Over the past week, the sewing community has buzzed with the discussion of inclusive sizing in sewing patterns. Or, rather, a continued lack of inclusive sizing. This conversation was kicked off by a public comment trail filled with designers explaining why they don’t offer more comprehensive size ranges. We won’t link to the post here, because there is no need. These are the same excuses we’ve all heard for years—lack of demand, complicated fitting needs, too much of a learning curve. They are, quite frankly, the same sort of nonsense that led to the creation of this very website five years ago.
Over the past week, brilliant plus size sewists have refuted those tired excuses, exposing them for what they are: the words of an industry not trying hard enough. When the average American woman is a size 16/18, you can’t tell us there’s a lack of demand. When women are already running successful plus size pattern companies, you can’t tell us our bodies are too complicated. The response to those nay-saying comments was swift and definitive. We aren’t buying the excuses…and we aren’t buying your patterns either.
Here are just a few excellent blog posts on the subject:
- Exorbitant Bodies: Where do we fit in the sewing world? – Mary at Sablecraft
- On Sewing for the Average Body – Megan at The Green Violet
- Why Support a Pattern Designer Who Doesn’t Support You? – Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
- What I Want Pattern Companies to Know About Their Fat, Queer Customers – Shannon at Rare Device
- Plus Size Fashion and Sewing Industry – Andie at Sew Pretty in Pink
- Should Plus Size Women Boycott Pattern Designers That Don’t Have Extended Sizing? – Jennifer of We Bought a Manor for the CSC
- Plus Size Women are Not a Minority or Niche. Stop Treating Us Like One! — Jenny of Cashmerette
The above bloggers are also active and vocal on Instagram, where much of this discussion unfolded. If you’d like to follow along with these conversations, as they’re continuing to play out, we recommend following: Shannon – @rare.device, Emily – @the_catwood, Sierra – @SierraBurrell, Whitney – @whitneyknits, Jacqui – @jacquelinecieslak, and Thandi – @thandiwh, along with numerous other active members of the sewing community and our own editorial staff.
Here’s the thing, though. This time? Companies are actually listening. Many popular independent pattern companies got the message. Across social media, designers are announcing plans to expand their size ranges and highlight more diverse, size-inclusive bodies in their advertising. We understand that time and investment are necessary to make these changes happen, especially given the small margins of the independent sewing industry, but we applaud any designer willing to listen and improve. At the Curvy Sewing Collective, we believe that sewing is for every body. Plus sizes are not a niche audience, but the very heart of the market. We eagerly await the follow through on these promises and will keep you updated, as improvements begin.
In the meantime, what can we do? Well, here at the CSC, we’ll continue providing education, community support, and resources to plus size sewists. That means reviewing more patterns from size inclusive companies, sharing thought-provoking pieces from curvy sewists, and posting in-depth fitting tutorials for plus size bodies. We would love it if you joined us in these endeavors, whether that’s by contributing a review of your own or sharing your makes in our Facebook community group.
If you are a pattern designer looking to expand into plus sizes, welcome! There are tons of resources available to you at the CSC, as well, from updated lists of plus size bloggers to a comprehensive sizing survey of our community. You are also welcome to post pattern tester calls in our Facebook group, as long as permission is given from a moderator first and other community rules are followed.
On an individual level, we should also recognize the powerful effect of community building in online spaces. That very community is what creates real change and sparks action in the companies that serve us. In order for the sewing community to accurately represent all of its diverse, talented members, we should try to expand our own networks and connect with fellow makers. If you’re on social media, we encourage you to follow these other groups boosting the visibility of intersectional crafting: Meet Makers of Color, Sew Queer, Chronically Sewn, and The Sewcialists.
Finally, the very best thing you can do for the plus size community is this: keep sewing! Support designers who already offer comprehensive size ranges, share reviews of patterns you love (or those you don’t!), and give the online world the gift of your voice. We cannot wait to see what you make next!