|Simplicity patterns from 1952, 1963 and 1970, with 32, 34 and 36-inch busts|
For Vogue patterns at least, the first change took place in August 1956. The announcement in the August-September Vogue Pattern Book states that "some of the pattern companies, including Vogue" are now using the 'revised' standard measurements. I had always thought that sizing was standarized across all of the pattern companies, but this suggests otherwise (click on the image for an enlarged version).
|All about the new measurements|
Although the announcement does not go into detail about the new measurements, it does mention that they have been made due to figure changes brought about by "modern foundation garments", and that these changes include a higher bustline (a blog post about this exact subject is on my 'to do' list). So clearly they were about more than just increasing making each size larger.
In the next Vogue Pattern Book, Mrs Scarsdale came to the rescue of anyone confused by the changes. The issue included a tear-out form on which the reader could enter their measurements, and then fold it up and send it to Vogue Patterns. It would be returned with their correct pattern size written in.
|Front and back of the form|
No such personal service appears to have existed for the next sizing change, in 1968. This time the announcement makes it clear that that changes are an industry standard, and apply to all the pattern companies. There is no suggestion of the reasoning behind the change, except that it ties in with ready-to-wear sizes.
|More to the point than the previous announcement|
A chart showing the previous and 'new' sizing is provided. I tend to think of underwear in 1968 as being less rigid than that of 1956, but despite that, waist measurements have been reduced in proportion to the bust and hips. Whereas a 36" bust in Misses' sizing previously had a 38" hip and a 28" waist, the 'new sizing' waist is now 27". Both Women's and Half-sizes have been extended to one extra size.
|Adult female sizes, click on image to enlarge|
I'm intrigued by the fact that standard pattern sizes were changed twice in 12 years, but have now remained unchanged for over 50 years. Clearly there have been changes to areas such as the amount of ease in patterns, and to the overall sloper design - larger armscyes for example - but no sizing revisions. I wonder, was this due to the falling popularity of dressmaking; did the industry decide that the market was no longer big enough to justify that sort of wholesale change?