There’s some interesting information in Fit for Real People about what dress sizes originally represented.

I remember when we found out in the 80s that Sportsgirl (an Australian fashion brand) were generally a size larger than their label size.  This meant that people who actually care about what size they fit into would be kidded into thinking they were really a size ten when they were an 8.   I remember the days when a size 8 was the smallest you could get in a shop.

Generally dress patterns fit a size smaller than ready-to-wear, for example if you are a 10 in the shops you are an 8 in the pattern.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and in these days of vanity sizing you would think it might actually be more different than that.   I decided to play it safe with the two garments I am making first (bride and wedding guest) and use the body measurements of the intended wearers to find the appropriate size from the stated body measurements on the pattern envelope.

Yeah, right.  Lucky this was the muslin or toile stage.

One pattern is an evening/designer.  If I went for the body measurement it I should have cut a 16.  I cut a 14.  I should have cut a 12 – and the wearer is generally a size 10.

Since I did this one first, I figured for the next dress I was making I would cut it a single size smaller than the body measurements would suggest.  It’s a vintage vogue pattern.  It came out at least a size too small.  I hadn’t actually asked the wearer what her normal garment size is – I usually don’t care much about it except for selecting the correct pattern range to use as the template.

One garment is fitted, the other is cut on the bias.  That could make a difference, except the one on the bias has a fitted and boned foundation, and that’s what I fitted.  It would be interesting to try the same pattern on one person and see whether it’s the style or not.  The vintage patterns are rumoured to run small.  Unfortunately the first pattern hasn’t been reviewed at, I’m going to have to look up the second.

This just reinforces the benefit of fitting a muslin.  I could tissue-fit, but I find good results with the muslin with far less twitching of the client.  I may have to find someone compliant to practice on so I am a little faster.