Good morning, kittens! Today, we’re taking a behind-the-scenes look at Simplicity Pattern Company with Simplicity’s Design Development Director, Deborah Kreiling and the Senior Design Director, Bonnie Simmons. We’ll dive deep into Simplicity’s newest patterns, from concept to design, and talk about what’s next from Simplicity in plus sizes.
We’re thrilled that Simplicity has recently expanded its plus size line of patterns. What motivated the decision to offer more plus size designs?
Simplicity has always offered a selection in the plus/women’s size range. These patterns were offered in two ways: as a design in the plus sizes ranging from 18W to 32W (which included designs from recognizable plus size designers) and as a design shared with the Misses’ size pattern. Coupling the Plus size patterns with the same design as the Misses designs proved to us that there is an audience for the wide range of fashion in all sizes, as it is seen in the ready to wear market. Having been successful with these coupled designs allowed us to then react and reinstitute the full range of the Plus size range, once again offering patterns from 18W through 32W. Happily this collection is being noticed by pattern enthusiasts and as a result we are going forward to an expanded size range that will include 34W, and possibly more in the future.
Plus size patterns have earned a reputation, historically, for not being as fashion-forward or exciting as their straight size counterparts. How do Simplicity’s new patterns break this mold?
Everyone wants to sew what they see at retail, on the runways, red carpet, movies and TV.
Our goal as a pattern company is to deliver all of this as a home sewing pattern equally in all of the categories and size ranges we can. Fashion silhouettes change from season to season and we want to be able to supply all home sewers, new and experienced, with patterns so they can create items and garments. We have taken a very specific and directed look at who is wearing what, so to speak and we saw that everyone wants to wear what they want to wear, no matter the size, age, shape, etc. We have expanded the design input to meet these needs and pay very close attention to filling these collections to meet the needs of the consumer.
Can you take us briefly through how a Simplicity plus size pattern is conceived, from initial idea to final design? We’d love to hear more about the creative and technical process behind your patterns.
As in the design process for all of Simplicity’s patterns, the input is based on many variables, fashion trends being of course the major influencer. We produce more than 200 new designs annually and each one is developed to fill a very specific slot in the overall collection. We have many “customers” out there in the sewing universe and we feel very strongly about meeting their needs. That said, we select a line based on time of year that it first launches that includes sizes ranging from babies through men, and categories ranging from fashion apparel, crafts, costumes, home decorating and accessories. Each line is reviewed for the ability for Simplicity to be able to produce it within our time and production standards and equally as important for the ability of the home sewer to be able to produce a finished garment or item as the designer intended. There are many steps that each pattern design goes through to get that picture on the printed catalog page and to get the pattern tissue into the envelope. Pattern making and testing each garment is the very beginning of the pattern process, but there are many other steps that happen before that, including choosing fabrics for photography and art figures, models to be used for the photography, page layouts, and then processes including technical art for each item, written and illustrated instructions and pattern grading to the multiple sizes each design if offered in. All of the parts must come together before the catalog, envelope, pattern tissue and instructions can be printed and shipped to the stores. Every step is done for every design.
How does the experience of designing plus size patterns differ from designing for straight sizes? Are there preferred silhouettes or fitting needs that Simplicity takes into account, when designing for their plus size customers?
While delivering an assortment of plus sizes for different body types and lifestyles, we do take several approaches. Throughout the design process the considerations are not only for the overall silhouette, but how to produce the pattern for best overall look and the fit requirements. It is important that we always also consider the fabric widths available and necessary for the specific design. Other than these ideas, the process and creative part really are the same for every Simplicity design. For preferred silhouettes and fitting needs, we have pattern collections that are geared toward supporting the home sewer as she is making here garment. These include separate pattern pieces for bust cup sizing and our Amazing Fit pattern collection, which not only includes bust cup pieces but slim, average and curvy figure type pattern pieces as well.
We were so excited to see that two of Mimi G’s new patterns were available in sizes up to a 28W! How do you decide which patterns get this expanded size range?
MimiG designs have been a wonderful addition to the Simplicity Brand. Mimi is an influential lifestyle blogger with a large following of sewists in all sizes and shapes. She designs patterns that she knows will reach the consumer and is very happy to be able to include the plus size gals in her design input. Currently there are six designs the latest catalog, with new input every time we input MimiG designs.
What’s up next for Simplicity’s plus size patterns? Are there plans to extend the size range or number of plus size patterns further?
We have added a size 34W recently and are investigating the possibility of adding even more sizes. In terms of adding designs, we are committed to continuing to enhance these collections going forward. We are very excited to announce that we have licensed Ashley Nell Tipton, the winner of Project Runway last season. Her designs will launch in the Spring of 2017.
Thanks so much to the Simplicity team for answering our questions! It’s always fun to get insight into the process behind the patterns we use and love.
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