and notice the line drawing for each that appeals to you. If you have a pattern for a silhouette that basically works for you but you just need a better fit, by all means use it. I can’t help but feel when I read a pattern review where the maker didn’t think the pattern “worked for her”, part of the problem was that the pattern was wrong for her body type. Years ago my first job was working in a Bridal Shop. I learned a valuable lesson early starting my career in that shop. Brides would come in with a particular photo of a gown they were “in love with” frequently. If we had the sample gown in stock we would pull the dress for them to try on. In most cases the gown they were “in love with” didn’t flatter them at all and a dress they didn’t really care for on the hanger ended up being “the dress”. Hopefully in this series you will merge what looks best and fits well also. Once you can achieve a well fitting blouse pattern, it can be modified in many ways for different looks that will always flatter and fit YOU!! The skies the limit Creatively!!
I realized early on in this series that many of you following along with me are not “sewing challenged”. The sewing skill level is certainly there, it’s just your fitting skills that need improvement. I hope that I can also appeal to a newer sewist/sewer as well and help them start out with good information about fitting. I think this is the main reason why people leave sewing or move on to quilting or crafting. It’s just too discouraging to end up with disappointment after disappointment with fitting a garment for yourself.
Don’t forget I will conclude this series with a Give Away!! In order to qualify for the prize you will need to become a registered “follower” of my blog AND “like” my Facebook Page. Thanks!!
I hope you will find this information helpful as you continue on with this series. Thank You All for your continued support with all the emails, kind comments, pinning on Pinterest and sharing my links with your Sewing Groups.
Please follow and like us: