Choosing what size Pattern to Buy

It can be confusing to decide what size pattern to buy. It's important to know that the size on patterns have nothing to do with the size of Ready To Wear (RTW) garments that you buy.That's because sizes in RTW have changed drastically in the last 50 years but pattern sizing has not.

For example, when I was in High School,I weighed 112pounds and wore size 7.
I'm now in my early 60's ,weigh 138 pounds and still wear size 7 in pants.Now,what sense does that make!

Anyway,the rule of thumb is that if you wear size 6,you'll probably need to buy a size 10 pattern. So think two sizes more than you wear in RTW.

More specifically, you'll have to take your measurements around your high bust, your bust,your waist and your hips and that will get you started.There are many sources of information about this subject on the net and in books so I'm not going to make this too detailed.

#1.The high bust. Measure around the back just under the arms and just above your bust. This number will     be the one you'll compare to the chest sizes on the pattern envelope.for Butterick and Vogue Patterns.Look at the chart below.
 For McCalls and Simplicity,this high bust measurement will be called bust measurement.Look here for those  size charts.
#2.The bust. Measure around the fullest part of your chest. This will give you your bust measurement.
  look at the chart below.
#3.The waist. That's usually around the smallest part of your middle.Look below.
#4.The hips.Here measure around the biggest part of your hips.Compare to the chart below.

(This size chart is only for Butterick and Vogue Patterns)
X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large XX-Large
6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Chest 28 1/2 29 1/2 30 1/2 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
Bust 30 1/2 31 1/2 32 1/2 34 36 38 40 42 44 46
Waist 23 24 25 26 1/2 28 30 32 34 37 39
Hip 32 1/2 33 1/2 34 1/2 36 38 40 42 44 46 48
Back Waist Length 15 1/2 15 3/4 16 16 1/4 16 1/2 16 3/4  17  17 1/4 17 1/2 17 3/4

Now you're probably noticing that you may be different sizes at different parts of your body. That's typical.
Here we're going to deal with what size to buy if you want to make a top.This one for example (Butterick 3383)

The important thing to know here would be the chest and bust.Let's say you're 34 around your chest and 36 around the bust . Then,looking at the chart you would want to buy a size 14 for this top. The only other thing to consider would be the hip size. If your hips were,say 40"you would just add 2" to the hips on the pattern.You see it's a lot easier to fix the hip size than the bust size. We'll discuss how that works another time.

Suppose you wanted to make a skirt,this one for example. (Butterick5466)Then, your hip measurement would be the most important. So if your hips were 40", then you would want the size 16 skirt. And if your waist was 28".you'd have to take off 2" from the waist on the pattern. Again, we'll discuss how to do that another time soon.

Now let's say,you'd really prefer to start sewing with a dress.Again,simple is best at the beginning. So you would search the pattern books for one that didn't have too many seams and too much detail.Here's a good one: ( Butterick 5357)Now you have to consider both the bust and the hips. You can ignore the waist because of the style of the dress.
Remember this:It's much easier to change the hip size than the bust size, so buy this pattern by the bust size.

This is just enough information to get you started and to help you decide ont the size pattern to buy. Next time we'll look at how to read the pattern envelope to figure out how much fabric to buy.