Why do clothing sizes make no sense?

If you've tried a few sewing patterns, you may have noticed that size is arbitrary. The truth is that there is no current standard for clothing sizes. The measurement charts at your favourite store are actually chosen by the company itself, and can vary widely from shop to shop. A size 12 from one label can easily be a 10 or 14 somewhere else, which can make clothing shopping frustrating! 

This also allows for vanity sizing, where measurements are labelled with smaller numbers, in an effort to boost sales. After all, who wouldn't want to magically discover they're a size smaller than they expected?

Sizing in ready-to-wear garments just doesn't make a lot of sense.


A bit of history:

Before there were factories, new clothing was all made by hand, to your exact measurements. Standard sizing was developed for men during wartimes, to expedite sewing uniforms, which could be altered to fit. But though standards were also created for women in the 1940s or 1950s, the female form has more curves, and therefore, more variation in the relationship between body measurement and sizing. For example, two women can both have a bra size of 36D, but their waist and hip measurements can differ significantly if one is apple shaped and the other has an hourglass figure. (Source: Wikipedia!)


These variations make it difficult, though not impossible, to design clothing at larger sizes. Skinnier bodies are easier shapes to dress, so there is a lot more selection if you're a size 2 vs a size 20. This is true even with sewing patterns, and even patterns that fit "plus sized" women are not necessarily trendy or well designed. Altering a sewing pattern to fit your specific curves may help with fit, but that doesn't guarantee that the style is right.


How we see things:

Size is often given a lot more psychological meaning than it deserves, when in reality, we see it as just a number which can be used as a reference point for your sewing, and that's it! Your body is your body, and it's unique to you. Sewing gives you the opportunity to make something that fits, makes you look good, but more importantly, makes you feel good. The sewing community is full of normal people who make clothes to fit, and can be a great source of inspiration. If you're making something, try searching for it on your favourite social media sites, and see how it turned out on other people!

It's important to know your size in a sewing pattern, especially since many people are different sizes in different places, for example, Sandra is generally a "16" at the bust, but an "18" from the waist down, but can adjust for that in her makes. Size also has a connection with the yardage needed for a project: a larger body needs more yardage!

One of our primary goals at Fig and Needle is to promote body positivity through inclusion. We hope that our collection of wardrobe staples will be stylish and easily adaptable to any shape. With an extended size range, we hope to be able to fit a wider variety of bodies. We're designing two separate sloper sets and our aim is to create patterns that are easily adjustable to individual curves and shapes.

We're also designing our slopers with larger cup sizes to align with the current national average. A B-cup bra may have been standard a few decades ago, but the average American woman today wears a D-cup bra! Our patterns will be drafted with a D-cup in mind for our smaller size range, and a DD/E-cup for the larger sizes. 

We'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on sizing and fashion today. Let's chat in the comments or send us an email!