August 9, 2016

How to choose your size, and grade between sizes


SpringfieldSewalong-74

 

The first decision to make when sewing a Springfield Top is which size to choose. Thanks to the three cup sizes it’s more likely that you’ll fit in a “straight” Cashmerette Pattern than many other companies, but of course we all vary and chances are you may not be perfectly in one size. The good news is that sewing gives you tons of flexibility, and it’s easy to grade between sizes.

How to choose your size

There are two measurement charts: one is the Body Measurement chart, and the other is the Finished Garment chart. The Body Measurement chart helps you choose your size based on what numbers you get when you measure your body with a tape measure – it has numbers for your bust (around the fullest part), waist and hip. The Finished Garment chart shows you the size of the actual sewn garment – the difference between that and the Body Measurement chart is called “ease”, and it’s the amount of extra room in the garment that the designer recommends for the clothes to fit well and allow movement.

Generally, you want to start by comparing your measurement with the body measurement chart. However, sometimes you might find that a pattern is fairly loose and if your measurements are between sizes you can actually fit in one. In the case of the Springfield, by comparing the charts you can see that it’s fairly unfitted through the waist – if you look at the size 12 chart, the body measurement is 32″ but the finished garment measurement is 42 3/8″ – so if you fit into the size 12 bust and hip but your waist is a bit bigger, say 35″, you’ll probably still fit in the size 12 just fine!

SpringfieldTopFGM-01

As with all Cashmerette Patterns, the best bet is to start with your bust measurement – you should use your full bust measurement, which is around the fullest part of your bust. Because of the cup sizing, you may find you could fit in two different bust sizes – in which case, you want to pick the overall size that’s closest to your waist size. So for instance, if your bust is 44″, you could theoretically be a 14 G/H or a 16 C/D. Which one should you pick? Take a look at the waist measurement – if yours is closer to 34″ (size 14), then go with the 14 G/H. If yours is closer to 36″ (size 16), then go with the 16 C/D.

Don’t fret if the cup size doesn’t match up with your bra size – there is so much variation in bra sizing that it’s not possible to perfectly line them up. Use your bust measurement and you’ll be fine.

How to grade between sizes

You may find that even allowing for the extra ease at the waist, you still need to grade between sizes – for instance, you might be a size 18 at the bust, a 20 at the waist and a 22 at the hip.

It’s a fairly straightforward case of “join the dots” when it comes to a simple pattern like the Springfield Top!

First, mark your sizes you need at the bust (in this case, the bottom of the bust dart), waist (where the notch is) and hip (where the side slit marking is).

How to grade between sizes

Next, join those babies up! You want to use slightly curved lines, to give you a smooth side seam.

How to grade between sizes

Now, you have your new side seam! Mark it in full and then trace or cut off your size. Then, you need to do the exact same process for the back piece, marking again at bust height, waist and hip and joining the lines up. How to grade between sizes

I hope that all makes sense! Let me know if you have any questions about figuring out your size, or grading between sizes.

30 thoughts on “How to choose your size, and grade between sizes

  1. junglewife says:

    I would love to see a graphic showing how to grade on the back pieces for View B since they aren’t cut on the fold and it’s not really intuitive for me, especially on the edges between the back piece and side pieces.

    1. The easiest thing to do with the back pieces would be to just grade the side pieces, at the side seams. To do that, I’d figure out how much you need to add (say if you’re going up in size by 4 inches, then you’re adding 2 inches at the front, 2 inches at the back, so 1 inch on each side seam for the back). Then, add that amount on the back side seam (rather than just joining the lines together). You can then add the same amount to the yoke to even it off.

      1. If it’s a very dramatic grade, it would be better to distribute it through the back pieces, in which case, follow the same approach as in the tutorial – mark your size at the “bust” height on the back (where the notch is on the side seam), and the hip height, and join them up – you’d do that on both sides of the side panel, and on the one side of the middle panel.

  2. 2huismuise says:

    A very practical, logical and informative tutorial. ♥Thank you♥

  3. Jessica says:

    If you’re the same size in bust and waist but a much larger size in hips (for example, 18 in bust and waist but 22 in hips) should you still use the middle waist measurement? Would it be different for the Springfield vs the Appleton? When I tried to blend with the Appleton it ended up unwearable. Thanks!

    1. It depends on the pattern. If there’s a waist seam, it’s usually fairly easy to make a much bigger size at the hips – you may have run into issues with the Appleton because it doesn’t have that seam. I think you’d be absolutely fine doing it with the Springfield, though, as it ends at the hips rather than having to go all the way over them.

      1. Jessica says:

        Thanks!

  4. Rosemary7391 says:

    Is there a limit to how many sizes you can sensibly grade across?

    1. Hi Rosemary – certainly the fewer you’re doing, the better the result, but up to about 3 sizes is usually just fine. If you are going more than that, you may need to do a little more work than is explained in this tutorial to make sure the parts fit together well – ultimately you’re looking for smooth, curved seams and not “steps”. It also depends a little on where you’re grading – for instance, if you need to grade up only at the waist that can actually be easier because you effectively just straighten the curved side seam between the bust and hip.

      1. Rosemary7391 says:

        Thanks Jenny – I thought it’d be unlikely to work for me. I’d need to go across something like 6 sizes..

  5. Darcie says:

    I never imagined I’d say something like this (ever), but I’m very excited to see what you share about moving the bust dart height tomorrow!

    This is what your blog has done for me. I’m sewing my own clothes! Three skirts, a dress, and one shirt in, I’m hooked!

    Thank you! 🙂

  6. Janie says:

    Thank you for this. I have the worse time with fitting.

  7. Magoo says:

    I have extremely narrow shoulders, but according to your rule of picking the cup size closest to waist size should go with a c/d cup. Because of my shoulders should I go with g/h and smaller bust size? I will have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment either way but would prefer a less drastic one.

    1. Hi! If you have very narrow shoulders then yes I think it would be best to go for the smaller size with the larger cup size (e.g. 12 G/H rather than 14 C/D)

  8. JoAnne says:

    My bust is 52, my waist 47 and my hips 56 – can I grade from a 24 at the bust to a 28 at the waist and back to a 26 at the hips? This sounds like a recipe for disaster but I am willing to try it if you think it will work.

    1. Yep, you can definitely do that! Grading within 3 sizes is reasonably straightforward.

  9. JoAnne says:

    Thanks Jenny! I will let you know how it turns out!

  10. Juliet says:

    Hi there I want to try out this pattern and some others but could you assist with what size I should try and blend together? Full bust 49, waist 45 and hips 50. My bra size is a 40G. So should I go for the size 20 in G/H cup at bust then size up to 24 on waist then down to 20 or 22 for hips. Will this work? I have also bought some other patterns of yours so will this also work for those too? I bought the Upton dress and the Concorde tshirt and this Springfield top.
    PS thanks for the great blog and website I love reading all your FB posts, articles and tutorials.

  11. Jenn says:

    I need to grade between sizes, but I also need to lower the dart and add length to the pattern. Does it matter which step I do first? I mean, do I lower the dart and then grade out? Or grade out and then lower the dart? Does it matter?

    1. Hi Jenn – I would grade between sizes first, and then lower the dart.

  12. very useful and explained in a way that is easy to follow.

  13. Paula Matthews says:

    Hi I was hoping you could help me decide on what pattern size to choose for my daughter. She’s going to University in September & I would like to make as many of your dresses/outfits for her before she goes, in the hope it will give her a bit more confidence. Her measurements are HB 52″, FB 52″, W 47″, H 59″, and she’s is 5ft 3″ tall. I’ve never made much for her, just altered pre-bought clothes to fit better,so any advice would be extremely helpful
    Many thanks
    Paula

    1. Hi Paula – it varies a little pattern to pattern depending on the ease and whether it’s a knit or a woven, but I would recommend starting with the 26 C/D bodice, grading to the 28 for the waist and hip. The patterns are drafted for a height of 5’6″ so you may also need to take an inch or so out of the length.

      1. Paula Matthews says:

        Thanks for your advice I shall get shopping for the patterns & fabric
        Paula

  14. Emy Freeland says:

    So refreshing that a pattern I can cut out and not have dramatically change either through fba or lengthening. That said the front fits great, no gaps showing the bra or anything. My hang up, and I suppose this is a fiddly complaint, is that across the shoulders and back feel a little constricted. More specifically, if there were sleeves it would pull across my shoulder blades, does that make sense? Mom suggested I add a vent, about an inch. I don’t think it needs to be that dramatic, but maybe if I cut the pattern on the 16 seam line of the back then grade down to 14 waist and hips, or do I add to the center fold line a tad and not mess with the seams. That’s my only issue with the unaltered size 14… which in the scheme of things is not discouraging. This has engaged my inner puzzler, so I want to figure it out, with some assistance from the pattern maker herself.

    1. You can do an upper broad back adjustment – that’s something I cover in my new online workshop, Fitting For Curves. Or, you can google it and probably find instructions online 🙂

      1. Emy Freeland says:

        So I found a tutorial, onhttps://patternandbranch.wordpress.com/tag/major-broad-back-adjustment/. Turned out I needed this. I’ve made a mock up, and success! I did have to combine the yoke and back pieces and changed the arm scye in the back. its something that I’ll have to keep in mind with other patterns… and with ready to wear, I’ve often attributed the misfit of jackets and other long sleeve items as something to do with my long arms, but now I can say that it’s more to do with the broad back (it’s a good thing that rolled up sleeves on button down shirts are in style.) It took a few mock ups in muslin to figure out, but I figure it will save me time down the road on other patterns doing this exploration in fitting now. Thanks for the direction…

  15. barbara says:

    hi jenny,
    i’m 5′ tall with a 50″ full bust, 37″ waist and 52″ hips. only 18″ of the bust mesurement is in the back so the front has to be graded differently than the back, right?. i buy a bra size 36 or 38 L Bravissimo. i mention the brand because i know that you’re familiar with it. i have no idea what size pattern i would need. it would be so nice to have a dress that fits.
    thanks for the help, barbara

    1. Hi Barbara – I’d start with the 20 G/H size, and grade down the waist as needed, to the 18. For the hips, you will often be Ok with the 20 in patterns that have a lot of hip ease (e.g. the Turner and Webster), but in more fitted patterns like the Harrison Shirt you may want to grade up to the 22.

Let me know what you think!