One size doesn’t fit all.


I’ve come across a lot of discontent recently.  It happens at the beginning of a term generally, when I meet new students.  New to sewing and the issue of pattern sizing.

It can be quite a traumatic session that one.  How to measure and choose the right pattern.  I’m still working on the best way to deal with it.  Smoothing the frayed nerves and disgruntled cries.

It has a common pattern:

  • Shock, What! No Way!
  • Anger, I can’t be an 18! I only wear a 12/14 normally!
  • Disappointment. We’ve all been there.
  • Resignation, I still want to make the pretty dress.

It’s not a process I enjoy.  This is meant to be fun.  It’s numbers, just numbers but why do they have such an influence on us?  It’s because it’s personal, sizing is a big issue in society and the fact that it’s different wherever you go doesn’t help.  Then again how many of us measure ourselves to go shopping on the high street.

My common cries are

  • ” Don’t think about the sizing, if it fits it will look fabulous”
  • “Nobody will know what size you’ve cut out”
  • “Nobody outside this room will know.  It’s like visiting the doctor, it’s confidential”  or “What happens at sewing class, stays at sewing class”

There’s generally a good 10 minutes of mumbling, occasional re-measuring and double checking but fortunately the desire to make something takes over.

If only it were all standardized.  Well it is, to an extent.  All pattern companies start with the same measurements and blocks.

The big 4 all work with the average measurements of the ASTM who do the research.  Though this hasn’t changed much over the years, they’re getting better.  Most still only work to a B/C cup but some are now adding options for cup sizes.


The indie pattern companies start with the same charts. Some have developed their own sizing charts, done their own research to ensure the target audience is included.  Be it for the bust or the bottom these will often work better for the modern figure.

Some don’t use sizes,  using letters instead. This is a softer approach, I can see the logic.


Most will say, if in doubt, go up a size.  I’m kind of with them on this.  It’s a whole lot easier to take a garment in than try to squeeze out a seam allowance on a too tight hip.  None of us want to hear the rip as a seam gives way when bending over.

I think it’s just something we just get used to over time.

RTW doesn’t help with it’s varied sizing.  Isn’t that often why we start to make?  To have something that fits us.  No gaping at the waist, no straining at the bust.

Let’s celebrate our figures!  We have curves.  No-one is a standard size but because we choose to make for ourselves it doesn’t matter.  Making for our own bodies and getting to know how we can make things fit gives us far more satisfaction once we’re over that initial shock.

If in doubt, make a toile!  Use up that old sheet that’s been sitting in the back of the cupboard, try it out.  What have you got to loose?

But I think that’s for another post. I’ve rambled on enough.

I’ll keep on with the calming of nerves, it’s just another type of therapy really.

The fabric Wrangler will see you now….




6 thoughts on “One size doesn’t fit all.

  1. Great post, my 19 year old daughter has just started sewing so trying to explain the differences in sizing to her. I still have probs with sizing after 20 years – I’m in the middle of making a straight skirt, I decided to be honest with myself, measured my hips and waist which came out 16 (as you said, wear 12 RTW!) made it up & it was huge, took over 1/2″ in both sides!! I usually look for the finished garment size but this pattern didn’t have it 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It’s frustrating when getting to know a particular patterns sizing. Think of the excess as future proofing, You’ll be able to let it out again should the need come.


  2. So true! I remember it being a bit tough at first, but eventually, all I saw was a number that would guide me to cut out the right pattern pieces (which I’ll generally tweak anyway – that’s the beauty of sewing). The only numbers I really bother with are my bust, waist and hip measurements. Actually, it’s reached a point where I wouldn’t be able to buy anything in a shop because I have no idea what ready-to-wear size I am!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so right. I do find with some of our sewers if you make the point that the sizing in high street shops varies depending where you are (a size 12 in shop A is different to a size 12 in shop B) then that can help. I am always keen to point out making something for yourself is more about getting the perfect fit (no matter the number!).


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