I recently participated in a Instagram photoshoot where I and several other women modeled petite clothing. As I was having my photo taken, I thought, “how are normal patterns converted for petites? Maddie, you know this. You know this!” I did know this and it’s because somewhere over the past seven years, I got my hands on a chart that showed how widths and length were reduced for petite woman. During one of my moves to Philadelphia, to Savannah, to Miami, or during one of my sewing projects, I shoved it in a folder, book, or binder somewhere and now I had to find it. So that weekend, at the top of my to-do list was to find this chart. I retraced my steps and mentally backtracked until, AHA!, I found it! Every petite woman is petite in her own, unique way and these are standard reductions but I’ve used them as guidelines when working on my own patterns or helping petite women who email me with questions.
What is petite and who fits into this category? Well, let’s take a step back and define what is “normal” or “regular.” Regular female clothing is designed for a woman at least 5 ft 5 in (165 cm) tall (without shoes). Therefore, petite female clothing is designed to fit women of shorter height, typically less than 5 ft 3 in (160 cm) or 5 ft 4 in. Regular women’s clothing will not fit a petite woman because vertical measurements such as front length, back length, bust to waist, sleeve lengths, and leg inseam lengths are shorter and must be altered significantly to fit well. Unfortunately, non-petite clothing cannot be altered to be petite without introducing an unsightly seam, which is why the pattern, and not the garment, must be changed. In most cases, changing a pattern to be petite calls for width reductions as well but that’s not always the case. A women is an XL petite would need to add width. Therefore, some critical thinking must be done when using this chart – what applies to you and where? Again, this is a guideline (but a useful one!).