One of the most powerful things about sewing is having total control over what your clothes look like and how your clothes fit your body. When you know how to sew, you’re not limited to what the stores are selling or what sizes are available. Sewing doesn’t only give you control over how you express yourself to the world, it gives you control over how you feel while wearing your clothes.
Finding your size can be intimidating. We have to confront very detailed measurements of our bodies and it’s easy to get caught up in the details. It’s important to note that RTW sizes don’t match sewing sizes, so be sure to use the measurements chart in the pattern to select your size.
Much like the last video, where I gave you three tips for picking a project, now I am going to give you three tips for choosing a size when you first start sewing. My goal is to show you how to think about these types of challenges, so you know what information to look out for and how to problem-solve when you get stuck.
Step one is to get your body’s measurements. First, let’s talk about body measurements for a second. They’re just numbers—data that helps you get a good fit, so be honest with your numbers. They’re really powerful tools! The most common measurements, which can take you through many sewing projects, are your bust, waist, and hip. You’ll use the measuring tape from your sewing kit we created in the earlier lesson, and measure points on your body. If you don’t know where to measure, that’s ok, google it! There are SO many helpful tutorials out there. In fact, we have a very detailed video about measurements and ease on our YouTube channel. We’ll link it in the Classroom, too, so be sure to check it out.
When you first start sewing, you’ll really get to know your bust, waist, and hip measurements, because they are the most common measurements referenced when picking a size in a pattern. As you sew more and more, you’ll pick up new measurements, and pretty soon you’ll know about your across back, your crotch depth, and your bicep circumference, maybe even your ankles. Pretty cool, don’t you think?
Step two is to consult your pattern’s measurement charts. Every pattern company is different. Here at Seamwork, we draft for a C cup for our misses sizes 0-16, and a DD cup for our curvy sizes 18-26. Our size 8 fit model is 5’8”.
Seamwork patterns have a body size chart and a finished garment measurement chart. The finished measurement chart is one of the most helpful tools in your sewing pattern because it tells you what the garment will measure when you are done sewing. You’ll notice that the finished garment measurements are usually larger than the body measurements. Why? Because the garment needs extra room to allow you to move. This extra room is called ease. If you are sewing a pattern that uses stretchy fabric, you might notice that there is negative ease, because knits are meant to cling to the body and move along with us. Again, watch our “All About Ease” YouTube video if you want more info.
Compare your body measurements to both the body size chart AND the finished garment measurement chart. If you are between sizes, the finished garment measurement can help you decide if you want to size up, to add more room for movement—or more ease—or if you want to size down to make the garment more fitted, with less ease.
The third step is to think about the type of garment you are making.
Pick the measurement that is most important to make that garment fit well. For a top, you want to pay attention to the bust measurement, because if you get a good fit at the bust, it’s easy to adjust the sides to get a good fit at the waist. If you were making a pair of pants, you would want to take detailed measurements including your waist and hips.
For Bo, your bust is the key measurement for choosing your size. Bo has a boxy silhouette with generous ease in the waist. So you don’t even need to worry about your waist and hip measurements. Focus on the bust.
If you aren’t sure where to start, pick the size that matches your body measurements the most and make a muslin! You should be making a test version for almost every garment that you sew anyway, so take a guess and give it a try to see how it fits.
After you have your size, check your pattern for the yardage chart. In Seamwork patterns, it’s below the size chart. That chart will tell you how much fabric to buy!
Sizing and fitting is a big topic, and I promise you will learn more and more as you continue to sew. In the meantime, take your measurements, read your size charts, and pick a size to start with. It’s that simple. And now we’re ready to move on to the next lesson, where I’ll give you tips for cutting and marking.