It seems that nothing stymies the home sew-er's potential for beautiful, well-fitting clothing more than confusion about pattern sizing. Here are a few pointers.
--Please measure yourself at the bust, waist, and hips. However, if your bra cup size is a C cup or larger, you should measure your chest rather than your full bust. (Research how and why to make a "full bust adjustment"). Write down these measurements.
--Try to erase your ready to wear store size from your thinking. These sizes vary greatly from vendor to vendor and have become "vanity sizing" through the years. For example, Jacqueline Kennedy is said to have worn anywhere from size 8 to 12, depending on the designer, but that was then. Now those sizes would be equivalent to today's smallest size labels (00, 0, 2, 4). That is how drastically the measurements on the size labels have changed in ready to wear clothing, while pattern size measurements have remained relatively the same since the 1960's.
--Knits are more prevalent than ever. Depending on how fitted (tight or loose) you wear your clothing, the amount of stretch, and the style, you may find that a size small tank top is what appeals to you, even if you would wear size 14 jeans. Wovens follow more conventional fitting rules.
--Back to pattern measurements. There are sizing charts used by the pattern manufacturers which could vary from company to company. Consult those for the size pattern closest to your measurements. Simplicity offers additional tips on selecting pattern size with their downloadable pdf.
--Take note of the "ease chart" for the patterns you are considering. This will help you to know how much design ease is included.
--Once you are ready to fit the pattern to your measurements, take note of the measurements of the actual pattern pieces, which include "wearing ease" and "design ease." You can analyze your own clothing in similar styles and fabrics to determine if the intended "design ease" appeals to you. This part may take some patience, practice, and experience. Do this before you cut into your fashion fabric!
--Initially you can "tissue fit" the pattern to your body.
--Ideally, the first time we use a pattern, we make a "muslin" or "toile," of an inexpensive fabric, at least of the crucial fitting or styling points. If in doubt, cut larger.
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