Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A different standard

I've been on a bit of a sewing binge lately, because it is far, far too hot to even think about knitting. Sewing, reading about sewing, thinking about sewing, and watching the Great British Sewing Bee.

After reading many sewers' blogs about the difficulties they have with getting a good fit when using commercially produced sewing patterns, I noticed a common thread in what they said.

What I got was that, in general, younger sewers have few (if any) problems with sewing garments from commercial patterns and getting them to fit well without making any modifications.

But when they got older, their bodies changed and became "non-standard", and they had to learn how to modify sewing patterns before using them to make clothes to fit.

I can totally sympathise.

It was only while perusing an old sewing book (Sandra Bettina's "Power Sewing", to be exact) that I remembered that once upon a time sewing pattern companies used to make patterns for different body proportions.

Nowadays, patterns for adult woman are mostly categorised as "Misses" (i.e. the body proportions of a young woman), with a very few in "Petite" (i.e. for short young women), or "Plus" (i.e. too fat to fit into the "Misses" sizes).

But a decade or so ago you could also get patterns which were designed for other proportions too - "Woman" (i.e. women in middle-age or thereabouts) and "Half" (i.e. the same as "Woman" but shorties).

I looked at the measurements for each of the standard pattern size categories and realised that my body is approximately the standard "Half" size. Other women who, like me, can't find a trouser pattern that fits their bodies, are probably either also "Half" or "Woman".

And that's when the light went on for me. My body is not non-standard. It's just a different standard to the one which the pattern companies - and commercial clothing manufacturers - have decided is the only standard to use.

Unfortunately that doesn't much help me to sew trousers that fit me...unless you have a Half size trouser pattern to lend me.

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