Sewing an old pattern


I will be going out of town soon, and decided to make myself some new travel pajamas. After all, the current ones were getting old.

I got out a scrub pattern from one of the big pattern companies that had been kicking around for a while. The last time I used that pattern was ages ago, so I didn't remember the quirks to the pattern. Since I had gained a little weight, I looked at the pattern to judge which size I should use. When I held the pieces up to myself, found them a bit roomy, but figured it would be okay. If push came to shove, I'd just sew the seams a little deeper.

I cut out the pattern pieces and pinned them together. I started getting concerned about how large the top looked. I decided I would sew the pieces together, and then try them on. And that is what I did.

I found myself swimming in the top. Off it came. I laid it flat, aligned and marked the underarm seam, then resewed it. Still too big. Again with the re-marking and re-sewing. Now the top fit.

I had a similar problem with the bottoms. They, too, were resewn twice.

I got to looking carefully at the pattern. This pattern had two sizes on each pattern piece. That is useful if one's dimensions vary between sizes. The outside flap of the pattern envelope showed one size table for the pattern. These tables allow one to (presumably) choose the correct size envelope.

When I compared the outside table to the inside sizing table, I was surprised. Where the outside table had one set of sizes, the inside table had two sets of sizes, one for men, and one for women. Not only that, but the largest circumference around the torso was different for each gender. If you look carefully, you will see that “Medium” for women has a maximum bust circumference of 36, but for men maximum chest is 40 inches. That gave 4 inches more circumference for women. No wonder I was swimming in the top!

First moral of the story: when sewing with a unisex pattern, check the inside of the pattern envelope for a sizing chart.

Second moral of the story: if both men’s and women’s sizing is given, compare them to be sure they give the same maximum circumferences for both genders.

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