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Georgia Dress Sewalong #2: Finding your size & prepping the pattern

We've got a nice and gentle post for you guys on this cold, wet and dreary January day in London (seriously February, hurry the f*** up!).

In today's instalment of the Georgia Dress Sewalong, we will be mostly:

  • Figuring out our dress size
  • Tracing off the pattern pieces
  • Adjusting the skirt panels
  • Double reminding ourselves to pre-wash our fabric

And you will need:

  • A tape measure
  • Pens and pencils
  • Tracing paper/dot and cross paper/Swedish tracing paper to trace off your pattern
  • Paper scissors

*To be taken to all the posts in the Georgia Dress Sewalong, please click here!*

Finding your size

Just as with different high street and designer brands, your dress "size" may vary when working with different sewing pattern companies. This is because there is no standard industry fixed sizing chart; we each establish our own sizing charts that work best for our designs and grading methods. This is why it is of upmost importance to be aware of your own measurements and always cross reference these with the sizing charts at the back of your pattern folder, to ensure that you choose the size right for you (and indeed make any necessary adjustments to improve the fit of your finished garment).

Georgia Dress Sewalong - by hand london

First things first, we need to take our measurements. For our previous sewalongs, we have only required that you make a note of your bust, waist and hip measurements. However, for the Georgia Dress with her more structured shape and fitted cups, we want you to go a little more in depth. Grab a tape measure and jot down the following measurements:

  • Full bust
  • High bust
  • Waist
  • Hip

Please refer back to our post on how to take your measurements if you're having any difficulty with this.

You can now check your measurements against our sizing chart at the back of the Georgia Dress pattern folder. You'll notice that there is no reference to a high bust measurement: we just need this in order to figure out whether or not we'll be needing to make any adjustments to the cups. As a general rule, if your high bust measurement is 2" (or close) less than your full bust, you won't need to alter the bodice. We'll be going into FBA's and SBA's in much more detail in the next post. Fuuuuuuun!

georgia dress sewalong - by hand london

As well as looking over the sizing chart, remember to check the finished measurements also, as these will tell you how the dress measures up when finished. If you're coming up between sizes, or your bust, waist and hip measurements fall into wildly different size groups, please don't panic! This is the reality for most of us, as we don't have bodies that conform to a pattern graders ideal. Size 10 at the bust; size 8 waist; size 12 hip - this, or any other combination of proportions, is normal. What's important, is to be aware of your measurements, and how to alter a pattern to make it fit your body like a glove.

For this post, we're going to assume that you're happy with your bust measurement - that your full bust is 2" (or near enough to) larger than your high bust. Use a pen of a contrasting colour to highlight your size on the pattern tissue to make it easier to see through your tracing paper.

georgia dress sewalong - by hand london

If your waist and hip measurements also fall into the same size group as well, you're laughing, but if not, we're going to show you how to gently grade between sizes directly onto the skirt pieces on the pattern tissue, ready to be traced off.

  • The top of the Georgia Dress skirt panels start just under the bust, so this point will need to be the same size that you're cutting for your bust in order for the bodice and skirt to match up when seamed.
  • Now go down to the first notch on the skirt panel (start with the skirt's side front and side back panels) - this is the waistline. Referring back to your measurements (and using the image below as a guide), highlight the line weight which best reflects your waist measurement.
  • Now measure approximately 10" down from the waistline - this is the fullest part of the skirt, or the hip measurement. Again, highlight the line weight which best reflects your hip size.
  • Finally, draw a smooth line connecting the differing sizes starting from the top, going in to the waistline, and out to the hip. Continue down to the hem along the hip size line.

photo4This grading between the sizes technique is easy enough when the hem and underbust seams are on the same baseline and the sizes are simply graded outwards, but what about the skirt pieces that are spread out more on the pattern tissue, eg. the Skirt Centre Front? The process is pretty much the same, just make sure that you have highlighted the same size for the top and bottom (underbust and hemline) of the pattern piece, as all sizes are the same length (and by tracing off one size at the underbust and a different size at the hemline you'd end up with a skirt panel that was either too short or too long). Then you can apply the same technique for grading between sizes to the side seam line weights.

OK! Now that you've got your pattern tissue highlighted with your size, you can trace each piece off and carefully cut them out. Remember here to transfer ALL information and markings from the pattern tissue onto your tracings, especially:

  • Notches
  • Which pattern piece it is, ie. Bodice Side Front
  • How many to cut - shell or lining?
  • Fold lines and grainlines
  • Size & info on alterations made

georgia dress sewalong - by hand london

Woo hoo! Now that you've got your pattern pieces traced and cut out, all that's left to do before we get really stuck in is check - nay, double check! - that you have pre-washed your fabric. You do not want this baby shrinking in the wash!!

  • Elisalex de Castro Peake
  • AW 13-14dressGeorgia DressGeorgia Dress SewalongSewalong

Comments on this post ( 2 )

  • Feb 15, 2016

    Hi Vicky, sorry if that bit sounded confusing! It was just referring to pattern pieces that have had to be spread out a little in order for size line weights to be less of a tangle. If you’re grading out at the hip, you’ll want to carry that size down all the way to the hem. Just bear in mind that in order to avoid ending up with panels of different lengths, if the horizontal hemline sizes are spread out, trace the one of the size you started with (size 6 in your case). I hope this makes sense! ~Elisalex

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Feb 14, 2016

    Hi there, I am highlighting my size on the pattern and am struggling to follow one of the above instructions (very much a beginner at this).

    It’s the below section of text I am struggling to understand. Is this basically saying that if I start with a size 6 underbust and taper out to a size 14 hip that I should taper back down to a size 6 at the hem? or should my hem be the same size as my hip?

    “This grading between the sizes technique is easy enough when the hem and underbust seams are on the same baseline and the sizes are simply graded outwards, but what about the skirt pieces that are spread out more on the pattern tissue, eg. the Skirt Centre Front? The process is pretty much the same, just make sure that you have highlighted the same size for the top and bottom (underbust and hemline) of the pattern piece, as all sizes are the same length (and by tracing off one size at the underbust and a different size at the hemline you’d end up with a skirt panel that was either too short or too long). Then you can apply the same technique for grading between sizes to the side seam line weights.”

    Thank you,
    Vicky

    — VICKY HARGREAVES

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