Recently a heated conversation took place on Instagram prompted by SBCC’s recent post on why size inclusivity is not often practiced. The plus-sized community has heard these reasons time and again. Fit models aren’t available, mannequins are more expensive, they can’t get pattern testers (maybe try asking a plus sized community like the Curvy Sewing Collective FB group and not having such a short turn around), they did a survey of existing customers and found out they were within their average range anyway so why expand? The IG post on SBCC’s feed is where much of the debate took place.
The basic lean of the post echoes a fatphobic language that somehow our fat bodies are modern day recent inventions that they have to “deal” with.
Comments from indie pattern companies without inclusive sizing started thanking SBCC (who btw does have a good size range) on finally creating a post that justifies their choices for not expanding their sizes. The comments further speak to it being difficult for a small business to expand their sizes and I do sympathize. It’s tough out there, but it’s really tough for a beginner fat sewist to start out and encounter zero patterns in their size.
Those indie pattern companies include: Closet Case Files, By Hand London, Sew House 7, Paper Theory, Fehr Trade, and others. The point in mentioning them by name is not to be mean (a lot of accusations that we’re being mean by being political going around….), but to see where they decide to go with the way that people are reacting to their comments. Will this change the landscape of the home sewing pattern industry?
It was already changing…
But let’s examine some history first to see what got us here and why Shannon, Mary, and so many others on IG are discussing this complex issue (Megan, Emily/The Catwood, Whitney, Jenny/Cashmerette, Emily, Jacqui and so many more).
A short and incomplete history of “Plus Sized” fashion
This article provides a good overview of the history of plus sizes.
In short, Lane Bryant was the first company that still exists today to cater to plus sized woman and used the term plus sizes in its advertisements in the 1920s.
Plus sizes were gradually moved out of the “standard” or “misses” sizes and provided their own sections in department stores and catalogs over the years. The reputation then became that plus-sized clothing was frumpy and not fashion forward.
“Perhaps it was because these plus-size boutiques were completely removed from straight size, trendy stores and clothes, or maybe it was because these plus-size clothes were not getting nearly the attention of garments that happen to be smaller than a size 14, but a stereotype was born that still lives on today.” (source)
It’s only recently that the fashion industry has started providing better fashion for plus sizes as a result of the body positivity movement.
Several brands, most notably ModCloth, have moved away from providing separate plus sized sections in favour of a more inclusive sizing perspective.
There are also some other retailers, like Forever 21 and H&M, who moved their plus section entirely out of their stores. Spoiler alert: that move doesn’t go over well with their customers!
An aside, this thesis covers plus sized online shopping motivations. It’s 300 pages and I haven’t gotten through it all yet but it is SUPER fascinating.
What the fashion industry is learning is that the plus-sized market is good for your business.
My own experience of the plus sized fashion industry
I have been plus sized since shortly after puberty. I remember buying unwired bras that looked like post-surgical bandages because that was what was available in my size. I remember shopping in the men’s sections for jeans that actually went up to my size. I remember wearing a whole lot of ugly clothes because nothing else was available. From age 13-16, I wore a uniform of men’s jeans, doc martens or running shoes, oversized men’s shirts and hoodies or flannel shirts or cardigans. Whenever I went shopping for a dress, I honestly cried myself to sleep because my friends would get to wear the gorgeous dresses and I would only be able to choose a floral sack leading to my decades long hatred of floral patterns that I recently got over. I asked my mom to make many things, but being a mom of 4 and working….well, I didn’t ask as much as I wanted to and I didn’t learn how to sew at the time either.
At 16 (1996), I started shopping in thrift stores and put together some more eclectic outfits. I loved finding the weirdest vintage cardigans with crystal buttons or something. I still never found dresses but I managed to figure out some fun ways of layering and styling that I didn’t think of before. I should also note that my mental illness factored into how I dressed a lot. I suffered from severe depression from a young age and often tried to hide myself in clothing to not be seen.
It wasn’t until I was 25 (2006) that I started exploring plus-sized stores, buying more fashionable things, and living my best life. Of course, as a poor student that kind of meant some credit card debt was acquired…. Eeesh. Around that time, brands were starting to really bloom with plus-sized fashion choices. This expanded through online shopping. I would shop ModCloth a lot and eShakti before I started sewing all of my clothes in 2012 (after learning to sew in 2008).
A short and incomplete history of sewing patterns
Sewing patterns have existed for a really long time; since about the same time the printing press was invented, sewing patterns having been available in print. The above image is from Juan de Alcega’s Libro de Geometria pratica y trac a para (1580). Early sewing patterns were available in one size only meaning that they had to be adapted to the individual based on measurements.
McCall’s (est. 1870) was one of the first pattern companies that provided multiple sizes in their sewing patterns.
This article covers a more complete history of sewing patterns. All companies create their own blocks to work from based on proportional measurements. Every company used their own block and there is not specific standard block. This is the same for the fashion industry, which is why you can walk into 10 different stores and have 10 different sizes or not even be represented in half the stores or more.
Not much (yes an oversimplification, I know) has changed in how patterns are drafted or graded.
(Aside: I would love to be able to read this journal article on Defining and Testing the Assumptions Used in Current Apparel Grading Practice; the summary sounds amazing…I miss having access to academic journals. Edit: I got the article! Another aside, this article is pretty fascinating on creating custom patterns using formula in CAD).
A history of “sizing standards”
Immediately become skeptical of anything “standard.” Before the 1940s, sizes were based on age in younger clothing and bust size for women. In the 1940s, this changed. In 1939, the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to go to the effort of creating standardized sizes (*again keep your skepticism everyone*). Without a computer, the data of around 15,000 women was collected and analyzed by Ruth O’Brien and William Shelton. And it was biased af, everyone: “Since the survey was done on a volunteer basis, it was largely made up of women of a lower socioeconomic status who needed the participation fee. It was also primarily white women. And the measurements still primarily relied on bust size, assuming women had an hourglass figure”(source). They published the results in this book.
The general myth of sizing is that plus sizes are a new problem. I challenge all of you to do some quick research into fat bodies in paintings and sculpture and tell me again that plus sizes are a new problem.
The original data that created “standardized sizing” was flawed. It was racist. It was sizeist. It was classist. The authors get into weight and their median weight at page 48. Their average weight was 135 with 160 at the higher range.
A lot of people take this data for pure factual analysis that there weren’t a lot of fat bodies back then. Somehow fat is a “modern day problem.” First off, fat isn’t a problem. It’s something that each and every body has and will have until the end of animal history. Fat has some pretty wicked positives of helping cushion your joints, keeping you warm without fur, and many other things that are just being discovered through research. Second, we don’t have a lot of data that gets into average body sizes before 1939 or quite frankly after… Data has only existed on sizing since that study and not much has been done since. There has been more research emerging recently (thanks in part to body positivity movement), but it has yet to impact how patterns are drafted.
The absence of a history of plus-size pattern making
There isn’t a lot of resources on the history of plus-size patterns. I know only from anecdotal conversations with sewists who have been sewing and are plus sized as well as the anecdotal comments of vintage pattern sewists who are plus sized.
On the topic of vintage patterns, they are very difficult to find. However, whether this is because there were lower numbers produced or plus-sized sewists used their patterns and kept them until they wore out is a question for the no-history books on this topic. We know that plus-sized bodies existed but there are very few mentions of how to tailor patterns to a larger size in the earlier books on garment making (that being said, I haven’t done exhaustive research on this topic; I do find it fascinating though so if anyone wants to pay me to research this stuff, I will do it!). We do know that Lane Byrant was the first company to use plus sizes in their advertisements, but we don’t know whether people cared about it before. We know fatphobia existed, though. Fat jokes go back centuries everyone.
Anecdotal information from plus-sized sewists who have been sewing for years is pretty similar to my experience starting to sew 10 years ago (plus a few months): the plus-sized patterns were frumpy and not fashion forward in major pattern companies. Now the correlation of home sewing patterns to the fashion industry is very important here. Home sewing patterns tend to borrow from existing trends in the fashion industry for designs. For the most part (another heavy-handed generalization, I know), home sewing patterns lag behind the trends in the fashion industry rather than leading the trends.
This lag . . . I can’t explain why it exists (likely lots of complex reasons about why home sewists sew and business reasons, etc), but the fashion industry leads the home sewing industry which is why I provided a short history of the plus-sized fashion industry earlier.
So, if the fashion industry didn’t use the term “plus sizes” before Lane Bryant… then likely… home sewing patterns didn’t either. I mean I’m generalizing again here but one can probably say that there wasn’t really a concept of plus-sized patterns. “Stout” is a term that exists before. I would definitely need to do more extensive research to give you more information (pay me! haha).
A short and incomplete history of modern plus sized sewing patterns in Indie Pattern world based on my own experience
There have been many pattern companies that have sold and continue to sell plus-sized patterns for years now. All of the major (umbrella) brands provide some type of plus-sized patterns: McCall’s and Butterick have “plus-sized” sections on their patterns, Burda magazine (and subsequently their online patterns) have a plus-sized section (usually offering around 5-6 patterns a month in the 44-52 range), Simplicity has a plus-sized section, etc. Other sewing magazines tend to reach up to a size 52 or 54 for some, if not all of their patterns.
In the indie sewing world, certain brands have existed for a while with plus-sized offerings. We try to keep a comprehensive list of plus sized pattern companies at the Curvy Sewing Collective, so please check that out for a larger list.
With the body positivity movement, home sewing has actually changed a lot (thankfully!). When I first started sewing, my measurements were smaller than now. I don’t remember them exactly but they were around 44-40-48 and now they are at 52-48-56. With my smaller measurements starting out, I was outside the range for a lot of patterns and am even more so now. I learned quickly about BMV’s famous ease and found that with some adjustments I could actually fit into their patterns. I choose my size based on my upper bust measurement and learned how to do an FBA around 2012 from some other amazing sewists that ending up forming the Curvy Sewing Collective. Colette Patterns (a company who I was very into at the time since I was always into vintage looks) then expanded their sizing and the CSC was born with Tanya, Mary, and Jenny still being the original founding members. I’ve been there cheering on the CSC ever since then and am now an editor. Yay!
Since the success (albeit mixed….hrm) of Colette’s plus sized expansion, a lot of other indie pattern companies have emerged that cater to a more inclusive sizing either from their creation or from the overall success in the rest of the community and continuing demand for it.
I’d love to, in general, know more about the plus-sized home sewing market and what percentage it is of the home sewing market. I would also love if there were a more wide (har) survey done on the customer base. The CSC survey Jenny did years ago is currently the only one I know (does admittedly have it’s own biases since it samples CSC readers who are well, probably, plus sized).
What does this have to do with fatphobia?
Since standardized sizing was created through a biased sample size, the fashion industry has used that as a standard in pattern drafting and since home sewing patterns follow the fashion industry….well the cycle continues. Standardized sizing excludes fat people. The sample size didn’t have enough data and everyone sort of agreed that is okay and moved through history with a biased point of view. Fashion advice emerges for larger sizes based on some expectations to look more slim and hide their fat.
The very fact that a pattern company chooses to start with standard sizes usually stems from that need to conform to the norm in our society; in the 1940s it was the hourglass figure and then later it became a body with less and less curves creating a fatphobic norm. Somehow (it’s mysterious! *sarcasm*) because fat people weren’t part of that initial sampling, we are a modern day “problem” for pattern drafting.
It’s probably not an active choice for exclusion but it is an active choice to go with the norm.
A call to action for home sewing pattern makers
- Examine why you chose your size range and be transparent about it. Share it in your about page.
- If you want to expand your sizes, you don’t need to do it immediately. Try releasing an action plan or business plan or vision for the future. You can do it as slowly as you need to.
- If you don’t want to expand your sizes, say that you have no plans and then support plus-sized pattern companies by linking to them. You can do that through FAQs to bury the recommendation if you really want…. We aren’t your target market so do us a solid and direct us to people who want our business.
- Share your size chart and include more measurements (bicep, etc). Some of us will go through the trouble of making adjustments with more information available.
- Listen to your customers and your potential customers. And, for goodness sake, if you choose to rely on a survey to understand that the plus sized sewing industry is huge (just like the plus sized fashion industry) at least share it in groups that target different demographics from your existing customer base. You will never have a good sample size unless you seek outside of your bubble. Let’s not repeat age-old mistakes here, okay?
- Share your fat makers! I care if an IG feed or a blog is filled with white skinny young middle class cis straight abled people. I want to see BIPOC, queer (like me!), fat (like me!), old, disabled (like me!) people too! I want to see everyone and everything. I know that lots of people like curated feeds (UGH) so be transparent about what colours for backgrounds and fabric you prefer, quality of photography, backdrops. Let me know because there are so few pattern companies that share makes by a large variety of people.
- Share samples on bodies in a range of sizes for your patterns and remember to share your largest size!
Shout out to pattern companies that have inclusive sizing. Shout out to pattern companies that took this discussion and already acted on it. Shout out ESPECIALLY to pattern companies that have a size chart beyond 60 inches. It’s still a really rare thing to see.
This took a lot out of me and I want to share so much more (including a bunch of stories and experiences in the sewing community as a fat, disabled, queer person) and research more but at 3000 words I should stop there…
Feel free to buy me a ko-fi.
62 thoughts on “Plus-sized Fashion and Sewing Industry”
Carole Shaw started publishing BBW magazine in 1979, looking to expand fashion to big women and to fight fatphobia. It’s been a long time coming.
It really has been a long time coming, I agree.
Thank you for addressing this! One of my measurements is over 60″ and that makes it hard to find patterns. I’m especially interested in printed patterns because trying to grade a pdf pattern after all the printing and taping is exhausting. I’m very thankful for Style Arc and the Burda printed patterns (which often come up to a size 60, unlike the online pdf patterns).
I made sure to especially call out that issue of finding patterns over 60 inches. It’s a major issue. I’m usually at the high range of pattern companies so I wanted to shout out to people that are off the range. ❤
Thanks for the well researched post with references, Andie! In my 1900’s catalogs, they all seem to refer to plus size as “stout”, as you mentioned. I think I recall reading another term somewhere, but I can’t remember it at the moment. My vintage sewing books usually talk about sewing to hide your fatness (*facepalm*), but I do have one that talks a lot about size adjustments for plus sizes. The largest vintage pattern I’ve seen is a 52″ bust, but they’re so very hard to find. In my vintage pattern collector group, we’ve talked a lot about why you don’t see many patterns above a 42″B, and some of us conclude that they were used so much and they didn’t survive like the smaller patterns. The pattern catalogs and envelopes show them being made, but they’re generally more “mature” styles and not trendy as fat people can never be on trend, can they? 🙂
Thank you for sharing that information, Tanya! And yeah, fat people don’t want to be part of the trendy world. 🤣🤣🤭
No. We want to wear sacks.
OMG I had a really old sewing book that I’d checked out from the library and it was so direct in telling ladies how to hide their “bad parts”. I think it literally said bad or unfortunate or something. Gah.
I had an older lady call me “husky” once. I was stunned silent!
Yikes!!!! Hide your “bad parts”?!?! Wow.
People often point to a lack of extant clothing as proof that people all used to be small. But a lot of remaining clothing was specialty items such as wedding dresses. A lot of people are smaller at 20 than 30 or 40. And a lot of women specifically are smaller before giving birth. Plus, when fabric and clothing is a bigger portion of your budget, those every day items will get used up and are unlikely to stay in pristine condition. Of course the small stuff is what survives because fewer people could fit into it!
And it was common practice using a wedding dress to make other things. With more natural fibers, too, not as much clothing exists.
But the evidence is there. We just often hear that it’s “fake news.” 😩
Larger sized clothing didn’t survive as much because the larger sizes could be cut down, adapted and refashioned as smaller sizes.
This is AMAZING, thank you for sharing it. The point about standards also being shaped to fit a certain ideal body shape is an important one to remember that I don’t think had been pointed out before — pointing to the waist-to-hip ratios of older patterns as evidence that fat people didn’t exist becomes pretty useless once you remember that fact (and that girdles existed…) Also, my university has access to that journal article – I can send it over if you’d like! I just flipped through it quickly but it looks interesting.
Thank you so much, Shannon! I didn’t fully get into the size shape biases here. Omg, so many! Not to mention the location of the bust point. Or foundation garments being used for all of these measurements…. Thanks for the offer of sending the article! Charlotte of English Girl at Home actually just sent it to me. ❤ I can't wait to read it!!
Andie, I’m loving this article in all its sewing nerdiness! After reading the SBCC article yesterday, one of my thoughts was if an indie pattern designer didn’t want to expand their sizing for their own brand, maybe it’s time to think of collaborating/ partnering with a similar style brand that does create patterns for larger sizes so a larger audience can get to make your patterns. I’m sure it would require some legal/ financial discussions, but I’m thinking that could work too. Like how awesome would it be if there was a True Bias’ Ogden Cami available from say Cashmerette with all that fancy FBA work already done?
Thanks, Abbey! What a great idea about collaboration. Interesting fact is that Muse Patterns (which has a decent size range) is doing that now except Kat, the founder, is bringing in new designers to help them start up. 🙂 It’s a great concept and really good for fostering a collaborative community. ❤
After years of not sewing my own clothing (after have 3 children, my body was very different), I have taken up clothing sewing again. In part, I thank all the indie patterns that do make plus sizes, as I have almost given up on the big 4 as their patterns required far too many alterations for me. As well, I had started cycling and needed proper gear, so I had to sew that too. Don’t give up on Fehr trades patterns…I find hers fit big, at least on me. Thanks for all the discussion on sizes, it is about time.
Thanks, Barb! I haven’t given up on any of the pattern companies listed. 🙂 I named them with hope in my heart. ❤
I recently saw a biopic (in German) made about Aenne Burda and started checking some details. Apparently, she decided to set sizing standards when she launched her sewing magazines in Germany as there were none. She did a survey of the local women in her hometown of Offenburg and did precise charting.
Burda has generally always led in having amazing size charts! Thanks for that information. 🙂
I’m a bit confused about one point: What does the fact that the women in the 1940s survey were “of a lower socioeconomic status” have to do with their size?
Hi Maren. That was a quote from the Times article and I didn’t get into that aspect. However, there are tons of correlations (with studies/articles) that speak to a number of different factors related to size with socioeconomic being the biggest factor. That topic is a huge topic in itself and it would take me a while to research it effectively to provide a full response. Socioeconomic status actually not only factors into the weight of your body, but brain size, height, health, and so much more. These factors and the resulting effect on size have also changed over time. In the original sample size, the lower socioeconomic status would have meant lower nutrition and an overall lower weight index. However, if the same group were pulled today given how much the food landscape has changed since then, I imagine the size factors would be different. Today, a lower socioeconomic status is linked with a higher weight.
Great blog post. Thank you.
Thank you! ❤
This is a great post, Andie, and I really appreciate all of the work that went into writing it. I haven’t been using Instagram lately so I missed the SBCC post and subsequent debate, but I’m just struck by the fact that since I started sewing I’ve seen numerous posts explaining the logistics of expanding a size range. It’s frustrating that sewists outside the “standard” range are continually being asked to “understand,” where “understanding” is synonymous with conceding that our bodies are a logistical burden and that we aren’t valued by some as customers. I appreciate your call for honesty–if you don’t want to expand your size range, fine. But be honest about the fact that you are making a choice and don’t ask the people you are excluding to alleviate your guilt.
I agree completely, Anna! It’s not our responsibility to make pattern companies feel better about their business practices. It’s the business’s responsibility to account for it. 👏👏
I’m out of town this weekend for a family thing so I’m not participating in this convo as much as I want but I wanted to stop and say thanks for this post and all the work and feelings that you gave to it.
Thank you so much for that, Debbie! ❤ ❤ I hope you have a great weekend. 😀
This is a well written, balanced and well researched post Andi. Well done. *applause*
Thank you so much, Manju!! 💜💜
Thank you this post. For covering so many factors with respect and understanding on a big topic and for continuing to be involved in the discussion of exclusivity on all fronts. I love your blog.
Thank so much, Sienna! 💙💙
Love that this designer is so inclusive, and she makes a lot of good points. I hope people support her patterns. http://thedreamstress.com/2019/01/scroop-patterns-sizing-thoughts-on-being-size-inclusive-as-an-indie-pattern-designer/
I hope so too, Suzanne! ❤
I love, love, love your writing–I want to take the time to click on EVERY link you included, too! Thank you for all your work you put into the article and promoting size inclusivity.
Thanks so much, Melinda. ❤❤
I love this post! Thanks for the many interesting links and for sharing your own experience!
Thank you so much! ❤❤
I was blown away by your article. I can certainly relate, being a plus size (4×), wheelchair bound, older woman. I didn’t make anything for myself for many many years, except for scrubs, because of the lack of plus size patterns….and to the pattern companies that have their patterns go up to a size 18, dont call this a plus size, because it’s not. Like you, once I mastered doing a FBA and learning pattern drafting, I have been able to adjust patterns to fit. However, just once, i would love to find a plus size pattern that actually fits with little to no adjustments. We need a company that actually takes real measurements from real larger plus size people and drafts their patterns from there.
Thank you so much, Joanne. I agree! Getting a survey of measurements from other people who sew would be awesome and then drafting a pattern with all that information!!
Great post. I learned a lot and now I’m reading backwards through your catalogue! That’s all; just wanted to say thank you. ❤️
Thanks so much, Natalie! ❤
Industrial pattern maker of 30 ish years experience here, in Australia. I think that american size survey you mention was of very poor women (low socio economic group), perhaps during the great depression..so they were not eating. hence a finer / thinner (starved) body was recorded. other US surveys have been of military groups for standardisation of military uniform production, then used by makers of clothing also for general population. so a lot of bias observed in this.
Little reference has been taken into account about how bodies have changed and thickened and lengthened overall perhaps due to diet etc in western worlds. I remember great discussion about children’s, esp teen sizing at one company about the influence of hormones in chicken feed / chickens and thus child consumption of chickens and the hormone laced feed working it’s way into western kids and ‘beefing’ them up. I don’t know if any of this was true, but this particular manufacturer was suddenly noticing (late 1990’s) a large increase in the purchase of it’s larger sizes, tracked over several years.
Home sewing patterns for bigger women were labelled, I think, ‘matron’ in women’s magazines, such as ‘women and home’ through the 1930’s – 50’s, they were often more utility style garments, less frill and flounce styles, for example they might not have a very full skirt, or include sundresses. they may have included a more ‘house dress’ style, utility aprons, or walking outfit. As a kid I devoured suitcases of these vintage magazines. I concluded, as a teenager, these ‘matron’ people wore more boring clothing, designed for house duties! oh, and they were represented by sketches of older ladies with severe hairstyles!.
When I can, I’m adding styles to my etsy shop of PDF sewing patterns, my largest size at moment is 55 1/2″ bust. have a look if you like, more shirts and skirts and also vintage dresses coming soon. https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/JoanneAndersonStudio great article! thank you for the read with my morning coffee 🙂
I mentioned the people surveyed were of a lower socio-economic status and smaller overall with the heaviest weight at 160 lbs. I actually don’t agree that bodies have been thickening over time. There isn’t a lot of evidence to back that up either way since we really don’t have a lot of unbiased research out there. Fat bodies have existed over time. We don’t really have an idea of the ratio in relation to the population. It could be a static ratio. As for the clothing manufacturer’s increase of larger sales… sales have nothing to do with population. It’s possible the clothing was being targeted to different areas but it’s unlikely reflective of people growing in size. It’s an assumption that is made with very little evidence.
I’m so glad you have a good size range in your store! 🙂 I’ll check it out. 🙂
Thank you for such a wonderful article! I totally enjoyed every word. I have struggled with pattern sizing and styles to fit my shape for years. I find most “plus” size patterns are geared for tall women. I am 5’1” and wear size 18/20. Not a good combo for fashion. Years ago I was told that..” pattern companies put the pretty pictures of the garment on the front of the envelopes to sell the pattern. The clothes don’t look like that in real life “. Unfortunately I find this many times to be true.
A few years later while at a dress shop, I asked the sales lady if they carried size 18. She said “ oh no. Those don’t look good on the hanger and designers make their garment to look good on a hanger so they sell. That size won’t even stay on the hanger “.
I find this also true.
Needless to say I’d rather stick a fork in my eye than go shopping, and I mostly make “things” instead of clothing.
So…. If there are any designers or Indy companies out there who really want to shake the industry up… I’m available to be a body sample. And I know I’m not alone in this !!
I’ve heard that same argument about plus size clothing not looking good on a hanger so no one will try it on. It’s why it’s so important to show it on a plus size mannequin and have mannequins of different sizes in store. It’s ridiculous to have a good size range and only show a small size on the mannequin
Love that article. I recently started sewing for myself and have been fortunate that I found companies like Ellie &Mac Patterns and a couple others that go to a 5x and that are easy to grade in the area I need another inch. There are so many Facebook group like House of Curves that help guide the plus sized sewists to companies and patterns. They’ve also hosted several surveys for indie companies looking to expand sizing 💜💜
One former FIT instructor who also worked for various pattern companies told a class I took that the fit models used during and after WWII were often war brides from Europe who were recovering from malnutrition and rationing. Many were just trying to make extra income and had the time available. They weren’t accurate representation of the female form and started the modern view of perfection. Real people even then didn’t look like that.
Yes, the US sampling wasn’t a good sample to take from and definitely wasn’t reflective of the larger population. It’s unfortunate that researchers didn’t acknowledge that issue at the time.
I’m learning so much. I finally went and read ALL the comments on the SBCC IG post (whew!) and reread the article, and now I’ve read your post…
I totally understand why a company won’t, or can’t, or whatever – do plus sizes. But I agree that hearing it’s “too difficult” is really frustrating because clearly there ARE great companies who do it! So transparency is important; if you won’t make my size, that’s fine, but don’t lie to me about why. I’ve bought many patterns with the intent of sizing them up “just one size” because that’s really all I’m over by in a lot of cases, but so often those patterns end up going unused. I don’t want to give my money to a company and then do the work myself. 😦 I will if I REALLY LOVE a pattern, but…ugh.
Thanks and I agree. I’ll give my money to companies that matter.
Such a well-researched, thought-provoking article. THANK YOU, at the very least, for strategies such as “you can read the full article here, but this is what it says in a nutshell.” Information on this topic is building quickly, and this is such a welcome summary.
I have access to academic journals. Would you like me to try to track down a PDF of the Schofield article, or has someone else already offered? Let me know.
Thamks, Cindy!! I managed to get the article and a few others too. Appreciate your help!
I love going around the internet finding people’s perspectives on this issue and I’m actually glad that for whatever reason the SBCC article has specifically kicked up a storm everybody has avoided getting into. I’m slightly plussized with my standard measurements being 45″ 40″ 51″. When I go into CityChic (an Australian RTW plus sized shop) I am a size 14-16 (ie their smallest sizes). I am among the smallest plus size, and companies don’t cater to me?
Something you touched on but I think needs to be really considered by companies, is that there is more than one way to grade a pattern. Customised patterns do exist. The Valentina Project and Freesewing.org are both examples of freely available software for developing computer based sewing patterns. Its also the basis for websites like Lekala. I think it is important to remember that this stuff isn’t expensive magic, but stuff which already exists inside our community. If your old assumptions and methods mean its too expensive to be inclusive, it isn’t just a case of spending the money (though i’d like that too), it means the methods need to be updated and changed.
Thank you! Lekala and Bootstrap sre great, I agree!
I loved this article and I am commenting as a customer of Dressmakers. There are Dressmakers out there who will whole heartedly tackle a resizing of a normal pattern and there are Dressmakers who find fat people horrifying. When I was searching for a new dressmaker I made sure to mention my measurements on the phone, if the deadly silence sprang up or I heard anything else that didn’t feel right, I walked away.
You get size hatred in Pilates and Yoga too although thankfully the amazing Anula is breaking down size doors in Pilates, one brick at a time. It’s 2019 you’d think we were in the 1920s!
Thanks Suzy! Hopefully things will change. I have seen changes, but they are very slow to happen.