Perfectly non-standard

One of the nightmares of shopping for clothes are all these helpful remarks of shop assistants reminding us that our figures do not quite live up to the ready-to-wear garments standards. We keep on hearing that our hips are a bit wider, our busts seem to be larger or smaller, our arms are longer, the backs are wider, the waists are too low/high/wide/small and so on – all the things that we are even too much aware of.

Apparently, the standard clothing does not fit you best and most likely this happens all over the place. If you get that kind of feedback on a regular basis, consider your silhouette being perfectly non-standard. Welcome to the club!

What is this standard? To put it in just few words – it is the most expected, average combination of a body’s measurements and proportions. If your body differs from these averages, all kinds of fitting issues arise.


A great deal or even all of these issues can be addressed when you make your own clothes. Check also the article To sew or not to sew for more reasons to make your own creations.

One more thing. The fitting issues may not only be a consequence of your body having other proportions than the imaginary average person. You may have developed your personal, additional differences from the standardized body due to a lifestyle, mostly. To begin with, you may have shoulders trusted forward, which is quite common as most of us are working in sitting positions and this impacts our body posture. You may have one shoulder lower than the other –  due to wearing a bag always on the same side. And so on and on, including rounded (upper) back, swayback  – you name it.

It may be an interesting experience to see how much your silhouette differs from all kind of standards. If you want to make your own clothes (or make them for somebody else and you want to do your absolutely best), it makes a lot of sense to take some extra effort and understand the proportions of the specific figure to achieve a good fit.

Invest at least once some time and have your body’s measurements taken Taking measurements and compare them with the standards MySizePatterns size charts – Ladies . Confront these conclusions with your “gut feeling” based on the experience with ready-to-wear garments. If your body differs from the standards you may get a confirmation of what you have suspected –  that your legs are shorter, waist sits higher, shoulder slop is higher etc. These are extremely valuable inputs for not only Choosing the right size but also precious tips for achieving the best fit.

Let’s focus on examples of the most common fitting issues resulting from differences versus the standard silhouette either due to the body’s proportions in the build or due to changes in the posture developed over a lifetime. See what happens when a standard pattern is used for a garment and contrast that with a garment made from a pattern taking into account the structural adjustments needed for a given silhouette. Important note: there is nothing wrong with a standard pattern as such –  what is not working is a combination of a standard pattern and a non-standard silhouette.

Different bust size


The (full) bust size is larger than the rest of the bodice. The standard size for the bodice would be too small to accommodate the fuller bust. The size that fits the bust size is simply too large all over and gaps at the neckline, the shoulders and the armholes. More on that you can read in Bust size matters and Choosing the bust size

Sloping or straight shoulders


The shoulder line goes down more steeply than in the standard. As shoulder and armhole seams are not placed at angles needed for the figure, diagonal wrinkles between the shoulder and the neckline and from the armpits to the neckline appear. For straight shoulders you also get nasty diagonal wrinkles at the neck base and under the armholes. Read also Sloping shoulders

Rounded back


The upper part of the back is rounded. The bodice wrinkles and pulls across the shoulder blades, shoulders and sleeve tops. Rounded back comes very often together with sloping shoulders.

Full waist


The circumference of the waist is larger than the standard for a given hip size. Following the hip size results in a garment that is too small in the waist area. You need more room at the waist level. Explore Non-standard waist line options of our patterns.



The back is shorter than the standard. The garment wrinkles across the back below and above the waistline. Find more about it in comments on Sway back.

For the above-mentioned fitting issues (and some more) you may find some quick fix adjustments described in various books and online sources. This may work; however the recommendations do not go beyond the adjustments made to a very basic bodice. That is not enough if you want to achieve an improved fit for garments featuring original designs and construction cuts.

As we take the fit seriously and want also the non-standard silhouettes enjoy interesting and well fitted garments, we address most of these aspects in MySizePatterns patterns.

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