Welcome to Sewing in Norway! My name is Whitney and I am an American currently living and working in Norway. This blog is where I document my sewing adventures in Norway. I’ve written out these frequently asked questions to help you wrap your head around some of the topics I get asked about most often. If there is something you’re wondering about and do not see an answer for, check about my about page, or send me an email through the contact page.
How did you end up living in Norway?
I met a Norwegian man in 2005 when I was living in Germany and followed him to Norway two years later in 2007. We’ve sense moved on to new relationships, but I have been in Norway ever since. I got married to a wonderful Norwegian man in October 2017.
How long have you been living in Norway?
Since 2007, which seems like a lifetime ago but in all truth really wasn’t. I lived in Germany for 2 years prior to moving to Norway and lived in the UK for a year in college.
Where do you buy sewing supplies in Norway?
I buy sewing supplies from a few local second-hand shops, local crafting boutiques, a few Nordic chain stores or when we travel internationally. I’ve stopped buying trashy crap on holiday and focus instead on fabric and haberdashery sold in stores owned by locals.
How can I meet other sewing enthusiasts online in Norway?
Join the Sewing in Norway Facebook group! We’re a small but growing group of enthusiasts, with a varying degree of sewing skills. Mainly we share tips on where to shop, hold fabric exchanges and support each other’s love of sewing!
I’ve always wanted to learn to sew but I do not understand pattern sizes – why is my pattern size so different than my ready to wear size?
Sizes are actually completely arbitrary! They are made up by the company producing the pattern to help sell more patterns to their selected audience. The book Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto explains this during their historical exploration of women’s sizing of commercial home sewing patterns. “Today’s size 12 was yesterday’s size 16 – two sizes smaller. The 1940’s size 10 is a 2 today – four sizes smaller. “
There have been a few attempts to standardize pattern sizing and you’ll notice this most frequently if you use European patterns like Burda style very often. Their patterns follow European standard sizing which are aimed at women between 5’1 and 5’3 – pre-childbearing years! The size chart is completely out of touch with women’s bodies today, but the fashion industry keeps using it because they always have.
Also, what we know of size is completely skewed because today’s RTW companies’ vanity size their clothes to attract women buyers. Some companies change their sizes 2-4 sizes so that their customers feel better buying clothes with a smaller size tag on them. Like I said “sizing” and more importantly the value most people place on it is completely made up and doesn’t mean much – even in sewing. Sizing does offer us a starting point for fitting garments from commercial patterns. More accurately, measurements – not their correlating size give us a starting point for fit. So worry less about being a size 16 in your selected pattern if you usually wear a size 10 or 12 in RTW.
Sewing should more accurately be called “The Creative Study of 2D materials in a 4D world” because most of what happens when you sew – has nothing to do with the actual sewing machine. Most of sewing revolves around fit and structure. I mean think about it, sewing requires one to take a 2 dimensional piece of fabric and turn it into a 3 dimensional shape which moves (and sweats, and needs to breathe….). And since every figure is different – and changes at various life stages, most sewists spend a fair amount of their time on a given project getting the garment to fit correctly.
So in the end, do pattern sizes matter? Yes, sizes are a starting point, but not the whole story in getting garments to fit properly. Most pattern companies design for their own fit model (their idealized customer/garment wearer) and thus make their own sizes to fit their buying audience anyway.
Think more about the fit and style of a garment more than a certain number size. Use your measurements to find a size to start with, make a muslin, then make your adjustments based on your muslin or by using the tissue paper method. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be pretty familiar with what adjustments you always need to do or which ones need to be done with certain pattern companies.