May 21, 2011

Picking Your Ginger Size

If you pick the wrong size, things end up wonky and there's alot of adjustments and that's all stuff that can take many muslins, time and limited patience. If you're new to sewing, then picking your pattern size might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes after we've taken our measurements, we want to think that we aren't the size that the measurements are reflecting. Just be honest with yourself about which size you really are. Nothing wrong with you or the measurements. Your body is always right - it's the pattern we need to adjust. Let's take another look at what we need to measure to get our correct size. Please note that all measurements should be taken with only your underclothes on.

Let's analyze the pattern for a moment and where it sits. Take my 1st Ginger for example. The waistband hits above my natural waistline. The natural waistline of this skirt is where the waistband and the skirt meet. This might be higher up than you at first imagined. I'm going to say too, that if you really want this skirt to fit you well, it needs to fit at the natural waist. So where is the natural waist? It's the narrowest part of the torso - the curve inward coming down from the ribs and going out toward the hip. And that's where you need to measure for your waist measurement. Helpful hint: tie a string, ribbon or a piece of elastic around your middle and do the hula for a minute while it settles; take your measurement where the string, ribbon or elastic has settled.

Now for the hip. Your hip might hit higher or lower than my hip or your friend's hip. What really counts is that you get the largest part of your hip for your hip measurement. Take a really good look in the mirror and look for the widest part of your hip. That's what you need to measure.

Alright, so now you have your waist and hip measurement. Take another look at the back of your Ginger pattern and determine your size based off of the waist and hip measurements only - we don't need the bust for this project. Many of you will probably find your size right away. Yay for you! Go ahead and cut your size out. What if you don't see your measurements on the back? Or what if, horror of horrors you have the waist size of a 4 but the hip size of an 8 or vice versa? Don't worry! You're not abnormal, mis-shaped or anything of the like. You are great just the way you are and getting your pattern to match up to you is where I come in to help.

If you have Dilemma A - you have 10 inches between your waist and hip circumference measurement, but your digits don't match up with any of the sizes, click here for how to adjust your pattern before cutting it out.

If you have Dilemma B - Your waist size is a different size than your hip size, click here for how to adjust your pattern before cutting it out.

Happy Adjusting - tomorrow I'll be back with more flat pattern adjustments so hold tight before you go cutting into your muslin fabric.


  1. It's like a sewing choose-your-own-adventure!

  2. That very same thought popped into my head as I was thinking about separating out the adjustment posts! I almost wrote it in! He he he!

  3. Oh dear, I cannot stand skirts sitting at my natural waist because it's feel so high. If there's even more fabric above, the skirt will sit right under my bust.... off to remeasure and rethink... it can't be that my torso is on the short side, why would all RTW T-shirts be to short otherwise?

  4. Hi Julia,

    I understand. Now you are welcome to have the skirt sit lower on your waist and fit it to sit there. You can also shorten the waistband pieces a little too (maybe like an inch) to facilitate your short torso area. Let me know if you extra help too.


  5. I'm only following this sew-along vicariously, but I do have a question. My natural waist is quite high, so if I'm making a skirt with a high waist like Ginger, do I need to adjust the length of the skirt itself? I guess what I'm asking is, is there a way to adjust how deep the skirt is from waistband to hip? If I wear the waistband at my high waist, I'm worried that the hip won't be in the right place. Does that make sense?

  6. Yes! Tomorrow I'll be showing length adjustments and though I won't be showing a hip length adjustment, you could easily do one in that area. For this particular skirt, its hard to tell exactly where the hip is since its not indicated on the pattern, but even so, in that general area would be a good spot for this adjustment.

  7. Linda (crazygrad at pr)May 21, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    I can't speak for anyone else, but my body type is not one people design/draft for. I have an unattractive condition I call the double-gubble. If you find my waist, right under it, there is a skin flap. After losing weight, I have a flap of loose skin where the gut roll once was (and losing more weight just makes the flaps flappier at this point). That flaps narrows into a lower waist (I guess) at the belly button before re-ballooning into the lower flap. The two flaps are flappy and blobby like a lava lamp. I'm sure at this point you are thinking: "I SO want to look like her."

    The trick/challenges are multi-fold. 1- if I use the narrower waist (the upper) and the waist is wide, everything blends into my under bust, making it look like everything just pops out from my under bust (if I'm not careful). 2- if I use the lower waist, the risk is drawing attention to one or both flaps. 3- if I rely on anything near my flaps to hold up a garment, I take a risk that the garment will end up at my feet. Flaps are soft, they move, they have no real volume (like I said- lava lamp-y) so they are unstable as an "anchor," and Spanx only do so much to contain and control the waves of skin. FYI- the DR. estimates I have 25-30 pounds of skin, mostly on the torso, but also on the upper arms and inner thighs.

    I will end there so those of you who haven't lost your lunches won't.

    Needless to say, I'm nervous about the decorative waist details and waist position for this (or any) pattern.

    To help you purge the image I just built-- picture Antonio Banderas circa Mambo Kings eating ice cream in surf shorts. Isn't that better?


  8. Linda, I think its awesome that you are being so honest. And truly, a big congratulations on what you have accomplished so far. I have to admit that I'm not a fit expert, but I will say that the book Fit for Real People is a very good source to start with the fitting game. If you don't have it, I highly recommend it. You can usually score a fairly good priced used version over on amazon or alibris. And especially if you want to start sewing other items too, this book is really great to have on hand. It addresses fitting problems for people with all different shapes and sizes. I think you would really get a lot from it too. I know I do.

  9. Hello! My hips are one size smaller than my waist size. Is it worth making any pattern adjustments for a difference that slight (1")? I'm a total newbie!

  10. I personally think it would be because Colette Patterns are typically quite fitted. However, its ultimately up to you. If you are fine with having an extra 1" in the hips, go for it. If you like things more fitted, do the adjustment. I was mostly trying to be very thorough and help those who have never made flat pattern adjustments before. And if you haven't ever made adjustments to patterns before, definitely give it a try.

  11. Would the same principle work if you had a vastly different bust-size than waist? the bodice pieces are never curvy enough for me!

  12. Yes! It's how I do my adjustments for the top as well. I usually have a bust size that is 2 sizes smaller than my waist (a classic pear) and it works like a charm.

  13. Hi Sunni! I only recently bought the Ginger pattern, and came back to read through your posts on it. For some reason this post on choosing the size (the most useful in my humble opinion! I had never thought of picking out my pattern size in quite this way before) doesn't seem to show up when I search by the tag Ginger sewalong? I wouldn't want anyone to miss it!

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