What size is my kid? Rough size chart equivalents for sewists

A rough guide to how children’s ready-to-wear clothing sizes and US and European sewing pattern sizes match up.
What size is my child? A guide for sewists.

A while ago I made a comparison chart of sizing systems for women. But I thought it would also be useful to do the same thing for children’s sizes.

This is a rough guide to how children’s clothing sizes and sewing pattern sizes match up across the most commonly used clothing systems. Please click to enlarge. For more details, please read the notes below.

A rough guide to how children’s ready-to-wear clothing sizes and US and European sewing pattern sizes match up.
Size chart equivalents for kids – Includes ready-to-wear and sewing pattern sizes.

Download the Rough Size Chart Equivalents for Kids as a PDF (29 kb)

How This Chart Was Built

Where does this information come from?

I used the combined available size charts from major pattern manufacturers, clothing manufacturers and international size standards. The ‘Big Four’ pattern companies refer to companies like Butterick, McCalls, Vogue and Simplicity. The European Pattern companies include ones like Ottobre and Burdastyle, but also a number of pattern companies in France, Germany, etc.  I didn’t include independent pattern company size charts, which vary a great deal, especially in the U.S.

Should I choose my pattern size based on this chart?

Probably not. It’s always a good idea to read the measurements that come with a specific pattern for a better fit.

Why are some sizes greyed out?

The greyed out sizes are purely fictitious. They don’t exist on the size charts of certain manufacturers.

What’s going on with sizes S,M and L?

Those sizes are very approximate, and vary greatly among clothing manufacturers. In addition there is a range of S-L for babies and another for older children.

Do you have suggestions? complaints?

I hope you find the chart useful. If you have any comments or would like to suggest improvements, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

An Economic Case for Larger Pattern Sizes

Imagine you are a pattern maker. You have a great design all worked out. But what sizes should you include in your pattern?

You might start by looking at what other pattern makers are doing. Then you might look at what standard size ranges are being used by ready-to-wear clothing manufacturers and large commercial pattern makers. But a small pattern maker can’t always afford to make every pattern in every size, so how do you choose?

A Look at the Numbers

The body weight of adult women follows what is called a standard distribution. If you charted out the number of people by their body weight, it would make a curve. There would be a lot of people in the middle of the curve (around the average weight), but not many people out at the ends of the curve (with very low or high weights).

According to SizeUSA, as of 2004, the average bust size in the US was 40″. That translates to roughly a size EUR 44, or US pattern size 18. That’s the centre of the curve.

Indie Pattern Makers

What many independent pattern companies choose to do, is offer their patterns in sizes 6 to 18 (or average). If you chart that out, you can examine what is called “the area under the curve” and use this to calculate the percentage of the population in that range.

For independent pattern companies that offer their patterns in sizes 6 to 18 (the green area under the curve), that area is about 43% of the total population. That means that if you make a pattern available in that size range, only 43% of the general population can use your patterns.

Indie pattern range
Here the green area represents the size range sometimes chosen by Indie pattern designers. About 43% of the population can use these patterns.

That’s not a huge number, so you might think about extending your range of sizes. But in what direction? If you look at the chart you can see that by extending the range down, say two sizes, you make the area under the curve just a little larger, but if you extend the range up by the same number of sizes, you make that area much larger. In other words, you can find more buyers by adding sizes nearest the centre of the curve (size 18), then at the ends.

Big 4 Pattern Makers

That’s what commercial pattern companies do for their regular pattern range. Often, they offer patterns in sizes 6 to 22. With that range, about 63% of the population can use their regular patterns. They’ve just increased their population of potential buyers by about half. But instead of 7 sizes their range includes 9 sizes.

Here the green area represents the size range used by Big4 pattern companies.
Here the green area represents the size range used by Big4 pattern companies in their regular size range of 6-22. About 63% of the population can use these patterns.

An Ideal Limited Pattern Range

When you produce a pattern, there is an additional cost for producing and grading each size. Not every pattern maker can add extra sizes. So lets assume that as an independent pattern maker, you can only afford to draft seven sizes. Which should they be? In order to include the largest number of potential buyers, you should centre your seven sizes around the average size. If you include sizes 12 t0 24, 56% of the general population can use your patterns. In other words, by shifting the range of patterns you are providing up by a couple sizes, you can make more money at no extra cost.

Ideal pattern 7-size range. About 56% of the population can use these patterns.
A limited ideal pattern size range. There are still only 7 sizes, but now 56% of the population can use these patterns.

Our average weight has been increasing over the past several decades. In the 1940s and 1950s, when standard clothing sizes were developed, the average bust measurement was 35″, about a size 12-14.

If you look at the Big4 pattern makers, this is the centre of their current range of sizes. Most likely, they originally organized their pattern size range to centre around the average size (in the 1940s and 1950s), in order to maximize profits. But since then, our bodies have grown out of that ideal range, and the Big 4 pattern companies have not adjusted.

If you look at the small range that many small independent pattern companies are using (6-18), they are also centring their size range around this outdated average, just like the Big4 pattern companies. But they don’t have the historical reason to do so.

A Sample Extended Pattern Range

And what would happen if you matched the size range on both sides of the average? What would happen if you offered sizes 6 to 18, but then also offered sizes 18 to 30? You’re patterns could be used by 86% of the population. You would double your population of potential buyers (and presumably your profits). Of course now you would also have to draft an extra 6 sizes. And of course, you can always extend that range even further.

Here the green area includes sizes 6 to 30.
Here the green area includes sizes 6 to 30. It’s the equivalent of S to 3X. About 86% of the population can use these patterns.

And would that extra segment of the population buy your patterns? It’s hard to predict. But assuming the patterns were well drafted, and fashionable, you would be adding a population of potential buyers that are underserved by both large commercial and small independent pattern makers, but also by the ready-to-wear clothing industry.

Statistical Caveats
This model of pattern sizing is approximate and depends on a number of assumptions.

Human body weight follows an approximately normal distribution, so it’s logical to assume that clothing sizes do as well, but they might not. That data has been compiled by private companies, but it isn’t publicly available.

This model assumes that clothing sizes vary by equal amounts along the curve, that measurements like bust size and body weight are perfectly correlated, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

Nevertheless, it’s logical to assume that the model would be a good approximation of size distribution in the population and the calculations shown here would hold up.

So what sizes should you include in your pattern?

Based on time and budget constraints, determine how many sizes you can draft, test, and print. Then centre those sizes around the average, size 18 (EUR 44 or L with bust 40″), with an equal number of sizes above and below that point. (And yes, size large, is in fact average).

Of course, this takes into account only cold hard economics of choosing a size range. There are many reasons, besides profits, that would lead to different choices. In a perfect world, all patterns would come in all sizes – and they would all look amazing! (perfect world right?)

Your thoughts are welcome in the comments!

What size am I? Rough size equivalents for sewists

While I was writing up my list of Independent Sewing Patterns for the Plus-Sized Sewist, one of the things I noticed was how different everyone’s sizing system was. And the larger the pattern sizes available, the more the systems varied from pattern maker to pattern maker.

I looked online for some sort of chart that would link up all the sizing systems. There were some good ones. The Named Patterns size chart includes lots of sizing systems, but it only goes up to size EUR 46. There is also a cute online clothing size conversion tool, but it doesn’t include measurements or pattern sizes. And there is a fabulous list by Cashmerette, that compares the sizing systems of some of the most popular independent pattern makers.

But overall, there wasn’t what I needed, especially not in the plus size range, so I made my own.

This is a rough guide to how clothing sizes and sewing pattern sizes match up across the most commonly used clothing systems. Please click to enlarge. For more details, please read the notes below.

Rough Size Chart Equivalents for Sewists
Rough Size Equivalents for Sewists

Download the Rough Size Chart Equivalents for Sewists as a PDF (450 kb)

How This Chart Was Built

Where does this information come from?

I used the combined available size charts from major pattern manufacturers, clothing manufacturers and international size standards. I didn’t include independent pattern company size charts, which vary a great deal. And for some indie pattern companies, that is part of their marketing and their charm. Pear shaped? extra curvy? petite? Some indie pattern companies are intentionally catering to that demographic and their size charts reflect that.

Should I choose my pattern size based on this chart?

Probably not. It’s always a good idea to read the measurements that come with a specific pattern for a better fit.

Why are some sizes greyed out?

The greyed out sizes are purely fictitious. They don’t exist on the size charts of major manufacturers. But since human beings do come in those sizes, I extended out the available sizes myself, using the same approximate measurement intervals. I made educated guesses. I know that is not exactly how sizing or pattern grading works, but since these sizes are not actually available, I figure my approximations are better than nothing. Since some of the larger “official” sizes are rarely, if ever available, my approximations are about as useful.

Why did you only include EUR sizes 28-64?

I stopped at size EUR 64. Again, human beings come in larger sizes, so the size chart could easily be expanded (and should be!). However, this includes all the sizes that I could find in my list of Independent Sewing Patterns for the Plus-Sized Sewist. I also found it extremely difficult to find consensus among clothing manufacturers about what exactly constitutes the 6X to 10X+ size range.

What’s the green bar?

The average bust size in the USA in 2004, according to Size USA was 40″. The green bar, therefore, is the average size of women in the USA. I found it very interesting that for many independent pattern companies, this was the largest size they made. Even Big 4 pattern companies often stop at size 18, and sometimes 16, for individual patterns.

What’s going on with sizes XL, 1X and 2X?

In theory, XL and 1X should be equivalent and XXL and 2X should be equivalent, but those sizes are very approximate, and vary greatly among clothing manufacturers.

Is the sizing for 1x to 5x accurate?

Maybe. There doesn’t seem to be a clear standard for those clothing sizes, at least not one that I could find. However, this chart best approximates the  reported sizing used by significant number of large clothing manufacturers and distributors. It’s also quite close to the KwikSew size chart for sizes 1X to 4X. I wanted to include that information as well, but I couldn’t see any easy way to incorporate those sizes and still keep the chart tidy and legible.

Do you have suggestions? complaints?

I hope you find the chart useful. If you have any comments or would like to suggest improvements, I’d love to hear about it! Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

The Big List of Online Canadian Longarm Quilters

The Big List on Canadian Online Long Arm Quilters
The Big List on Canadian Online Longarm Quilters

Having trouble locating a long-arm quilter who works close by? I’ve complied a list of Canadian long-arm quilting services. I’ll be adding as I go, so check back soon.

I haven’t tried them all, so I can’t vouch for them. If you know of any others, or have had a good experience with any, please leave a comment or get in touch.

Want to be on the list? At the moment, I only list people who have a website, are located in Canada, and note that they provide long-arm quilting services on their website. Many longarm quilters also show a portfolio of their work, though this is not required.

This list was last updated on November 29, 2016. Shops are generally listed geographically from east to west.

Atlantic Canada

Quebec

Ontario

Manitoba

Saskatchewan

Alberta

British Columbia

Is your business missing? If you are located in Canada, have a website, and provide long-arm quilting services which you note on your website get in touch. Thanks!

The Big List of Independent Sewing Patterns for the Plus-Sized Sewist

The Big List of Plus Size Independent Pattern Designers
The Big List of Plus Size Independent Pattern Designers

Am I plus-sized? I don’t know. It all depends on what plus-size means. But I do know that I love independent pattern companies, and their patterns do not always come in my size.

So I’ve put together a list of sewing patterns companies that make things a bit bigger (plus-size, curvy, full-figured?) and that hopefully will be of use to others as well.

This list was last updated on April 28, 2015.

Women

Men

For each company, I’ve listed the largest size they carry (in their own sizing terms, which vary quite a bit) and the largest bust/chest size in inches, since it is a measurement that is universally listed.

Since the average bust measurement is 40″, according to Size USA, I’m listing everything above. So really, this is a list for the slightly-above-average and up.

Women

Independent pattern companies bust 41″-43″

Independent pattern companies that go up to size EUR 46, US size 20, bust 41″-43″.

Independent pattern companies bust 43″-45″

Independent pattern companies that go up to size EUR 48, US size 22, bust 43″-45″.

Independent pattern companies bust 46-48″

Independent pattern companies that go up to size EUR 50-52, US size 24-26, bust 46-48″.

Independent pattern companies bust 50-52″

Independent pattern companies that go up to size EUR 54-56, US size 28-30, bust 50-52″.

Independent pattern companies bust 54+”

Independent pattern companies that go past size EUR 58+, US size 32+, bust 54+”.

Big 4 pattern companies

Big 4 pattern companies that go past size EUR 50+, US size 28+, bust 50″+. 

Men

Independent men’s pattern companies

Big 4 men’s pattern companies

  • Burda – Maximum size: 50, chest 47″
  • New Look – Maximum size: XL chest 48″
  • Butterick – Maximum size: XL chest 48″
  • Vogue – Maximum size: 48 chest 48″
  • KwikSew – Maximum size: XXL chest 52″
  • McCalls – Maximum size: XXXL chest 56″
  • Simplicity – Maximum size: 5XL, chest 64″

Did I miss a favourite pattern company? Let me know in the comments!

Update: A reader has just let me know that there is another, similar list by Cashmerette. Unfortunately, my Google searches didn’t find it before I wrote this post. She compares various pattern companies in detail across a larger range of measurements, and she has other pattern companies listed as well.