In the Spring of 1999, Vogue Patterns launched a new line by well-known sewing expert, Sandra Betzina. This wasn’t just a collection of new designs; instead, Betzina introduced a new sizing system that she called “Today’s Fit.” “Today’s woman doesn’t have a 26-inch waist or wear restricting corsets that reshape her body to an hourglass figure,” Betzina says in the magazine article about her project. “Today’s woman likes a more relaxed fit. Comfort, good fit, and style are what she wants.” (Vogue Patterns, March/April 1999, 34)
Betzina goes on to say that she was inspired by a sizing study done at the University of Arizona by Ellen Goldsberry and Naomi Reich. The study revealed that ready-to-wear sizing did not fit the bodies of contemporary women. What Betzina does not mention is that Goldsberry and her partner were particularly concerned about the misfit between traditional sizes and the bodies of older women. Goldsberry went on to publish many articles on the topic, with titles like “An Alternative Approach to Sizing Apparel for Women 55 and Older.” I wonder if Betzina’s specific aim was to fit older women like herself.
How do Today’s Fit patterns differ from Vogue’s standard measurements? It’s hard to do a one-to-one comparison because Betzina’s line departs significantly from the norm. To make this clear, uses uses letters instead of the familiar numbers.
You can see at a glance that there are different categories here than you find in standard patterns. They are differentiated not simply by bust/waist/hip size, standard to all patterns. She has also built in different cup sizes and heights.
The range of sizes is also different. Regular Vogue patterns start with size 6, a 30 ½ inch bust, and go up to size 22, a 44” bust. Betzina’s start at a 32” bust and go up to 55”. The bust/waist/hip ratios are different as well. A standard Vogue size 12 is closest to Betzina’s size B. Today’s Fit has the same bust size, but a waist that is two inches larger, with a hip size half an inch larger. Might I mention that one area where almost all older women gain weight is in their waist?
Nowhere are older women mentioned in the article introducing Betzina’s new sizing system, and I imagine many younger women rejoiced in the new proportions as well. But reading through the article, I felt that many of her tweaks were specifically made for my age group: wider waists, easily altered backs, wider upper arms. Her pants patterns are designed for larger bellies and flatter backsides.
I haven’t made many Betzina patterns, but I’m going to start with one of her pants. Her alterations in waist, front, and rear sound like just what I need. There are lots to choose from–almost twenty years later, Today’s Fit is still going strong.