Do you struggle knowing what styles of sewing patterns will suit you best and what size to choose? Have you made up a sewing pattern before where the size and shape has come out completely wrong for your body shape? We are here to help!
Before choosing a sewing pattern, you should first have a good understanding of exactly what size and shape you are and what you require from your pattern. Sewing patterns can often differ greatly from sizes you find in ready to wear clothing in the shops as they are based on figure types, shapes and proportions, rather than just sizing increments. Therefore, you don't want to choose your sewing pattern based on the size you would normally buy, as the wrong sized pattern will result in a garment that doesnt fit correctly. 
When choosing your sewing pattern size, there are three main things to consider:
What are your measurements?
What's your figure type?
What's your body shape?
Before determining your body shape and figure type, you should take your measurements. It's best to measure yourself over the top of a style of underwear that you usually wear to ensure you obtain the most accurate results possible, pulling the tape measure snuggly instead of pulling it very tight. If you can ask someone to help you at this stage you can make you take your measurements as accurately as possible.
Body Measurements For Women
To measure your Height - Stand without shoes on up against a straight wall. Place a ruler flat on your head and mark the wall where it touches. Measure from the mark, right down to the floor.
To measure your Chest (High Bust) - Measure directly under your arms, wrapping the tape straight across your upper back and around your chest, above the bust.
To measure your Bust - Measure around the fullest part of your bust, the tape wrapping right the way around your back.
To measure your Waist - Tie string around the narrowest part of your waist, moving your body around a little so that it can settle at your natural waistline. Measure with your tape over the string, then leave the string in place for the next measurement.
To measure your Back-Waist Length - Using the string you previously tied around your natural waistline, measure from the top of your spine (most prominent spinal bone under your neck) and right down to the waistline string.
To measure your Hip - Measure around your hips at their fullest part – this is usually between 7 and 9 inches below your waist.
Body Measurements For Men
To measure your Height - Stand without shoes on up against a straight wall. Place a ruler flat on your head and mark the wall where it touches. Measure from the mark, right down to the floor.
To measure your Neck - Measure the circumference of your neck, about an inch above the top of your spine (most prominent spinal bone under your neck).
To measure your Chest - Standing with a straight back, measure around from your shoulder blades, under your armpits and around the fullest part of your chest.
To measure your Sleeve Length - Measure from the top of your spine (most prominent spinal bone under your neck) across to the end of your shoulder blade, then down to your elbow. Bend your arm until it's at a right angle, then measure from underneath your elbow to your wrist.
To measure your Waist - Measure from your navel, right around your back at a constant level.
To measure your Hip - Measure around your hips at their fullest part, at the midpoint of your pelvic bone.
Figure Types
The next step involves figuring out your figure type, which is also handy when deciding what size pattern you'll need to purchase. Choosing the correct figure type will mean you are less likely to make alterations and further adjustments to the pattern. Your measurements may not exactly correspond to specific pattern sizes but this is normal! Everyone's body size is unique and rarely matches up to the industry's standards. The size you pick should be one that resembles your size the most accurately.
There's a huge range of figure types to choose from when selecting a sewing pattern – the most important measurements to take into consideration are the Bust/Chest, Waist and Hips. But what's your figure type? Figure types correlate to your height and body size – so look back at your measurements to make that all-important decision. You will usually find that you'll closely match one of the following:
Body Shapes
Now that you've taken your measurements and decided upon your figure type, you should consider what your body shape is – this is unrelated to the size of your pattern, but may help you decide which clothing styles will flatter your figure the most. Its very easy to choose a sewing pattern based on how the model on the packaging looks in the made up garment, but remember we are all unique and how the garment looks on the model is not neccessarily how it will look on you. If you find a sewing pattern you like, take time to study the line drawings as these give a very clear indication on the cut of the pattern and you are less likely to be distracted by the 'look' of the pattern on the model.. Sometimes patterns will indicate which body shape it's best suited to, although it may be entirely down to you to determine it for yourself. However, we are here to help as we have identified the five most commen body shapes that you may fall under: Hourglass, Triangle, Inverted Triangle, Slim Rectangle and Wide Rectangle.
Identifying Your Body Shape
Stand up straight in front of a mirror in your underwear or a swimsuit – with your legs together and arms down by your sides. Individually have a good look at your shoulders/bust area, waist and hips. Imagine lines connecting these three areas on each side of your body.
What shape can you now see? Do you match any of these images below;
Your hips are wider than your shoulders. Also known as the 'pear' body shape, Triangles should wear patterns and designs that accentuate their shoulders and bodice. Garments with wide collars and shoulder pads are very much favoured, broadening the narrow shoulders.
Your shoulders are wider than your hips. With broad shoulders, Inverted Triangles should wear clothing with lots of detail below the waist, balancing their shape – details could include pockets, pleats, prints and patterns. Alternatively, raglan sleeves make shoulders visually smaller.
Your shoulders, waist and hips are of a similar width, with an overall slim frame. Also known as the 'straight' figure, Slim Rectangles have a less defined waist than another body shapes. Wearing detail on the bust and hip areas will add dimension and volume, creating a fuller body shape.
Your shoulders, waist and hips are of a similar width, with an overall wide frame. With an almost straight-up-and-down figure, Wide Rectangles have a fuller waistline. Adding curves will pull in the waist – clothing should be body-skimming, include shoulder/neckline detail, or have princess seams.
Your shoulders and hips are of a similar width, whilst your waist is much narrower. Hourglasses should wear clothing that accentuates their waist and curves. Fitted clothing, tailored jackets and waist belts are all ideal, showing off the curved body shape.
We hope this guide has given you some helpful advice when coming to choose a sewing pattern. If you need any help at all please just leave us a comment and we will try our best to help!