Why that shirt I made doesn’t fit

I gave up sewing my own clothing years ago. It was such an exercise in frustration: I would cut the pattern size out that my measurements indicated I was, sew the garment and put it on… and it didn’t fit. The shoulder seams would slop off, underbust seams wouldn’t fit under the bust, and the whole thing would sit wrong.

Here’s what I didn’t know – the measurements on patterns are a lie. According to Simplicity, I am a perfect size 20. But if I make a size 20, it doesn’t fit correctly, because I do not have a B-cup. If you are more than a B-cup, you should use your upper bust measurement, not your full bust. In truth, I am a 16 at the shoulders, not a 20. I will need to add fullness at the bustline (and ONLY the bust area), however, to get a shirt to fit. Typically, I also like a little less ease at the waist and more at the hips, so this reduces my waist to an 18 and my hips to 22.

I didn’t learn this until I took a sewing class – this would be my first sewing class in 15 years. I wish I had known this little gem years ago – I would have had a closet full of awesome clothes that I made instead of a pile of scrap fabrics.

The things I learn in sewing class…

Today I learned why ready-to-wear and sewing patterns hate me.  First, a little background:  I have been sewing for about 15 years, and I am mostly self taught.  I don’t particularly enjoy sewing clothing because I put so much work into it and it doesn’t fit right.  Today, I have learned why.

Patternmakers think  my ass is huge.  Enormous. 

Thing is – I never thought so.  I always thought I was pretty much in line with the majority of women, a fairly representative sample of the hourglass (other than the thunder thighs).  My waist and hip measurement always falls in line with the pattern size, so what gives?

In class, I am making Simplicity 2562, a wide leg pants pattern for a curvy fit.  Here’s what I had to do to make these pants fit:

1. Lengthen the center back seam, above the crotch curve.  This makes sense because every single pair of ready to wear pants sits lower in the back than it does in the front.  I don’t have a single pair of pants that doesn’t do the ‘backslide.’

2. Widen darts by half an inch.  I already made the curvy option, so I don’t quite understand this.  Shouldn’t they take into account that a curvy girl has a bigger booty?  Sure, it gave me two darts instead of one, but I think the issue lies in the fact that a pattern size 20 is exactly the same shape as a pattern size 10, just larger.  Show me the curvy size twenty that is shaped like a 10 and I’ll show you a plus sized model.

3. Widen the side seam at the hip 3/4″.  This is what happens when darts get bigger.  Gotta add it back in somewhere.

I can see, though, that these pants are really going to fit, and furthermore, they are going to flatter.  So I am sending out a call to all you patternmakers – Make sure you include my booty!