Opinion · Uncategorized

On Sewing for the Average Body

megan 2-2018-12-26-09_23_00

This is me. 45-41-52.

(image from My Body Model– a fabulous tool for sewists of every size!)

An important conversation has been raging across the sewis-phere over the last couple of days regarding size inclusivity in sewing patterns. I won’t rehash all the gory details, as this post is about moving forward, but I must point to a few references. You can find the initial post that sparked the conversation on the SBCC Blog, though most of the conversation has been on her instagram post. You can watch my instagram stories highlighted as “Curvy Sewing” and check in with the folks I’ve tagged there. The amazing Andie, Shannon, and Carolyn have also made blog posts reflecting on this and adjacent topics and you should be sure to read their wise words.

The bottom line is this: The average size of women in America is a 16/18. My upper half is within this size range, while my bottom half is one to two sizes larger. By all accounts, I am slightly above average. Why is it then, that I don’t fit into the size range of many of the beloved “indie darling” sewing pattern companies? I came to sewing because RTW told me I was too large, and now I am receiving that same message from many corners of the sewing world. I graded up every pattern I made for the first two or three years I sewed, which made for a pretty steep learning curve and is a major hurdle for many potential new sewists looking to get into the hobby for the same reasons I did. However, fear not, the sewing world has evolved and if the last few days has taught me anything, we have OPTIONS now. We simply do not have to support those who do not support us.

Moving Forward

Here is a list of suggestions for sewists of all sizes about how we can keep the momentum going from the great conversations that have happened on Instagram over the last few days. I realize I am speaking from a place of (white, cis, able bodied, smaller fat) privilege and these may not be accessible to everyone, but if something speaks to you, please join in!

Educate yourself. In the wise words of Lindy West in her memoir Shrill, there was “… really only one step to my body acceptance: Look at pictures of fat women on the internet until they don’t make you uncomfortable anymore.” It worked for me and I sure hope it can work for you. You are welcome to start by looking at pictures of me. Diversify your feeds- both size wise and otherwise! Follow people of all shapes and sizes and races and ages. Make sure you are following us at the Curvy Sewing Collective.  Also, maybe read Shrill if you haven’t already. Or just maybe go ahead and read it again.

Share your measurements; lets normalize larger measurements (and all measurements, TBH)! I know it is intimidating at first, but I started doing it when I realized that my pattern reviews weren’t very helpful without detailed sizing information and it has been quite liberating! Not only does it help our fellow curvy sewists on their own projects, it seems to me that many pattern makers don’t realize how many of us are out of their size ranges. After all, its just a number, right?

Reach out to designers whose patterns you admire and let them know they don’t accommodate you. I’ve spoken with a lot of pattern designers in the last few days and everyone I have talked to has listened and been respectful when engaged in direct conversation. In fact, quite a few pattern makers reached out to me directly to either make sure they were doing OK or ask how they could be doing better. If you have the time and means, offer to test their newly drafted patterns so that they get opinions from a large range of women. I have a lot of hope for the future, but any continued encouragement couldn’t hurt.

Support companies who have already done the work to increase their size ranges. In fact, I will go so far as to say STOP buying patterns from designers that don’t accommodate your size range (if you are able, I know very few designers draft for those of us with measurements over 60”). And if you are a smaller sized friend, just because you can buy from companies with smaller size ranges, it doesn’t mean you have to give them your money. You can help your curvy friends out by supporting those with a more inclusive size range. With that said, here is a list of independent pattern companies who grade either bust, hips, or both to 50” or greater.

Cashmerette Patterns

Decades of Style (newer patterns only)

Style Arc (up to 61″ Hip)

Colette/Seamwork Magazine

Megan Nielsen Patterns (newer patterns only, older patterns are being updated)

In the Folds and their collaboration with Peppermint Magazine (all free!)

Sew Liberated (newer patterns only)

Made by Rae (newer patterns only)

Thread Theory Design (newer patterns only, specializes in menswear)

Blank Slate Patterns (newer patterns only)

Jalie Patterns

Scroop Patterns (not all patterns)

Jennifer Lauren Handmade

Patterns for Pirates

5 Out of 4 Patterns

Hot Patterns

Ellie and Mac Patterns

Silhouette Patterns

Ottobre Design

Athina Kakou

Bootstrap Patterns (drafts to your measurements)

Lekala Patterns (drafts to your measurements)

Jan Bones Lingerie

Straight Stitch Designs

Laela Jayne Patterns

House Morrigan

Sew House Seven (squeaking in with a 50″ hip)

SBCC Patterns (drafted for petites)

Tuesday Stitches

Petite Plus Patterns

Orange Lingerie (up to J cup size on some patterns)

Sewaholic (newer patterns only)

And here are two pattern companies that I have spoken with directly that plan to expand into this size range in the near future:

Helen’s Closet

Grainline Studio

Please note this list was crowd sourced and is by no means complete, please email me or leave a comment if you know of a pattern company I should add. Also, sorry not sorry its not alphabetized (SSSF).

In Conclusion

As average sized folks in the sewing community, we have a lot more options than we thought we had. No need to aspire to that Ginger Jeans/Kielo Wrap Dress/Ogden Cami perfect “indie girl” look. If they don’t want our business, that’s fine by me! Plus, we will always have pattern hacking. And you KNOW curvy sewists are great at adjusting patterns!

img_0591

P.S. here’s a pic of me to start you on your journey…

 

46 thoughts on “On Sewing for the Average Body

  1. Halla patterns(51/43/55), Rad patterns (65/58/68 for knit, slightly smaller for woven), and new and updated patterns from Bella sunshine designs (59/53/59- most of her patterns also have a full bust adjustment included).

    One other thing I’ve seen some designers comment is they want to be inclusive but they struggle to get pattern testers (especially ones willing to share photos). So anyone willing to pattern test, put your hands up.

    Like

    1. Thank you!! I’ve asked a lot of pattern companies to join our Csc Facebook group and post calls for testers, so hopefully they will and we will be seeing more sizes from more companies soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this very useful post – the list is so helpful!

    One correction: at the moment every Scroop Pattern goes up to at least a 50″ bust and 54″ hips – so every pattern fits your qualifications 🙂

    I do have some historical garments in the (further off) works that won’t cover the whole size range, because they are based on antique patterns and are impractical to regrade at extended multiple sizes, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will be on the smaller size: for every antique or vintage pattern I’m working from that won’t go to the top of my range I’m absolutely committed to making one based on a larger size antique pattern that will go to the top of the range, but not the bottom.

    And another addition to your list: Muse Patterns goes to a 50″ bust in their B cup, and a 52″ bust in their D, with 54″ hips: https://sewingmuse.com

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Leimomi! I will be sure to fix that. I just scanned your size charts page and it said not every pattern came in every size, so I hedged my bets. I’m sure you understand that I couldn’t check the measurements on every pattern listed. That’s a great size range and I really appreciate your effort! I’ve been meaning to make your wonder unders forever (I need a knit slip like yesterday). I’ll add muse as well!

      Like

  3. Connie Crawford patterns are also great curvy patterns. She sold her company about a year or so ago to Janet Pray at Islander Sewing Systems. Also, her patterns are still available at Butterick. I’ve used several of them; her t-shirt pattern is my go-to patterns.

    Like

  4. There’s also Boho Banjo Patterns by Pearl Red Moon. She’s an amazing independent Australian designer and artist who’s sizes start at 38” bust and go up to 54”.

    Like

  5. Bravo! I thought I had opened my own body image croquis when I opened you blog post. Two pattern companies to add to your list are Cutting Line Designs and Fit For Art Patterns. Louise Cutting has been designing patterns for years. Starting with her famous One Seam Pants she designs for a 52 inch hip but then gives extensive directions on how to customize the fit. If you have questions she will guide you by email. Fit For Art Patterns by Rae Cumbie are sized to a 3xl which goes to a 60 inch hip with finished measurements of 70 inches. Her pants pattern is wonderful. And one more thought. I have drafted my basic sloper using the design kit from Sure Fit Designs. It has made my pattern revisions much easier. Let’s keep this conversation going!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much for sharing all this info! I agree, let’s definitely keep the conversation going. I started on a sloper for pants and then stalled out on it. It didn’t seem like the directions I was using would address any of the fit issues I typically have. I will check out the one you suggested!

      Like

  6. Andie alerted me to the My Body Model and I LOVE it! I just did my own! Everyone’s croquis is reminding me of paper dolls – but the kind where you can actually end up with the finished outfit (something my childhood self would have FREAKED out about – my mum was not a crafter :-)) I’m not a plus-sized sewist but I’m thrilled that this convo is going on because a) everyone should be included and b) I’ve always been an outlier when it comes to fitting the boobs – mine are proportionately large, heavy for size and really projected on a rather narrow frame. (For reference – cuz measurements are the order of the day – I have been everywhere from 30FF – 34G but my shoulders are only 13 inches wide. Pair that with a 36″ – 40″ full bust, depending on the year, and it’s fun to try and make those tops fit! Mind you, it’s made me a better sewist – if a frequently frustrated one.) I love how everyone is posting measurements not simply because it’s a gesture of political activism to spark change, but because it helps me to see frames with similarities to mine (at any size) and to appreciate the challenges of those frames that are different. Also, the more we turn any and all dimensions into beautiful fit (with the help of expanding ranges), the better at our craft our community will be!

    Like

    1. I feel your pain, and am struggling to find much to fit too – 32E (38-39 full bust) on 5’2″ 39-29-34 frame, also 13″ across my shoulders, 13″ nape to waist measurement with a 30″ inside leg. My Body Model is all leg so I’m really struggling to fit tops. And that 34″ hip is too small for many patterns – I’m size 0 or 00 in most of the patterns that I can find.

      Like

  7. All Knipmode patterns go up to 52 bust / 54 hips. They are available in a monthly magazine ( in Dutch), as pdf’s and as paper patterns.

    Like

  8. Meghan – thanks for linking to my blog post but most especially thank you for that all encompassing list of indie pattern designers. I know how long that had to take to put together and you should be commended for that effort!

    Like

    1. Thanks Carolyn- you know, when I started I thought it was going to be super quick. But is does turn out we have a lot of options, so I guess its actually a good thing that it too FOREVER to put together 😉 Now I am dreaded updating it with all the new companies people have left in the comments, but that will be a task for another day!

      Like

  9. Greetings my lovely….And all of Designer Stitch patterns go to a 54″ Hip (I am considering upping to 56/58 in some if feasible) and offer cup sizes in the bodice to a DD (E)…..www. designerstitch.com.

    Like

  10. Thank you for this wonderful, and informative, post. I have jotted down some pattern makers that I have never heard about. I do love your outfit.

    Like

Leave a Reply to K-Line Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s