In this post I’d like to give you some insight in how our size chart is built up, and how we came to this range of sizes. As you might know almost every indie pattern company creates its own sizechart. That’s why you always have to check the size chart before cutting into your pattern. Every designer does his or her research on the subject, and then chooses the sizes/size proportions he or she thinks represent the average women best. I know, there is no such thing as an average woman, but you have to draft your patterns based on something, right?
There has been some discussion about the size range that pattern companies offer in the past year. On the one side were pattern designers explaining their reasons of not venturing too deeply into plus sizes, and on the other side were plus sized sewists who would love to sew Indie, but felt they had a very limited choice. After diving into this issue I decided I wanted to try and find a balance between catering to a large range of sizes and the extra amount of work it would entail.
To include larger sizes you need (at least) two base patterns to work with. The proportions differ in these two patterns and they have different sets of grading rules. If you want to read more about why this is so, Kathleen from The Fashion Incubator has written some excellent posts about how grading is not the same as morphing, and what size breaks are. The extra amount of work a size break brings with it is the biggest reason why most companies limit their size range. It is almost double the work to include larger sizes, and it is not yet proven that this double amount of work will also result in a doubling of sales. Moreover, it will take more time to develop a pattern, resulting in fewer new patterns per year. We have decided to take on this extra amount of work anyway. We will see what happens and if we can find a way to track which sizes people make to determine if it has been worth it.
Since our sizes are slightly different from the existing standardised charts, it made more sense to give them their own set of numbers. That’s why our sizes range 1 through 10 instead of the European, American or other size numbers. Size 1-6 are drafted with one block, size 7-10 with another. In bust sizes: Size 1 has a 31.5″ (80 cm) bust, size 10 a 49″ (124 cm) bust. Because these sets are drafted with different proportions, they cannot be nested on one pattern sheet. You’d get a Burda-like puzzle and we wouldn’t want to do that to you! Each set has their own pattern file, as you may have seen with the Jasper. We have added one extra size to each sheet so they overlap: set one has sizes 1-7, set two has sizes 6-10. This makes it possible to draft between sizes. Each pattern download includes a document explaining how to choose the right size.
Besides having different proportions, another difference is the cup size. For decades sewing patterns have been designed with a B cup, no matter what the size was. While the B cup used to be the average, this is no longer so in almost all western countries. Although cup size does not have to grow proportionally with increase in size, we have decided to give the 7-10 a C-cup. This means that for those who use these sizes, it is less likely that they have to do a Full Bust Adjustment. And if you do, then the starting point will be better. We will discuss how and when to do an FBA for every pattern that we release.
I hope this decision will pay off, and that we’ll see many happy curvy sewists using our patterns!