Pattern Envelopes and Sizing

Cutest pattern ever?

Both can be slightly frustrating. For example, I scored the pattern to the right at Value Village the other week (snatched from under the hands of a Hutterite woman browsing the patterns… though I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t’ve gone for this kind of pattern anyway. The Hutterite dress code is pretty strict, from my limited observation). Looks cute, right? and size 7-16, should be perfect for my kids. Includes cute pants, vest, and jacket with two sleeve lengths, adorably illustrated in a somewhat cartoony style.

To my delight, both children were highly enthused when I showed them the pattern (given their different taste in clothing, this is a rarity). I was cheerfully envisioning cute camo capris for Tyo, maybe a short-sleeved jacket for Syo (who’s always too warm)

“I want the bag!” says Tyo, pointing to the girl on the left.

“I want the hair!” says Syo, pointing to the middle girl.


They were both extremely disappointed to hear that neither was included in the pattern.

Now, a case could definitely be made that I prefer talking about sewing for my kids to actually sewing for my kids… but anyway, in the interests of furthering the fantasy, I went looking up the sizes for my children. Syo will be eight next month, but she’s pretty small for her age so I was fairly confident she’d fit a 7, the smallest size in the package.

According to her chest measurement, she’s still a size 5.

And Tyo would be a size 6.

Neither of which are sizes I have. *headdesk*

Now, as we all know Tyo has the bootay. So her bottom half would be, apparently, a size 8. So I could make her the pants, at least. Here’s to runty children.

But then I had a thought. How big do these girls’ sizes go? I mean, if a size 16 fits an “average 16-year-old”… I’m not significantly bigger than I was when I was sixteen…

Yup. My measurements fit the girls’ chart MUCH better than they’ve ever fit a women’s chart. I am a girls’ size 16 (at least on a padded bra day). Well, aside from the six inches of length I’d have to add…


UPDATE: Had another thought. That girls’ size 16 is drafted for someone who is about 5′ 1″. Now, a quick check of the girls’ height-weight growth charts for Canada (and I imagine American ones would be similar) shows that the median height for girls at age 16 is about 5′ 4″. 5′ 1″ is passed sometime between ages 12 and 13. Have average heights really changed that much since the sizes were compiled (in the 60s, I believe?) I am doubtful.



Filed under Sewing

17 responses to “Pattern Envelopes and Sizing

  1. Lucy

    I think I may have mentioned my sizing woes in the comments on here before. I know that the grass is greener and all that, but as someone who was really too tall for ‘age 16’ trousers at age 11, may I point out that at least you’ll be saving money for years to come?!

    Which brings me onto my own pattern/ sizing rant, actually, which is that they assume that this height implies that bust and hip measurement – because all women are identically proportioned…

    • I definitely feel you on the length alterations—mine probably aren’t as extreme as yours, but RTW with too-short sleeves and pantlegs have plagued my existence since I was probably 14. At least with sewing it’s a fairly easy alteration to make, though (at least in the limbs… less in the body, but there I’m usually shortening. Which is a whole nother WTF πŸ˜‰ ).

  2. Stupid sizing charts! At least kids grow into it if it is too big.

  3. As hard as it is to get the Big 4 to fit me, I think it is even harder in kids. At least I know that there will be at least a size worth of extra ease for me, but the kids patterns are so inconsistent, you have better luck just guessing. Myra (at age almost 3) is anywhere from a size 1/2 to a size 4. Totally insane.
    That is a super cute pattern, though.

  4. Look at it this way, now you can get even MORE bang for your buck on this pattern!

  5. Elle C

    First of all, love your blog.

    I can’t relate to this post personally, no kids here. I do however really enjoy hearing about someone else that shops for fabric and patterns at VV boutique. Almost all of my (considerable) stash is from there. Gotta love those prices.

  6. Not so much average height, but average age at onset of puberty is probably lower now. 5’1″ at 16 years implies that the 16-year-old is still growing. Plenty of girls reach their full adult height earlier than that–I know I was done by my 14th birthday.

  7. Cathy

    I heard rumours of this “growth spurt” that was suppose to happen. Apparently at 5′ 0.5″, I’m not even quite 12. Sigh. At least my bust knows I’m not 12.

  8. Hey! You’re the only other person (besides Big In Japan) that I know online who knows what a Hutterite is. Awesome. (We Northern Plains girls have to stick together, IMO.)

    Ok, as for sizes, I think Alexandra is correct that in the 60’s a 16 y.o. could be considered to still be growing. Although saying that, I when I was 11 y.o. (in 1979) I was completely and fully grown… to all of 5′-1″. So who knows. I’d just add the six inches and make myself a nice new outfit!

  9. I hear you, I find it’s pretty weird when you are middle aged and the vintage blouse patterns that fit best are “sub-teen.” Ack. The bottom half is another story.
    I remember once seeing Hutterites (in Montana where I am from) buying bolts of brilliant orange thermal fabric. I guess they must have had pretty wild long underwear that year : ) So who knows, maybe its a good thing you grabbed.

  10. Hutterite sounds very much like the Holdemann’s we have here, and according to Wiki they are offshoots of the same concept. Sizing for kids is kind of ridiculous, and that’s where I’ve had the best luck sticking to Kwik Sew patterns for them. They cost a bit more though….

  11. I don’t even sew for my kids. They grow (and destroy) clothing way too quickly. Even the Hawaiian shirts their grandmother periodically sews get worn out almost before they can be handed down. Also, I have boys and buying their clothing is just so CHEAP relative to sewing….

    I don’t know that the later puberty significantly changes height. My mom got her period at 14 and stopped growing at 5 ft 6 in. I got mine at (barely) 12 and didn’t stop growing until I was 20. The final score? 5 ft, nearly 7 in.

    There is no consistency in sizing, kids or adults. The size that fits me best at the moment? Juniors size 13/14 (sometimes 15/16 for bottoms). Because I’m apparently not quite curvy enough to be a miss. I buy up all the old juniors patterns I can find on Ebay/Etsy.

  12. hahahha! i’m 5’4 and in RTW i’m a girl’s 14-16 for skirts and some dresses (they need stretch in the chesty area), boy’s L-XL for shirts (16-18 i think?) or a ladies 4-6 in anything. but we all know RTW sizing is ridiculous, i can be anywhere from a 4 to an 11 in jeans depending on the designer and the cut. pattern sizing seems to run with different numbers but still seem to fit me strangely. no wonder we like to sew, much easier to fit anything!

  13. I do think children are longer and bigger earlier now than they were years ago. Don’t know if I want to think about what’s causing that though.

    Here the little ones are very young still ofcourse. Yet, I found out that measurements in every pattern magazine I have seem to be different. Even if it’s the same brand. Weird. Right now the measurements for my children’s height and width are way off. For example, my little girl could fit in a size 92 (about a 18 months year old according to Knip and Ottobre) when I look at her hips and chest, but in a size 110 (for the four year old that she really is) when I look at her length. Looking at those measurements I’d almost think they are having weird bodies, but in fact they look pretty normal to me. Really, really weird.

    Lenghtening the trousers for you shouldn’t be a problem, I’d think? It is a cute pattern after all πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  14. so… umm.. kind of a score?

    headdesk killed me every time– also “i want the hair!” awesome.

  15. I think average heights have changed quite a lot. And the later onset of puberty back then would have meant that kids were shorter at the same age (before about 16 or 17).

  16. LinB

    Clothing size standards are in constant revision, with a new “standard” issued every ten years or so. Complying with the standards is voluntary, on the part of manufacturers and pattern companies. Best always to keep a tape measure around for rtw (those pesky vanity sizes!) and adhere to pattern company info on pattern envelope. As to “they think every woman has the same proportions” complaint, that’s why alterations shops exist, and why home sewists can make clothes that fit better than rtw. No manufacturer could stay in business if it made clothing to fit every possible figure variant, hoping against hope to sell all items of each style/size range.

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