Selecting a Pattern Size for Perfect Fit


Guide C-205
Reviewed by Wendy Hamilton
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University


Author: Professor and CES Grants and Contracts Development Specialist, Media Productions Department, New Mexico State University (Print friendly PDF)

The first step to achieving excellent fit in fashion with a minimum of alteration and fitting is selecting a pattern that fits properly from the start! It’s a good idea for home sewers to take measurements periodically so they can be sure of selecting the pattern type and size with the best fit. This is especially important for growing children and youth whose figures have not yet completed development, for people who gain or lose weight easily, and for mature adults as their figures change. In just a matter of months, one’s figure may change enough to change the size or type of pattern needed for best fit.

The pattern types available are designed for a variety of figure types. The pattern type you select should generally be determined by your height, stage of figure development, and back–waist length measurement.

The pattern size you select within a pattern type will be determined by your body’s circumference measurements. Check the back pages of the pattern catalog for a guide to determine the pattern type needed for the best fit. Then, use the guide for pattern sizes to select the appropriate pattern type and size.

Accurate measurements are essential for finding the best pattern size. The following tables list the measurements needed for determining pattern size. Beside each one is space for recording measurements three different times. When selecting a pattern, these measurements are the ones you should compare with the measurements on the chart in the pattern catalog to decide what type and size pattern to buy. Look at the illustration to determine where to take the necessary measurements.

Illustration indicating different measurement locations on a female form.

Women: There are a variety of pattern types available for women, including petite, junior, misses, half size, and women’s. Sizes available vary with the pattern type selected.

Measurements Needed To Buy Pattern
Measurements and Date Taken
1. Bust (fullest part of bust, high under arm, straight across back)      
2. Waist (natural waistline)

     
3. Hips (fullest part)

     
4. Back–Waist (from top of prominent bone at base of neckline to natural waistline)      
5. Height (from top of head to floor, without shoes)      
These measurements indicate: Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Size Size Size

Toddlers: Pattern sizes for in-between baby and child stage of growth (sizes 1/2–4).

Measurements Needed To Buy Pattern Measurements and Date Taken
1. Chest (fullest part of chest, high under arm, straight across back)      
2. Waist (natural waistline)

     
3. Garment length (from neckline at center back to desired length)      
These measurements indicate: Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Size Size Size

Children and Girls: Sizes incorporate both circumference measurements and height because they are inter-related (children sizes 1–6X, girls sizes 7–14).

Measurements Needed To Buy Pattern Measurements and Date Taken
1. Breast (fullest part of chest, high under arm, straight across back)      
2. Waist (natural waistline)

     
3. Hips (fullest part)

     
4. Back–Waist Length (from top of prominent bone at base of neckline to natural waistline)      
5. Height (from top of head to floor, without shoes)      
These measurements indicate: Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Size Size Size

Boys and Teen Boys: Size ranges planned for boys and young men who haven’t reached adult stature. Height is considered because it is directly related to circumference measurements (boys sizes 7–12, teen boys sizes 14–20).

Measurements Needed To Buy Pattern Measurements and Date Taken
1. Chest (fullest part of chest, high under arm, straight across back)      
2. Waist (natural waistline)

     
3. Hips (seat; fullest part)

     
4. Neck (around neck at base)

     
5. Height (from top of head to floor, without shoes)      
These measurements indicate: Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Size Size Size

Men: Patterns are designed for figure of average build that stands about 5’10” tall without shoes (sizes 34–48).

Measurements Needed To Buy Pattern Measurements and Date Taken
1. Chest (fullest part of chest, high under arm, straight across back)      
2. Waist (natural waistline)      
3. Hips (seat; fullest part)      
4. Neck (around neck at base)      
5. Height (from top of head to floor, without shoes)      
These measurements indicate: Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Pattern
type
Size Size Size

 

Original author: Susan Wright, Extension Clothing and Textiles Specialist.


Photo of Wendy Hamilton.

Wendy Hamilton is an Extension Evaluation and Accountability Specialist at New Mexico State University who provides expertise for program development and evaluation. She has worked at four land-grant universities, and has a diverse background in textiles and clothing, adult education, 4-H youth-at-risk, horticulture, evaluation, and grant writing.


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Revised January 2015