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.
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.
Decades of Style (newer patterns only)
Style Arc (up to 61″ Hip)
Megan Nielsen Patterns (newer patterns only, older patterns are being updated)
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)
Scroop Patterns (not all patterns)
Bootstrap Patterns (drafts to your measurements)
Lekala Patterns (drafts to your measurements)
Sew House Seven (squeaking in with a 50″ hip)
SBCC Patterns (drafted for petites)
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:
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).
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!
P.S. here’s a pic of me to start you on your journey…