Size Inclusivity Roundup
Size Inclusivity has been a hot topic in both the fashion and craft world for several years now. Plus size people and their allies have pushed brands to expand the range of sizes they offer customers, and devised ways to better share size information for their projects and purchases with each other over social media. While there have been small gains in the amount of finished goods and patterns available to plus size people, there is still plenty of work left to be done.
The conversation in the sewing community was recently given another jolt this week when Jenny (aka, johassler on Instagram) posted her analysis of 56 sewing pattern brands. Her findings showed that even when brands offer plus sizes, the offerings past 52 inches / 130 cm hip fall off precipitously. A little more than half of the brands surveyed offer sizing up to 58 inches / 145 cm, and only eight brands offered up to 70 inch / 175 cm hip.
[The original post categorized brands’ size ranges by using language from a fatness spectrum created by podcast host and blogger fatlip.ash. While this language is common in queer fat activist spaces, and can be empowering when used as a self descriptor, the categorizations left many sewists uncomfortable. So, I’m not linking directly to the original post per Jenny’s request.]
In response to this most recent call to arms, Ada Chen, a straight size sewist and podcast host, put together a letter template for allies to send to pattern companies urging them to extend their sizing to accommodate up to a 70 inch / 175 cm hip. This is roughly aligned with knitters’ recent demand that designers and publications grade garments up to fit a 60 inch / 150 cm chest, at the minimum, to be size inclusive.
A 2016 article from the International Journal of Fashion Design Technology and Education reports the average American woman is between a size 16 and 18. That roughly equates to a full chest measurement around 44-48 inches / 110-120 cm and a hip of 46-51 inches / 115-127.5 cm. This means most pattern companies are just barely covering some of the most common sizes. Considering how many people come to garment making after being disappointed in their (lack of) choices off the rack, it’s extra disheartening to find that your body is still ignored even when you’ve volunteered to do so much of the labor of creating yourself. It’s long past due for pattern making businesses to focus on making garment patterns with the plus size customer in mind.
Makers to Know
Here are a few of the makers leading the conversation about the importance of plus size inclusion in the craft industry
- Jess and Leila, owners of plus size sewing pattern company Muna and Broad
- Lydia Morrow, designer and artist
- Jacqueline Cieslak, designer
- Sarah Krentz from Swanky Emu Knits teaches a class on creating 100% customized knitting patterns with spreadsheets
- Kim McBrien Evans of Indigo Dragonfly regularly teaches classes on chest shaping and other pattern customization for knitters
Books for Better Fitting Garments
Do you frequently need to adjust patterns to get the right fit? Here are a few books to help you achieve the results you want.
- Grace (wrzdreams) has a few story highlights about how to grade patterns like a pro.
- Put This On speaks with fit model John Gallager about how fit models contribute to the garment making process.
- And oldie but goodie from Racked (RIP).
- If you are a knitwear designer or technical editor, A Masterclass on Grading offers a comprehensive class on how to size any garment.