" My hips are now 34", which is a size 4 in the Big 4. Most patterns do not even go down to a size 4. "
I don't understand - 34" hips are between an 8 and a 10 in Vogue patterns.
Bless you, Anne!! When I read your comment (and at least one other person mentioned this too, but I couldn't find her comment), I was perplexed. I grabbed one of my Vogue patterns and, yup, a 34" hip is between a size 8 and a size 10, according to the Vogue chart.
It took me a minute to realize what happened, and why I wrote what I did. And then I was totally delighted!
I was delighted because this PERFECTLY illustrates the point I was trying to make about the sizing of the Big 4 (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick, Simplicity) patterns.
In these patterns, I do NOT choose my pattern size based on my body measurements. If I did, it would often result in a too-large garment, because they use so much ease.
Let me illustrate how I got to a size 4 from a 34" hip. Two of my favorite recent pants patterns are Vogue 8859 and Vogue 8837. These are, respectively, Marcy Tilton's and Katherine Tilton's skinny pants. I love them and made both last year. I ordered a new copy of each pattern because of my size change, as I had chopped up my original copies. (If I pay $20 for a pattern, I trace it off. For $3, I cut it up.)
When I open up the pattern tissue of a pattern, I first look for the finished measurements that they usually print ON the pattern tissue. I dearly wish they would put this info on the envelope/website so you would know before you order. (And, by the way, it's good to double check this measurement, because it can be wrong.)
For Katherine's pattern, the finished hip measurement for the size Small (size 8-10) is listed as 36". For me, that is more ease than I want in a skinny pant made with a stretch denim. I want zero ease. A size XS (4-6) is listed as 34" at the finished hip.
Before my recent weight loss, my hips measured 36" which, according to Vogue, is a size 12. However, I routinely made my Vogue pants in a size 6 or 8, because there was so much ease built into the patterns.
Also, if you are wondering why I always list my measurements and my sizes on my blog posts, let me tell you why. It is because I am, fundamentally, a very lazy sewist. I do not keep a record of these things, outside of my blog. I list them because I often go back to my posts to check these details. It's not about bragging, because I don't think many people would brag about a 32" waist. ;)
So, THANK YOU to Anne for pointing this out! These days I have the memory of a gnat, so I had already forgotten about the process I go through for choosing my size, which is based on finished measurements of the garment. I know how much ease I want in a t-shirt, or a blouse, or pants, so I can make a more educated decision when choosing a pattern. The faster you learn how much ease YOU want in a pattern, and understand the large amount of ease that the Big 4 pattern companies use, the more quickly you take the power into your own hands on fitting your garments.
I am eager to write some other posts for you, but I am also eager to sew. It's a dilemma, I tell you. I am working on a weekender sort of bag. I am going on a retreat soon and I need this, but I am feeling the pull to make more clothes. It's a pickle, given that my time is somewhat limited by work and other obligations. ;)