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So I'm really really new to sewing anything.  I've been looking around for dress patterns and am noticing a lot are like size 8 and up. I'm lucky if  I can fit into a 2 (hence the reason I would love to make my own clothes)  and there is no way the patterns I'm finding would fit. Is there an easy way to size them down or would it just be better to find patterns in my size. Please help! I feel like a blind guppy in all this sewing stuff!

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I wonder if you're noticing just a different sizing system on the patterns to what you're used to. Be sure to look at the body measurements, rather than the number. It is easiest to alter patterns to fit if you start with the size that matches your bust measurement.

If you're still unable to find a pattern your size then the below site explains pattern grading very well.

Awesome! Thank you so much! That site was really easy to understand. start at a 2 and are quite easy to make.


I'm really diggin this site! Thanks so much for the tip.

Dress patterns are based on what is (in the ready to wear market) vintage sizing so check the actual dimensions of what you are buying rather than the size number. However, if you're having trouble finding your dimensions in a pattern Japanese pattern books might be the way to go. 

I would start with Sewing talk, Simple chic or Skirt a la Carte as they have simple, elegant patterns. All the books are in Japanese but they are so profusely illustrated that they are fairly easy to understand. Some beginner level Japanese dressmaking books are also out in English translations now, for example

could be your best bet. They're good value for money with at least 10 or more patterns per book. The only difference is you have to trace your size pattern from the pattern sheets and add seam and hem allowances. I use a double wheel tracing wheel from Clover and carbon paper. 

Hope that helps..

You say that you are really new to sewing, so finding the right dress pattern means you are probably looking for a pattern that is both easy to sew AND easy to fit, right?  The third element in selecting this easy pattern is fabric: using fabric that will cut and sew without difficulty.

From the big pattern companies, McCall's 9172 (view D) is a dress pattern that would fit the bill:

It doesn't get easier than this shift dress.  Yes, it's not very elaborate or fancy, but consider it a 'learning project' that can be successfully sewn by a new sewist.  The fabric print you choose will make this dress look great.  So be sure to find a fun fabric design to work with.  Here's why this is easy to sew for beginners:

1) sleeveless

2) no zipper

3) 'easy fit' shift or sheath silhouette won't require endless fittings

4) front bust darts are optional

5) neckline facing

6) can be made with simple cotton fabric: such as quilting cotton, gingham checks, cotton plaids.

7) 2 main pattern pieces (front and back)

have fun!


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