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March 31, 2014

One-stop guide to sewing pattern sizes

Hiya! Looking for the latest and greatest chart of sewing pattern sizes? Check out my updated post here!
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I love independent pattern companies – they just can’t be beaten for modern, fresh RTW patterns. But… then there’s the sizing. Ugh! First, they’re all slightly different. Second, many of them don’t go into plus sizes, which frankly, is just a bit embarrassing all around. Mary has covered this issue far more eloquently than I can, and Carolyn had her own experience with this challenge just the other day.  The average US woman is a size 14 – and many of us got into sewing due to RTW size issues in the first place. And there are so many beautiful talented plus size sewists out there! Just looking at these ladies below makes me smile….
Mary                                                          Mary
  Laurence                                                    Tanya
T                                                      Carolyn 
I’m passionate about encouraging more plus size women to get sewing and blogging, so I thought one helpful first step might be to let everyone know which patterns could fit them. Now bear in mind, all patterns are alterable – the most common one for me, a Full Bust Adjustment, can add multiple inches onto the measurement of any patterns, and there are others specifically for the waist and hips. However, you need to know where you start.
So, here’s a chart of most of the major pattern companies, which sizes they cover, and indeed what measurements are linked to those sizes – as you’ll see very quickly, it’s extremely variable! One thing to note: the Big 4 and some of the independents use the “classic” sizing – which is different from RTW sizing (e.g. I’m a 14 in RTW by a 22 in Butterick). However, just to make things confusing some of the independents are in RTW sizes, which themselves vary. Therefore the best way to use this chart is to look for your measurements, and then go to the size – that’s the size you need to use from that company. The relative US vs. Euro sizes below are based on Named Pattern’s conversion, but again, don’t worry too much about the relationships between them, just look for your measurements and all will be fine!
Three cheers for independents like Style Arc, Cake, and Colette for venturing above the apparently scary heights of a 45 inch bust. And for the others? Well, maybe you should let them know that plus size sewists are out there and we’d love to give them their cash if only they’d accommodate us.
And OK, straight size ladies I didn’t leave you out! Here’s the 0 – 12 chart, doing the same.
 
On a side note, my other little bugbear is pattern companies that use a XS – S – M – L – XL – XXL sizing. Trust me, when an XL is a RTW 12 (*below* average size!), it doesn’t make you feel excellent to be grading up three sizes…. am I really an “extra, extra, extra large” person? Why not just use the regular size scale (12, 14, 16 etc.) when it’s available and everyone already understands it?
I hope this is a helpful reference for you – are there any patterns companies there that you didn’t realize you’d fit? And what else would be helpful for my fellow plus size sewists out there? Do let me know!
********UPDATE*******
I’m LOVING all the comments pointing me towards other independent pattern companies! I’ll collate them here for everyone to see:
Hot Patterns – up to size 26, 52″ bust, 44″ waist, 54″ full hip
Lekala – patterns tailor made to your measurements! I haven’t tried them, but heard good things. Do wonder how you would grade if it didn’t fit?
Seamster Patterns (formerly Disparate Disciplines) – up to 3XL: 47″ bust, 42″ waist, 50″ hip
Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick – Made for plus size petites! Up to 54″ bust, 49″ waist, 56″ hip
Lolita Patterns – up to size 24, 54″ bust, 46″ waist, 56″ hip
Petite Plus Patterns – another for petite women. Up to size 26, 50″ bust, 42″ waist, 52″ hip
Fit for Art Patterns – a very eclectic set of patterns! Up to 3XL, 58″ bust, 63″ hip
Jalie Patterns – up to size 22, 50″ bust, 44″ waist, 53″ hip
BlueGingerDoll Patterns – measurements vary by pattern. Winifred: up to size 18, 45″ bust, 44″ waist; Billie Jean: up to size 18, 46″ bust, 37″ waist
PaperCut Patterns – on their website they say they go up to L (41.75″ bust, 34″ waist, 44″ hip), but thecuriouskiwi has heard that their latest patterns go up to an XL (44″ bust)

Cashmerette

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50 Responses to One-stop guide to sewing pattern sizes

  1. Michelle March 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    While maybe not as popular in the blogosphere as some of the other indies, HotPatterns goes up to a US RTW-ish size 26 (56″ bust, I think). They’re similar to StyleArc in style and instruction sizes (HP’s are a little trendier than SA’s, IMO).

    • Jenny March 31, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Hi Michelle – I’ve heard of them before but never taken a look – some of those patterns look great! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Staci March 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Wonderful article! And so helpful to see all the popular indie companies on one page. There is another company that I tried recently that literally make the pattern in your size, regardless of what your measurements are. You pick the pattern, put in your own personal measurements and they design the PDF pattern specifically for you. The company is called Lekala. http://www.lekala.co/

    I wasn’t sure how well the pattern would fit to my measurements but I can tell you, I’m quite literally blown away by them. I measure 46, 36, 46 and always have to do an FBA. With Lekala, the pattern came sized perfectly. NO adjustments had to be made what-so-ever. LOVE that!!

    • Jenny March 31, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Hi Staci – haha we have very similar measurements 🙂 So good to hear that Lekala works well for you – I’ve seen them before but was a bit skeptical of it, but I’ll definitely have to give them a try. The idea of not doing an FBA is making me a bit giddy!

    • Mary Danielson March 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      Ooo! Staci, we have practically identical measurements and, like Jenny, I’ve also been wondering about Lekala patterns. I will be giving them a go now, thanks to your experience! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mari Miller March 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    I run Seamster Sewing Patterns. Most of my patterns go up to a 47″ bust. I even have a couple of plus sized patterns, a hoodie that was completely redrafted for plus sized figures and a skirt that accommodates hips up to 56″. While there is a definite need for cute plus sized patterns, my plus sized patterns don’t sell nearly as well as the smaller size ranges. Cost-wise it can be almost twice as expensive to produce a plus sized version of a pattern. I haven’t broken even on the plus pattern specially drafted for busty ladies. As a small business owner without a lot of extra funds to throw around it unfortunately makes it harder to decide to produce plus patterns. However, I’m working on another plus pattern because I think it’s an audience that really needs more options so I’m willing to give it another go. Perhaps you’d like to test it?

    I’ve spoken with a number of fellow indie pattern makers. I don’t believe anyone is not making plus patterns because they just don’t care, they’re not making them because it’s hard enough to pay rent while selling indie patterns even without almost doubling operating costs by creating an expanded size range.

    However, there is an indie pattern maker out there who does a great job at providing plus versions of all their patterns. Take a look at Lolita; they’d be a great addition to your list.

    • Jenny Rushmore March 31, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi Mari – thanks for adding the business perspective! I’ve certainly heard from other patternmakers that it can be a considerable cost to create another block and grade, but it’s fantastic that you’re committed to continuing to provide a broad size range. I think it’s also a little chicken and egg – there aren’t that many plus size bloggers to promote larger patterns, but because there aren’t many large patterns there aren’t that many plus size bloggers…. I’d certainly be happy to test new patterns you have (and I have a few fellow plus size bloggers who I know would be happy to, too). You can email me at cashmerette@gmail.com

    • Mari Miller March 31, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      Jenny, I totally agree! It is a bit of a chicken/egg problem. I’ll get in touch soon about that plus pattern.

    • Michelle March 31, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

      I wonder if marketing is partially why you haven’t broken even on the pattern drafted especially for busty women? I took a look over at your site (partially because the phrase “pattern for the busty” draws me like a moth to a flame), and I couldn’t figure out which pattern it was. I assume that it’s the plus-sized Avocado hoodie? I know that patterns with larger cup sizes are a huge selling point to many of us in the plus and almost-plus size ranges.

    • Sew Savory March 31, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

      Mari – I had NO IDEA that you were producing anything for the plus size crowd. I had looked at the original Avocado Hoodie when it first came out. As I am definitely outside the bust and hip range, I mentally made note of its inherent cuteness, but that was as far as I went. I will take another look.

      And Jenny – THANK YOU for this blog post (and your blog, too). It is appreciated more than you know. 🙂

  4. Mari Miller March 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    One more company to add to the list! Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick makes very well drafted plus versions of her patterns.

    • Michelle March 31, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      I temporarily forgot about SBCC patterns. They’re sized specifically for petites (misses and plus). Her (free!) Tonic tee is my go-to TNT tee pattern now, and I’ve since bought several others that are waiting in my queue.

  5. Nancy March 31, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I have come to your blog from Carolyn’s, which I follow religiously. I wonder if you would consider adding the gadget to allow someone to follow your blog via email subscription? I would be so grateful.

    • Jenny March 31, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      Hi Nancy, thanks for following! I’ll see what I can do 🙂

    • Jenny March 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      Well that turned out to be easy 😀 Done!

    • Melissa Oyler April 24, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      If you have MS Outlook & Firefox you can also go up to BOOKMARKS in Firefox & click on SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PAGE, then choose the option for the RSS feed. It may ask you how you want to view the posts. Choose MS Outlook. This will launch a new Outlook window & you’ll have to verify that you want to subscribe (click YES or OK, can’t recall which). All your RSS subscriptions will show up in Outlook in the sidebar under RSS Feeds. Each blog will have its own folder & posts will automatically go there when the author posts. From there you can organize, forward, print, etc. like any other email. I follow this blog & about 18 others this way. I have Outlook 2010 BTW, & the latest of Firefox. I was also able to do this w/ Outlook 2007. 😉

  6. Mary Danielson March 31, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    Great article, Jenny! This will be such a fantastic resource for people. I’m in the middle of drafting my next Sewing the Curve post, so I will definitely be linking through to this. Fab!

  7. Sue Schott March 31, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    You should add Petite Plus patterns. Also, I personally recommend Fit for Art patterns. You will not find anything else that compares to Fit for Art. They are the ONLY ones that have different crotch curve patterns.

    • Jenny March 31, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

      Thanks Sue, I’ve never heard of either of them!

  8. Kathy March 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    Jalie has multi size patterns that go up to reasonable sizes eg their raglan tshirt goes to a 50 ” bust

    • Jenny April 1, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      Added to the list! Thanks Kathy

  9. Laurwyn April 1, 2014 at 4:00 am #

    As everyone said, That’s a very cool post! It opens the doors to a lot of ideas! Thanks for the research you put in!

    • Jenny April 1, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      I confess I am a bit of an Excel geek so I secretly loved it 🙂

  10. tanyamaile April 1, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    I sure do love an informative post! So far I’ve only sewn with Colette, Cake, and Sewaholic patterns (and of course the big 4). I’m so used to grading up I guess I don’t even pay attention to the sizes anymore. It sure would be nice to cut out a straight pattern! Thanks for the shout out! 🙂

    • Jenny April 1, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      Can you imagine?! You should check out Lekala – if they really work well, it could be amazing not to have to grade anything…

  11. Nessa April 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    So lovely to see the faces of my favourite plus-sized ladies on your blog about fantastic sewing for the voluptuous!!!!!
    Great post Jenny!

  12. Jill Dorsey || Made with Moxie April 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    What an awesome post. I completely agree with you. I am a size 16 and while I did have a breast reduction, still have to either grade patterns out or just not buy them.

    I’m also working on my Prefontaine Shorts for Women pattern and am grading it up to a size 24/26. I’d love anyone who would be brave enough to test them for me. I really want the right fit.

    • Jenny April 1, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

      Hi Jill, thanks! I’d be happy to pattern test your shorts and I know a bunch of curvy ladies up to that size range who might be interested too… You can email me at cashmerette@gmail.com.

  13. thecuriouskiwi April 1, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Papercut now goes up to XL which is a 112cm bust, I know that’s only 44 inches but would be nice to see her added to the list (NZ represent, yay!)

    • Jenny April 1, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Thanks! I couldn’t see that on their site – do you know which patterns are now going to XL?

  14. Barbarags April 7, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    I am from the UK and I was delighted to see that you had included pattern company size comparison charts this blog. However, looking at the size number you have listed for the UK sizes for the Big Four size charts these do not match with the sizes shown on our current patterns- for example a UK size 18 is a 40 inch bust and the corresponding European size is 44. The French have a different sizing so that their UK size 18 would be named size 46. Perhaps you are using vintage pattern sizings because there was a change in pattern sizing in the UK about 40 or 50 years ago so what is now a UK size 10 (this is a 32.5 inch bust) used to be a UK size 12. I cannot comment on independent company patterns outside the Big 4 so I don’t know if your chart is correct for these.

    • Jenny April 7, 2014 at 6:02 am #

      This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Jenny April 7, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      Thanks Barbara – I realized I was confusing RTW and pattern sizing for the UK (I’m used to being 2 sizes smaller in the US than the UK). Based on your comment it seems that now the UK and US actually use the same measurements in sewing patterns!

    • Barbarags April 18, 2014 at 1:47 am #

      Measurements and sizes for RTW in the UK are a nightmare. Every manufacturer seems to have their own idea of what is a size 14, for example- I am a dress pattern size 10 in the UK but in RTW I am anything from a 6 to a 14.
      Your charts are very helpful to determine which of the independent pattern companies have sizings that are a best match for one’s own measurements. I belong to a dressmakers’ club with over 300 members and they will be so useful for us all.

    • Barbarags April 18, 2014 at 2:13 am #

      Sorry to carp but would you like to check your European sizing on your charts, for example – I believe for the Big four patterns this would be the sizing for a 36 inch bust- UK size 14, European size 40 and French size 42.

    • Jenny April 18, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      Hiya – so there seem to be multiple different measurements for Euro sizes. Therefore what I did is make sure that patterns that have Euro sizing on them in then US (eg Deer and Doe) are shown with the right measurement under the right size – for the euro to us size mapping I did the best I could given all the variation

  15. Jenny April 7, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. L April 7, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    I just became aware of this post. Thank you for sharing this information! This is extremely helpful!

    • Jenny April 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

      Glad to be of use!

  17. Melissa Oyler April 24, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Got a question for you… When looking at the bust measurement of any particular pattern, if it simply says BUST (as most of them do) am I looking for this to be my high bust, under bust, or full bust measurement??? I ask this because I wear a 38G bra. When I buy RTW clothes I always have to get a bigger size even though the smaller size fits everywhere EXCEPT across my full bust. This makes for an awkward fit everywhere else, obviously. I’m somewhat new to sewing & so far I’ve been looking for patterns to fit my full bust. They’re hard to find, needless too say. I’m wondering if maybe I’m looking at that measurement all wrong and should actually be looking for a smaller pattern & just doing an FBA. HELP! 🙂

    • Jenny April 24, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Hi Melissa! On patterns, the bust measurement is meant to indicate your full bust measurement.

      So there’s a couple of schools of thought on how you should measure if you’re bigger than the biggest bust size:

      1. Some people say use your high bust measurement to choose your pattern size, and then do an FBA, adding additional width equivalent to your full bust minus your high bust measurement. This is meant to give a good fit through the shoulders and back.

      2. Or, you can use your full bust measurement to get the closest size, and then do an FBA. If the rest of the garment is a bit loose, you can then take it in – that’s the joy of sewing!!

      Personally, I tend to do route (2) as my full bust is usually only 2 – 3 bigger than the pattern. FYI, most pattern companies draft for a B cup, but Colette is drafted for a C and BlueGingerDoll for a D – still doesn’t help us too much (I’m a 36HH!) but at least you’re starting from a closer base 🙂

    • Melissa Oyler April 24, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Thank you SO MUCH!!! I appreciate the info greatly. 🙂

  18. Michelle May 22, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    Seamstress also do a plus sized avocado hoodie pattern which is awesome! Up to 56″ bust and 59″ hip!

    • Michelle May 22, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      By the way … THANK YOU, great resource!

  19. Michelle May 25, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    Maria Denmark also has patterns that go up in the X measurements. The Kirsten kimono Tee, for examples goes to 4 XL ( 49 inch bust 52 inch hip).

  20. Olivia June 13, 2015 at 6:51 am #

    very cool , I wish it could be in metric system

  21. barbaradeckertcouture July 27, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

    Hi, Jenny—-

    I’m Barbara Deckert. I offer a line of plus sized lingerie .pdf patterns through Craftsy.com and my Etsy shop at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BarbaraDeckert?ref=hdr_shop_menu . Patterns include:

    “The Goddess of Glam,” a full slip or cami, in sizes 1X – 6X, bust 47 – 75 inches, hips 55 – 75 inches, with separate cup sizes C – G.

    “The Hippy Slippy: Two Half Slips,” in sizes 1X – 6X, hips 55 – 75 inches.

    “The Gargoyle,” long-leg panty girdle, in sizes 1X – 6X, hips 55 – 75 inches.

    “The Hunky Punky,” panty girdle, in sizes 1X – 6X, hips 55 – 75.

    Could you please include these patterns in your list of resources?

    I also teach plus size sewing on Craftsy, “Plus Size Pattern Fitting and Design,” and here is a link for a discounted class that you can share:

    http://www.craftsy.com/ext/BarbaraDeckert_133_H .

    I am also the author of “Sewing for Plus Sizes: Design, Fit and Construction for Ample Apparel (Taunton: 1999).

    Best,

    Barbara Deckert

  22. Anne November 3, 2016 at 9:33 am #

    This may be off the wall, but I have a Big & Tall husband and am curvy myself. I’d like to make some nightshirts for us both but I cannot find any sort of pattern above XL for him (He’s a 4XLT). Would anyone happen to be able to point me in the right direction? I’ve already been the the Big 4’s website, and everywhere else I have gone stops at a XXL for men.

Let me know what you think!

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