Tuesday, 20 April 2010

My body's too bootilicious for you, Vogue Patterns.

I have been following Zoe's Me-Made-May Challenge with a mixture of interest and envy. Interest because, obviously, it's a totally awesome idea, building on her Me-Made-March success in only wearing clothes she made herself. Envy because I am very much not yet good enough at sewing to take part (I do not think my knits are eligible, because I already only wear knitwear made by me, which I suppose is an achievement but does not make for much of a challenge).

Rather than weep into a knitted hankie about my sorry lack of sewing skillz, I decided to do something about it. 

Enter Vogue V8240, a halterneck dress with a daringly plunging neckline and a pleasingly full skirt. I read through the instructions, and was somewhat surprised to find I more or less understood them, which is progress in itself, as until recently sewing patterns might as well have been written in mystic runes for all the sense they made to me.

Then, however, I took my measurements, and everything started to go pear-shaped...

I am quite well-acquainted with the measurements of my upper half, as I check them quite regularly for jumpers and cardigans. As for the rest of me, I was vaguely aware of being a classic British pear-shape... seeing this translated into a sewing pattern size was something of a shock, though. It appears I am a size 8 at the bust, a 12 at the waist, and somewhere between a 12 and 14 at what pattern manufacturers refer to as the 'Hip', but which I prefer to call the bahookie. Now, I would like to stress that I do not normally have a lot of body hang-ups: I like and do not wish to change my shape. Part of the reason I so want to learn to sew is to fit it better. Late last night, though, as I was debating which size to cut out, I did begin to feel a little bit bad about covering such a wide size spectrum. Was I freakishly disproportionate? Did people wonder behind my back whether I was two differently-sized figures crudely welded together as the result of a cruel medical experiment? 

Leaving aside these body issues, this discovery also threw another obstacle into my path towards sewing wisdom. I have traced out the midriff piece, and attempted to graduate from an 8 at the top of it to a 12 at the bottom... I suppose I'll just have to make a muslin to see if that will fit my form. I have ordered Fit for Real People off of the internet in the hope that it might address this issue, but in the meantime I would absolutely LOVE to hear from anyone with a modicum of sewing experience on the matter.


  1. I've had the same problem with every size chart I have ever encountered. My bottom half is always a size or two bigger than the top! It's bad when it comes to making clothing decisions, but apparently good for your heart!
    Check this out:


  2. My waist is 13 inches smaller than my hip measurement - a nightmare for buying jeans :-(
    With this pattern you could probably do it in size 8 all the way down, as the skirt is gathered at the waist and fuller over your bahookie(!) If I cut bigger on gathered skirts, I usually end up reducing again because too much 'gather' on my lower half isn't that flattering on me. But better to cut too big than too small. Good luck with your sewing - even though your knitwear is an achievement, it's still a challenge to wear at least one thing made by you each day. Knowing me, I'll forget!

  3. Oh yeah, I am right there with you - always a size or two bigger on bottom than on top. For this particular pattern, I would probably cut everything out of the top size. Since the skirt is so full anyway, I doubt that the bahookie (haha, love that) will create problems. Of course, that's going entirely off of the envelope picture, so if you don't think it will work, don't do it!

  4. Haha, that's nice to know that my nether regions are valiantly combatting heart disease! Thanks for the sewing advice - I had wondered if I could get away with a smaller size on the bottom given the fullness of the skirt so that's good to have it confirmed by people who know what they're doing!

  5. The sizing on commercial patterns seem to be completely made up as they go. It never has anything to do with the size of the actual pattern. I've had the most problems with McCalls and Simplicity, making the size listed on the pattern that matched my measurements, only to have it turn out so big that I look like a 6 year old wearing Mommy's clothes.

    Measure the pattern pieces themselves to figure out what size you are. You can cut out the top and bottom pieces in different sizes (that match your actual measurements, and not the ones Vogue pulls out of their ass.) That dress looks like it has separate pieces for bust, waist and skirt, with a little gathering where the halter meets the waistband, and a lot where the skirt meets it, so you should be able to get away with a lot of fudging, if you need to. But chances are even Vogue isn't really under the impression that a size 12 woman has a 26.5 inch waist(!)

  6. "Fit for Real People" is a great book, and it will address our common fitting issue - being bigger on bottom. The most important thing to remember is that shoulder issues are much harder to fix than waist/hip issues, so start with the correct shoulder size and adjust the rest accordingly. I totally agree with the other commenters about maybe not needing to cut the skirt a size larger - there are plenty of gathers to cover the bahookie ;-)

  7. That's why I don't even look at the Vogue pattern catalogue... their sizing is bizarre. I seem to be a 1940's age 14 in vintage sizes - the proportions are so much more "me". Maybe you just need to find your style era and shop vintage!


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