For us, the curvy sewist, it can be difficult to choose a pattern size to cut your garment. If you find yourself between two sizes, there are a few key factors to consider when selecting the best size for you. These include body measurements, ease of movement, and the desired fit of the garment. Additionally, consider the type of fabric you are using and the pattern’s recommended ease for the best results.
First, look over the suggested measurements indicated on the pattern. You will want to make sure that the way you take your measurements is appropriate for the garment. For example, when measuring your hip for a fitted dress or jumpsuit you will need to include your belly if it sticks out. By holding a wide ruler vertically and measuring your hip around it, you’re allowing space for movement. Consider your body measurements and note which areas on the pattern may need more or less ease.
Finished Garment Measures
Next, look at the finished garment measurements. This is important, as it will give you an idea of how the garment will look on your body. If the finished garment measurements have very large gaps, there may be a lot of fitting ease. Also, some important measurements may not be listed. If you’re making something with a fitted sleeve you may want to compare your bicep measurement to the actual paper pattern (minus the seam allowance) before you cut.
Fit Intent and Ease
Finally, read through the pattern instructions. Pay close attention to any mention of ease or fit to help you understand how it’s meant to be worn. If you have both the finished and the body measurements for the pattern comparing them will really help you determine the ease and choose a size.
It is also helpful to look at the reviews of the pattern, as other sewists may have made the same garment in both sizes and can provide feedback on the fit of the garment. Additionally, if a pattern has a fit guide, you can use this information to further inform your decision.
Grading Between Sizes
If you find that your bust and hip fall within different sizes, there is a way to connect the two sizes to create the most accurate fit for your body. To do this, you will need to make slight adjustments to the pattern pieces. Begin by tracing the pattern pieces for the smaller size onto tracing paper. Then, use a ruler to connect the lines of the larger size in the necessary areas. Take special care to ensure that the grainline of the pattern pieces is running in the correct direction and that all pieces fit together as intended.
With a little practice you can easily turn any pattern into a perfect fit for your body. It’s very important to remember that you will be more comfortable in a garment with appropriate wear ease. This means choosing the larger size is usually the best course of action. You can always fit any desired areas closer. Sewing is an incredible way to build a loving relationship with your body, but in order to be the most loving to yourself you have to make sure the things you made will fit.
Resources for Choosing a Pattern Size
Cashmerette has a great in-depth tutorial on grading between sizes for a pair of pants.
This Seamwork video is a general guide for blending between sizes.
When you’re ready for a bigger grading challenge, this video will help you make a vintage pattern larger.