Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Vintage 1950s Sewing: Pattern Measurement Chart for Women

If you want to learn how to sew vintage fashion, you will want to understand pattern measurements.  Using vintage patterns will differ because 50s sizes aren't the same as current sizes. This 1950s measurement chart is from the same McCall's pattern magazine featured in my last post.  I thought that this chart might help to give a better understanding of how dresses from the mid-1950s are a different fit from today's dresses.

Using this vintage measurement chart can also help in selecting a vintage pattern.  By comparing with your own measurements, it's easier to know what alterations may need to be made so that the pattern will be a better fit.

When choosing a vintage pattern size, it's best to start with the bust measurements, and alter the waistline darts and hip side seams to fit your modern size.  You may notice that current sizes seem to come with larger measurements, so that a popular size 6 today, becomes a size 18 in vintage patterns, even though their measurements are quite similar.

current size 6 or S size = 35.5" bust / 28" waist / 38" hips
1950's- pattern size 18 = 36" bust / 30" waist / 39" hips

BUST Alteration: subtract 1/2" from bust line by taking in side seams 1/8"

WAIST Alteration: subtract 2" from waist by taking in side seams 1/2"

HIPS Alteration: subtract 1" from hips by taking in side seams 1/4"

To get a better idea of modern sizing, compare the vintage 1956 chart above to the current size chart below that represents measurements commonly found in Banana Republic, J.Crew and other brands today.  With this it's easy to see how the fit differs.

Although the current chart above has sizes and fit common to several brands, it is important to know that there are no standard sizes in US apparel.

In the US, each manufacturer can produce any fit to suit their own target customer, and give their apparel any size label that they wish. This means that referring to one size as what a person should be wearing is an error.  This is essential to know: that size and fit for each brand or store is unique.

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