Friday, January 25, 2019

Why Support a Pattern Designer Who Doesn't Support You?

There is a discussion happening in the Plus Size Community that started on Instagram after a blog post was published about why RTW and some indie pattern designers won't design for the plus size market.

I've waited to speak on this because I'm not surprised. This is just par for the course from some of these designers. I raised these very same objections when these indie designers first came on the scene years ago. They used the very same excuses and wording then as they have in this IG post. Nothing has changed and that speaks volumes to me. 

The only indie pattern company that changed at the time was Colette. Sarai worked with the Curvy Sewing Collective and other plus size sewists to develop patterns with a size range that almost all sewists could make. Everyone else stuck their heads in the sand.

Imma call some names out now ~ 

1. Sewaholic Patterns - Tasia at the time said she makes patterns for pear shaped women and she wasn't prepared to make plus size garments.

2. Grainline Studios - flat out ignored the cries.

3. Closet Case Patterns - Heather increased her range to a size 20 which is on the small side of plus size sewing.

4. Elisalex and the By Hand London team had a cult like following that told them they were amazing and raved about their patterns so why did they need to address the fat girls in the back.

5. Megan Nielsen said nothing that I remember at the time but thankfully she is issuing new patterns now with plus sizes and working on updating her pattern catalog.

6. The Big 4 pattern companies did extend their sizes and found some plus size designers to add to the offerings to give plus size sewists more opportunities to make trendy clothing. Check out the older Khaliah Ali Simplicity patterns on eBay, etsy and some of the vintage pattern sites. 

Alot of the newer indie pattern companies that do have a plus size range are companies that primarily make pdf patterns so I have no experience with them and can't speak to them.  However, they're getting a lot of love on IG right now.

I will say that I'm the older sewist in the room and in this discussion. I've been through this. I've had the angst/anger/hurt that alot of the plus size sewists are feeling right now and I've developed a few policies because of that.

1. I don't purchase patterns from the companies that don't design for my size. 
I vote with my dollars and being an older sewist with a high discretionary income that means the designer is losing out. It also means that my blog following doesn't see posts about these designers.

2. I don't beg. 
I said my piece years ago and now as Jenny, of Cashmerette Patterns, said this discussion is coming around again. If you don't want my money, I'm not begging you to take it. I'm ignoring you just like you're ignoring me. I'm finding indie pattern designers who want my money and giving it to them. I suggest other plus size sewists do the same.  

3. SUPPORT the Indie Pattern companies that cater to you!
Highlight the designers that want you to make their patterns. Share your finished garments on ALL social media channels so other plus size sewists can see them - not just on Instagram - but on the Curvy Sewing Collective, Facebook, blogs and PatternReview too.  Not every plus size sewist uses Instagram as their place to get sewing information.

4. Don't buy their books, follow them on Instagram or other forms of social media.
They don't care about you ~ why are you running behind them. Harsh I know but that's how I feel. I don't follow most of those "popular" indie designers on IG. They have nothing for me so why should I support them.  

I make sure to note EVERY indie pattern designer and fabric company I use on Instagram so that other sewists know about them too. Tag them in your posts! Expand your range of sewists you follow on Instagram.  Follow hashtags like #curvysewing #plussizesewing #cscmakes

My last point is going to be the most controversial but I had this thought over and over as I read the comments. We as plus size sewists need to learn to fit our bodies and learn what styles work for us. My sewing may appear boring on IG but my projects work.  They work because I've learned how to make the adjustments that I need so they fit and I wear the styles that make me most comfortable.

This means that we should invest in our fitting education - take classes both online and in person. Follow sewists who have some fitting knowledge. Buy books that can help take your sewing to the next level and these can be older sewing books too. Reach out and ask questions if you don't understand. Yes, sewing has different challenges when applied to plus size sewists but there are sewists out there who have knowledge to share and want to share it.

I'm sorry if this sounds like preaching but please know that not every question can't be answered in a Google Search.

Finally y'all I'm tired. Between the stuff that jumped off on Instagram over BIPOC and now this...along with all the crap that's going on in the US with our government shutdown...I just needed a minute. It's why I've taken this time to write this out and even in trying to be careful I'm sure I'm going to piss someone off which is not my intent.

For some other takes on this discussion, please read Andi's blog post, or Shannon's post. If you're on Instagram and haven't seen these sewists thoughts on this issue, please check out Megan, Emily/The Catwood, Whitney, and Emily

Okay that's it. Take my feelings with a grain of salt, ignore them, think on them, it's up to you. But remember its the love of the craft that binds us together ~ for better or worse.

...as always more later! 


64 comments:

  1. Carolyn I so appreciate your comments on this and am glad many pattern companies have stepped up to serve plus sized sewists.

    I can relate to feeling drained by these discussions! It's just a lot to process and sewing is normally my escape from the ills of the world.

    Your advice can apply to other realms of life and sewing as well. Pattern companies may pick their niche and stick to it and that's their choice but we consumers also have a choice to focus our dollars and attention on those that serve us.

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  2. Nice post. I haven't sewn in over 5 years because I couldn't get a good fit with patterns. Looking to start sewing again. Had to measure myself which is tricky but can be done. Anyway I purchased cashmerette patterns to make my first garment. Lost my sewing bug and hope this helps to bring it back. Great blog.

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  3. I'm not a plus size, but I totally support what you are saying. People of all shapes and sizes need and should have patterns created for them. I also agree wholeheartedly with your emphasis on learning fitting techniques. EVERYONE who sews has some kind of fitting issue, and we can all improve our garments so much by learning how to make the garments we sew fit better. There are excellent instructors and books who can help.

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  4. Catherine, I've read these posts again and again and again... I totally agree with you. Yes, inclusion definitely matters and we need to vote with our money! That's the only way to bring a change.

    What I don't understand is - In this size sewing community, there's only 2 companies that are specifically catering to this HUGE market - there's Cashmere and then there's petite plus sewing patterns, but no more plus size only sewing patterns? Same question as you asked. But I'm asking this to the plus sized community - why don't more people come forward and learn this craft and make more patterns. Connie Crawford has many plus size patterns.. They don't get much limelight...

    From what I understand, most indie pattern companies were born not because they had talent, but because they couldn't find any patterns in a way they wanted. Tasia drafted specifically for pear sized ppl, because she couldn't find any for herself and wanted to fill that gap. This is just one example. Instead of going after small indies who don't draft for plus size because of their limited know-how, why don't more people (both plus size ppl and non plus size ppl) recognize this gap and go after this market and make those patterns?

    And why not curate a list of companies that do cater to plus size with great drafting and make a blog post of it to promote them, to encourage them and give them more visibility. There might be many more pattern companies that do cater to plus size market, if we carefully look at the indie scenario. If we want to vote with our money, then whom should we vote for.

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    1. First - my name is Carolyn just wanted to point that out in case it was a typo. Second - if you read any of the posts that I've linked to, they have provided several indie designers that are size inclusive. However, they're primarily pdf designers and since I use pdf patterns sparringly, I haven't used any of them. Also, I dislike Connie Crawford patterns intensely and wouldn't refer them to anyone.

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    2. Sorry! It was indeed a typo, Carolyn! I’ve been having some cognitive issues lately that it’s quite embarrassing.

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  5. I agree with you especially sbout how important it is to hone your fitting skills.. The woe of RYW is that you are supposed to fit into ttheir proportions, squeezing here or billowing there. The investment of time with sewing should be focused on an inverse relationship. The clothes are fit to you by you. If a pattern company is not supporting that dynamic, they don’t deserve your time and money. However, it is the exception rather than the rule that any pattern fits without alteration, in my experience. So I look for pattern companies that get me most of the way there, knowing that fine tuning will be what I do. Thanks for your frank and wise words, Carolyn. I love your blog.

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  6. I am a big Burda fan, their plus trousers/pants fit me quite well with minimal alteration (I'm a size 48 currently In Burda) however I have found the styles recently to be really quite disappointing for the Plus sizes. I generally sew an 18 in New Look for example and this is often included in the standard sizing so I perhaps don't have the same challenges as others.
    My size/weight fluctuates and my absolute sweet spot was as a Size 44 in Burda as I could choose from both the plus and standard sizes.
    I have styles I make and wear over and over because they work for my body. I am realistic about my size and shape and that makes it more likely clothes will fit.
    I think it is important to work out what fitting alterations you need for your own body, even though that can be hard to do as the resulting clothes will feel and look better.

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  7. Great thoughts! I am at the bigger end of plus size, often past the sizing even on patterns meant to be plus sized. I have now a range of tnt patterns that I can use to make most of my wardrobe, thanks to the inspiration of your blog back when I got back into garment sewing. Using these I no longer feel like the fat girl left out in the back of the room. Then occasionally I forget, and go to a sewing workshop where we all are to sew the same garment, and I struggle greatly to sew along, because there are so many fit issues to address. Generally the leader does not know as much as I do about how to fit for my plus size self.

    So after a recent struggle at a workshop, I vowed to stick to patterns intended for at least nearly my size. Hopefully I can maintain that resolve, because it keeps sewing much more joyful.

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  8. I echo. Keep doing you. Thank you.

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  9. PREACH SISTER! Nothing wrong with preaching when people/situations need to be shaken up. I also want to second older sewing books- they often go into greater depth.

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  10. Carolyn, I always appreciate it when you speak your mind. I often learn something or have my eyes opened, while at other time you just speak to what I've been thinking all along. I appreaciate these thoughtful posts. Keep preaching!

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  11. This is a wonderful post with great rules that should be applied to everything in life. Learning what 'standard' fit adjustments I need makes a world of difference to how happy I am with finished garments and that's peraonal as we all like garments to fit differently.

    There used to be a plus sized indy pattern company in Canada. Wonder what happenend to them?

    Thank you for the thoughtful post. g

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  12. Great post! And, yes, learning to fit and adjust is such an important skill. A quick note - Grainline is expanding their size range this year. I don’t know what that looks like, or how many sizes are being added, but it is progress.

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    1. RavenNemain - yes they did put out a statement saying that they are expanding their size range this year but they've had YEARS to expand and are just getting around to it. BTW, I personally wouldn't tout this until it was a reality but then it could be my feelings about them since they've ignored plus size sewists for YEARS!

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  13. I'm out of town this weekend so not participating in this discussion as much as I want to but I'm reading. Just wanted to say thank you for your post!

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  14. I'm not a plus-size (yet), nor have I managed to re-enter the sewing world after a multi-year creative drought. Thank you for pointing out some companies I don't have to spend my limited time on. And the worthwhile companies who I'll be happy to give my money to.

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  15. C: You are one of the most committed and experienced home sewists on the web and I read your blog for many reasons - not least of which is that I like to look at fabric :-) But one of the reasons your writing is so relevant to me (disclosure: I'm not a plus size sewist but I am a person who chooses to make lots of alterations to optimally fit my proportions) is that you care about fitting. You think about it and explore it and apply it. You're a great sewist-blogger not because of or despite your size but because you talk about how every body will look its most beautiful when the clothes fit. So thank you for that. Now, of course, you deserve to start from the same place as all of the body shapes and sizes - having patterns graded to your size range so that you can spend your effort on the tweaks that make the finished garment great. But thanks for bringing up the topic of learning to fit. This ain't a plus size tip - it's a sewist tip that works awesomely for all sizes. Here's to coming years where your body type will be as respected as the straight framed size 10. Your skill though, that's been respected for years!

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  16. Thank you so much for that. I couldn't remember the responses of the other pattern companies at the time Colette decided to take action. It's good to see a list of them like that. <3 Thank you for taking the time to write it. I can only imagine how you feel inundated with all that is going on and how all of those things are impacting you so truly thank you for taking the time to write this post. Sending you so much support. <3

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  17. Thank you for speaking up, Carolyn. I agree there has been a lot of controversy lately. Maybe it can lead us to a place of greater light. That's what I continue to pray for. Happy sewing.

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  18. I'm plus-size and I sew, and I buy RTW. I agree that it is often difficult to find patterns that fit and clothes off the rack that don't look like Bad Grandma designed them. But I've learned to draft my own patterns and adjust them, and I go clothes shopping knowing that it's probably not going to be easy to find something I like that likes me back. I agree with your numbered points and your advice to educate yourself on fitting your own body. I realize that no one has to cater to me, and I don't have to spend my hard-earned dollars on them. They say money talks. They make their choices and I make mine. This goes for everything I buy and do, from my choice of pattern designers to restaurants to my place of worship. What I won't do is hate and bully when I don't get what I want. I'm glad that the plight of the plus-size person is being brought to light, and I hope in the future more companies come to the awareness that we do exist.

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  19. I have found this to be one of the most eloquent and relevant responses to the situation. I get the sense, on Instagram, that a lot of sewists seem to want to be part of the "cool kids crowd" and, as you said, are begging for the so called cool pattern designers to please pay attention to me. There are some good resources out there and I completely agree with your statement about learning to fit oneself and would like to add learning a little about altering pattern styles. I hate making FBAs and decided about a year ago to only buy patterns that have that option built into them. This limits my options, but I use those patterns to hack different styles. Yes it takes time and no it may not be fair, but until bigger sizing becomes the norm, that may be what it takes both to compete garments that you love and to induce pattern makers to be more size inclusive. I too have a decent disposable income and I definitely speak with my pocketbook, both for larger size patterns and for those that include older sewists as models. Thanks for your very thoughtful and honest post!

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  20. Excellent post, Carolyn. Couldn't agree more. I'm an in between plus. Sometimes 18 fits, sometimes its to small. 18W is always too large. Just learning about fit. Have been very disappointed with the offerings from indies and don't want to do PDFs. Recently deleted one of these from my reading list because they don't service my size. Loved their tutorials but was never going to fit any of their patterns so delete.

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  21. Thank you for sharing, Carolyn! I am working on a post myself and will be sure to link to yours.

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  22. Thank you for your position and your ability to verbalize them. Supporting those pattern companies which try to create patterns to fit plus size people is smart business. I am tired of trying to modify small patterns to fit my width. The hours modifying them could be better spent sewing.

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  23. Great post. While I'm not a plus size - I have heard this discussion for years - I'm 80 and have been sewing 'forever'. My DGD wanted me to make a swim suit for her cousin who was plus size. I could not find a pattern to follow at that time and couldn't figure out how to adjust what I could find! There has been some improvement in the last few years. Thanks again for such an excellent post.
    Marcia

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  24. Although I haven't followed the Instagram discussion, your post is very thoughtful. Now that I'm plus size and struggling to get patterns to fit, I'm frustrated that I can't just sew up a pattern as I did in my 20s and 30s. Many of the plus patterns are also designed for busty women, not the well-endowed. Do you have any suggestions of who would be a good fitting expert? And, I have to ask, why don't you like Connie Crawford's patterns?

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  25. Oh, I made a mistake mentioning Fehr Trade. I really thought the first pattern I bought had XXL but it seems not. Strike it from my list!

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  26. You're absolutely right; every point is valid. Bravo!

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  27. Hurray, thanks for this great post!! I agree with every point. I vote with my dollars too. My Evernote app is full of blog posts for fitting my particular challenge areas across the different garment designs. Resourcefulness is a strength! And so is the self-esteem to wear what you like and what fits your life style!

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  28. Carolyn, Thank you for your post. I agree. I am struggling to get that right fit right now as I write this comment. Would you please post your recommendations of the most helpful in-person fitting classes, online classes and books. If you have already done this in a previous blog post, would you please send me in that direction. Thanks.

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    1. Check out Cashmerette's site. She has quite a few posts on fitting and offers online courses on how to fit yourself. Definitely start there first!

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  29. I agree with Carolyn about voting with your dollar. Indie patterns for me are nothing to rave about but there have been times when I would of purchased, then thought about the price, the time and cost of printing out a PDF and then having to put it together. Most Indie patterns range from $14-22 dollars plus my ink, paper and time, the cost isn't worth it. Sorry but my money is spent on what is easiest for me and hacking has become more attractive to me than spending the time and money on Indie patterns. Let's face it most Indie patterns are hacks from the big 4.

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  30. It is time I thanked you for your blog and the information you share. Specifically, HotPatterns.com because they offer patterns that are flattering on me and others on the chunky side. They offer traditional patterns so I don't have to put them together. Yes, they are pricier but well worth it. Another 'thank you' for introducing me to EmmaOneSock.com for their fantastic fabrics.

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  31. Great post, Carolyn. I respect it all, particularly number #4. We definitely have different body shapes but what you do for the plus size woman/sewist is amazing. I am glad that you demand and glad that you walk and buy with your dollars. Keep up the great work and philosophy. A rising tide lifts us all.

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  32. I won't shop at Hobby Lobby.

    Do I shame you for it? No. Because I respect your right to make your own choices.

    We need each other more than we need to divide ourselves up. Public shaming does nothing but diminish us as humans. Let's encourage the folks who are serving the curvy community, not tar and feather those who aren't. They will get with it. This whole week has been petty and mean, and I am done with petty and mean.

    Together we're better. At least I hope we are.
    Love you (and that's real)
    Stephanie

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    1. Stephanie - I know you love me and it's mutual. However, when change comes about it's difficult. It's unpleasant. I was trying not to be petty and mean but truthful. All of the things I said about the pattern companies above can be found on the internet. It's their own words. That's how this started from the things they said. Also it's hard to hear another person's truth...if you think my naming them is petty and mean, how do you think I felt hearing their excuses? How do you think we as plus size sewists feel when we have to deal with the exclusion? This is not a pretty situation but like I said before change rarely is.

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  33. First, you always seem to say what needs to be said. I have bought a number of patterns that YOU have made because of how they look on you or what you have to say about them. When I hear about a new to me indie I check them out and if no plus (or paper) then I leave. I will NOT grade up to use their patterns. There are plenty of patterns to choose from. And if I see an interesting line or style chances are excellent I have a pattern in a plus size that can be used. Second, Your clothing is not boring. I just adore you and your blog. You and your sewing is amazing. Jean

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  34. Thank you for this post. I've always felt if you don't want to cater to my needs, I'll take my money elsewhere. My goal for this year is to learn how to fit patterns to my shape.

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  35. Thank you, Carolyn! You always have a great perspective. Until I started teaching sewing classes a year or two ago I honestly had not even realized how limited so much of the Indie sizing is. That is totally my bad, and a HUGE helping of “thin privilege” and I’m glad this issue is coming up for that reason, as well as the whole part where it’s actually really important. Thank you again for your very measured and reasoned perspective!!!

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  36. Amen Carolyn!!! Thank-you for your thoughts on this issue. I love your blog and your wardrobe. I've bought many patterns because of your posts!

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  37. Here, here for what you are saying. When I was very tall and thin, the only slax that were long enough for me had the crotch falling almost to my knees. I'm short from waist to crotch. When I was still tall and VERY fat, I tried to buy a dress. After looking at the selections, I turned to the saleslady and asked if she had anything else. I said, "I'm fat not dead." Now I've shrunk more, and I'm a healthy weight. I sew. Pattern companies of all types ignore my shape and combination of measurements. After years of agonizing over manipulating flat patterns, I was fortunate to find an ASDP member where I was living who drafted slopers for me. I learned to style patterns from slopers. I indulge in fabrics for variety in my patterns. I can't remember the last time I wasted money on a pattern. Like you and others, I will not support businesses that don't support me.

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  38. Amen Ms. Caroyln! Very well said and I am in total agreement! If something is made for one, why can’t it be made fir all?!!

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  39. I'm with you, Carolyn! Thanks for articulating my thoughts so well!

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  40. Great discussion with many valid points. I had not realized this was becoming a thing again/still, but you make a great point about voting with your wallet. Don't buy/promote those who don't see you in their audience. An even more important point is the matter of fitting. For those who sew, fit is key. And it is a continuing process--refining fit techniques to encompass body changes and to incorporate new style elements. If you know how to fit to your body, it is possible to adapt patterns for you. Or to develop your own distinctive style. Fit is the most essential aspect of clothing construction, and done well, it has the capacity to transform your creations from "homemade" to "custom."

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  41. Testing. Have been trying to comment past few days.

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  42. Thank you for this brilliant post Carolyn! I have a huge amount of respect for you, one of my favourite ladies in the online sewing community, and I very much appreciated this strongly worded and yet still thoughtful and eloquent contribution to the debate. I may only have one lonely little pattern to my name! but I am listening and very much hoping to be one of those who does her best to cater to as many ladies as possible! Thank you again! xxx

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  43. First, I'm on the lower range of plus size so I'm just used to expanding the size 20 patterns but I really shouldn't have to do this if companies increased their sizing to fit plus size. Second, I've sewn for mature women for years now and fitting is always an issue. I think a lot of women give up sewing for themselves because they remember sewing while they were teenagers or quite young when making alterations was basically a non-issue. As we age our bodies shift and sag which require multiple adjustments. I've set my goal this year to help educate mature women by showing them various pattern adjustments. So, yes, we need to share this knowledge and let pattern companies know how we feel. Reaching them thru the pocketbook is a good start. Thanks for your post, Carolyn. Karen

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  44. There is well-documented research that plus size women are willing to spend money on clothing. ModCloth is an example, they made $18,000 at their beginning. They are now grossing $150 million. They are so successful that Walmart purchased them in 2017. Lane Bryant, Eloquii, Avenue and others are examples of successful companies catering to plus size market demands. I read an article that Modcloth’s plus size customers account for 8% of their customer base but outspend the traditional size customers by 7%.
    Hot Patterns and Cashmerette are two successful small pattern companies that cater to the plus size community. If companies are trying to say that the market is not there to support their R&D, again I’m going to call it BS. If you only want to market your product to the smaller sizes then be honest. No one has issues with niche marketing but be honest about it. You can’t complain about the size of your business if you are not working to meet market demands. It is disrespectful to be happy when sewists post about grading up your patterns but complain about the work of developing plus size slopers.

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  45. Thank you Carolyn! I have tried to support the plus sized community by offering incentives to the Curvy Sewing Collective, etc. I could not agree more in general. Why are we spending our hard earned money at companies that do not even acknowledge us? And it goes far beyond the issue of plus sized patterns. When I give talks about online fabric shopping, I often ask the audience why they are spending their money at companies owned and run by men who have never sewed anything in their lives, and why not support the women owned fabric stores - especially those that regularly support the sewing community. It is a puzzle. But I do believe that voting with your dollars is important. Good for you.

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  46. You're awesome. I would love to meet you some day.

    I am not a plus size, but I am completely there with you. I read the CSC all the time, because plus size sewists know what they are doing because they have to. That makes them the fitting experts in the room, as far as I am concerned.

    I am on the older side (58) and have too much going on to follow IG or any other social media, and I completely get why you want and/or have to, as an influencer, but it must be a PITA for you at times. Because you brought up this topic to me, a diehard fan, I will go check out this discussion you speak of, because if it is important to you, and gets your dander up, I want to know more about it. That will be the extent of my interest though, but I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    I pretty much only make Big 4, they offer me enough. I was lucky to find a few Khaliah Ali patterns, uncut, at the thrift store. I love Mimi G for the same reason. They are real people who make and design their own clothes. In addition to plus size representation, there is a need for petite, which Mimi does well. I just gave my backup machine to a gal I work with who is built a bit like Mimi, and as this gal wants to learn how to sew, she needs a fitting (pun intended) role model.

    Carolyn, thanks for everything you do, thanks for being you.

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  47. Thank you, thank you. As always you have expressed your ideas thoughtfully. I agree with everything you said and most of the comments as well. Keep on doing what you do, it is an inspiration to all of us struggling with fit issuers.

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  48. Great post ! Your insights are always spot on .

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  49. Coming back to note that Helen of Helen's Closet is expanding the size range on her Avery leggings to size 30. I know, I know, a pdf pattern ... but this pattern gets raves.

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  50. Yes! Especially the parts about learning to fit. I moderate several sewing groups on FB and it is so frustrating to me when women say that they can't fit in a pattern line because their bust measurement is too big. Then I point out that they could if they chose their size based on their high bust measurement and do the FBA that they clearly need and I hear how it's too hard to do an FBA. Very few women fit patterns out of the packet. Many, many more women want to fit patterns without any alterations.

    I don't care if a particular designer doesn't offer patterns in my size. If they do it reluctantly, I am not convinced that they will do it well. There are PLENTY that do that are constantly overlooked because they are not the latest, greatest fad in the sewing world. They have my full support.

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  51. I love this post for so many reasons! And I agree with what you said about honing fitting skills, and developing your craft. At the end of the day, that is what makes sewing magical! If anything, that is the superpower that keeps me sewing my own clothing and creating a solution where RTW has excluded me. I know RTW cannot address every body type/issue, so I am glad to gain the knowledge I need on my own. And yes, our dollars have a say, and I hope more designers will jump in and be inclusive in their sizing! Bravo to those that have done it already!

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  52. I love that you keep it real in your posts.

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  53. Carolyn, I can feel the heartfelt frustration expressed in your blog post. However I think you’re being too harsh in your outrage against the pattern companies as much of their inability to offer broad ranges of sizings is more technical than political.
    It is not an insignificant challenge that confronts pattern makers when drafting and grading womens sewing patterns to accommodate the enormous variability in female body shape – the tall, short, narrow and wide combinations become manifold. This is why there are ready to wear and tailoring traditions in dressmaking. Women whose body proportions conform within a narrow range that became historically designated “average” will always find it more straightforward to buy sewing patterns that fit satisfactorily.
    There is simply too wide a range of diversity in womens body shapes to be properly catered too. You cannot proportionately grade between a classic size 6 to 30 and have a pattern that works. Applying non proportionate grading is where you end up getting into the complex area of tailoring and much labour intensive expense. You then have to publish multiple versions of the pattern pieces and adapt multiple versions of the making instructions. Where a pattern might fit one woman who classifies herself as a size 26 it won’t fit another as her bust might be the same but her hips could be 20cm bigger or smaller than the other women.
    The reality is that’s its extremely difficult to apply conventional “grading rules” once a woman becomes larger than about a size 20. This is to do with the personal physiological tendencies of where individual women store fat on their bodies. In some it will concentrate around the midriff and they may still have relatively slender legs and arms. Others have more even distribution, so their torsos are straightish and cylindrical but the legs and arms are heavy. Some women have large busts and narrow hips, and vice versa…. The combinations are almost endless and it’s this diversity which makes a one-size-can-be-made-to-fit-all concept of a sewing pattern exceedingly difficult to be catered to.

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  54. If WE have to make all the adjustments needed to fit our bodies, then the professional pattern makers are fully capable of doing it, too. The excuses are all BS.

    I used to see Vogue designer patterns that came in a 32W. I see them sometimes on ebay, but no more. They CAN make the patterns, but they are choosing not to. I was cheering you on throughout my reading of this post!

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  55. Excellent post Carolyn! I am a fit fanatic. That matters more than fancy. My sewing is kind of boring too, but it fits me and it fits my style and my lifestyle. I have taken courses in fitting, both in person and online. I have lots of fitting books, and as I get older, I am 68, I need my fitting skills more than ever. Yes, it's harder to fit plus size bodies, but so worth it to learn how. As to the companies who ignore us, they are certainly missing out on a lot of sales. I don't know if you are familiar with Universal Standard, but if a RTW company can manage a huge range of sizes why can't pattern companies? I bought two coats last winter when I was still recovering from my broken ankle and not sewing. They fit. It can be done. J Crew, in consultation with Universal Standard is also offering plus sizes now in the same styles as their formerly regular sizes. They obviously saw the benefit to their bottom line. So far I've not been very impressed with most of the Indie patterns, but I keep an open mind.

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