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Before you choose the design of your pattern, you should fully understand what size you require – and how to figure this out. Sewing patterns generally differ from retail sizes as they're based on figure types, shapes and proportions, rather than standard sizing increments, ensuring there’s no creasing, wrinkling or tightness. So, when choosing your pattern size, there are three main things to think about.
Before determining your body shape and figure type, you should take your measurements. It's best to measure yourself over the top of underwear that you usually wear to ensure you obtain the most accurate results possible, pulling the tape measure snuggly instead of pulling it very tight.
The next step involves finding out your figure type, which is also handy when deciding what size pattern you'll need to purchase. Choosing the correct figure type will minimise the likelihood of having to make alterations and further adjustments. Your measurements may not exactly correspond to specific pattern sizes, but this is a totally natural occurrence – everyone's body size is unique and rarely matches up to the industry's standards. The size you pick should be one that resembles your size the most accurately.
There's a whole host of figure types to choose from when selecting a pattern – the most important measurements to take into consideration are the Bust/Chest, Waist and Hips. But what's your figure type? Figure types correlate to your height and body size – so look back at your measurements to make that all-important decision. You will usually find that you'll closely match one of the following:
Height between 5'5" and 5'6" without shoes - slender figure
Height under 5'4" without shoes - slender figure
Height between 5'5" and 5'6" without shoes - fuller figure
Height above 5'7" without shoes
Height around 5'10" - average build
Girls',Boys' or Juniors'
Growing girls or boys before they've matured
Young children out of nappies
The age between a baby and a child - size allowance for nappies
Babies - newborn to pre-walking
Now that you've taken your measurements and decided upon your figure type, you should consider what your body shape is – this is unrelated to the size of your pattern, but may help you decide which clothing styles will flatter your figure the most. Sometimes patterns will indicate which body shape it's best suited to, although it may be entirely down to you to determine it for yourself. Nonetheless, we're here to help – we've identified five common body shapes that you may fall under: Hourglass, Triangle, Inverted Triangle, Slim Rectangle and Wide Rectangle.
Your hips are wider than your shoulders. Also known as the 'pear' body shape, Triangles should wear patterns and designs that accentuate their shoulders and bodice. Garments with wide collars and shoulder pads are very much favoured, broadening the narrow shoulders.
Your shoulders are wider than your hips. With broad shoulders, Inverted Triangles should wear clothing with lots of detail below the waist, balancing their shape – details could include pockets, pleats, prints and patterns. Alternatively, raglan sleeves make shoulders visually smaller.
Your shoulders, waist and hips are of a similar width, with an overall slim frame. Also known as the 'straight' figure, Slim Rectangles have a less defined waist than other body shapes. Wearing detail on the bust and hip areas will add dimension and volume, creating a fuller body shape.
Your shoulders, waist and hips are of a similar width, with an overall wide frame. With an almost straight-up-and-down figure, Wide Rectangles have a fuller waistline. Adding curves will pull in the waist – clothing should be body-skimming, include shoulder/neckline detail, or have princess seams.
Your shoulders and hips are of a similar width, whilst your waist is much narrower. Hourglasses should wear clothing that accentuates their waist and curves. Fitted clothing, tailored jackets and waist belts are all ideal, showing off the curved body shape.
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