Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The difference between Plus and Regular clothing sizing

Notice a rather stark difference between these two?
It is no secret that I have struggled with my weight my whole life. It is complicated. But the conclusion I have come to these days is you have to live for today and not wait for when you are skinnier.

I have always had a hard time buying store bought clothes that actually fit. Sometimes I would find a brand that would fit flawlessly (Talbots) for a few years and then they re-brand or start cutting their clothes differently and once again nothing fits. 

I keep trying new brands. I went to Torrid for the first time a few weeks ago. (In case you don't know Torrid is plus size clothes for younger gals) I found a few things I liked. But I discovered; 
a. I may be too old to be shopping there, 
b. their smallest size top (a self esteem boosting 0) is too big on me, and 
c. their size 0 pants are too tight in the leg while the size 1 about fell off. 

Over the past few years, through making my own clothes,  I have learned why it is so hard to find clothes that fit off the rack (or even fit enough to alter). 

1. I have TINY shoulders.
2. I have big boobs
3. I have a long torso relative to my overall height
4. I have a big butt and a small waist (well relative to the butt any way) 
5. I have "thick" some would call them, legs. 
6. I am exactly on the borderline between "regular" and "petite" as well as currently being trapped in the canyon between "regular" and "plus". More on that canyon below. 

These are body issues that the clothing industry does not cater to. However I have a hard time believing I am the only one. 

Recently I decided rather than fight these battles I would focus on making my own clothes, a luxury not everyone has. I have found a pattern I love! Even though I had to make a few rather large adjustments. 

Recently Colette Patterns embarked on changing their pattern line to include up to size 3X. Read more about this HERE. And while I loudly applaud their efforts, there are some interesting things I discovered while making one of their recent patterns. 

This is the lovely Moneta pattern. As you can see it is designed for knits and sized XS - 3X. 

This is a great start. It is a simple flattering shape that can look good on anyone. Their patterns are packaged beautifully and I love that the directions are in a little booklet attached to the envelope rather then another huge sheet to deal with. 

However the issue I have is why is there 1/4 - 3/4 inch difference between each size in the "regular" range but you get up to plus and there is about two inches between the sizes? 

Colette points out on their blog that there are challenges to making plus size patterns. Maybe, but I think it's really just that they are used to what they are used to and there is a learning curve. Just like on Project Runway when they have a "real people" challenge and all the designers are thrown off their game by anyone over a size two. 

Now are you starting to see the canyon between the two?  
XS - S = 1/2 inch 
S - M= 1/2 inch
M-L = 3/4 inch
L-XL = 3/4 inch
XL - 2X = 1 1/2
2X - 3X = 1 7/8 

This is the top of the sleeve. That's a big jump, in comparison. 

My pink line is a much different shape than the pattern 
On the show "What Not to Wear", they often pointed out to people that their body was not the problem. The clothes that they were trying to wear simply did not fit. Their philosophy of try on a million things and spend $5,000 was all well and good but is hard to do in real life. 

This is the bottom of the bodice. The bodice is longer on the larger sizes to allow for room for the "girls". I actually found this length to be just right, still the difference is noticeable. 

These are the differences in the measurements of the skirt pieces
Two inches is a big difference. Especially when you consider that you are really gaining a total of 8 inches (2 each side which gives you a total of 4 front and 4 back). Between a XS and a S you only gain a total of 4 inches. Why such regular increments and then such a huge jump? Thus creating the canyon I referred to in my list of clothing difficulties.

All that said, it is a lovely dress pattern, sews up easily and is one of my new favorites. And in some ways I feel a lot better about why nothing at stores fit me. Because if this pattern (which they put tons of thought and effort into) does not work out of the envelope, chances are slim of finding any that do. 

Finished version no. 1, I have a few more Moneta's planned now that I have worked out the fit issues. I have also used the lovely bodice to draft a tunic / t-shirt and made a test one of those. 

I will have to do a different post on how to measure and make these changes. To be honest I have done it so many times I can draw it out from memory and do not measure. But I know how to and can explain it so that other peeps can benefit from all I have learned. 

Another question people ask me is "why do you even use patterns"? The short answer is I am a seamstress, not a designer. Also my two favorite pattern companies are Colette and Kate and Rose and I really like supporting them. They have done all the lovely design work, makes it easier for me to make it fit from their starting point.  

I plan for my next few posts to be more about the technical aspects of changing the pattern to make it fit. Let me know if you have specific questions. 

Peace Out 
- C  


  1. Wow! What a great post. I will definitely be seeking you out at stash bash to beg for pattern adjusting help!

  2. I wish I even knew how to begin sewing my own clothes with a proper fit! Thanks for this post.

  3. Wow, I love your post and it describes my problems with clothing fit perfectly. Can't wait to see what instructions you give on altering patterns. Thanks! Can't wait to meet you at Stsh Bash.

  4. This is so interesting! Also, for A VERY LONG TIME I'v ebeen meaning to comment how much I love the winter Giselle dress you made. The fit looks amazing!

    1. Thanks! It definitely took some serious adjustment to the bust. But your beautiful pattern was a great and easy starting point!