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Sizing and measurements

You might have noticed the sizing of my patterns is a bit different to what you might be used to so I thought I’d walk you through my decision on using high bust, size names instead of numbers, and the size range used in the patterns.

High Bust Sizing

Let’s start by talking about how to choose your size. If you’ve made any Experimental Space patterns before, you will have noticed I base the pattern sizes on high bust. 

It’s not the norm, I know. But it’s important enough to me that I wanted the patterns to follow this sizing instead of what you might be used to seeing.

Did you know cup size in patterns has nothing to do with your bra cup size? If you see cup size in patterns it is typically the difference between your high and full bust, not your under bust like a bra is.
Did you know patterns usually base their sizes off full bust and assume you only have a 2″ (5cm) difference between your high and full bust?

As soon as you aren’t “average” bust size, the pattern chart suggests you pick the next size up. It then fits your bust but everywhere else will be much bigger than it should be. Baggy neckline anyone? This is the exact problem with buying shop-bought things, you shouldn’t have to choose your clothing size from your full bust.

It’s a confusing system and I don’t agree we should just keep using it. We should evolve it to be more sensible and useful for the sewists of today.

So this is why I choose to use high bust as the key measurement. This means regardless of how large your (full) bust is, you’ll get an excellent fit in the neckline, shoulders, and every other area. If your (full) bust then falls into a higher size category, instead of sizing the whole garment up, you can do a full bust adjustment which puts excess fabric only in that one area, nowhere else.

I’d love other pattern companies to start adopting this method. Or for us to work together to figure out the best way to present the information to sewists so the right size is easy to choose and the fit is always spot on.

Size Names Instead of Numbers

Rosalee A0 Print

There are a few reasons for the names. I knew I definitely didn’t want to use the UK sizing as a base for my patterns.

I found it was rare a “size 10” from one pattern company matched up to a “size 10” from another. This means someone who thinks they are a 10 will make that size and possibly end up with a badly fitting top.

So I came up with the Experimental Space “be a name, not a number” sizing. By using names I can take us away from this inconsistent size label convention and make sure you are choosing the size based on your actual measurements. Finally, to choose which names I’d use, I tried (whenever it was possible!) to have the first syllable of the name sound the same as the first letter. Let me see if I can explain this using an example:

Ava: 2 syllables, the first syllable is pronounced ‘A’ just like the letter
Bea: The first syllable is pronounced ‘B’, just like the letter
Cara: (One of the few annoying exceptions to my rule! I couldn’t think of a single ‘C’ name that started with a syllable that both sounded like the letter ‘C’ and started with ‘C’ so I settled with a short name beginning with C.)
Dee: The first syllable is pronounced ‘D’, just like the letter (Ah, back on track with the naming convention and it feels so much better. ) 

…And so on 🙂 

The names run alphabetically to help with finding and grading between sizes and are always only 3 or 4 letters long.

So that’s how and why I use names instead of numbers in my sizing. Hopefully, it now means you pick the right size based on your actual measurements and enjoy being a name, not a number!

The Size Range

What sizes do the patterns cover?

I originally designed the patterns in sizes 31″-43″ (high bust). The Lily Top was the first of the patterns to be released in the new extended size range going up to 55″ (high bust).

Current size range by pattern
Size range: 31″-43″
Casey Sweater, Josie Blouse

Size range: 31″-55″
Evelyn Blouse, Rosalee Dress, Lily Top

All existing patterns are being updated to use the new size range!

I’m doing this with a high priority, but as you may know, it is just me here and so it can’t happen quite as quickly as I would like!

Below is a size chart showing the new size range. It shows high bust for choosing your size, but also provides the full bust measurement. This way it is very clear at a glance what the difference between high and full bust is within the pattern without having to know what cup size the patterns are designed for.

Size Chart

With the number of sizes and amount of measurements on show, it does add in a lot more information, but I feel as sewists you want to get the right fit and you should have these measurements easily accessible.

And that’s a bit about the sizing and the thoughts behind the way I use and display the measurements!

I’d love to know what you think about the way the sizing is done. Let me know by using the contact form below 🙂

x Andrea
Experimental Space Patterns