Good morning! If you’ve already joined in the fun, you know that we’ve already had a lot of lively discussions about curvy sewing over on our Facebook community group since launching the group a few weeks ago:
One question came up in a discussion that I thought would make a particularly good jumping off point for a new CSC post, especially given that it’s a topic that we haven’t addressed in a while, and that we’ve added many new readers in recent months: “How do you choose a pattern that will require minimum adjustments?”
We ALL make pattern adjustments; however, sometimes it sure feels like the curvier you are, the more time that you spend adjusting your patterns, as opposed to actually sewing. A recent CSC sizing survey found that 75% of us need to regularly increase the bust size of patterns to get them to fit us! (To read more about the survey, see Results of of CSC Sizing Survey.) The rest of this post will discuss strategies for minimizing your pattern adjustment time so that you can maximize your sewing time.
Choose a pattern drafted for your figure type
The easiest way to minimize the time that you spend working on pattern adjustments is to choose a pattern from a pattern maker whose drafting block is close to your own proportions. For example, if you’re petite in height, choose a pattern from one of the indie pattern companies that specializes in petite patterns or a Burda petite pattern.
About a year ago, Jenny wrote a fairly comprehensive post about which pattern companies draft for various body types. If you’re new to the CSC community, I encourage you to take a look and see if there’s a pattern company that already drafts for your body type:
If you’re full-busted and have to make a Full Bust Adjustment on most patterns (as many of us do), read through the post that I wrote on pattern cup sizes, which includes a reference of which companies draft for which sizes:
Choose a pattern that’s available in your size
Choosing a pattern that’s available in your size kind of sounds like no-brainer advice, doesn’t it? However, if you’ve ever been captivated by a sewing blogger’s photos of a cute new pattern, and your figure is on the curvy or larger size, there’s a decent chance that you may have experienced disappointment when checking out the size range for that cute new pattern. In previous years, indie pattern companies were notorious for having limited size ranges; anyone with a hip circumference over 43″ (109cm) typically had to learn to grade up patterns. Now, if you want to tackle pattern grading, the CSC has several tutorials that walk you through the steps
Because the process of grading up a pattern can be time-consuming (especially for sewing patterns with a lot of pieces), sometimes it’s easier just to find a similar pattern in your size, and if necessary, morph the details from the smaller pattern onto the larger pattern.
Fortunately, for those of us with larger figures, many more patterns are available in a larger size range than were available a few years ago. In some cases, it’s a new company with a more inclusive size range; however in many cases, indie pattern designers simply listened to customer requests and expanded their size ranges. If you’ve ever been frustrated by the fact that most Big 4 patterns stop at a size 22 (44″/122cm bust), browse through the catalogues of the following pattern companies, all of which offer a more inclusive size range (at least a 50″/127 cm bust) for most of their patterns:
- Blank Slate*
- Fashion Patterns by Coni
- Ottobre (sewing pattern magazine)
- Patterns for Pirates
*Expanded size range does not apply to all patterns
Choose a custom-sized pattern
When I started sewing ~10 years ago, the only way to get a pattern custom-drafted to your measurements was to invest in pattern drafting software. The available software options tended to be very expensive, have a high learning curve, and typically only ran on Windows (much to the annoyance of Mac users like me). Now, however, a handful of companies are offering made-to-measure patterns that are offered on a per-pattern basis.
The two best-known custom pattern makers are Lekala and Bootstrap, both of which use the same licensed software for their base. There is some overlap between the styles offered, but Bootstap is known for having slightly robust instructions. Both companies’ patterns are very reasonably priced. For either company, you enter a series of measurements and have the option to note usual adjustments needed (e.g. a low bust). Once you complete your purchase, a PDF of your custom-sized pattern is emailed to you:
A new option for obtaining a custom-drafted pattern is the Make My Pattern service offered by Joost de Cock. Joost has a limited number of small available for women, for which he’ll hand-draft a custom-drafted pattern according to the measurements that you email him.
What are your favorite strategies to minimize the amount of time doing pattern adjustments? Or do you just accept making a lot of adjustments as a fact of life? Have you gone so far as to develop a sloper or draft your own patterns to avoid having to adjust every commercial pattern that you sew?