I’m Emma and I write a blog over at Emma and her Machine (www.emmaandhermachine.com) I am really excited to be a part of this “Sewing is for Everyone” initiative. My sewing is very much self-focussed, it is something I do just for me, so it is important that it makes me feel good and that the garments I make are right for me. Modern fashions are aimed at small sizes, but I’m only 30 and don’t fancy hanging my boots up on modern fashion just yet so making my own wardrobe is my perfect, self-esteem boosting answer. I consider myself to be curvy, and I would argue averagely so, I fit in ‘most’ patterns at the largest size, though I am nearly inclusive. I require complete full bust allowances and full arm extensions on my patterns. A lot of people argue that we should not have to do that, however, I feel that pattern companies cannot cater for absolutely every different shape and size and that as sewers, we should be willing to make reasonable changes if we really want our patterns to fit amazingly well. However, I don’t appreciate that some patterns exclude many sizes and this does need addressing in the industry. As I said, if my size is considered just about average in the UK, why am I cutting the largest size?
Anyway, in order to make some patterns more accessible to others, I thought I would share some of the changes I make, especially in the early days of my sewing, I was so often disappointed when well thought-out and slaved over garments, would not fasten over my chest, it’s a disheartening feeling and one that is easily overcome with a bit of cutting and sticking! For any newbie sewers out there - take the time to do this - it’s worth it!
So with all this in mind, I made the Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress with this gorgeous hydrangea, Art Gallery Denim cotton, which was gifted from D & H Fabrics for the purpose of this post as Tammy is super supportive is the Sewing is for Everyone initiative. I cut the largest size of the Tilly patterns and with this pattern I then have to grade up another size to allow for my bust, otherwise I would just complete an FBA. To grade up, I cut the largest size and then tape it to a piece of pattern/tissue paper and follow the lines to add to it, where I need it. Sometimes, I chose to add this at the front, but this also means adjusting the facing piece too. (Though, I’m not a facings lover and swap them for a brilliant, contrast, bias binding in this make anyway!)
This is a frustrating, often trial and error, part of sewing which takes longer but is worth getting right. I wonder whether this would not be a frustrating step for me if patterns came in bigger sizes or whether I would make changes personal to me anyway? I suspect the latter.
Anyway, on to the fun bit, this dress is an absolute fail-safe pattern, which is easy to sew and easy to wear. It has grown in sleeves and a simple cuff, which has a little tab option. The pockets are quick to sew and satisfyingly big! The skirt is straight and again, an easy sew. You then attach the two together and add elastic to a channel to your liking. Easy! I have made the dress previously in a patterned fabric so I was really pleased to make a plain, wearable fabric. As with many of my makes, I'm so glad I invest that extra time in getting the right fit for me. However, if I make this again, I think I would opt to change the skirt shape to more of an A-Line shape so that it balances out my top half. I feel a little top-heavy in this dress as it stands.
For those who are interested, I follow the Curvy Sewing Collective’s tutorial for a FBA (http://curvysewingcollective.com/the-beginners-guide-full-bust-adjustment/) and it turns out well every time. I don’t actually rely on this anymore but I definitely did at first! The patterns I compete this with are companies like Tilly and the Buttons, as seen here, Named Clothing and the Big 4. However, I find there are companies who do cater for a larger chest and size, such as Style Arc or Cashmerette. I'm not aiming for an list here, just some that come to mind and to highlight how different patterns cater for different sizes and sometimes it’s worth finding those which are right for you. If anyone has any questions or feedback I would love to hear from you. It's important for our clothes to fit us, no matter what our opinion or size and I believe we can help each other to achieve that!