How many times have you been excited about starting a new dressmaking project, raided your stash for the perfect fabric, carefully cut the pattern out and faithfully followed the sewing instructions – only to be disappointed with the result?  More times than you care to remember, if you’re anything like me.

Loads of people I speak to say they’ve simply stopped bothering to sew for themselves because nothing ever fits.

So why is that? Why do so many of us get such disheartening results when we’ve taken so much care over our sewing?

Well, it’s because commercial pattern companies – whether big American ones like Vogue, European like Burda or even small independent ones like Colette, all work their own standard set of measurements.  People, on the other hand, don’t come in standard sizes.  An even bigger factor is that tops, dresses and jackets are all drafted for a ‘B’ cup bust.

It would be so great if we could just buy a pattern and whip up a fabulous garment that fits perfectly straight out of the envelope. For the vast majority of us though that’s just not the reality. In fact, guaranteed if you’re bigger than a ‘B’ cup.

You can’t blame the pattern companies. It would be impossible for them to produce every design in a myriad of size variations.  Even if they did, it would just be totally bewildering trying to work out which one we needed.  The only way to guarantee a perfect fit from a commercial pattern is to think of it as your starting point, rather than the finished article.

As Pati Palmer of Palmer/Pletsch often says “The pattern is your manuscript and you are the editor”.

Once you learn how to customise patterns to fit your shape, the world of fashion is your oyster!