Tonight, I made this little tutu. There’s nothing spectacular about it from the sewing perspective- just a quick little crafting project out of some snowflake-flocked sheer something or other that I’ve had in my stash for years, a little wire-edged taffeta ribbon, narrow elastic, and a quick half hour.  In and of itself, it’s nothing that warrants a blog mention.  In fact, I planned to hide it from you so you wouldn’t know that your most Selfish of Seamstresses had of her own volition decided not only to sew for someone else, but for a child (like a regular person but smaller and with an underdeveloped sense of indebtedness.) I had a moment of weakness.  What do you want from me.  She’s cute and she’s sweet and she loves ballet and she’s going to see the Nutcracker this weekend.  And as a lifelong student of ballet (on and off these days), I couldn’t resist the urge to make a Waltz of the Snowflakes romantic tutu for her.  What.  WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT.

The reason I bring it up is that as I was starting this project, I needed to figure out how big to make the waist for a 5- to 6-year old girl.  So, I went to McCall’s website and looked up the size chart for children.  And this is what I found:

So, we’re looking at about 22″.  Now, wait a sec, wait a sec, wait a sec.  That number looks familiar.  Hey!  I know where I know that number from– that’s the waist measurement for the Misses’ size 4, the size I usually make… WHAT???  Here’s a chunk of the Misses’ size chart:

The smallest Misses’ size has the same waist measurement as that of a child described as “walking and not wearing diapers.”  For context, there are still all the Girls’ sizes 7 to 16 in between the Children’s sizes and the Misses’ sizes. Now I know that kindergarteners may have little round pudgy bellies, but… they are not grown-up people size! This is scary!  Do the pattern companies really expect that adults will have the same waist measurement as kids who are singing Itsy-Bitsy Spider??

Now, I cut size 4 when I make Big 4 patterns.  But that’s based on the bust measurement, NOT the waist measurement.  I have often puzzled over that number, because while I am certainly on the smaller end of the people spectrum, if we go purely by the measurement chart, my waist would probably fall somewhere in the 10 range.  (Who ever heard of grading from a 4 bust to a 10 waist and back to a 4 hip??)  And funnily enough, I pretty much never grade the waist up, because the size 4 patterns generally fit just fine in the waist when I make them up and all the wearing ease is factored in.  Once I made a skirt and decided I’d err on the safe side by starting with a size 6 (still considerably smaller than my actual waist measurement according to the chart), and I ended up swimming in it.

This makes me wonder if the prescribed waist measurements for Misses’ sizes are just vanity numbers and in actuality the pattern companies KNOW that no one really has that waist measurement and don’t even draft the patterns for those body measurements. Maybe they always tell you to go by the bust measurements because it’s the hardest area to alter AND because they know the waist measurements as given are inaccurate? I can understand why companies do vanity sizing in terms of the size numbers, but wouldn’t they want to be super accurate about the actual body measurements? I know I don’t have a very defined waist, but the waist measurements surely must still be off if they expect a small woman to have the waist circumference of a child just a year or two past toddlerhood, no? Or is my waist just that unusually enormous in proportion to the rest of my body?

I’m sure there are some women out there who do indeed have teeny tiny 22″ waists. (And NO, for the record, we DON’T want to hear about it so don’t go posting comments like, “Well, I have a 22″ waist and I have no idea why because I eat anything I want all the time and everyone’s always like OMG how do you stay so skinny when you eat so much!”  I have the power of DELETE which I will use in conjunction with EYE-ROLL.) My point is not that such people don’t exist. My point is rather that it is just bizarre that pattern companies use the same standard waist measurement for my grown-up pattern size as for children’s size 6. Oh, and for context, the size 10 Misses waist measurement (25″) is the same as the Girls’ size 10- roughly equal to that of a regular sized 10-year old girl.  Eh?

The upside of this is that if all these charts are actually realistic, that little girl will probably be able to wear that snowflake tutu from Auntie Elaine well into her 30s. And she’d better because she owes me now.

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