5 Steps To Pick The Right Sewing Pattern Size

Fed up with dedicating hours to a sewing project only to find out that the final garment doesn’t fit well? Selecting the correct sewing pattern size is essential for achieving a beautifully fitted and flattering outcome. By following just 5 easy steps, you can make sure your next sewing endeavor fits you perfectly.

The first step in picking the right sewing pattern size is to take accurate body measurements. This is the foundation of choosing the correct size and will prevent surprises once you start sewing. Once you have your measurements, compare them to the pattern’s size chart to determine which size best suits your body shape and proportions.

Next, consider making a muslin mock-up of the garment in the size you think will fit you best. This will allow you to test the fit and make necessary adjustments before cutting into your final fabric. By following these 5 steps, you can confidently select the right sewing pattern size for a professional-looking finish every time.

Key Takeaways

  • Taking accurate body measurements is crucial for selecting the correct sewing pattern size.
  • Sewing patterns and ready-to-wear sizes are not directly comparable, as each has its body measurements.
  • Checking a sewing pattern’s ease and finished measurements can help determine the appropriate size.

How Should I Determine The Size Of My Garment?

My most frequently asked question is: “I’m a size M in RTW. What pattern size should I use?”. In response, we always say: “You MUST take body measurements because one cannot merely compare RTW sizing with sewing pattern sizing.”

RTW and sewing companies create garments and patterns using body measurements. Measuring charts are often tailored to meet the needs of specific clients. You can sew the pattern straight from the envelope/magazine/PDF without making any alterations, so the only difference between it and fast fashion is that you did it all by hand instead of hiring a seamstress.

Before you cut into your final fabric, we would like to convince you to follow these five steps before you pick a size.

Here Are The 5 Steps To Pick The Right Sewing Pattern Size

Take a body measurement

Take a body measurement

The most accurate way to measure your body is to wear the bra you would wear with the garment over your underwear. Once you have measured yourself, you should compare them to the body measurements in the pattern. You’ll encounter the three most common measurements: bust, waist, and hips.

What is the best way to measure yourself for sewing?
Make sure you measure over underwear. Keep your head up, and don’t hold your breath.
You should be able to fit the tape measure snugly around your body without it being too tight or loose. Make sure you hold it horizontally and comfortably.

  • Bust – If you wear a bra with the finished garment, measure around the fullest part of your chest.
  • Waist – Measure your waist at its thinnest point, and don’t hold your breath!
  • Hips – Your hips should be measured around their fullest part. Slowly slide the tape measure down your hips while creating a loop around your hips.

The sewing pattern contains a chart of body measurements to compare your measurements.

Use the finished garment measurements when measuring the pattern

Check the finished measurement chart in the sewing pattern if it contains measurements for your body shape (bust, waist, hips). Measure the paper pattern like you measured your body (bust, waist, hips).

Having enough room in a garment to move, breathe, and sit makes it easy to wear. You need to check this before you pick a size because every designer and company has its approach to this.

For example, a pattern with a lot of ease can be sized down if you fall between sizes.

For more information on ease, check out my blog, which includes an ease reference chart to compare how much ease is added to patterns in general.

Take measurements of your closet

You probably own a few perfect-fitting ready-to-wear pieces, and measuring them will give you great insight into your size, ease preferences, and alterations needs. Choose items that closely resemble the pattern you want to sew. If your pattern calls for knits, measure knits; if it calls for wovens, measure wovens.

You can also learn valuable information about a garment that you do not like. Your top may be too tight, short, or long if it doesn’t match your chosen pattern. For example, you can now compare the measurements of a tight top with the sizing of a finished garment. It might be possible to go up a size or add a wide seam allowance if the patterns’ finished size is similar.

Want to sew a garment with a similar style but do not own one? Don’t forget your wallet when you go “shopping.” Take your tape measure and leave it at home when you go shopping. It would be best to try a new style you plan to sew before you sew it. Instead, we would discover this in a changing room in my sewing room rather than in front of the mirror where we thought the style might suit me.

If you fall between different sizes in different areas, compare the measurements from the first three steps. Since picking the right size is just a starting point, it is time to make some early adjustments.

Make changes to the pattern

Make changes to the pattern

Fitting is challenging, but you can make simple and minor modifications before sewing your garment or making a muslin. You can adjust the pattern by grading, extending, or shortening it between sizes.

What is the best way to grade between sizes? Blending different sizes is an option if you are between sizes. Different sizes can be traced and incorporated. A nicely curved line should be drawn from the size 10 bust to the size 8 waist and from the size 12 hip to the size 10 bust. This must be done for both the front and back panels.

The more projects you do, the better you’ll understand what general modifications you need. My most common adjustment is lengthening sleeves and pants and adjusting my tummy if needed. For women over a cup size B/C, a complete bust adjustment (FBA) is a well-documented, common alteration.

You will need to make a muslin (toile/sample)

Once you’ve made a few standard or minor alterations, you’re ready to sew a muslin. To test the fit, use old bed sheets or an inexpensive fabric. If possible, use a fabric with the same drape and feel as the final fabric. Ensure you know how the fit will work and what adjustments you must make before you finish the seams or hems (except when checking the length).

Even though fitting a garment can seem challenging, sometimes a simple change, such as lengthening or shortening a sleeve, can make all the difference.

What Is The Formula For Future Projects?

Your next sewing project will have a better chance of success if you follow these five steps.

While it may seem time-consuming, building a formula for future projects will be easier if you take your body measurements, measure your favorite garments, and note their ease. It is not the sewing that makes the magic, but rather the hours of prep that make it happen.

As a final note, we would like to thank you all. When you’re just starting, don’t worry about perfecting the fit too much if you’re discouraged. When you purchase ready-to-wear garments, you probably get better results than if you made a few minor adjustments. Remember, you’ll be moving around, and most people won’t even notice a dragline here and there. They’re likely in awe that you’ve accomplished anything at all!

Right Sewing Pattern Size FAQs

How do I determine my sewing pattern size?

You need to take accurate body measurements to determine your sewing pattern size. You should consider bust, waist, hip, and sometimes other specific measurements depending on your garment. It’s essential to refer to the specific measurement chart provided by the pattern company since sizes can vary between different brands.

What should I consider when choosing a sewing pattern size?

When choosing a sewing pattern size, it’s important to consider the fit you desire. Some patterns are designed for a loose or relaxed fit, while others are more fitted. Take into account your personal style and comfort level.

Should I always go with the same size as my ready-to-wear clothing?

While choosing the same size as your ready-to-wear clothing may be tempting, it’s not always accurate. Ready-to-wear clothing tends to vary in size across different brands, so it’s best to rely on your measurements for sewing patterns.

What should I do if my measurements fall between two sewing pattern sizes?

Using the larger size is generally advised if your measurements fall between two sewing pattern sizes. This allows you to make alterations and adjustments to achieve the desired fit. Additionally, the pattern’s ease should also be considered. Some patterns have more ease built-in, while others have less. Adjustments can always be made during the fitting process to ensure the garment fits you perfectly.


In conclusion, choosing the right sewing pattern size may seem overwhelming initially, but following these five steps ensures a perfect fit every time. Accurate body measurements, comparisons to pattern measurement charts, consideration of ease and style preferences, and necessary adjustments will help you achieve professional-looking garments that fit you like a glove. With patience and practice, you’ll become confident in selecting the right sewing pattern size and creating beautiful clothing that flatters your body shape.

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