Sunday, January 09, 2011

Since Anonymous is back...

and wrote this post:

"Kathleen Fasanella, a pattern maker who I believe you've blogged about, has explained the complexities of plus-size designing and grading. It's true that most pattern makers use CAD programs, but grading is not a matter of just adding a couple of inches here and there in some mathematically predictable pattern.  If that were true, you wouldn't need a TNT pattern."

Let me remind you that in my initial post I pointed out that Butterick has already graded three straight skirt patterns to a size 22 or 24.  So I posed the question that if they could grade these three skirts to that size range, why was it so hard to add the details of the trendier skirts to the plus size skirts? 

I also realize that grading patterns for plus size women is different than grading patterns for my skinnier sisters.  Since I am fat, I totally understand that fat spreads and that it doesn't follow a set pattern for every body type.  It is not necessary to "instruct" me on how my body works or how to fit a pattern for a plus size body since I live it daily...and make well-fitted garments for my plus size body.

Now do I sound annoyed...well yes, I am.  It seems that ONLY when I publish my thoughts on patternmaking for plus size women, do the trolls (and yes, you are a troll if you leave a comment without putting your name to it!) come out.  Seriously, these are MY thoughts...published on MY blog!  I don't journey to anyone else's space and "lecture" them on how something works...probably because I just don't care about what you write in your space.

Also, I have NEVER blogged about Kathleen Fasanella...I blogged about an article called Plus Size Wars that was written by Gina Bellafante in The New York Times Magazine in July 2010 that she contributed to.  I disagreed with some of the statements in the article.  To refresh anonymous' memory here is a link to that post.

I guess I could quietly delete the comments...or I could moderate comments or I could even turn off anonymous comments yet again.  But I'm not going that route this time...this time I'm telling you that if you can't own up to your words, don't visit...don't comment and don't lecture me about things I already know and understand.  You won't be missed...because you don't matter!

I stand by my statements in my last post.  Butterick has already made three skirts in sizes 22 & 24.  Why is it so hard to add the details of the trendier skirts to similar skirts for plus size women?  Look at the market you are missing.  Look at the potential to serve an industry and be a leader in a segment of the population that is being underserved.  Talk about growing market share...

Finally, if I can take a pattern, cut it and add seams, close a dart and get it to fit me...then surely this is something that a pattern company should be able to do.  If it can't be done, than please could someone from one of the pattern companies acknowledge this fact instead of "anonymous"!


  1. As always you are articulate and well reasoned. Anonymous people suck.

  2. You don't know how much better this made me feel. It drives me nuts to go to the fabric store, find a cute pattern and then find it's not graded in my size.

    I know I'm overweight but I'm happy with who I am. I don't feel like I'm horribly obese (and if I was, it shouldn't matter). I look like plenty of other gals I see out on the street. And yet, one of the main times where I start to feel really self-conscious and crappy is when I start looking for patterns and realize they don't make any of the "trendy stuff" in my size.

    It's not like there are only a handful of larger women out there. If anything, most of the women I know who sew are from the extremes of the sizing table (large or small) - where RTW has failed us, so we're forced to make our own. If only pattern makers realized the market they had on their hands!

    I always hate the excuse that "plus size is so much harder to do". It's not. If RTW and the pattern makers got it through their heads that actually, larger people DO wear clothes (I guess they believe we just wander around naked or wrapped in circus tents?), they'd have a booming business on their hands.

    URGH! I'm all fired up now! Seriously, Carolyn, you don't know how much your blog means to me (and sorry for the novel!). It's refreshing to see someone my size who makes beautiful, stylish, complex garments. It's not only inspiring, but it reinforces the idea that style and fashion are completely unrelated to one's size or shape. You could be 100 lbs or 600 lbs and you'd still be amazingly gorgeous and well put together.

  3. I used to be anonymous because of my lack of computer skills. I enjoy your blog--your clothing choices are always tasteful and beautifully made. I feel that I severely limit my wardrobe choices because of my size, but your bog gives me many good ideas. Keep up the good work!

  4. I was going to say there are *some* patterns I feel shouldn't be graded to larger sizes simply because they wouldn't look good. But when I saw the words, I realized what looks good to me isn't everyone's cup of tea and vice versa. Why not grade them all up and let the buyers choose?

    All that said, there's absolutely no reason that *most* trendy details can't translate to larger sizes. I found it frustrating in my twenties, and now in my mid thirties, that many of the 'styles' available in my size (RTW & patterns) looked like sacks.

    I like to think the best of people, so would hope that Anonymous was trying to be helpful. And if not, you and your blog are lovely, and your opinions and posts always give me something to consider.

  5. I very rarely comment on other people's blogs. I enjoy reading your thoughts. Not just the subject, but the self-deprecating way you articulate them. I have sewn my entire life (about as many years as yours) and have just recently found that it is easier to sew some pieces of my wardrobe than it is to purchase them. I'm tall and have added excess pounds as I've aged.

    Coming back to the art of clothing construction has been frustrating for me. I find that my body often crosses two different pattern sizes. I also feel that those of us who are wearing larger sizes aren't offered that opportunity to enjoy the trends of fashion that would be flattering to our bodies.

    Thank you for encouraging me, helping me laugh at myself and inspiring me to try something new or more difficult! Don't worry about "anonymous" he/she will miss out on the fun by hiding in the shadows!

  6. I've been following your blog for several months now, and I enjoy it tremendously.

    Re the troll's comments, I would like to point out to "it" that there are very few people proportioned exactly the same regardless of weight; therefore, all sewists can and should benefit from TNT patterns. For me, this means always, always, always lengthening everything--sleeve, bodice, chest, hip, hem because of my height. I avoided certain styles for years because they didn't fit me in the bust, but now--from my blog reading--I know about FBAs.

    It is unfortunate that some people seem to delight in insulting others.

    Again, thank you for your very enjoyable and informative blog!

    Peggy in San Francisco

  7. I also find that it can be an exercise in frustration to go pattern shopping. Because I'm generally potato shaped, I often spend as much time regrading patterns as I do sewing. I find that simplicity often has a better plus sized selection than v/b/m. That said, I think a lot of plus sized women have found that we are not well served by our local shops. So, when we want stylish, current attire we make it. You would think the pattern companies would get a clue.

    I really enjoy reading your blog everyday. Heck with the anonymous trolls of the world.

  8. Anon: "but grading is not a matter of just adding a couple of inches here and there in some mathematically predictable pattern"

    That's *exactly* what it is, which is why grading a size 8 regular using the "regular formula" to a plus size doesn't work, because you need a different mathematical formula to allow for the differences in plus size bodies vs. regular. However, I believe we have these things called computers these days, and with one you can take one starting point (regular) and apply a different formula (plus). It's just a matter of someone writing and using the formula.

    Yes, many will still have to adjust a graded-up plus pattern, no different than most bodies need to do with most patterns. But at least the design details would be there at the start.

    It's late and I'm probably incoherent, but I hope you get the meaning, and understand that I agree with you wholeheartedly!

  9. Carolyn, I agree with you 100%. I really get annoyed with the trolls and wish I was as articulate as you are.

  10. It's interesting that pattern companies obviously don't feel that designing current and trendy clothing patterns for bigger ladies is worth it. Surely they must realize that there are many, many plus-sized women who desire to make their own clothes and to look stylish and who also follow the current trends in fashion meaning they need patterns that reflect the current trends. They are missing out on a potential customer base especially if RTW doesn't offer the stylish clothing either.

  11. Agree totally Carolyn and well said.

  12. I'm sorry, but politely presenting information that does not support your position does not make one a troll.

  13. I love your blog! I comment very rarely (because I usually have one or two hands full while reading) but I do enjoy your expertise so very much. I have almost the same body shape and size as you do and you are always so elegant and put together. I haven't sewn anything for myself in such a long time, but I like to think I will soon.

  14. Fitting for 'one's' figure is a sewer's challenge and delight for myself. Your thoughts are always great to read and I appreciate how you share. Keep on blogging.

  15. I am not sure I understand the reasons why a pattern cannot be graded up to a size 22/24 etc if it can, and has, been graded upto a size 20. As I said I don't understand these things and have only attempted simple alterations so far but I wondered if that once they have the size 20 couldn't they use that as the starting point to grade up to sizes larger than that - instead of trying to grade straight from a size 8 to a 24? Of course it wont fit every size 24 body but then very few patterns fit staight out of the envelope regardless of the size. Skinny women also can have proportionally large waits/butts etc.

  16. I think you are dealing with this the right way. Anonymous' comments may be silly but if you let them show and then answer them properly as you have done, you are assisting other plus-size women and also helping non-plus-size women to understand the issues. I think the issue of anonymity is a bit of a red herring. On the internet if a person gives a name, you have no idea whether it is real or whether they have multiple identities. Your first answer here (Becky) says "anonymous people suck", which is just an offensive turn of phrase in itself. So I clicked to see who she is. Her profile is no available. So "Becky" may be "anonymous", but in fact she is at least another anonymous, as I am. It's all relative. If I were you I would leave all responses except the foul and obscene (not forgetting that quite a lot of bloggers use foul language) and let your other respondents "deal" with them.


  17. I can't speak to the pattern grading at all (which is why I didn't comment on your initial post, although I do agree with you about the nonsensical side of the pattern business), but I can weigh in and say that I absolutely detest the snarky anonymous commenters. I've had them, my friends have had them, and they are nothing more than cowards who like to take stabs at people. I for one, always appreciate your posts even if it doesn't apply to me, because after 26 years of sewing, I have so much to learn it's sick. Keep it up!

  18. Just wanted to add to the love! You've got me thinking about sewing pants again - I thought that I could only do casual or knit pants with an elastic waist. So thanks for coming out of the 'elastic waist closet'.
    And I also agree about the sizing issue, especially in the Big 4. I've been dipping my toes into the Burda magazines for that very reason - at least they seem to want to offer larger women the chance to look 'on trend'.

  19. I'm a tallish sz24 who's been sewing longer than most people have been alive, so here's my 2cents worth: makers of rtw and patterns for plus size women are foolish in the extreme as they are missing a large segment of the market. Every time I get encouraged by what's available, it disappears or is bought by some other company and loses what made it great to start with. I'm in Canada, so choices are much more limited. RTW here is awful, mostly pink/purple/beige/black and grandmotherly or sleazy.

    You're absolutely right. It's no big deal for a pattern company to add details to a pattern. Not everything is suitable, but not everything suits everyone anyway. I have a short daughter who wears a very small size and shops in the children's department. Good luck finding her age appropriate clothes, too.

    The very least pattern companies can do is give us choice. I study vintage patterns for details as there's a lot to be learned about adding trim, altering collars and cuffs, and colour combinations from vintage clothes. Sometimes I think I should just start with a sloper and make my own as it's probably not much more work than altering a store bought pattern.

    Anyway - love your sewing, esp that you're adventurous for someone starting out. And, that yellow, white and black cardi & top are gorgeous!
    Heather in Toronto (who doesn't have a google id yet)

  20. I read your previous blog about this subject,and I agree 110%...I'm new at sewing and don't feel super confident in my pattern altering by the large company not providing the pattern in my size, they are losing my fact, I rarely buy butterick patterns at all for this exact reason. Its frustrating.

    And this is YOUR you SHOULD be able to express your opinion without someone being rude (and un-informed) in a keep it up! :)

  21. Just wanted to say BRAVO Carolyn!! There is absolutely no reason why a pattern company in this day and age can't make patterns for the plus size population especially as you pointed out a straight skirt. I really dont get it, cause larger women would have more fitting issues in RTW at least that's my experience. So it would really seem to me if they catered more to the plus size population they would really tap into a hot market! That's my 2 cents.

  22. LOVE YA SWEETIE! Love your Blog and I am constantly inspired by you! Frankly dear, you held back better than I could, here's to you! I have a question, is Anonymous a Skinny? or just likes to get you're back up?

  23. I read your blog often and enjoy and learn from it. If my memory serves me right, you have never written about anthing I disagree with. Even if I did not share your thoughts, I would not post it to your blog. You have far too much to offer those of us who are looking forward to your next posting, than to waste even a minute on someone who sets out to shoot down what you have said. Delete them and smile when you do it. :)


  24. What I don't understand about the pattern companies is, once they already have created/graded/whatev a basic skirt in a plus size, why they don't use that basic pattern as a template and add the fun trendy details to it?? I mean, Carolyn, isn't that what you basically do with your TNT pattern? And, not to downplay your mad skills and creativity, but you make it look easy enough that I can't really find an excuse for the pattern companies.

  25. Oh - her - anonymous. She's been hanging around my blog lately too. So annoying. So deleted. Sometimes I respond. Most times I can't be bothered to acknowledge the stupidity. I got a lecture the other day on why do I wear pantyhose when knee highs would do. Really? One wonders why people can't find something better to do with their time or why they feel a need to be so critical, mean, and opionated as opposed to individuality and sharing. Sometimes it makes you feel like quitting. Luckily, there's a lot of good to help balance. Good for you speaking out. YES YES

  26. Damn straight! Let's not forget that the average size of American women is a size 14 rtw, which is about a size 20 pattern land. That's not exactly plus sized, is it? If Burda and Patrones and Knipmode can draft really cute, trendy things in plus sizes why the hell can't the big 4? Omar the tent maker is their view of what a plus sized woman should wear. Burda has on several occasions lately redrafted a regular sized pattern for the plus sized woman. Again they do a damn good job of it too. I don't care what Kathleen or anyone else in
    the industry uses for an excuse to not draft for larger women; as far as I am concerned it's just that, an excuse for why they can't be bothered to design for women on either side of the 'norm'. Also hidden in there is really a disdain for the 'fat' woman.
    As for anonymous comments, have some guts to own up to your opinions.

  27. Thank you for calling on the "anonymous" judges of the world to stand behind their words and make at least a meager attempt to get their facts straight. Thanks to you, I'm developing my own set of tnt patterns. Wouldn't it be nice if pattern companies would publish collections of collar patterns, set-in sleeve or yoke variations? Rather than slow pattern sales, we'd be increasingly interested in sewing what was new. Sorry for the length of this, but today's post pushed some sensitive buttons.

  28. Carolyn I am giving you a standing ovation! Don't let the unintelligent mean girls get you down. Some people obviously can't help that they feel the need to put others down to make themselves feel better. God Bless anonymous and her short comings...

  29. About ten years ago, I had a plus-size client who hired me to fit some patterns for her. There was so little available in her size and what there was was dowdy and shapeless. Offerings have improved but I don't understand why the pattern companies think plus-sizes don't want to make current trendy things. How insulting is that? But, let's face it, they are failing both ends of the size range (I'm lookin' at you Burda and New Look).

    Don't let the rude anonymous commenters upset you. I just send them on their way into cyberspace.

  30. I agree wholeheartedly. On as aside, Haberman Fabric in Royal Oak, MI, has a decent website, and a wonderful pattern selection that includes plus sizes. Lots of independents.

  31. To Anon 1:36: "I'm sorry, but politely presenting information that does not support your position does not make one a troll."

    No, but doing so anonymously does.

    I think you're missing the point on this. As far as I've always seen here on her blog, Carolyn is fine with opinions that differ from hers as long as the tone remains respectful, but she does not want anonymous comments from people who won't sign their names to their opinions. She even makes that clear right above the comment box you used to leave your unsigned comment. ;-)

  32. I started to post on yesterday's article and got distracted. Anon had an obvious flaw in reasoning, which is-if it's already graded up to a 20, it really isn't that much trouble to go up another two sizes. Also, this is a STRAIGHT SKIRT! This is not a complex pattern with multiple small intricately fitted pieces that really needs a great deal of grading to remain proportionate. It's an extremely simple design that could very simply be taken up into the plus size range. Then the task would merely be to regrade only the detail pieces for a plus size, just as the "normal" size detail pieces are all the same size for all the sizes included in the envelope, despite having a range of usually 10 sizes.

    In any case-Anon probably did not realize that the tone of the post was very much in the manner of a lecture and came across as rather condescending. Carolyn's point was and is simply that more choices in plus sizes would result in a much higher number of patterns sold, and considering the numbers of plus size women in this country who sew out of a sense of self-preservation, I must agree that the pattern companies are shooting themselves in the foot by refusing to grade up on the trendier patterns.

    So there!

  33. Hi Carolyn,
    Well your post today caught my eye and I had to go back and re-read the last few.
    Love the skirt btw.
    That old man really should just plug in the numbers. I agree with you!

    Actually, I think the plus sizes are first drafted from a size 18 and graded up or down from there, that is why you don't see the same pattern in the plus sizes as you do in the lower sizes.

    But something I found really really cool was the Jalie e-pattern site and their thumbnails of their pattern sheets. 27 sizes in ONE envelope. Lookie here:

    OH...and I also got a quote recently for some drafting software and it was only $200 a month or I could buy it for about $5,000. If there is serious interest I would totally be up for drafting some plus size patterns!

    Love your blog as always!

  34. Dear Carolyn, I rarely comment on blogs, but: BRAVO!

    If you want to "politely" share "information" than put a name to it, babe...
    or write your own blog, especially if your "information" is not neccessarily true. Patterns already graded to a size 20 are easily graded to larger sizes, as it is in fact a matter of "adding inches".

    Not one plus-size-sewer I know expects to cut a size, sew it together and have a perfect fit for their body. Younger, fresher patterns in plus-sizes is all we need, we do the fit ourselves...

  35. Cathy, good point about the Jalie size range. Hot Patterns has 6-26 in one envelope. And as someone else mentioned, Burda often grades a regular-size style up to their plus range. Obviously — and contrary to minority opinion, it can be done. ;-)

  36. Yes hot patterns has a lot of sizes. And the grading gets really bad at the lower sizes! Because it really not so easy to do! If you think its easy why complain about doing it yourself. lets all buy size 14 and just grade if up and down as needed! We can do it, we're not evil like the pattern companies.

  37. oh my forgot to sign my posts
    Connie P
    because that makes so much difference

  38. Pardon me, ladies, while I comment on Anonymous' last post at 3:02 pm.

    Pffflllgggttt!!! sticking tongue out at you. Are you REALLY that jealous of Carolyn? Perhaps it's time that you reexamine your own life and your motivation for posting here.

    I personally see a petty-minded, nasty person who needs a reality check that the world does NOT revolve around you. Now, got tell your mommy that I said you must go to be early and no milk and cookies for dessert!

    Melissa in FL

  39. "And the grading gets really bad at the lower sizes! Because it really not so easy to do!"

    I think the point was that it's not *impossible.* Jalie, Burda don't seem to have problems at either end (or middle) of their size range. So, not only is it not impossible, it's actually possible to do *correctly.* The difference is in the grading systems used, not the range of sizes.

  40. Carolyn, disable the anonymous posts already. Anyone who really wants to talk to you but doesn't know how to create a google account ID can just email you privately. That "occasional acquaintance" troll does not deserve the audience she/he/it has acquired here. Spoofing IP addresses? Sounds like a criminal in embryo.

  41. Becky - thank you for your concern. However, there are some people who don't want to get google id's but want to have the option of commenting. So I will just delete the comments. No biggie! *smile*



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