There hasn’t been much knitting lately – Cherry needs sleeves and button bands, but sewing has been in full swing. Not that I have anything to show for it, yet, except a big old headache.

This past year I have gained a bunch of weight. I went from a size 2 to a 6 in most cases, and although I’m at my heaviest ever (this is hard to even type) I am still, by most American standards, a relatively small person. I went from slim to “average”, say. So imagine my surprise when I purchase all these sewing patterns and I am nearly off the charts in some of the sizing. I know, I’ve said for years now that clothing companies do all this “vanity sizing” and that today’s 0 and 2 were once a 4 and 6. So, it’s easy to understand why I might have entered double digits in the pattern world. At the top of the charts though, that’s been kind of hard to um….swallow.

Last weekend at my mother’s we did a practice run with one of my skirt patterns and some scrap fabric. Being it was my first time sewing a garment, she helped with the cutting and pinning where I should sew seams. We cut a 14 based on wacky package measurements. At some point, we deemed it a bit too loose and took in seams. There isn’t much to show on that practice piece yet – it hasn’t a zipper and the hem needs redoing, but I got excited enough to start on my own with purchased fabric.

July 4th I stayed in all day and cut and sewed. My machine works a bit differently than my mother’s so there was that handicap. And, I cut a size 12 due to the taking in of the practice piece. But maybe I cut more precisely than my mother did. She’s used to patterns that have an extra line for seam allowance, this one does not. So, after about 6 hours of sewing, I try the thing on, it’s way too tight. Not too tight to wear at my waist, but it’s meant to be a low riding waistband.

Yesterday my mother came in and after 3 hours of trying to salvage the skirt, decided it was just too small. Frustration was at a major high yesterday. I’d ruined fabric I loved and the closer quilting store didn’t have it. I was pretty ready to pack up the sewing machine and be done with it for good.

But I decided to cut that fabric into a sleeveless shirt pattern, so perhaps it will be saved. And I’m going to buy the same fabric again because I love it and I will cut a (much) larger skirt and try not to take those numbers seriously. It’s hard. I know many women wear bigger sizes and they look fantastic so I don’t mean to insult anyone, really. But for me, it’s a big blow. I hate you, pattern companies.

I also have 2 more patterns and fabric I want to work with – so I hope I can stick with this. It doesn’t come as naturally to me as knitting, for sure. But I’m sure going to try again.

11 Responses to “Sewing is not good for the ego”

Don’t let the pattern sizes get you down! It’s not the fashion industry–I think sewing patterns have been this way for quite some time. Ready to wear works on an entirely different system…and there’s a lot of vanity involved! For what it’s worth, wedding dresses are sized exactly the same way, which is why it’s so important to get good measurements taken and order by those, not by the size.

And just remember–there’s no tag inside what you sew to tell your “secret!”
Hang in there!

i hear ya sister. those pattern sizes are just no good. i’m a size 8 or a 10 in most name brands and they want me to cut an 18!! ugh, it’s so depressing and totally bad for the ego. and you’ve also nailed why i don’t sew as much as i knit. once you cut that fabric, it’s done. you can’t piece it back together. it’s better to cut larger and go down from there.

with knitting, you can knit and rip to your hearts content and most yarn is salvagable after a good rip. but keep at it! you can totally whip that sewing machine into shape 🙂

I understand. I solved this by….not sewing anymore!


Practice, practice, practice. You’ll get there, too bad some good fabric was almolst wasted. But good for you for repurposing it.

Oof. Last Friday I got weighed for the first time in a year and it was shocking–a lot more than I’d been guessing. I want to learn how to make my own clothes, too, but first I need to get over what the numbers mean. Or start believing that they really don’t mean anything.

dude. i feel your pain. i have gained over 30 pounds since moving here and gone from an 8 to a snug 12, and sometimes 14 even in retail stores. and in pattern sizes i have to wear 14s on top and 18s on the bottom. which makes sewing dresses make lots of sense right?

Sounds like bridal/bridesmaid dress sizing to me! Just remember, the numbers don’t matter. Especially since every manufacturer sizes things differently these days.

I always thought that patterns should be standardised as the sized don’t mean anything, what does matter is the finished measurements.

I’d stoppped looking at Kim Hargreaves sizing because it’s too depressing to see that I need an extra large if I want about 40 inches across the bustline. of course, this probably means that I ought to work harder at losing weight.

I hear you on the pattern sizing. It totally freaked me out when I first discovered how different they are from regular clothing. But, if you can stick with it, the reward is excellent-fitting clothing, tailored to your exact body shape. I’m still between sizes on patterns, just like I am in real clothes, so I always have to do alterations anyway.

oh, that pattern sizing…blech. hang in there, and good for you for trying again and recycling the fabric. you’re a born seamstress, and not just by virtue of your lineage — i could see it in your eyes when you had your fabric finds at renegade. 🙂

Oh I feel you, imagine actually being a big girl in retail clothing and then finding out how much bigger you are! I started because I’m an 18 the waist down and a 20 up top so I figure I would tailor make my things. ugh according to the pattern I’m a 26!!!!!! Who ever said that “at least there is no tag…” I say to you Thank You!

But man I tell you when I’m done, oh don’t I look cute and “smaller ;)” because it fits right.