Patterns: a starting point

At Fig + Needle, we feel that size really is just a number. It’s a place to start so we have an idea of which one to cut out and how much fabric we need. Size charts vary from company to company because there is no single standard size. And that’s not even getting into RTW sizing!


We’ve talked about size before because this is a topic very near to our hearts. We’ve been following the recent online discussions about extended sizes (see our Instagram post here), and are so pleased that other members of the indie sewing community are considering extending their size ranges! One amazing resource we recommend to pattern makers and sewists alike is the Curvy Sewing Collective. Their guides are so helpful, and we referenced the CSC often as we developed our size chart.

Our patterns are developed using two completely separate slopers: a size 8 drafted with a D cup, and a size 20 drafted with a DD cup. From there, we’re able to grade each sloper three sizes up and three sizes down, resulting in a 0-12 range and a 14-26 range, with fourteen sizes in total. We sewed endless samples and made countless tweaks before we were happy with our slopers.

From there, we draft actual patterns! Having two size ranges means twice the amount of work for a single pattern. We sew lots of samples and make many adjustments to each pattern to make sure we’re keeping the proportions and visual effects consistent. Considering the amount of time and work it takes to draft and test each design in two size ranges, we hope to release 3-5 patterns each year. 

The goal is not to make something that would fit literally everyone, but rather to create a product that is closer to the current average body, that hopefully cuts down the amount of alterations and fit adjustments it takes to sew something that fits you. That includes us! Ping typically has to add 1-2” to the torso, add 1-2” to the sleeve length, and usually rotates sleeves about 1/2” forward. Sandra usually has to square the shoulders, grade between two sizes, and shorten the torso by 3". 

Regardless of what size you are, you’ll likely have to make some alterations to any commercial pattern in order to fit your own unique shape.

What are the most common alterations you have to do to make a pattern fit? Let us know in the comments!

S + P