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Sizing - adventures of a red-headed stepchild in the house of love — LiveJournal
mermaid on the mic
Excerpts from the book "Professional Pattern Grading" by Jack Handford

"Standardization of men's sizes in America developed right after the Civil War, about 1865, from the measurements of the soldiers who had been inducted into the Union Army. These measurements became part of the records of the US Bureau of Standards and the stage was set for the development of ready-made menswear."


"Children's clothing is sized by age, unlike men's clothing, which is sized by chest circumference or women's clothing which has an entirely different system that has evolved from the need to fit a variety of sizes and ages."

"When fashionable clothing for women was first manufactured in the USA, the sizing was patterned after the European system of using the bust measurement to determine the size. [...] Thus a size 36, the first sample size, fitted a woman whose bust measured 36 inches. The patterns were graded two inches per size in circumference, up and down. 'Women's' sizes are still referred to by bust measurement."

"US manufacturers during the 1920's felt the need for a new and younger looking garment which was called a 'Misses' or 'Missy' size and given a new size range designation of 10 to 20. The size 16, the sample size, was equal to the size 36 'Women's' size but used one and a half inches between sizes. A California retailer of better apparel hit on the idea of changing the size tickets of their garments to one size larger. A size 16 from their store now became a size 14. Other stores soon caught on to the idea and manufacturers began sizing their garments up one size. When women were asked what size they wore, the reply became, 'A 16 (or a 14 or whatever) in a cheaper dress, but only a 14 (the next smaller size) in a better dress.' The game has continued until today the size 8 has become the accepted sample size in the Missy range - and has about the same measurements that the size 16 once had."

"In the 1930's, a new size range was introduced, the 'Junior' size. A group of manufacturers in St Louis, with the support and assistance of a progressive retailer and Washington University, had observed that there was a large group of young women who were in between the standard Children's sizes and the adult Misses or Women's sizes."

"The Junior size was a young figure with a higher and smaller bust, slimmer through the hips, shorter waisted and not as tall as the standard adult sizes. The Juniors sizes range adopted the odd numbers in sizes, 3 through 15, to distinguish it from the Missy size range. The sample size was size 9 and the grade difference between sizes was one inch."

"Sometime later it was noticed that some of these Junior sized girls were becoming mature adults without getting any taller or longer waisted. Their figures were too full and too mature to fit into the Junior clothes, yet they were not tall enough of long waisted enough to be properly fitted in the Women's or Misses sizes. The 'Half-Size' or 'Custom Size' was introduced. The size range was from 12 1/2 to 22 1/2 with a two inch difference between sizes."

"The past forty years have seen the introduction of various other size ranges - the Junior Petite, the Petite, the Tall - in our continuing effort to produce ready-made clothing to fit any figure, with manufacturers making slight variations in their sample sizes and/or their grading to accommodate the needs of their customers."

Still with me? See why it's so challenging to find clothes you like that fit well, and why the size numbers seem increasingly meaningless?

:::tears at hair, goes back to reading:::

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I'm feeling: ack

8 smooches or Gimme Some Love!
sabotlours From: sabotlours Date: September 26th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of sizing....did you get my last email? I'm waiting on a response before I send off a payment.
From: daubentonia Date: September 26th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh... that makes my brain hurt.

One of my very best friends has been doing that (pattern making/grading) professionally for years so lemme know if you come up against any weird problems/questions, I'll shoot them her way.

Furry things = awesome.
djmermaid From: djmermaid Date: October 25th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah, it's COMPLETELY INSANE! But it also explains a lot about the crazy variety of sizes in women's clothing, and why you just can't tell anything from the size number.

I would love an introduction to your friend. Do you know what her specialty is? After reading further in the book, it looks to me like this is pretty complicated stuff and we might be smart to just pay an expert to do it right (and certainly when we get to the point of producing patterns for items that will be made by sewing contractors we'll need to make sure our patterns are correct and follow the standards for making so that they can be used by the sewing shop.)
From: daubentonia Date: October 31st, 2006 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)
She said that work takes up most of her pattern making energy so when
she patterns outside of work, she charges a ton of money.
like, $75 an hour. so....she's said she doesn't know if she's the best
person for the job.

If you have any questions though, I'm sure she'd be happy to give good info!
lemme know. :)

theassassinnox From: theassassinnox Date: September 26th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
jetkat From: jetkat Date: September 26th, 2006 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)


This sizing thing is sooooo confusing.
Now I have a better idea of why some of my Mom's dresses say size 18, but fit me.
susie_que From: susie_que Date: September 26th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
this is why unless its the undies I prefer mens clothing
tawnygnosis From: tawnygnosis Date: September 26th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)


It seems like all juniors clothes sizing has been adapted to all clothing at this point. Regular misses sizes are now 0-20 with an average size of about 9.

Some of my clothes are a size 4 though that seems really weird seeing as how my bust is a 37. I'm not tiny but I consistently wear a size 7 or smaller. Maybe people are just getting larger and taller in general and clothing has changed along with them.

I don't think it means anything anymore.
8 smooches or Gimme Some Love!