It happened again. I watched my husband sigh and hang several shirts back on the rack at Kohls. "Not even close. They're all slim cut." I understood his disappointment. I don't even bother trying on dresses anymore, because I already know they won't fit me properly. After working in the fashion industry, I've come to learn that most RTW clothing doesn't fit me properly because my shape is different from the elusive 'standard measurements' and that is fine. I would say one of the main reasons I sew my own clothes is because I'm tired of store-bought clothes not fitting properly. Too tight in the waist, to narrow across the shoulders, a whole handful of fabric gaping open in the back waistband.
Still it is sad to watch someone you love feel the familiar pang of body image issues when they can't find clothes that fit. They think there is something more wrong with them, instead of the clothes. I've made my husband a few shirts over the years, but I became a little more determined about it when the 'slim cut' dress shirts became all you could find in department stores. For someone shaped rather like Gaston from the Beauty and the Beast cartoon, a big barrel chest just won't fit in a narrow shirt, and buying three sizes too big just results in baggy sleeves and a drooping collar.
Last October I took my husbands measurements and began working on a sloper. The fitting process was a bit slow because there were a lot of fitting issues, and my husband was a very reluctant fit model. Every time I would mumble about too much fabric here, drag lines there, he'd feel embarrassed and blame it all on 'being fat'. Even though he has lost quite a bit of weight over the years to get healthy, he still doesn't see it in the mirror. No matter how much I assure him that, no, you are not fat and I love you exactly as you are, he still feels the same. There probably isn't much I can do to help that, other than continuing to be supportive and reassuring.
Maybe most of us don't even really think about the emotional impact our clothes can have on us. I feel great when I wear something I've made that fits well and is in some bright and happy colors. But the opposite happens too; I can feel lousy when the pants that fit a few months ago won't even zip up, or I pop open a button on my shirt.
Recently in the online sewing community there has been a lot of discussion on inclusiveness in pattern sizing. I read the comments with a lot of interest because I am in the planning stages of developing some patterns and pretty soon I will need to work on my sizing charts. Over the years I have heard all the usual arguments about why most patterns don't go past size 16, and I guess I never really thought about how disappointing it must be for people who, over and over, are left out of the size range. I recently sewed some panties from two different well-known designers, and when I was looking at the size charts I was shocked to see I needed to make the second-largest size. I wondered how many people had found these patterns and started to get excited about making them, only to realize that it wasn't available in their size.
As a designer it would be easier for me to have just one block and grade a few sizes up and down and call it a day, but is that really beneficial for the sewing community? Do we need yet another sewing pattern only in sizes 2-16? I sew because I want clothes that fit correctly, which I'm sure is one of the main reasons many of us sew. But what would I do as a sewist, if there just weren't many options in my size? I decided I'm going to develop as broad of a size range as I can manage, because we all deserve to have options. We all deserve to have clothes that fit. It will cost me more, both in time and money, but I hope in the long run the effort will be worth it. I am hoping that you will join me on this journey, and help me develop the best patterns I can.
All sewists are welcome here. All sizes, shapes and colors. I want this place (and my social media pages) to be positive, supportive places for all makers to share their creations and love of sewing. Happy Sewing
I design lingerie sewing patterns for everyday comfort and feminine style in an inclusive size range. Fill up your underwear drawer with beautiful custom-made bras and panties in your favorite fabrics and trims, designed to fit your body.