I see it throughout the community again and again, “I wear a large in store-bought clothes, but the large on this pattern doesn’t fit!” Okay, maybe not that exactly, but something along those lines. As a petite woman, with a rectangular shape, weighing in around 150 lbs, my absolute FAVORITE thing about sewing is being able to sew clothing that actually fits and flatters me every time! The key to doing this, is getting those measurements and using those measurements to select the right size based on the size chart, even if that means grading between sizes.
Before we get started, let’s grab a few tools:
- A piece of narrow elastic larger than your waist
- A flexible measuring tape–my personal favorite is the Clover Shiro Measuring Tape because it’s made with a fiberglass material to prevent stretching
- A piece of paper & pen to write your measurements (Pro Tip: Here you can download a free printable measurement chart for youth and adults)
- Sticky tape (optional, but helpful when measuring yourself)
Now that we’ve got those, let’s talk about what you should wear because it definitely matters! Anything close-fitting without being constrictive. Bike shorts or underwear and a cami are perfect. Bryn, Luna, and Gable are all great patterns for this, unfortunately I didn’t have any readily available. (Bad planning on my part *face palm emoji*)
Alright, you’re ready. I’m ready. Let’s do this. We first have to find the natural waist and to do this, simply tie the elastic snugly around the waist just above the belly button. Once you’ve secured it, do a little dance or simply bend at your waist side to side, sit down, stand up, basically just move and the elastic will eventually rest at the natural waistline. This is an important point because several other measurements start or stop at your natural waist. From here, we are finally ready to measure!
Here’s a visual guide on how to take your measurements. Remember to keep your measuring tape level/straight for every measurement and for the subject to keep their shoulders at rest (i.e. arms down at the sides).
So we’ve got our list of measurements, it’s time to go to the size chart! I’ve included a couple of different ones and highlighted where my measurements fall in each category.
NOTE: If there is only one number listed in the category, that represents the bottom of the range. So If I have a 24″ waist, I’d fall into Grey.
This is the size chart from Women’s Kaia and based on my measurements, I would use Green and grade the bust and waist to Indigo. The finished measurements help provide information on the amount of ease in a given pattern. They aren’t always included, but our designers include them as needed for their patterns.
This is the size chart from Women’s Mila. Based on my measurements here, I’d use Green, but I would need to grade for height out of the inseam and knowing my inseam allows me to know exactly how much length I need to remove without guessing…not that I ever just guessed…
There is more to selecting the right sizing than just getting your measurements and reading a chart, though. In the tutorials, just above the the size charts, there’s a little paragraph about sizing and though at first glance it appears to be the same from tutorial to tutorial, it’s not. In these paragraphs about sizing, the designer gives you information that is specific to that pattern which can help you understand how the pattern is drafted to fit and how to accurately select your size. Some tops, like Rory and Tess, specify to select size based on upper bust and grade for waist, while others like Paige and Ava say to select size based on the hips. My point? Take the extra minute to read this info! It could be the difference between a muslin you trash and a muslin you wear! For more information on intended fit versus preferred fit, check out our “true to size” blog post here.
Well, the more I sew the more I learn about how better to sew for my body and in doing so, I’ve gained SO MUCH CONFIDENCE! I’m not the only one either. I’ve read it throughout social media and I’ve heard it from friends, too. Getting the right fit takes time, but it is worth ever minute and learning how to accurately measure and select your sizing is the perfect start to that!
I hope this was helpful!