The shape and the size of it - Sewing for your body!
I remember having a conversation about pattern sizing with the editor of a well-known online magazine some six years ago and knowing then that I wanted to make some big changes in the Dressmaking patterns market! I’d just started teaching dressmaking classes and I found that the sizing and fitting (which I found over the following years are two very separate things!) of the mainstream patterns I was using to teach with just wasn’t working for my client base and we were having to spend most of the class either grading patterns or starting completely from scratch.
I looked into the “plus size” sewing patterns available in the market at that time and what was on offer for U.K. size 18 and above tended to be versions of the most basic non-fitted and frankly pretty boring and frumpy patterns from the main ranges which had just been sized up. Thank God things have changed now!
The emergence of companies designing specifically for a more curvaceous woman’s body means that there are now a wonderful range of dressmaking patterns specifically designed to flatter a more curvy figure. I love that people have actually thought about designing to fit and flatter the shape of women, whatever their size.
But size isn’t everything! I am a typical pear shape with larger hips and waist which is smaller in proportion so I tend to favour pattern companies that produce patterns to fit and flatter that particular shape. I also accept that there will be some companies who will produce styles that aren’t quite right for my shape because we are not just all different sizes we are all different shapes and that is the beauty of dressmaking and the reason why a lot of us do it.
Freya is a traditional size 14 or medium in many patterns so bang in the middle of most size charts but she still has to make up to 5 basic pattern amendments to get her clothes fitting the way that she wants them, again this is all part of the wonderful process of dressmaking to fit your shape and style.
At My Handmade Wardrobe patterns we are proud to cover a fairly inclusive size range of around UK size 10-ish to a UK size 22-ish spaced out over eight sizes.
When we were deciding on a size range we did a lot of research into the sizes of our core customers and found that this was a good starting off point.
In the future may look at increasing the size range but we don’t feel it is right to be designing clothes for a figure that is vastly different to our own (more on the reasons for that below!)
As a small independent pattern company the main thing we have to take into consideration with grading is first and foremost our core loyal customer base. This includes costing and pricing the patterns so that they are affordable to our customers and inclusive in that way too. Each pattern size grade costs extra money so we have to decide whether to charge more or limit our size range to start off with. We had to make sure to begin with at our size range worked for a good percentage of people that would be buying from us, to make producing our pattern range viable.
We also wanted to consider ourselves - selfish I know! But one of the main reasons for us producing a range of patterns was because we were not finding the styles we wanted in the market. We design patterns to fit and flatter our shapes. There is no point in us assuming we know how to design clothes to flatter a size 6 athletic figure or someone who is size 32 with a very large bust and smaller hips in proportion. As our team grows, and we have more bodies to design for, we may decide to extend our pattern size range down and up in the future, but it seems wrong to design for body shapes that we are not. We don’t want to fall into the trap of the mainstream pattern lines of old who just sized up their patterns without much consideration for designing for shapes not sizes.
The more we work with customers, the more wonderful variations in body shapes we see. We want everybody to be able to make clothing to flatter their figures and we stock the full range of Cashmerette patterns as well as our own patterns and a number of other other independent brands which we feel are doing a great job at catering for the whole market. We also run classes to help our customers adapt patterns to get the perfect fit for their own body.
Some indie pattern companies doing a great job of considering bodies of all shapes and sizes in their ranges are:
Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick
Designing for shorter curvy ladies
Designing for pear shaped, curvy hipped ladies (like myself)
Designing for curvy shaped ladies with “Apple” and “pear” silhouette options in many of their patterns
I’m currently 6 months pregnant with an ever-changing body shape which I’m having fun getting grips with sewing for! I’d love to hear your thoughts on designing for body shapes and what fit amends you tend to make to get your perfect fit.
Crafty Sew & So