Thursday, May 30, 2013

More About Vogue Sizing


I want to talk a bit more about a subject I brought up in my Open Letter to Vogue Patterns post. This post is thanks to Anne, who commented on my pants post. In her comment, Anne wrote:

" 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. ;)

21 comments:

  1. I always measure my pattern pieces before cutting the fabric because of past problems with fitting and it seems no two patterns, even with the same company, are the same. I'm not sewing as much as I want due to the frustration of fit, but I'm working on it. As for bragging about a 32" waist - I would, if I had one - it's been a while but I'm working on that, too ;-). Congrats to you on your weight loss.

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    1. Yes, experienced sewists are successful because they take steps like that (of measuring before cutting). When I do mess up, it's usually because I've neglected to do something like that.

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  2. Hey shams, I think what is percolating up for me is that I could NEVER have attempted sewing pants on my own, without support of an online community and resources. Hip measurements are only one piece of the puzzle; we also know to factor in rise etc. If I used the pattern envelope, I would sew a 16, which would fit ONE part of my hip area and hang/bag/pouch everywhere else. Plus they would be 8 inches too long. Someone (?Elona or NancyK)advised me in 2008 to divide my petite alterations above and below certain points. A pattern usually has ONE petite alteration line which is another cheap trick of theirs.

    Thank god for Singer's Sewing Pants that Fit. Pattern companies cannot help but screw us all up with a scale that won't fit anyone without alteration. Pants are too complicated. I don't know the answer but I do know that we keep buying the patterns, and that is seen as a vote of confidence by the companies. Maybe we need to offer our services as pattern testers. It would be good information for them and a fun social experiment!

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    1. Yes, you are absolutely correct. Pants fitting is the trickiest out there. Two cylinders meet at an almost parallel angle, and there seems to be an infinite variety of shaping in humans in this area. It's very tricky to fit, and that's not counting the different styles of pants - jeans, trousers, etc. I do not pretend to be a fit expert. :)

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  3. I always learn so much from you, I am one of those fortunate ones that patterns fit fairly well, but the every now and then I get fooled. I will follow your advice from now on, ignore the sizes, measure the pattern. Thank you.

    PS-you look freaking amazing, congrats on the weight loss. You are inspiring me to get back on track.

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    1. Thanks, Elle, and you are lucky!

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  4. So Shams, I'm curious. How much wearing ease do ou like in the waist (for pants or a skirt-a garment that hangs from the waist)? I keep making skirts that are too big in the waist, even after after measuring the pattern and making a quick muslin: I often end up with a skirt that spins around as I wear it. On the other hand, I hate a too tight waistband because I think it looks bad. I've seen Sandra Betzina's wearing ease charts, but they list "tummy", not the waist. I think I need to do some more research. Happy sewing!

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    1. Laura, this will vary quite a bit. The thinner you are, generally the less ease you want. For example, my daughters prefer almost no ease, as they are thin, with small waists. But when you have more body tissue in that area, you need more ease because, as you move and bend, that skin and fat has to be able to shift around and move.

      When I took pattern drafting, years ago, the general rule of thumb was 1" of ease at the waist, but less if you were thinner, and more if you had more going on in that area.

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  5. I would totally brag about the 32" waist. Ahem...

    I enjoyed you discussion of hip "size". You are really in the groove when it comes to your size. You know what you need to do. I admire that very much.

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  6. Your detailed postings have been a lifesaver for me...if it weren't for you, it never would have occurred to me to make a larger size front than back in my Marcy Tilton pants.

    As for your "error" is posting as a size 4: what.EVER.

    Keep on keepin' on.

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    1. I am SO glad to hear that my posts have helped with your fitting issues, Jane! It makes it all worthwhile. :)

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  7. Very thoughtful post, Sharon...it really helps me to realize that I'm not crazy when I sew Vogue patterns...if only they were consistent!

    Thanks so much...

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    1. Thanks, Margy! You are definitely not crazy. :)

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  8. Don't you just hate that work - so gets in the way of sewing! I would definitely brag about a 32 inch waist and you have plenty to be proud of. I had to laugh too - I always say I have the attention span of a gnat!

    Does Vogue have more ease than the other 3?

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    1. :) I could be wrong, as I sew mostly Vogue, but I think they are all about the same. Maybe someone else can weigh in.

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  9. Regarding finished measurements, I get amused that some don't like the fact that Peggy Sagers' patterns are sized by "finished garment measurements" rather than body measurements. Yet, we want finished garment measurements on the Big 4 envelopes. I find that very interesting. Re: measuring the pattern.......I measure my Style Arc patterns (patterns I love) now as I was fooled by what was printed vs. what the actual tape measure showed. (actual measurement was smaller than stated) So, now, I measure any pattern.

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    1. I have never used Peggy Sagers' patterns, so I have no comment on her approach, other than to say, I have no problems with finished pattern measurements. Maybe some people don't understand how to determine much ease they want in a design.

      Style Arc is a pattern line where I DO order patterns based on my body measurements. I still have to make alterations, but I have no quibbles with that, as it's mostly for my large bust.

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  10. How true, I find there is way too much ease for my liking in the big 4 patterns so I also choose the size I sew according to the finished measurements on the tissue not the size on the envelope :)

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  11. Yes, in the big 4 I go by the measurements printed on the pattern tissue too, depending on the amount of ease that I want. And find myself sewing anywhere between size 8 and size 14, depending on the pattern and the style. But I measure as a 18/20/16 most of the time! No wonder that new sewists struggle!

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  12. You seem to be generating a lot of support from these posts, however, I've never found sizing to be an issue with Vogue patterns. Butterick - different story for me. I think the critical issue is that sewing education includes information about adjusting patterns to fit each unique body.

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