You probably already know that pattern companies usually supply a few finished pattern measurements on the outside of the pattern envelope. These usually include hem widths and total back length. These serve to give you some idea of the basic dimensions of the finished garment but are rarely very helpful in determining how the pattern will fit you.
You might have more luck by looking inside the pattern envelope. Often you’ll find the finished pattern measurements for the bust, waist and hip girth on the sewing pattern pieces themselves. These are the measurements that will actually help you understand how the pattern will fit.
Let me share just a few things you can learn if you are willing to spend a little bit more time with the pattern pieces.
We already know finished pattern measurements for the bust waist and hip can often be found on the pattern pieces but I want you to be a little bit cautious here because I have found that often the printed measurements are not correct (watch the video for an example of this) so it is best if you double check the printed measurements so that you can be sure they are. If you’re not sure how to do that, I do have a video ready and waiting for you which I will link to below.
With the correct bust waist and hip girth determined you can now calculate the amount of ease the designer intended for the garment by simply calculating the difference between the pattern measurement and the body measurements listed in the pattern’s size chart. For my example from the video the intended ease allowance for this style is 3” in the bust 3 ½” in the waist and 4” in the hip.
We have now learned how much ease is needed in the garment to create the fit and silhouette that the pattern designer intended. You have also learned how much ease to aim for when altering the pattern to fit your personal body measurements. Of course you can change these if you desire but knowing what your starting point is will be very helpful in achieving a garment that will fit.
Now if you’re willing to spend even more time with the pattern, you’ll be able to determine another important pattern measurement that can help you alter the pattern before you sew. It’s the CB neck to waist length. While many patterns don’t list this measurement on the sizing chart on the outside of the envelope, you may find it listed on the patten information sheet inside. Watch the video to see a demonstration of this.
You have now learned what length adjustment will be required to align the waist level of the pattern to your personal waist level which is an initial pattern adjustment you can make before your first sample. If you want to take this lesson further, and I always do, I recommend you also check the CB waist to hip length of the pattern so that you can align the hip level of the pattern to your personal hip level as well.
When you are willing to spend some quality time with the pattern by taking the actual pattern measurements you’ll find you’ll learn valuable information you can use that will help you alter the pattern before you sew. As you continue to use this pattern measurement process for all your sewing projects, you’ll eventually understand the pattern measurements and ease to aim for in a variety of garment types which means you’ll spend less time fitting and more time sewing the garments you love.
To help you to that end, grab your copy of The Perfect Fit Guide. It’s free to download, shares the six steps to getting the right fit and includes a pattern measurement worksheet you can use on all your sewing projects.
All My Best,