Sunday, July 3, 2011

Truth in Pattern Sizing

I want truth in pattern sizing. I also want pattern companies to give a pattern a number and stick with it. B0454 is also B5108. I found this little trick annoying enough in craft patterns, but could understand it, sort of. I won't bore you with my rationalizations, because at this point they sound irrational, even to me.

Connie Crawford's line for Butterick is billed as "Modern Fit with Ready-to-Wear Sizing." The pants feature a mock fly front with elastic in back, and the back rise is indeed longer than most. Connie Crawford's instructions are impeccable.  Her styling is delightful. 

But somewhere between the design and the printed pattern, sizing was changed. "Ready-to-Wear Sizing" means to me that a person who wears size 10 jeans in manufactured clothing would wear a size 10 in this pattern. Not so. Because right there on the pattern back is the proof. The measurements given are the standard Butterick measurements. 

Wishful thinking beats logic every time. I went ahead and carefully folded the lines on my multi-size pattern to get the smaller size, and I cut the fabric for the smaller size. Then I let it sit for 14 months. Last night, the truth came out. Bored for the simples while waiting for my room to cool down enough so that I could fall asleep, I sewed the first UFO that came to hand. There it was, Butterick 0454, fabric and pattern neatly in a gallon Ziplock bag.

As I unpinned fabric from tissue, I thought, "This looks awfully small.What the heck, I've put together things that were funny looking before." It went together very nicely, and I was delighted to find a construction quirk of mine repeated in Ms. Crawford's instructions. I rarely follow instructions to sew the zipper into the front of the pants before sewing pants together, but I did this time. Ms. Crawford's instructions and design gave me a nice flat zipper front.

As I sewed, I told myself that the human body is a geometric shape and that pattern pieces of different shapes can hold the same body. Technically  it was a muslin, but a muslin made of print fabric captured at Goodwill. The pants looked wonderful, sewed up and flat.

Usually, when a pair of pants is too small, I know by time I've slithered as far as the thigh, and there is no chance that the zipper will zip. I slithered. The pants zipped. The side slit pockets poked out, and the pants fit like wallpaper. I was unhappy.

I held the pants pattern up against one the computer says will fit me. There's an inch difference. At first I thought I would add bits to the fabric and make it fit that way. Then I thought I must need my head examined. I need to cut out the pattern a couple of sizes too big and take it in.

I wonder what "Modern Fit with Ready-to-Wear Sizing" really means. It does NOT mean buy the same size you would in a store. It does not even mean, Buy your hip measurement for a pair of pants and your bust measurement for a top.

What makes the fit modern? The fact that the pattern was issue in 2007?

And while we are at it, why do the measurements on the pattern back show XL and  XXL as being  smaller than 1X. I'm delighted that Ms. Crawford  cared enough to redesign the clothing for Plus size women, but if XL and XXL are both  smaller than 1X and 2X, we need to have measurements printed on size tags, or no one will ever be happy with their clothing. 

True, cutting out anything without  testing the pattern against something that already fits is a bone-headed move. Most people, given the line about RTW sizing, would make the same mistake I did. This doesn't make me any happier. People will misunderstand almost anything, and we've been lied to by pattern envelopes for so long that visible contradictions such as the measurements for an RTW 10 actually applying to a Butterick 12 don't sound a warning gong.

 I wish  pattern companies would  just tell the plain bald truth. Regardless of what size they say it is, go by the measurements, especially if you have more shape than a board. I realize it may be harder to sell  something based on  measurements, when RTW is based on whim and fancy. Today's size 0 is the size 6 of 40 years ago, and 40 years ago  a size 6 was too big. Now I'm muttering because a 10 won't fit, and it wouldn't have happened if I had cut based on measurement as opposed to a sizing system based on whim and flattery.

Listen up, pattern companies! I want truth in sizing. I do not care if you cringe at putting Hip 60 on a pattern front. Making a mistake in size for doll clothing is annoying, with a small investment in time and materials. Making a mistake for standard and large-sized people is enough to turn people away from sewing because the investment is much larger. If no one buys your patterns because you've lied egregiously and continue to lie and then lie about lying, what then, eh?