It’s a very simple matter to change your dress size. Just cut out the tag at the back of the neck. Who invented sizes anyhow? Why do we define ourselves by a set of arbitrary numbers? Each clothing manufacturer decides what its measurements will be. There are no standards for size in ready to wear and there never have been. If you really want to shrink a dress size go to the most expensive store in the city and go to the most expensive section. The more you pay the smaller you can be, its called ‘vanity sizing’.
The best and easiest to read explanation of sizes is in ‘Fit for Real People’ by Pati Palmer & Marta Alto. They show the history of sizes and how sizes and shapes have changed over the years. Fit depends on many factors. The type of garment - jeans or pajamas. The fabric - stiff gabardine or soft sweater knit. Most of all the way you like to wear your clothes. Some people prefer a roomy loose style and others like a sleek close look. My favorite quote about fitting was on a sign outside a motorcycle shop. “People are like bikes - Each one is customized differently”.
There is absolutely no way that a pattern company can make patterns that fit everybody. Patterns are made to fit a mythological average with a ‘B’ cup bra size. They have to start some where. There are 41 different measurements involved in making a pattern. No one fits all 41 measurements exactly. Get to know your body and where it differs from the mythological average. The pattern is a starting point. Cut it , tuck it or add to it, alter it to fit your body.
Alteration skills are not complicated or difficult. By altering the pattern before cutting you will have more success with fitting and sewing. The most important factor in making alterations is a sewing buddy. A comfortable friend you can sit around with in your underwear. Fitting a pattern to someone else is much easier than fitting a pattern to yourself. The book ‘Fit for Real People’ will take you through the entire fitting process. This takes a little time and effort but it is much better to have one pattern that fits perfectly than boxes of patterns that don’t fit.
Once you a have a pattern that fits you perfectly, it can be made repeatedly in different colors with design changes. People will notice that your clothes fit well long before they notice that you are wearing the same pattern. You will be much more comfortable in a garment that fits your body. That comfort will be reflected in your confidence and your relaxed attitude.
Fitting and altering is an ongoing process. Take the perfect pattern and make up a pair of pants in wool gabardine - they fit perfectly. Use that same pattern to make a pair in cotton corduroy - they fit differently. With basic altering skills you can adapt the fit to the fabric. We all change shape over time, alter the pattern to fit the new you.
To fill the demand for customized patterns there are computer programs where you enter measurements and it spits out the pattern. The pattern is on 8 ½ by 11 inch papers that must be taped together. Wild Ginger is one brand. I have not tried it so I can’t say how well it works. The patterns in these programs are usually very basic leaving the design details, like fancy collars, up to you.
Project for this Month - Very carefully, with a nice new seam ripper, take the tags out of all of your garments. Why do you need them? They ball up and make an irritating lump at the base of the neck. If they have metallic threads they are especially irritating. They tend to flip up and poke out for everyone to see. If the garment is light colored or of thin fabric the tag will show through. On knits it often causes a pucker. Look at the backs of dancers as they go past. One out of four will have a tag visible at the neck line. Even on men’s shirts the tag can sometimes be seen through the yoke. Mens tags can also be very irritating to the wearer. If there is a tag that you need to keep, such as ‘Dry Clean Only’, take it out of the neck line and sew it to a side seam.
To change your size just change your attitude. Your body is the way it was designed to be. Be comfortable and confident in your own skin.