Three Tips for Choosing Your Pattern Size


It’s a well known fact that most pattern companies provide very limited sizing information on their patterns.  Sewers are asked to choose their pattern size using three main body measurements; bust, waist and hip girth. The assumption is that all of your measurements will land within one size and the choice would be easy. For some of us it is, but what are we to do if our measurements land on two or three size possibilities?

Today I’m going to give you three tips that will help you make a definitive pattern size choice.

#1 Take Your Body Measurements Before You Start a New Sewing Project

The first tip I have for you is to take your body measurements before you start a new sewing project. My body measurements fluctuate by about 1” in circumference as I gain and lose weight throughout the year, so I take my body measurements each time I start a new sewing project. This way I am always aware of my current measurements. I personally use The Pattern Measurement Worksheet which you’ll find inside The Perfect Fit Guide. If you don’t have your copy yet, get your copy here.

If you need more guidance on taking  your body measurements CLICK HERE.

#2 Consider the Type of Garment You are Making

If you are making a pant, short or a skirt, use the hip girth as your primary measurement but be sure to compare the hip girth of the pattern to both your high hip and low hip measurements. You’ll want to address your largest circumference when choosing the correct size for this garment type. 

If the garment you are making is a jacket, top or dress use your bust girth as the primary measurement to help you determine the correct size to start with. You do also need to consider the cup size of the pattern in this case, so that brings me to tip #3.

#3 Compare the Cup Size of the Pattern to Your Cup Size

If your bust cup size is not the same as the cup size that pattern has been designed for, you must assume that you will need to make a bust adjustment. 

Most pattern companies design their patterns for a B bust cup size so if the cup size of the pattern isn’t stated, it likely has been designed for a B cup. A "B cup" is defined as a body that has a 2” (5 cm) difference between the high bust and full bust measurements. This means that the high bust girth of a B cup pattern is 2” (5 cm) smaller than the bust girth indicated on the size chart. Once you understand this you can fill in this new measurement on the sizing chart and choose your size based on your high bust girth instead of your full bust girth.

If your cup size is larger than a B it is likely you’ll be able to choose a smaller size to start with but you will need to make a bust adjustment in order for that size to fit. If bust adjustments are new to here are some helpful resources:

A New Take on the Full Bust Adjustment

Another New Take on the Full Bust Adjustment

 If you have your own tips for choosing your pattern size, share them in the comments below. Next week we’ll talk about why measuring the pattern is an important step in the fitting process. I hope you’ll join me.

All My Best,