Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Big 4 Experiment: Results

As you may recall from this post, there has been a bit of chatter lately about the Big 4 (McCalls, Butterick, Vogue and Simplicity), their sizing model and fit in general. I was amazed by the response from all of you on that post! Thank you so much for all of your comments and input. It really helped me to understand some perspectives that I hadn't considered before and I really appreciate that. I'm going to try to address as much as I can as I talk through the results of my experiment.
So, here they are; two tee shirts, both made with McCalls 6612. For the top on the right, I started, as a beginning sewist might, by measuring  my full bust and selecting my size based on that. For reference, my full bust is 38 inches, which put me in a size 16, which I sewed faithfully.  The top on the left was made using the size and alterations that I typically make when I sew Big 4 patterns. Using my high bust of 33 to select a size would have had me in a size 12, but given that I prefer negative ease in a knit top, I began with a 10 in the shoulders. I tapered out to a 12 below the armscye in back and in front actually did my usual "Cheater knit FBA" by blending back out to the 16 at the bust area, then back down to the 12 for the waist and hips.
Here are the resulting pattern pieces. You can see that while the differences look slight in pattern paper, they add up to a much altered fit. In the photo, the straight size 16 is on the bottom with the altered 12ish on the top.
The other thing I wanted to look at was the methods used in constructing the top. For the size 16, I followed the McCalls instructions to the letter. I'm not going to lie, y'all. That was hard for me to do. The edges are all finished with a double fold narrow hem, stitched with a single line of straight stitching. Inside, the seams are also seamed with a straight stitch, although a double row of stitching is done here. You can see from the upper right picture of the hem how badly this fabric rippled during hemming. It isn't as obvious on the neckline, but it is significantly stretched out of shape. the seams inside don't look too dreadful though, and at least they had me trim them.
Here is how my top went together. I used my coverstitch machine to do a single fold hem. A twin needle would have worked just as well and reduced the likelihood your hems would stretch out of shape. For the neckline, I was trying to preserve the look of the original top. I used clear elastic to stabilize the neckline edge. By serging it on slightly stretched, it prevents the neckline from stretching out during sewing. I turned under a single fold hem and topstitched with a regular straight stitch, but set to a longer stitch length to give it some flexibility. Inside the tee, I serged my seams with a 3 thread stitch. A stretch stitch or narrow zigzag on a regular sewing machine would have done well here also.
We began this discussion with the topic of fit. The question that remains - Is the Big 4 fit model outmoded? Should she be changed? If you look at the tee shirts on the dressform, it seems obvious that something is wrong here. If I was learning to sew, I might have tossed in the towel after the fail on the right. But just because the Big 4 doesn't fit my full busted figure well, it doesn't follow that the fit model is at fault.
Had I started with my high bust measurement, the shoulders wouldn't have been massive. The top would have been snug in the bust, but would otherwise have fit reasonably well. I know several people responded, either here on on Twitter or Facebook that they actually got a really great fit with Big 4 patterns, using a minimum of alterations. I know for myself, I've gotten comfortable enough with the Big 4 draft that I know generally what alterations I will need, and can make them on the tissue pattern as I trace. A new fit model would mean that those of us that are comfortable with the Big 4 draft would have to learn an entirely new set of alterations. Something to consider, to be sure.
So, what about construction methods? That gaping, rippling neckline isn't just a fit issue. A double fold, straight stitched hem on the neckline of a knit top is a recipe for disaster. My understanding is that the Big 4 uses a standard block of instructions that are cut and pasted into each pattern depending on what garment is being made. Patterns are developed, printed and sold quickly and there is apparently no opportunity to test them. That said, I feel that even within this framework, there are changes that need to happen, particularly in the basic block of instructions for a knit garment. Given the fabrics, materials and machines that are available for us to work with, it is asinine that the pattern instructions are as outdated as they are.
So, what do you think needs to happen? Are you down with the fit model? Do you think the instructions need an overhaul? Are you over the Big 4 totally and just sticking to independent patterns that you know you can count on? Talk to me!

48 comments:

  1. I use big 4 patterns, but go from a size 20 in the shoulders, size 22 in the bust, and size 24 in the hips. My shoulders are very narrow and always have been, even when I was thin. I usually serge my tees in the flat and use a Jalie type neck treatment. I cut 1 1/2 inch strip of self fabric and serge it to the neckline. After serging the garment in the flat, I wrap the strip around to the back and topstitch it in place with a triple stretch stitch and stitch the hems in the same way. I have a coverstitch machine but rarely pull it out.

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  2. Great comparison analysis. I will continue to use the Big 4 as they have styles/designs that I like, especially Vogue. Making my adjusts are usually easy. I made them for so long. It's part of my sewing preparation routine. I've only tried a few of the independent pattern makers, but have purchased a ton of them. (I need to use them more often. It will cut my preparation time down.) As for the instructions, I do what works best for me. Surely, some of the big 4 instructions need to be changed, especially for those that are identified as easy. Beginners may need more guidance. I really hate the instructions for knits: sew two rows of stitches and trim off the access. Instruction overhaul is in order.

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  3. really interesting! thanks for taking the time to do this.

    as a newbie sewer, i think that if the instructions are wrong, then they need to be overhauled. i think instructions need to be written in a way that a novice can make a finished garment using the correct techniques for that garment/fabric. how else are we supposed to know how to do it?! sadly, most of us aren't psychic.

    (of course, if the pattern is advanced, my point still stands. even if the instructions include a complicated technique, it should still be the right technique!)

    i don't know that i have more fit issues with the big 4 than i do other pattern companies. that might be to do with my body type (tallish, thin, 34B boobs, no hips - boyish) but it also might be due to the fact that i simply haven't tried enough patterns to really know.

    thanks again for this very interesting post/experiment. :)

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  4. Is it really the fit model though? I think it's that they have not made any accommodations for the differences in knits and wovens. I think they use the fit model of wovens for knits. There's not even a thought of negative ease. And they really should start instructing everyone to use their high bust measurement from the get go.

    And I totally agree that their instructions for knits are beyond the pale. You really get the becky homecky look with them. Love your altered top.

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    1. Sorry, but on one point I have to disagree. The thing is they DO say to go by the high bust measurement, at least Vogue, McCall's and Butterick do. If you have more than an A-B cup that is what they advise. It's just that no one sees that info. It is still in the actual patternbook, on their website, and in the magazine. However, one needs to look at the Size Chart info in the book or on the website to see it.

      I'm not saying that there aren't problems with their fit or instuctions just that this particular information IS there and should be used to choose your patterns. It's not like they are holding back this info. The only thing they can reasonably hope everyone will read is the packaged instructions (though I've read on many blogs that even beginners don't read all of them) but putting that information there is too late as you've already purchased the pattern in a particular size, right? What else are they to do but put the information out there in various places and call it How to Choose Your Correct Size?

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  5. What a great post. Thanks for taking the time to do and report on your experiment. I really don't think the fit of the straight out of the envelope pattern is that much different from what could be purchased in RTW - though the size numbers are very different.

    From my perspective the problem really is with new/inexperienced sewists. I have developed several fitting shells over the years and like you I know what I need to do to make one of the the Big 4 patterns fit as I want. And I know what construction techniques I like that will give me results I'm happy with.

    Years ago, though, I learned a great deal about sewing from Vogue patterns. That resource really doesn't exist now, and at a time when in-school instruction, and friends and neighbors who could answer questions also aren't as readily available. It seems to be much harder to learn good techniques and achieve good outcomes now.

    I think fit is something each sewist needs to struggle with individually. A consistent use of fit terminology by the pattern companies would be very welcome so you would know what the starting point is for any given pattern, but there is too much variation in individual bodies and fit preferences to expect any pattern to fit any given body. I do think, though, that the Big 4 could use a significant upgrade in their construction methods. It would also be nice if they would remember that we own and use many different types of equipment and offer appropriate alternatives in the instructions.

    Lois K

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  6. I think people need to learn fit. I don't think pattern companies can address that. What they can and should address are their construction techniques.

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    1. I can agree with this! Look at RTW. There wouldn't be a need for a show like What Not To Wear if people understood fit and their own bodies. A Notre Dame professor just wrote a great article about fashion and how we no longer dress up. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57585174/dressing-down-a-culture-for-refusing-to-dress-up/
      I think in the 50's and so on, when style and personal hygiene was an actual subject in school women, and men, were more aware of how a garment should fit. It was held as more of a value then than it is today. Construction techniques are my biggest issue with the big 4. I rarely ever follow their instructions because I, like most seamstresses, want that quality look.

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    2. I totally agree with both cidell and Sarah C - people don't understand fit and are so stuck on size labels, they won't use their eyes to see what clearly doesn't look good even when it's RTW. I can't tell you how frustrating it is for me (as a professional costumer) to go out in public and not be able to fix how everyone looks by tweaking their badly fitting clothes like I do on a film set!

      I learned the best construction techniques just from working with other people who sew - knowledge that can take years to gather but is becoming so much easier with the internet.

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    3. I also agree with Cidell. No pattern company will fit a majority of sewists. We are all just too individual and it is our responsibility to learn to fit our own unique bodies. I think all this sloper bashing is not addressing our own unique differences. Amen, Cidell.

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    4. It is also our responsibility to measure ourselves and measure the paper pattern...what are size numbers for? Just a guide until to actually measure each piece sideways and lengthwise and write it down, add it up to see what is the real circumference and length are and will be after being sewn and stretched.

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  7. This isn't that surprising. I'm kinda glad I started sewing with wovens instead of knits...and I think the horrible instructions are why people are afraid of knits. Oh boy! Those directions are really bad. I like indie patterns cos they test them and for some of my favorite indie companies, the instructions are gold in and of themselves. I'm pretty annoyed with the Big 4 but I will probably buy a pattern if I think I can't find it elsewhere. Great comparison. I'm doing one next.

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  8. This is an awesome experiment and I think its results yield a very telling problem. Though I feel that fit is subjective and really there's so much in the realm of fit that takes years of experience to learn, I still think that the full bust measurement is a problem. But to be honest, this how to measure instruction is oh so missing from independent patterns too. They still just have you measure the "bust" and if you were new to sewing, how would you really know that its better to measure your high bust rather than your full bust? Additionally, the fit model wouldn't be so bad if they would give more information right from the start. I know that the Big 4 draft for a B cup, but I couldn't even tell you how I know that. Also, including more measurements and finished measurements would yield an even better result I think too.

    The instructions are definitely outdated. You know, I remember when my mom used to pay full price for a sewing pattern. None of this 40% off thing and $1.99 sales. Full price and at that time I think the patterns were worth that. I think that nowdays we truly are getting patterns that are only worth $4 or $2 depending on the sale price. I'm definitely willing to pay more money for a better pattern, they just need to make them first (Big 4 patterns, not indie).

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  9. Thank you so much for always taken the time to write posts like this. I follow you but have never commented till now. Although I have made lots of kids stuff, sewing for myself scares me, I want it it fit well but find adult clothing alterations overwhelming.

    Patterns in the UK are so expensive and the independent patterns are double or treble what the big 4 patterns cost, but I can now see the advantage of buying independent patterns over th big 4. I have a mixture of both that I am yet to sew from, but I will start with a few indie patterns and save the big4 for when I have more confidence.

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  10. I think construction method needs to be addressed. I have been reading pattern instructions since I was quite young, so I've learned how to deal with that. People who are newer to sewing are completely lost with the instructions included in the pattern. It is ridiculous. If they want people to learn to sew with their patterns they are going to need to change them. As far as sizing and fit go, I think no matter what they do I will struggle. I can pretty much be sure that everything is going to be huge if it is a Big 4 pattern. In my opinion, proper construction would be a pattern's responsibility and fit is the individual's responsibility.

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  11. The Big 4 includes McCall's. Palmer and Pletsch is a McCall's pattern line and the instructions are usually pretty good (especially about fit) and the advice "use your high bust measurement" in almost every P&P top pattern I've bought. But you are right about the majority of patterns, there is a big disconnect. That must be why I prefer P&P patterns. I must confess, though, vanity kept me from admitting my true fanny size for the longest time and until I did and bought the proper sized pattern I never got a good fit in the hips without much grief, swearing and sometimes tears.

    Theresa in Tucson

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  12. I have made this same dress twice, once for a thicker person (me) and once for a thinner person (my daughter). I had a few fitting issues, but mainly because I didn't add anything to the side seams like I usually do, and it was tighter than I liked. No problems with my daughter. BUT, we chose our sizes based on Nancy Zieman's advice on choosing size based on your measurement from underarm to underarm. Our sizes and fit have stayed fairly consistent across the Big 4 as well. However, neither one of us is well-endowed, and I do think that makes fitting a lot more complicated.

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  13. This was a great experiment and very telling. We can't blame the poor inexperienced seamstresses; how should they possibly know that the full bust measurement assumes a B cup, therefore meaning that a large percentage of that is assumed to be back/ribs/general bone structure? It would be interesting to see what you would get doing the same experiment using one of the patterns w/ different pieces for cup sizing.

    But, as others have observed, fit and construction methods are apples and oranges. No pattern is going to fit every body shape w/o alteration; the sooner a sewing enthusiast grasps that fundamental truth and learns to deal with it the sooner she will no longer be at the mercy of the 'fit model', regardless of whose patterns she's using.

    But.... lalalalalalalala! Those instructions! Horrid! Bad! Doomed to failure! Why is it so much more difficult for the pattern companies to say to sew the seams on a knit garment w/a very narrow zig-zag than it is for them to direct one to sew the seam TWICE with a straight stitch; especially when the zig-zag gives a much better result? I cannot imagine someone working with no other resource than the pattern guide making any kind of knit garment that they'd be happy with; I know I never did until I discovered that I could appropriate Stretch N Sew techniques for my Big 4 patterns. Now I very, very seldom even look at the instructions for a knit garment. Only if there is some detail that needs special attention, and even then I will likely just see how 'they' say to do it, and use that as the basis for 'my' way, which takes into account that I actually am sewing with a knit garment.

    The cut and paste method for writing sewing instructions is not bad in and of itself; it's the fact that what is being pasted in is so archaic and useless (setting in knit sleeves in the round! Facings on knit necklines! Double straight stitch seams! Etc etc etc...).

    Yes, I think the pattern companies need to rewrite their instruction library, at a minimum. And I would like to see the main fit landmarks(full bust, waist, full hip at the least) indicated...accurately, please!...on all tissue pieces, so alterations, which we all agree will have to be made, could be made easily.

    Thank you for my turn on the soapbox! ;-)

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  15. Brilliant experiment - thank you so much for your effort with this.

    I see two distinct problems... understanding fit, and knowing good construction techniques (especially with regard to different fabrics). The second problem could be quite easily addressed by the pattern companies - they just need to modernise their instruction database.

    The explanation of fit could be addressed differently. Rather than just having a set of measurements, they could add some "if/then" statements, i.e. "if your bust is 4 inches larger than your high bust, then do an FBA". They could either provide URLs to basic fit adjustment info on their websites, or spruik their own pattern fitting books (do they have any??).

    I wouldn't expect all patterns to fit all body shapes, but I do think they could make it easier for people to know what to do to make them work.

    Thanks again for this post - you're my hero of the month!

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    1. I totally agree with you! Great points.

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  16. Thanks for this experiment, photos of results, and explanation of your construction techniques. I think it comes down to knowing some elements of fitting as no one size will fit everyone well. That being said, the instructions should include some info on high bust vs bust when measuring.

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  17. As a relatively new sewist who has had total disasterous fails with the few Big 4 knit patterns I've tried, I'd say something needs to change! I really enjoyed your comparison!

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  18. Thanks for sharing this interesting contrast in sizes using your measurements and the sizing recommendations. Fortunately I learned some time ago about the high bust and low bust measurements yet not in high school where I was taught sewing.

    I use to be lucky enough to cut and sew a pattern straight from the envelope. With age and changes in body shape that has not been the case for a long time. I can only hope that a beginning sewist will learn about the numerous fitting books out that so they can not only learn to sew but learn to fit first.

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  19. The pattern instructions are indeed so outdated. When I first started sewing I didn't have any understanding of the differences in interfacings. Looking back on it I can now laugh that I fused waistband thickness interfacing to my KNIT pattern pieces, lol. After I realized they were stiff as a board I knew something was very wrong. Hey, the instructions just said interface so I interfaced the way I had done with wovens.

    While I know that patterns cannot fit every body type I think they measurements they use are outdated in drafting the patterns. The average size of a woman's bust has increased since the last time the drafting was changed.

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  20. My biggest complaint with Big 4 is the 5/8 in seam allowance. I'd prefer patterns with no seam allowance, so I could add a seam allowance that suited the seam. I love StyleArc patterns because they vary the seam allowance depending on the seam type, which makes them much easier to sew. Well, easier to sew if you already know how to sew! The instructions take it for granted that you know what you are doing in general.

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  21. I've been steadily drifting more towards the independent patterns myself over the last several years--frankly, it's more being bored with a lot of what the Big 4 have to offer style-wise. There are lines I like in those ranges (the Simplicity Project Runway patterns come to mind, for instance), but those end up being mostly dresses and I am admittedly more of a separates-wearer in my everyday life. With tops and dresses, I've learned that I can generally start with a size 14, take the waist in some, and use that as a jumping-off point to get a fairly decent fit.

    The instructions are certainly an issue, especially when it comes to knit patterns. But one thing to keep in mind is that while there are a wider range of machines available to the home sewist, not all sewists (especially people just learning) have those machines available to him or her personally. Instructions meant for a coverstitch machine would take some reconfiguring for me, because I don't have those (I usually just try to get the look as closely as I can with serging the edge and then double-stitching the hem on my regular machine.) A beginner probably wouldn't have serger access, either. So what they probably need to do is give two sets of instructions--one for sewing machine only and one for people who have sergers as well. But I doubt they'd be willing to do that.

    Truthfully, I don't look at the instructions that much anymore, either, at least with those. Reconfiguring their instructions are a piece of cake compared to what's in the Burda magazine instructions!

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    1. Some patterns, but only some, do have dual instructions as I have many New Look patterns that have conventional and serger instructions. Also New Look is the one line in the big four (Div. of Simplicity) that I think has the most knit patterns. That's why I like them so much.

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  22. what a great post and I am so glad you did the comparison sewing. I sew almost exclusively with the Big 4 and don't want them to change the sizing sloper since I know how to alter them. I think so many new sewists are not learning how to fit. Granted sewing is complicated there is both fit and technique to master with so many variables such as fabric, style of garment etc. However I really think people should take some time to learn fitting, it makes such a difference. I have made a few independent patterns and don't they they have any great improvement or difference in sizing or fit, in fact maybe more issues as each company uses their own sizing starting point.
    I agree with comments above, the instructions for knits are mostly terrible.

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  23. Wow. That's a lot of shoulder room. The pattern piece differences are interesting, too.

    One question about the clear elastic . . . does it go all the way around the neckline?

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  24. I always start on the basis of being small across the shoulders and short in the torso, and needing an FBA (done like yours on knits, grading up to the size 16 in the bust and back down from there). Years ago, when I used to buy my clothes, I always had to take in tops between the bust and waist, so when I started to sew again for real, I knew what I needed to do with patterns. I think at that time they had just started making patterns with multiple size lines, and they actually said something about being able to grade up and down depending upon the size you needed at any particular body part. I think it would be really frustrating to be a beginning sewist, and come out with a final product like your "follow the directions" sample.

    And because knits are so tricky, I always use the serger for everything possible. The puckering is always upsetting.

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  25. i think i would have found it useful if you had sewn up the size your high bust would have given you (maybe with an FBA if needed). as a pretty new sewist i have no idea how/ when i'll get to the level of knowing enough about the fit of big 4 patterns to tailor each bit to my size, and no newbie sewist knows that stuff. of course you'll get a better fit if you tailor it exactly to your size, but surely the issue isn't that all patterns don't fit everyone straight out of the envelope, but the ridiculous amount of ease (and horrible instructions!). they should take a leaf out of Steph @ 3 hours past's approach to making patterns that are clear and easy to fit!

    anyway, great post. thanks! (I tried to write this yesterday but it kept disappearing - stupid computer!)

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  26. Double fold straight stitch hem? Ouch. Frankly, that's juvenile sewing. I never sew big 4, with the exception of a few vintage or a Lisette pattern. I've picked up some (ok, a lot) newly published retro styles I'd like to do, though. Interestingly, I sewed a popular indie pattern recently and noticed that the shoulders were nested as if bust size corresponded to shoulder width. I had to majorly reconstruct the shoulders since I used to sewing with better-drafted patterns (Otto, Burda, Jalie).

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  27. Agreed! Pattern instructions are outdated. As for the fit, the pattern companies are terribly inconsistent. I flat pattern measure every pattern to determine the amount of ease they have built in before deciding what alterations to do.

    Christiana
    sewamusing.blogspot.com

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  28. I am so impressed that you took the time to do this. It really makes the point. I think your conclusions are spot on. We all need to learn to make our own fitting adjustments. The pattern companies might assist a bit by directing us to our upper bust measurement rather than our full bust, but other than that, what they can do to please all people is pretty limited.

    You are right, the instructions for knits are diabolical. They do need a re-vamp.

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  29. I struggle with fit, and it is one of the things that makes me put off starting a new project. I haven't got my alterations figured out, and need to develop some TNT patterns.
    I do think they could improve & modernize the instructions, but I don't have a serger, and don't want to see them advising techniques I can't use. Maybe as optional techniques.

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    1. I agree, I don't have a serger either. Also, what beginner would continue if they were told they need to buy one just to try out sewing for the first time?

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  30. What other consumer product would be sold with instructions that are WRONG and, when followed correctly, would produce an end product that doesn't fulfill it's stated function?

    And why do sewists blame themselves instead of the people who sell the crap?

    I'm in the camp that says that their block isn't as bad as their instructions.

    In the last generation, average cup sizes have gone from a B to a C and the waist to hip ratio has become closer to one. The independents tend to cater to the younger demographic with that style of body. I am an A cup with a small waist so altering a Big 4 is easier than for many independent patterns. YMMV. I just wish that the patterns would specify for whom they are making the pattern and have a consistent fit.

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  31. Great experiment, I have always had to alter sewing patterns no matter what company. I have had issues with other sewing products - ie a defective zipper, so I sent it back to the company and received a replacement and a very nice letter thanking me for telling me about the problem and they were reviewing their manufacturing to find where it went wrong.

    Has anyone contacted the pattern companies with your comments? They aren't going to know how sewists feel if don't hear from you.

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  32. Thanks for the pointers.

    I have probably been sewing since your grandmother was a child. There are so many patterns in my stash that I hadn't bought any new ones for several years, just modified what I already have. Last year, however, I decided to add about 10 new patterns to my collection and discovered to my dismay that the sizing had changed dramatically.

    At first I thought it was me... then I saw a few other posts like yours. Not sure how many more patterns I'll be buying in the foreseeable future. Hopefully, the Big 4 will wake up and smell the coffee.

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  33. Thanks for taking one for the team- your work is definitely appreciated. I still think a 'what not to sew' program should be in the works!

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  34. Interesting post!!! I have not sewn from many patterns at all yet, many of the things I've sewn have been from books. I'm looking forward to getting into more of the independent patternmakers as well. The one Vogue pattern I tried, failed miserably. Butterick and Simplicity seem to be okay, with the few I've tried.

    The top in your post also has such a low gaping neckline, so even though you chose your size, it would seem that you have to have a VERY long waist for the neckline to fit. ??

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  35. Taking one for the team, indeed!

    The natural follow-up would be to gather a group of variously sized 38" bust women and have them try on the two shirts and note which one they prefer. There's got to be SOMEone out there who matches the McCall's size 16 as drafted, but would there be more who prefer that or more who prefer your altered version? Maybe something to try at the next sewists' gathering.

    Completely off-topic, but in the photo where you're holding up the excess of shoulder fabric in the unaltered shirt, I think the raised collar effect flatters you. Do you have collars which stand up like that in your wardrobe?

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  36. For me the biggest issue with fit on Big 4 patterns is the inconsistent ease (as someone mentioned up thread.) It shifts from pattern to pattern and almost never lines up with the ease that type of garment should have or even the ease that's pictured on the front of the envelope. I once sewed a straight skirt without a waistband with a straight out of the envelope "ease" of 3 1/2". that's insane. If I had cut the size suggested for my measurements the skirt would have fit like a pair of teenage boy's sloppy jeans. The crazy ease measurements make it very difficult to adjust the pattern in the first place. I've been sewing for over 25 years and trying to figure out what size to cut where still feels like calculus.

    It's interesting to see the techniques you use. I'd be interested to see a tutorial on the neckline technique.

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  37. You got a great hem using your coverstitch machine. How many people would fork out the $$$ for such a machine simply to make knit garments? I think the sewing instructions for knits take into account that the beginning sewer doesn't own a serger or a coverstitch machine but a simple straight-forward standard sewing machine, and we all know - after years of practice and trial and error - that sewing knits on a regular sewing machine requires a few tricks. Can you imagine the instructions reading: serger and coverstich machine required to get a RTW look on your me-made T? And the sizing issue is trial and error. Even the same pattern, altered to fit perfectly, will require more alteration if a different quality of jersey is used. How is a pattern company supposed to accommodate that?

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  38. Hi!! You and I are somewhat on the same wave length here. I find your "Big 4" test very interesting. You proved the importance of not relying on pattern envelope measurements, but to measure the pattern yourself. This is what I'm teaching on my blog in my online pattern fitting series. I also like that you pointed out that a mishap like this is how many new sewists/sewers fail right in the beginning. Great Job!!

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  39. You are amazing! It's so cool how you actually made the pattern up to illustrate. I personally gave up on patterns many years ago. I make patterns from the clothes I buy that I love. The shape and construction methods are so far superior. And the cost of patterns is ridiculous. I've learned so much about clothing construction from taking clothes apart, too. As far as not everyone owning sergers, well, there are certainly some better non-serger methods than the double fold hem at this point in time, too! Good job, this is a great article.

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