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Choosing the Correct Pattern Size ~ Tops

Many students recently have had questions about choosing the correct pattern size. This is a valid concern, because there is no correlation between retail sizing and sewing pattern sizing. It can be very confusing, so here are a few tips for making the right selection.

  1. Begin with an honest, accurate and non-judgemental set of measurements. You'll need the full bust, waist and hip measurements for a top. The most important of these is the full bust. Wrap a measuring tape around the fullest part of your bust, level with the floor, and record the number. Wear your best fitting bra, and continue to wear it during test fittings.

  2. None of the numbers in a retail bra provide the full bust measurement. A retail bra is labeled with the band size and the cup size. For example, a 36 D bra translates to a 36" band and a D cup. Neither of these is the full bust number that a sewing pattern requires.

  3. Find your full bust number on the chart provided by the pattern (generally on the back of the pattern). This is the size you will need. For example, a 38" full bust is a size 16 in Vogue, Butterick, McCall's and Simplicity. Independent patterns may use different sizing , and may have this chart inside the envelope or at their websites. Burda prints the chart inside the envelope, in the pattern catalogue and online. Don't be surprised if the correct sewing pattern size is larger than your retail size. Remember, retail sizing is based on a whole different measurement system than sewing patterns.

  4. Finally, the full bust size is the critical measurement for a top. The waist and hip can easily be adjusted to match the measurements of your body.

With these tips in mind, you'll be able to select the correct size for your body, and be one more step on the way to to successfully creating a well-fitting top that you'll love.

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