Getting the Best Size for You, Part I

Have you ever had this experience?   A size 10 off-the- rack dress from your favorite manufacturer fits you perfectly.  You naturally assume that a similar style size 10 dress from any manufacturer will also fit you. One day you quickly purchase something that strikes your eye, without bothering to try it on.   Alas, when you get it home and try it on, it is too tight or perhaps, too large.

Either way is possible, because off-rack clothing does not go by standardized sizes.  Each manufacturer produces the sizes according to their own company-set standard, but there are no standardized sizes that are used by the entire industry.  Less expensive brands, tend to be smaller, since the manufacturer is trying to economize on fabric.  The better brands tend to run larger.  They have more wearing ease. Top quality ready-wear garments also frequently have more generous seam allowances, so you can make alterations if need be.

Fortunately, the patterns from the major pattern manufacturers now all follow a set of standardized measurements.  So a size 14 in a Butterick pattern will be the same size as a size 14 in a Simplicity, McCalls, or Vogue pattern.  However, the standardized sizes used by the pattern companies vary from the sizes you find on the rack. You may be able to wear a size 10 dress from one of the better off-the-rack manufacturers, but still need a size 14 sewing pattern.

The right size pattern combined with a comfortable fabric will make sewing a fun experience. Colorful, lightweight cotton lawn is shown.