ATSW: Vintage Plus-Size Patterns
Knowing how bad I am at answering emails, I figured that an "Ask The Sew Weekly" will get me replying more quickly and (hopefully) helping more than one person. Our inaugural question comes from Jen.
Love the blog. I've been following for months now as I gear up to sewing my first garment. Now that I can finally sew a straight line, I want to give it a go. But I'm having trouble finding plus sized patterns. Simplicity seems to have the largest selection, but nothing that would work for what I have in mind–a sun dress made from a 1970's vintage sheet (picture large orange, green and white flowers).
Can you suggest any sources for plus sized sewing patterns? Or will I have to learn to re-size patterns fresh out of the gate? Would that be too much for a newbie to take on? Should I put the sheet away, make a few garments based on the available patterns, then learn to re-size?
Thanks so much. I'd really appreciate any advice you could give me.
While the big name pattern manufacturers (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall, Vogue) do sell and market to plus-size sewers, the options are quite limited if you want to find a vintage look (or unique look) for that matter! Thankfully, there are independent businesses out there that have decided to create better options for plus-sizes. New Vintage Lady (Etsy Shop) has reproduced vintage patterns (mostly from the 1930s and 1940s) for 40" and over busts.
I suggest abandoning the search for new patterns and truly go vintage. Search the "vintage" category on Etsy for your bust measurement and "pattern." Every seller lists their patterns differently so try different variations including "bust 52," "b52" "52" etc… You should also be searching eBay using the same terms (include vintage). And, depending on the style of the dress, you may be able to go up or down one or two sizes without doing too much resizing. As a beginner sewer, there are a lot of tricks you can do that are short of resizing patterns. Make a muslin and try that thing on constantly while sewing. Since bodies vary, you may realize that your bust needs to be smaller than the skirt (or vice versa). Trial and error is the best way to make a good fit. Just don't feel like you need to be an expert on resizing. You'll be surprised by what a little tweak here and there will do.
Another bit of advice is pick a dress style that is forgiving to fitting issues. The simple dresses from the 1940s with their kimono sleeves and belted waists are very forgiving. Never underestimate what a belt or sash can do!
Here's an article on vintage plus-size patterns over at BurdaStyle that might be useful as well.
The most important thing is to not feel like your options are limited to the "modern" styles that are out there in the commercial pattern space. You'll see that with a little bit of searching (okay, maybe a little bit of frequent, diligent searching) you should be able to find a pattern that works for you!
Do any of The Sew Weekly readers have more advice? Please share in the comments!