Back in October, the CSC editors issued an open letter to pattern companies, asking them to re-think their plus size offerings to give curvy women the patterns we want and deserve.
We recently heard back from McCall’s, and we’re pleased to be able to publish a short interview with Carolyne Cafaro, McCall Pattern Company senior vice president and creative director.
Why do some of your patterns go to large sizes and others don’t?
To answer that I need to explain a little bit about what goes into bringing a new pattern to market. Each new pattern has a “master” made for it. A master is a muslin and all the instructions and notes that go along with a particular pattern.
We have two sets of sizes for our patterns: Misses-sized patterns can range from size 4 to 24; women’s-sized patterns can go from 18W to 32W. A “master” is created for each set of sizes, whether it’s Misses or Women’s. When a pattern features both misses and women’s sizes, that means two sets of masters must be created.
Why do we go to the trouble of creating two masters? Because we have to make sure the fit works for both sizes. We can’t just use the misses’ master and cross our fingers that everything will then magically work as a plus size. We have to take the time and manpower to make a plus-size master and put it through the same set of quality-control checks we use for the misses-sized master.
Creating two sets of masters for a pattern obviously requires twice as much work. Our budget constraints require us to predict which new pattern styles will be popular in Women’s sizes and then produce double masters for those.
Why are there such large amounts of ease in each pattern?
Each designer decides on the amount of ease they think best for each pattern they create. We don’t automatically build a set amount of ease into each pattern, and our designers create ease differently for each pattern. So ease can really vary between brands, designers, and individual patterns. And if you think a pattern has too much ease, well, that’s a relatively simple fix for home sewers. Sewing a pattern and then discovering there’s not enough ease usually results in a wadder. And we don’t want you to have wadders. The best thing to do is to read the pattern descriptions we include with every pattern and look for terms like “close-fitted” and “semi-fitted” if you want less ease.
Why are there not more structured sizes (especially ones that emphasize curves vs covering them up) available in plus sizes?
We study the sales of patterns by size, and the ones with more ease sell better in the larger sizes. But we actually do carry a number of more fitted patterns for plus sizes, including M6741, M6958, M6612, M6920, M6713, and M7086. Khaliah Ali just released a really cute jumpsuit pattern. And McCall’s upcoming fall 2015 collection has a plus-size wardrobe pattern. We try our best to think of everybody when we design new patterns.
Why are the patterns graded for a B cup when most women are a D, and many plus-size women are bigger?
A B-cup figure is the industry standard and has been for many years. The time may be approaching when this “standard” needs to be reassessed across the board, and not just by patternmaking companies. In the meantime, we’re addressing the need for more size variation by offering patterns with multiple cup sizes, like Butterick B6167 and McCall’s M7083. We’ll continue to watch the sales of our multi-cup-sized patterns and to listen to our customers, and you may see more multi-cup patterns in the future.
So, what do you think? Do you have further questions or suggestions for McCall’s? Do you think their recent pattern releases reflect their philosophy on plus sizes?