Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body with Stephanie Decker
When I was 7, my mom signed me up for sewing lessons to learn how to hem pants for my short family. I continued those lessons for years, eventually working my way up to making clothes for myself. That was when my love affair with sewing began.
As a plus-size kid, I always had trouble finding trendy clothes. I would get so upset because I had to wear “old lady clothes” since there were no “cool” options for larger kids. For a long time, it affected my self-confidence (and not in a positive way). I remember the very first garment I made for myself, a teal satin dress, and how excited, proud, and confident I was to have made something that fit my body and my tastes exactly. Even then, my instructor had to teach me to alter the pattern to fit my size because I didn’t fit into the readily-available pattern sets.
My love affair with sewing continued long after the lessons stopped, with me making my homecoming, prom, and graduation dresses in high school. It was during those years that I also started working on costuming for the theatre program (which I still do today) to make sure my kids don’t have the same costume and resulting confidence issues I dealt with throughout the multiple theatre programs I was in.
I went to college for fashion design, where I spent four years learning the mechanics behind designing, illustrating, fabrics, pattern drafting, draping, construction, fit, and more. This helped shape me into a knowledgeable designer who can see things that most can’t, and I honestly think that learning how to draft patterns alone was well worth all of the money I spent for that piece of paper. During those years, I stepped away from making for myself because of the amount of work my classes required. It wasn’t until recently that I started getting back into designing for myself but sadly, not much has seemed to have changed in the sewing world in terms of patterns being able to fit larger sizes like myself.
When I purchase patterns, I almost always have to alter them to even have a possibility of fitting me. Depending on pattern complexity, it can take me anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours to make those changes. I pay for patterns that *should* be able to fit me with just a few quick changes, but most patterns require so much extra work that it would’ve been cheaper and quicker to just draft my own from the start.
I love sewing. I love patterning. I love making things for myself. But it gets frustrating and exhausting when you have to do both the patterning and the sewing. It takes a toll on your stamina and positive mentality when it can take two weeks or more to create a single project, while other people are able to crank out multiple a week.
I was so thrilled when Tammy approached me about joining in on the Sewing is for Everyone and Every Body project. I had so much fun making this Roski Trio dress thanks to Amy at Amy Nicole Studio, using the adorable fabrics from Tammy at D&H Fabrics. I was a bit worried about using the floral cotton on the bottom since it looked a little see-through, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it was opaque enough to not be an issue. I initially chose this pattern because I loved how simple and effortless it looked, and I was so thankful and relieved that I only had to add a little extra on the side seams for it to fit me perfectly.
I started my small, local business doing alterations and custom work about a year ago. I created an Instagram account to share my work and sewing process, which introduced me to the Instagram Sewing Community. Through the community, I’ve met so many incredible, inspiring, and supportive women who truly keep me going. My motivation behind my work has always been to make alterations and custom work for my clients that make them feel as comfortable, confident, and happy as possible. I know from personal experience how influential clothes can be on your mood and confidence, which is why I’m so passionate about what I do.
While I understand an “average” measurement system is needed to produce patterns, there comes a time when change is needed to give the same sewing opportunities to a wider audience. That time has to be now.