Tag Archives: body measurements

Polkadot Dress

One of my all time favourite fabrics has to be the polkadot.

It’s always in fashion, either on shirts and blouses or dresses and scarfs. I have chosen this gorgeous blue spot today, which I suppose is a little bit corporate. I like smart though and I think it works well in this style of dress with the half sleeves.

Polkadot Dress Fitting image
Polkadot Dress Fitting
Polkadot Dress Layout image
Polkadot Dress Layout

Although this is a pattern which I have used before and it is in my go to dress pattern pile on the shelf, it came out a bit snug when I did my fitting and I had to let the seams out about half an inch on each side, as much as I could reasonably squeeze out of the seam allowance. I must have put a bit of weight on recently!

Polkadot Dress Front
Polkadot Dress Front

The dress is not lined, as the weather is warming up, and I have simply finished off the neck edge with a facing which is under stitched and secured at the shoulders.

Polkadot Dress back fitting image
Polkadot Dress back fitting
Polkadot Dress front image
Polkadot Dress front

Vanity sizing

I get quite a few emails asking for advice about which pattern size to use. Few of us fit the average dress size or even the size on the pattern packet.

I’ve done some digging around on the internet and discovered that pattern sizing, along with ready to wear clothes sizing has changed a lot over the years and continues to change. It is often referred to as vanity sizing and reflects the growing size of the general population. Example, in 1931 the smallest standard size for women was a size 10 US, which had a bust measurement of 28 inches, by 1971, forty years later, the smallest available size was a 6, however a size 10 now fit a bust of 33 ½ inches. Now another forty or so years on a US size 10 is made for a bust of 36 inches and we have seen the creation of size zero and negative sizes to accommodate people who have a small frame. With all this standard size changing as well as variation in sizing between the pattern manufactures its hardly surprising we get in such a mess when it comes to choosing which one to use to achieve the best fit.

First of all you need to know your own body measurements. Don’t guess at this, it is well worth being honest with the tape measure and making a note of what you are in both inches and centemeters. Some European patterns like Burda and Ottobre are in cm. Take more measurements than you think you need for the pattern to make any alterations possible. For instance under the bust, around the upper arm (arm girth), around the thigh and the full hip, where the waist is larger than the hip.

If you are fitting for a dress it is best to use your bust measurement as the lead measurement. This will give you the best chance of the right fit around the shoulders and back as well as the armholes. Make your pattern alterations as you work down the body from the correct bust. For the waist, if you need to increase, divide the increase by four and add it to each side seam, if my waist measures 34 inches and the pattern is for a waist of 30 inches then I divide the extra four inches and add one inch to each side seam at the waist line. Draw a smooth line down from the armpit to the new waist. Repeat this for the hip measurement as well. If you need to decrease the waist, then you are lucky, simply adjust the pattern by decreasing at the side seams.

Working in this way will mean that the sleeves will still fit in the arm holes and any darts will be in the same place. Of course there are many different advanced fitting alterations you can do to get the perfect fit but this is just intended to be a guide to choosing which size pattern to use as a starting point.

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Happy Sewing

Gingham Dress

One of the main reasons why I sew my own clothes is so that I can achieve a good, hopefully great, fit. Shop bought ready to wear is made for the average sizes and lets face it but very few of us are a perfect average and few of us would ever want to be!

I know we are all too aware of where our own fitting problem areas are and mine has always been the fact that I am tall and that the extra height is not in my legs where I would want it to be but in the length of my torso. For example, it is impossible to get a one piece swimsuit to fits me, I always have to get those two piece tankini combinations. So with clothes shopping I’m alway looking out for longer length tops and shirts and I know from experience that the waist on dresses always sits in the wrong place, about two inches north of where it should be. Commercial paper patterns are no different and over the years I have drafted my own patterns from my measurements.

I’m fortunate though that my standard pattern alteration is a fairly simple one as I know that some of you have to work quite a bit with a pattern to get it to work right. But once you have spent the time, trial and erroring with a toille and keep a note of the changes you made it becomes easier to transfer those alterations to all your favorite patterns. I have created a simple measurement chart so you can keep a note of your size.


This is the first of my black Gingham dresses, there are going to be two. Both are sleeveless but different styles. I think that sleeveless dresses will be really practical for me going forward into spring/summer now as I will team them with a colourful cardigan. Everywhere I look at the moment I am seeing this black gingham fabric. Ive seen it on the catwalks recently particularly in Diane Von Furstenberg’s 2015 Ready to wear collection. It is used for not only dresses but shirts and blouses, little vest tops and accessories too.

Follow Sewing Avenue’s board Gingham Fabrics on Pinterest.

It (gingham) seems to be in both high fashion stores as well as vintage designers shops at the moment, which means its right on trend whether you are a fashionista or a vintage chick.

Sewing with a basic cotton fabric like gingham is a straightforward sew, no stretch to consider, however gingham is even easier as there is no right or wrong side to the fabric. The fabric I was using was quite a light weight so I used a heavier lining fabric to give it more body so that it would hang better.



Here’s a little bit of history,

Gingham fabric was first manufactured in Malaysia which was controlled by the Dutch in the 17th century. It was originally called genggang, meaning stripped, and imported by the Dutch into Europe. If your interested in more history then this is a great site for the full historical low down visforvintage.net/2012/09/11/gingham-fabric/

Please leave any comments below. Also subscribe to the newsletter and follow me on google+facebooktwitterand bloglovin to keep in touch.

Happy Sewing