Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vogue vanity sizing?

It has cooled a little bit.  My schedule has slacked a little.  And I've been sewing.  I've sewed a few things that I'm very happy with, but haven't been blogging*.  I am so miffed with this dress that I wanted to ask my fellow sew-ers, seamstresses, seamsters (whatever you prefer to call yourselves) whether you have experienced problems with Vogue pattern sizing recently.  I haven't bought a Vogue pattern in years, mostly because I've had a Burda magazine subscription for the last few years and thought there was no need to buy paper patterns.  I hypothesize that since McCall bought Vogue a few years ago, Vogue sizing has changed.

A little background on this dress and fabric... I've had this fabric for a few years now.  I bought it from Gorgeous Fabrics, and until recently had no idea what to do with it.  It's a huge abstract floral print, and I bought it during a period when I told myself that I needed to expand my wardrobe beyond black, black, black, and jeans.  It also bled in the wash, so I wasn't dying to use it but still liked the challenge that it posed and the possibility of wearing it.  Then one night a few weeks ago I came across a lovely DVF dress, which I posted about here.

I looked through all my Burda magazines, no dice.  Then I looked on the Vogue website, and found this DKNY pattern (Vogue 1221) that looks like a close enough approximation of my inspiration dress.

Vogue 1221, taken from
I diligently cut out the pieces (from single thickness, no less!), marked all the tucks (fiddly!), sewed it up (surprisingly Burda like in their instructions!) and learned that I am no longer a true size 10 in Vogue patterns.

Here I am, wondering if it is really a sack.  Because I don't have a full length mirror (no space!) I had to take a photo.  Note, I did not crop out my frown.

Here I prove I can't dress myself.  Look at those arm facings sticking out.

Here I stand on my toes because it makes the dress a little more flattering, despite being enormous.
Admittedly, the dress doesn't look bad in photos.  But it doesn't fit the way the pattern model's dress does.

Her dress does not gape in the front or sag on her hips.  The drape is right below her bust.  Mine is somewhere around my waist.  And I can pinch out 2 inches in the front of the dress.
At this point, I was really annoyed.  Although the fabric was bled, I was so-in-love with this idea of using the abstract print for this dress that I Had To Make It Work.  I hate altering clothing, especially something I've just sewn because the point of sewing is to have clothes that fit right without having to alter.  Anyways, in my attempt to Make It Work, I ended up taking it in 1 inch on each side, and then realized that I needed to take the shoulders up 1 inch as well... and with the facings and shape of the shoulder straps that just wasn't going to happen, even if I were to do a total hack alteration of pinching out 1 inch in the shoulder straps and then tacking them on the inside because the neckline shape would then no longer fall smoothly.

taken in 1" on both sides, and still gaping in the front and back.

Something is just not right about the hips, and the neckline has a giant gap.

The bodice is way too long.  Again, weirdness in the hip area.

I think I don't need to go down just one size but TWO.  That is ridiculous.  Because I don't have a 23 inch waist, no matter how much I wish it to be so.  Does anyone else have this kind of sizing issue with Vogue?  It's annoying, because I really think that pattern companies should stick to real measurements rather than trying to cater to vanity sizing.  Back in the day, I could count on being able to sew a straight size 10 without a muslin.  I guess not anymore.

*I promise to share soon!


  1. Thats such a shame because it does have the makings of a great dress, but you are right i looks like you need to go down about two sizes. Personally I haven't noticed a change in Vogue pattern sizing lately, but if you haven't sewn one for years it is entirely possible that your McCalls theory is correct, though I still think the sizing in those patterns is far crazier than Vogue's. Hope you are happier with your other projects and look forward to seeing those soon....

  2. how frustrating! I think that's a common issue with the DKNY patterns (or maybe even with the designer patterns in general). Another issue might be your fabric, which seems to have lot of drape and be a lot less stiff than the original? Also maybe have a look at Eugenia's post on this pattern:

  3. I know it is frustrating, but never work from the size, work from the finished garment measure. A lot of patterns have about 9cms of ease - ridiculous. I do a tissue fit and then if I'm working with good material a muslin as well.

  4. I always look at the finished garment measurements and compare how I think the garment should fit. I haven't been sewing long enough to notice a difference. It really gorgeous fabric and hope you can make it work.

  5. Such a shame when good fabric doesn't get the chance to shine.

  6. wow, and that is such a great fabric. I hope you make it again but I know this must be frustrating, believe me, every time I touch a vogue woven I do a muslin at least for the bodice its never accurate for me

  7. Beautiful fabric...sorry about your issue with the sizing. As others have said I also look at the finished garment measurements. I have found that vogue patterns have less ease in them that McCall's which I have more fitting issues with.
    I do hope you sew it again in the smaller size The style is very flattering on you!

  8. Oh that was a great fabric for that dress! I nearly always have to go down 1-2 sizes in Vogue patterns, but McCalls are even worse. They all have a ridiculous amount of ease.

  9. I had some of those same size issues with a vogue pattern a while ago, but it doesn't seem to be all the patterns that end up like that. maybe one of the drafters got drunk...

  10. I've only done one Vogue pattern and I had to take the size 4 in considerably to make it fit, but it was designed for stretch fabrics and the fabric I was using was a very heavy slinky knit that was pulling things due to its own weight, which I am sure did not help. But overall, it was too big...a halter style tunic fit me like a knee length dress and needed to be taken in quite a bit at the sides.

  11. I made this pattern (as lin3arossa mentioned above) and found that I had to go down a size from my usual Vogue size. I was fortunate in that I made a muslin and discovered the problem before I cut into my fabric. With this particular pattern I think that it is quite important that the fit is snug for the drape to work right. If you can bear it you should sew it again because it will look wonderful on you!

  12. Ugh, so annoying! The general consensus seems to be that Vogue is less super-mega-crazy-stupid-ease than McCall, Butterick, and Simplicity, but I don't always find that. I'm glad you discovered this one for me. :/ I would like to make it eventually. Will carefully consider the size. If you somehow gained about 12 pounds it would look great!

  13. I agree with everyone above about checking final garment measurements but also check the description Vogue gives for the pattern and compare it to their ease chart found here. This dress is described as semi-fitted and according to the chart that means the dress has 4-1/8" to 5" of ease which is ridiculous looking at that picture. Since you would actually want this dress to be fitted (3"-4") or close fitting (0-3"), you would need a smaller size. Then use the desired ease and the final measurements to find the right size. (This means opening up the pattern in the store sometimes) Forget picking a certain number size all the time and look at each pattern individually. It's annoying but more accurate. I personally find each company's ease chart very helpful.

  14. My body's size seems to fluctuate as much as pattern sizing does, this combined with several standard alterations means I've become a regular muslin maker. I don't particularly enjoy making muslins, but it can save beautiful fabric such as yours. The print and the dress style really do look great, I hope you can make it work somehow!

  15. Your back length on the dress is too long for you. The bodice needs to be shorten for you , that will also help it lay down correctly. Ditto to all the other comments.