Lessons Learned: Pattern Sizing

As I have mentioned several times now, I work for a well known Fabric Store in Glasgow.  I’ve worked there for ten months now and most of what I have learned about sewing I have gathered from colleagues and customers.

When i first started I was terrified about answering people’s questions about how much fabric they need etc in case I got it wrong but I’m a bit more confident now.  There’s still one question though which fills me with dread…”which pattern size should I get?”

So I decided to take matters into my own hands and did some research.  The following is information in my own words which I have gleaned from information provided on Butterick/Vogue/McCalls websites…


  •  A dress pattern Size 10 is not necessarily the same as a size 10 you might buy from a High Street shop.  Shops set their sizes however they please to help them sell clothes whereas patterns conform to a standard set of sizes.

Standard Figure / Height

  •  Misses’ Patterns are designed with ‘average height’ in mind which is approx. 5’5” to 5’6” (1.65m to 1.68m).
  • They are also designed with a B Cup figure in mind.

Choosing a Pattern

  • It is important to measure carefully and select a pattern size by comparing actual body measurements to those printed on the body measurements charts provided by pattern companies.


Pattern Sizing Measurements

  • You should know your Bust, Waist and Hip measurements before choosing a pattern.
  • Your cup size is the difference between bust + chest.  Your chest measurement is taken above your bust, not below.
  • Up to 1” difference = A Cup, Up to 2” = B Cup, Up to 3” = C Cup, Up to 4” = D Cup
  • If you are an A or B cup then use your bust size to select a pattern, if you are C+ then use your chest measurement instead which will give better fit across the shoulders, chest and upper back.

Choose size by Garment Type

Dresses, Blouses, Tops, Jackets, Coats and Vests:  Bust or Chest.  Adjust waist and hips as required.

Skirts, Pants, Shorts:  Waist.  However, if hips larger than waist by 13” or more select by hip measurement as it is better to adjust waist than add to hips.

Coordinates: Bust or Chest


  • If you are small boned select a smaller size, if you are large boned select a larger size.

Design Ease

  •  Today’s fashions are tighter to the body so fitted patterns have less design ease than they used to.
  •  If body measurements vary much from those on the envelope and pattern is described as ‘closely fitted,’ ‘fitted’ or ‘semi fitted’ it may be necessary to adjust pattern or choose a larger size by actual measurements.
  •  Some customers prefer to choose styles described as ‘loose fitting’ in a smaller size.

5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned: Pattern Sizing

  1. Pingback: McCalls 6503 – Wedding No. 3 « Konnie Kapow!

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  3. Pingback: Vogue V8184 – Adventures in Fitting Part I | Sew Kapow!

  4. Pingback: Vogue V8184 – Adventures in Fitting Part I | Konnie Kapow!

  5. Pingback: Vogue 8604 – High Waisted Trousers | Konnie Kapow!

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