Today I’m pleased to share the results of the first ever CSC sizing survey! We had over 700 responses which is tremendous and gives us a really good dataset for the analysis. I hope the results are interesting to our community – but also to pattern designers considering the plus size market.
To those pattern designers in particular: if you’d like to have a full list (anonymized) of all the “comments for designers” left by our respondents beyond the few highlighted below, you can download the file here.
Note: Sample bias and survey limitations
Before we start, it’s important to note the bias and limitations of our survey. First, we clearly have a “biased” respondent set, in that they’re much more likely to be plus sized than average, given the nature of this site! (Obvious, but worth noting). Therefore, comparing to other designer’s sizing survey results is not apples-to-apples (they will have their own bias) and the results are not representative of the general population. Second, there were some limitations to the survey, most notably that due to the technical set up of the form we had to choose a set of measurements to capture, with some therefore being “x measurement and under” and some being “x measurement and over”. For this survey, the max specific measurement was 62″, but based on feedback we will increase this in the future. It is possible that some respondents with measurements over 62″ chose not to participate, so those results may be artificially depressed. In addition, a few people were unable to access the embedded form (we’re still not entirely sure why!), which limited the sample.
OK, on to the results!
The average high bust measurement for CSC readers is 41″ / 104 cm, and the average full bust is 45″ / 114cm. As you can see from the distributions in the chart below, there’s a strong cluster between 38 and 42″ for high bust (54% of respondents), and 44 – 48″ for full bust (43% of respondents).
The average respondent waist size is 39″ / 99cm, and again there’s a cluster of sizes – 39% of us have a waist between 37 and 41″.
On to hips! The average hip size is 48″ / 122cm, and 37% are between 44 and 48″. However it’s clear from the chart that there’s a wider distribution of hip size (compared to bust and waist).
The most common bra size among our respondents is a 38 DD/E – and given the fact that most sewing patterns are designed for a B or C cup, our bust fitting challenges become evident. In fact, there are more CSC respondents with a H/HH cup than a B, and 94% of us (!) are larger than a B.
The average survey respondent is 5’5″ – exactly the average US height! However, as you can see from the chart, the most common height is 5’6″.
Most common adjustments
No surprise here, given the bust results – by far the most common adjustment for CSC respondents is a Full Bust Adjustment, done by an amazing 75% of respondents. That’s followed up by narrow shoulders – though it should be noted that poor grading of shoulders in many plus size sewing patterns could be partly to blame (i.e. maybe you don’t have narrow shoulders, the pattern just has absurdly wide shoulders!).
Sewing pattern consumption
Now, on to our sewing pattern habits! On average, we buy 11.5 sewing patterns a year, spending around $50. As you can see though, there’s a really large group who buy more than 20 patterns and spend over $100 a year.
Comments for designers
Finally, we got a huge number of really helpful comments for designers – too many to list them all here! But here are a few great ones, which highlight common themes that came up:
“Do it! There are a lot of stylish women who would love to use those patterns without having to try to regrade themselves”
“You are really missing out on a tremendous market. I don’t see many women who look like size 0 models. I see more women around my size in the grocery store, at the mall, even walking the neighborhood. I have never fit into less than a size 16 since I was a tween. I am a veteran, big and strong. We don’t want to buy the potato sacks sold in department stores. We make our own clothes to keep up with the trends. Get real! Shake off the stereotyping!”
“The psychological impact of NOT seeing your size on the envelope is so exclusionary. Why would I buy a pattern from a designer who doesn’t see my worth as a consumer? Seeing my size/measurements on the back of the “envelope” makes a huge difference as to where I spend my disposable income. And as I work for a living, I have a decent amount to give to designers to value me as a customer :)”
“Research how to correctly expand your patterns that would flatter your potential curvy customers. This market is far too vast to ignore. Be realistic and consistent with your sizing charts – and most of all SHOW curvy models and curvy examples in your photos. It’s one thing to say plus sizes are available, it’s another to be able to prove it! If I can’t see a curvy example I’m not buying your pattern!”
“Increased width does not translate into increased length: DD cups do not mean arms lengthen by six inches and shoulders broaden to fill a football jersey.”
Thank you so much to everyone who participated! We’ll be running the survey occasionally to keep the data up to date, and are totally open to additional questions to ask – just let us know below.
And finally, the winner of the randomly-drawn $20 Cashmerette Patterns giftcard giveaway is…. Annie B! Annie, we’ll be in touch.