To begin the release of my blocks and patterns I'll be working with a size chart that covers sizes 6-16. It's the chart that I have used for over 25 years and it has proved to be accurate to many aspects of the Australian market. However venturing into making sewing patterns I feel the need to expand the sizes in the range. Some designs will only come in sizes 6-16 while other designs will be graded 6-22. Make sure you've subscribed to my newsletter so you hear about new releases.
Where does it all start?
My earliest experience with size charts started during my time at Manchester Metropolitan University (1990's). I was lucky enough to work in the Department of Clothing Design and Technology at Hollings Faculty. Alison Beasley was our anthropometric specialist, conducting regular research and applying that research to update the size chart we used in the department.
Anthropometry (from Greek ἄνθρωπος anthropos, "human", and μέτρον metron, "measure") refers to the measurement of the human individual.
Today, anthropometry plays an important role in industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics and architecture where statistical data about the distribution of body dimensions in the population are used to optimize products. Changes in lifestyles, nutrition, and ethnic composition of populations lead to changes in the distribution of body dimensions (e.g. the obesity epidemic), and require regular updating of anthropometric data collections.
In 2000 I returned to Australia and had a chance to see how the UK chart compared to local industry sizing.
So what does all this mean for you?
If the industry size charts described above are used for the manufacture of RTW (Ready-to-Wear) clothing and commercial sewing patterns, then only 20-40% of the population will be able to use them directly, without alteration and with confidence. For the rest of us (80-60% of the population) it'll be important for us to understand how we deviate from the industry standard so we know how to interact with all RTW blocks and patterns.
Already you will have most of this information in your head. You use it every time you buy RTW clothing or enter your sewing space. They are the standard changes you already make to patterns, arrived at through years of sewing experience.
In a previous post I described the knowledge as a set of Fit Rules you can apply to all patterns. Some examples:
- 'When I go shopping I always have to buy a size smaller for my trousers and skirts compared to tops and shirts.' This translates in the sewing room as morphing two different sizes together when working with commercial patterns.
- 'I'm 6" tall and sleeves and trouser legs are always too short!' When your height is well beyond the median of the population you know that most clothing will be unsuitable. Some larger brands and retailers can offer variable lengths (S=short, R=regular, L=long) but very few in fashion go that far. In the sewing room you would automatically add minimum 2" (5cm) to sleeves and trouser lengths.
The first conversation is how I take and use my body measurements to select the right size for me. Then followed by; how I integrate my understanding of my own fit rules to finesse my own block fittings.