24 February 2014

Choosing Your Size + Adjusting the Coco Pattern

Choosing Your Size + Adjusting the Coco Pattern

Ordered your Coco sewing pattern? Great! Let’s talk about how to choose your size, what to do if your proportions span multiple sizes, and how to lengthen or shorten the pattern if that's what you want to do.
Coco is available in printed and PDF formats in sizes UK 6-34 / US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34

The Coco sewing pattern is deliberately designed to be really easy to fit – hooray! The pattern has so few pieces that for most people fitting will simply involve checking you’re happy with the positioning of the side seams and underarm seams, which are super simple to change. 

Moreover, knit fabrics are very forgiving – firstly because they will stretch over any tight areas, and secondly because they’re supposed to hang casually and comfortably rather than perfectly mould to every curve of the body. Particularly on the Coco pattern, which is an easy-fitting style. Awesome!

Finding your pattern size

The first thing to do is to measure the circumference of your bust, waist and hips:
- Bust – we’re talking the fullest part of your bust, ie. around your nipples
- Waist – the point at which you bend to the side
- Hips – the fullest part of your hips

It’s best to do this in your undies, the kind you would normally wear under the garment. Make sure you (or a helper) are holding the tape measure parallel to the floor all the way round. No cheating now – no breathing in or sticking your chest out!

Circle your measurements on the pattern size chart:

If your measurements match the proportions of one of the pattern sizes, then hey presto, that’s your size! Each size has a different style of solid/dotted/dashed line on the pattern sheets, and there’s a key which tells you which lines are your size.

If your measurements fall between the sizes, it’s always a good idea to go for the larger one, because it’s much easier to take in a garment than it is to loosen it.

What about if your measurements span two or more sizes? That’s totally normal, our bodies are all different proportions. Take a look at the section below on combining pattern sizes.

Combining two or more pattern sizes

What to do if your measurements span two or more sizes? Coco is a multisized pattern, so it’s easy to combine different bust, waist and hip measurements to match your proportions by redrawing the side seams. Let’s say your bust is size 2, your waist is size 3 and your hips are size 4. On the front bodice pattern piece, draw a diagonal line from the top of the size 2 side seam to the size 3 waist – which is marked by the little horizontal notch – and another line from the size 3 waist to the size 4 line at the hem. Use a curved ruler or gentle hand to draw in the curve at the waist. Repeat the process on the back bodice (or you could trace one onto the other) and add in the waist notch if it has moved.

Lengthening and shortening the pattern

The finished garment measurements chart above also tells you the length of the finished top or dress, measured from the nape of your neck. If you want to shorten Coco by a couple of cm or so, you can just trim off the bottom of the garment before you hem it. But if you want to lengthen or shorten it by more than this, it’s best to adjust the pattern before you cut out the fabric.

Roughly cut around the front and back bodice pattern pieces with paper scissors – or, if you want to keep them intact, trace them off onto a new sheet of paper. Find the set of lines running horizontally across the front bodice piece that says “lengthen or shorten here” and cut along one of these lines.

To lengthen the pattern, cut a new piece of paper and draw two horizontal lines on it parallel to each other, the distance between them being the amount you want to lengthen the pattern by (for example, if you want to make it two inches longer, draw two horizontal lines, one of them two inches above the other), and draw a vertical line exactly perpendicular to these lines close to one edge. Tape or glue the cut lines of the pattern pieces onto the horizontal lines you’ve drawn, lining up the ‘place on fold’ lines of the pattern with the vertical line you’ve drawn. Use a ruler to redraw the side seam of your pattern size – from waist to hem – to neaten it out. Repeat on the back bodice piece.

To shorten the pattern, measure up from the “lengthen/shorten here” lines by the amount you want to shorten it by and draw a horizontal line parallel to this point (for example, if you want to make it two inches shorter, draw a horizontal line two inches above the “lengthen/shorten here” lines). Overlap the bottom piece of the pattern on top of the top piece, aligning the cut line with the new line you’ve drawn in, and glue or tape it in place. Use a ruler to redraw the side seam of your pattern size – from waist to hem – to neaten it out. Repeat on the back bodice piece.

Fitting Coco

As I say, Coco isn’t a tricky pattern to fit, so you don’t need to make a toile or spend lots of time fitting it. What I would recommend is pinning along the seam line (15mm / 5/8in) from the raw edge on the side seams, shoulder and hem just before you stitch them, so you can try it on and check you’re happy with the fit. But you don't need to think about that just yet...

In the next post we’ll talk about cutting out your fabric, followed by an introduction to sewing knit fabric on a regular sewing machine. And then next week we'll sew Coco!