Clothing sizes…. hmmm.
There’s a can of worms for you. And a very emotive subject for many.
This is my understanding of an UK size 10… B-34″/ W-27.5″/ H-37″.
In Top Shop or H&M I can fit into a 10 but usually buy a 12 in tops because of how stuff shrinks in the wash and because I do actually need to move my arms occasionally*.
But in ‘Lady ‘ shops ( i.e. the ones supposedly more geared to my age group …yawn) I fit into an 8, even occasionally a 6. So what size do I wear ? I dunno, seemingly a 6/8/10/12?
*Fit and cut are different problems and ones I have even bigger issues with than sizing. My biggest gripe in that area is universally poorly fitted shoulder/armholes. Unless doing a Royal wave I can’t hail a friend or a taxi; see how HRH’s elbow isn’t raised above shoulder height? Why can’t high-street brands seem to cut a jacket you can actually raise your arms in?? Looks nice with arms down but raise your arms? Ha!
The reason I’m banging on about all this is because I’ve spent the last few days doing an extra bit of research on sizing
and came across a couple of blog posts I found particularly interesting: Fashion Incubator » Blog Archive » The myth of vanity sizing. Down at paragraph 7 or so she talks about sizing pre 1960’s and how it was arrived at. Something I did not know! I also liked her The Birth Of Size 10? post. Some really great pattern alteration/sewing tutorials there too. The link on a single-strip sleeve placket alone was worth spending my morning online.
Which brings me next to commercial sewing-pattern sizing and proportions. Now my head starts to really hurt! Looking at the Vogue/McCall Misses’& Misses’ Petite chart I’m a medium, somewhere in-between a 12 & 14. Ok, but I’m really wondering why the back length for petite sizing is 16 1/2″. On to the Womens’ Petite chart which says it’s aimed at heights of 5’2″-5’4″ the back length for the XSmall is also 16 1/2″. I know bodies come in many shapes and sizes -I make clothes and costumes in a huge variety of shapes and sizes; from my own daughter at 5’2″ and 31″/24″/34″ to yesterdays TV job for a 6’2″ man with a 67″ waist. But honestly as a 5’4″ woman, and having made many many garments for other similar height women I have found a back length of 16 1/2″ to be the exception rather than the rule. 15 to 15 1/2″ is more common in that height range. Surely the Big 4 didn’t only measure shorter women who have long backs and shorter legs? When I was cutting and fitting for a fashion company 16 1/2″ was the kind of back-waist measurement the 5’10″+ models had. Just feeling very bemused here.
And to top it off in vintage patterns I’m a 14 or sometimes 16.
How do the Big 4 do their size research? I haven’t worked from commercial patterns (other than pre-1950 vintage ones) for years and seeing those charts today was an eye opener. I’ve read on many blogs over the past months tons of complaints about the vague fit of many commercial patterns.
So far what my investigations have shown me is that you cannot please everybody all of the time, and definitely not if you are a clothing manufacturer or pattern company. Basically I just ignore the stated size on pattern envelopes and look at the body measurements. Same with clothes. When vintage and thrift shopping I have a tiny tape measure I take with me. When jeans and t-shirt shopping I just keep my fingers crossed and hope my trusted brands haven’t messed with their sizing or fit!
So Readers, I’d be very interested in any insights you have or rants you wish to share on the following things :
- -What are your own hopes/expectations from patterns and what are your biggest disappointments when you buy and use a pattern whether it be vintage or contemporary?
- -Do some pattern brands really fit better than others or do you find them all much of a muchness.
- -Do you sew with how-to sewing books close by to refer to if needed or do you expect to pattern instructions to tell you everything you need to know?
- -And why is everyone so keen on multi-sized patterns?? After all you can only wear one size….
And if you are passionate about sewing…and sewing better, I definitely recommend a trawl through the Fashion Incubator blog.
Oh, and btw if you want to buy me clothes for Christmas I wear a 6 to a 16 🙂