Plus-Size Sewing Tips You Need to Know

making your own clothing as a way of self-expression

For those who love the art of sewing, creating garments is not just a hobby; it’s a deeply personal and empowering form of self-expression. Whether you’re a seasoned sewist or just beginning your journey with needle and thread, you understand the joy of crafting pieces that fit your unique style and personality. However, this can be more difficult if you are a plus-sized sewist.

In this article, we will dive into all the ways that sewing for curvier bodies can differ from other forms of garment making and provide tips and tricks for sewing flattering plus-sized looks. We know navigating sewing patterns, fabrics, and achieving the perfect fit can be challenging, so we’ve provided our expert advice and plenty of resources for further reading. Get ready to embrace the world of sewing with enthusiasm and style, confidently celebrating your body.

Understanding Plus-Size Sewing

Sewing isn’t just about creating clothing, but empowerment and self-expression. For plus-size people, it’s a means to overcome the challenges of finding well-fitting and fashionable clothing in a market that often falls short in catering to diverse body shapes and sizes.

Custom sewing empowers you to address specific fit issues, ensuring your creations drape elegantly over your body. You can select fabrics that resonate with your preferences, opt for patterns that mirror your style, and adapt designs to match your body’s distinct shape. Instead of just going home with whatever fits off the rack, you can customize your entire wardrobe to your style.

Plus-Size Sewing Patterns and Other Essential Tools

Constructing plus-size garments that fit flawlessly and exude style requires a keen understanding of the tools and materials at your disposal. You won’t need specialized materials, but you need to be sure that your materials are well-suited for the projects you want to make.

Sewing Machine Specifics for Constructing Plus-Size Garments

Your sewing machine is the cornerstone of your sewing journey. Look for a sewing machine with a robust motor and a spacious work area to accommodate the sizeable fabric often used in plus-size designs. Additionally, consider features like adjustable presser foot pressure and multiple stitch options, which can enhance your sewing experience and versatility.

Choosing the Right Fabrics for Your Clothing Pattern

Fabric selection plays a pivotal role in plus-size garments’ comfort, drape, and appearance. Opt for fabrics that align with your design vision and complement your body type. Your fabric should also be appropriate for your pattern; flowy patterns call for lightweight, drapey material, while sturdy shirts and jackets need something thicker and warmer.

Planning Your Sewing Working Station

Finally, you’ll need somewhere to put all of your sewing materials. Look for a sizeable sewing table with built-in organization options to keep all your materials and notions in one place. Also, designate a space to hold your fabrics, patterns, and scrap fabric pieces.

tailoring clothing for individual size

How to Take Accurate Measurements for Plus-Size Clothing

Creating perfectly fitting plus-size garments begins with precise measurements. Accurate measurements are the foundation for your sewing patterns and ensure that your finished pieces drape beautifully and comfortably over your body.

Essential Measurement Supplies You Need

Gather essential supplies: a flexible measuring tape, a full-length mirror, and a helpful friend or family member. Wear well-fitting undergarments or the clothing you plan to wear beneath your finished garment for precise measurements. Maintain a natural posture while standing with weight evenly distributed on both feet. Stand comfortably, avoiding slouching or stiffness, and relax your arms by your sides.

Measurement Specifics for Plus-Size Clothing Design

Take measurements at critical points:

  • Around the fullest part of your bust
  • Your natural waist – above your belly button but below your ribcage
  • The fullest part of your hips and buttocks
  • Across your back and shoulder-width
  • Length from your shoulder to the end of your wrist
  • Neck circumference
  • Your inseam – from the inside of your groin to the bottom of your ankle
  • Limb circumference – arms, thighs, and shins

You may not need all of these measurements for every pattern – for instance, you won’t need to know your inseam if you’re making a shirt – but having them all on hand makes sewing more straightforward and faster. Keep your measurements written down, and recheck them before starting any new project.

Adjusting Your Sewing Patterns for Plus-Size Fit

Many commercial patterns are designed with standard sizing that may not align perfectly with your body shape. Fortunately, you can make adjustments to ensure a flattering and comfortable fit.

When comparing your measurements to your chosen pattern’s size chart, you may find that your bust, waist, and hip measurements fall into different size categories. When this happens, choose the size that matches your largest measurement and adjust from there. If you can’t find your size at all, you may have to do some math to scale up your sewing pattern.

Plus-Size Women’s Sewing Patterns

To customize your pattern, consider whether a full-bust adjustment or full-figured adjustment is needed. These modifications involve adding or subtracting width and length in specific areas to accommodate your curves. Additionally, assess the pattern’s waistline and compare it to your natural waist measurement. If there’s a significant difference, you’ll want to adjust the pattern to ensure the waistband sits comfortably at your natural waist.

When working with pants or skirts, evaluate the rise (the distance between the crotch seam and the waistband) to ensure it suits your body proportions. You may benefit from a slightly longer rise to prevent your garments from feeling too tight or uncomfortable. As you gain experience in pattern adjustments, you’ll become more adept at tailoring patterns to your body shape, ultimately creating garments that fit flawlessly and make you feel confident and stylish.

measuring for sewing clothing

Mastering Fitting Techniques for Plus-Size Clothing

Achieving the perfect fit for plus-size clothing often involves mastering various fitting techniques.

Muslins Making Technique

One essential skill is making muslins, test garments created from inexpensive fabric before cutting into your chosen material.

Muslins allow you to assess the pattern’s fit and make necessary adjustments without the risk of ruining your final fabric. When creating a muslin, sew it with basting stitches to easily make alterations if needed. Pay close attention to how the muslin drapes and whether it matches your body’s curves. Remember, the goal is to create a garment that fits comfortably and enhances your confidence.

Pin-Basting Technique

Another technique you can use is pin-fitting, or pin-basting, your garment to test the drape of your intended fabric. During a fitting session, put on the partially sewn garment inside out and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Use pins to mark areas that require modification with the help of a friend or a sewing buddy. Common areas to assess include the side seams, darts, and waistline.

As you pin, pay close attention to how the fabric drapes and whether it enhances your natural curves or needs to be adjusted for a more flattering fit. Once you’ve made the necessary changes and are satisfied with the fit, you can transfer the adjustments onto the pattern for future reference. This is an excellent technique for figuring out what best flatters your body and can help you build the confidence to design your own garments!

Sewing Techniques for Plus-Size Garments

To find success with sewing plus-sized clothes, there are a few techniques and strategies you’ll want in your toolbox. First, you must ensure the fabric you select is suitable for the pattern, and the person who will wear it – stretchy knits and jersey fabrics offer comfort and a snug fit, while woven materials like cotton or linen provide structure for tailored pieces.

Types of Seaming You Need to Adopt

You’ll also want to learn different types of seaming. Curved seams, such as princess seams or bust darts, are essential components of well-fitted clothing, as they follow the body’s natural contours. To navigate these curves successfully, it’s crucial to employ techniques that ensure a smooth and flattering contour.

When dealing with curved seams, precision is your ally. Begin by pinning the fabric pieces together and aligning the notches and markings. Ensure that the fabric edges match accurately along the seam line. As you sew, go slowly and consistently, keeping the fabric taut but not stretched. Stitching at a controlled pace helps you maintain accuracy, particularly around curves.

Seam-Allowance Management

Another technique for managing seam allowances is through using the clipping technique. Clipping involves making minor, evenly spaced cuts along the seam allowance, close to but not through the stitching line. These cuts allow the fabric to spread or ease into the curve, preventing puckering and ensuring a smooth transition. Be careful not to clip too close to the seam, as this can weaken it.

Also, think carefully about the kinds of hardware you incorporate into your garments, such as zippers, buttons, and other closures. Consider their durability and strength when selecting closures, especially in areas where the garment may experience stress, like waistbands or bodice closures. Opt for sturdy, high-quality zippers that glide smoothly and securely fasten the garment without the risk of snagging or bursting open.

plus size clothing

Resources for Plus-Size Sewists

Of course, becoming an expert plus-sized sewist doesn’t end here. These are some of our favorite sites, books, and blogs about sewing for curvy bodies.

Online Communities and Forums for Plus-Size Sewists

  • Curvy Sewing Collective: This site is THE resource for curvy sewists. This site has blog posts, interviews, advice, and links to patterns made specifically for plus-sized crafters.
  • Fat Sewing Club: The ladies at Fat Sewing Club take pride in their bodies and encourage you to do so, too. This blog and forum are feisty, fun, and informative.
  • Sewing Pattern Review’s Plus-Sized Sewist Forum: Sewing Pattern Review is a fantastic resource for any sewist, and this forum is dedicated to talking about plus-sized patterns and how they work up. You can talk with other sewists about their techniques and learn collaboratively on this site.
  • The Sewing Subreddit: This forum on Reddit is a welcoming and informative space for sewists of any level. You can post your WIPs, ask for advice, and scroll through past posts to see what other plus-sized sewists have created.

Plus-Size Sewing Pattern Companies

  • Black Snail Patterns: If you want to create historical costumes and recreations that fit your body, turn to Black Snail Patterns. They adjust vintage patterns to go up to a size 26 US.
  • Cashmerette: This site is a pioneer in inclusive sewing design. Founded by Jenny Rushmore, every pattern on Cashmerette is designed with curvy bodies in mind.
  • Decades of Style: Are you a vintage fashionista? Look no further than Decades of Style for your plus-sized retro sewing patterns. Some patterns on this site go up to a size 46 US.
  • Designer Stitch: This site is best for finding patterns for trendy but classy pieces you can wear to the office. Most designs go up to a size 26 US.
  • Paprika Patterns: For fun, fresh patterns with plenty of colors and patterns, turn to Paprika. All patterns go up to a 49” bust, and their blog includes further advice for scaling patterns.
  • Petite Plus Patterns: Women who are curvy but petite can struggle to fit patterns in their compact form. This site knows the struggle and works to mitigate it with its classic patterns designed for curvy and petite bodies.

Recommended Books, Blogs, and Tutorials for Plus-Size Sewists

  • The Cashmerette Blog: As we said before, Cashmerette is a pioneer in the world of plus-sized sewing. Subscribe to their newsletter and find them on social media to get their advice straight to your screen.
  • The Needle & The Belle: Aaronica of The Needle and the Belle is a veteran plus-sized blogger with practical and actionable advice on her blog. She also has a robust social media presence, so follow her for inspiration!
  • “How to Expand Sewing Patterns into Plus Sizes” by Jenny Rushmore: Jenny Rushmore’s books on sewing for plus-sized bodies are invaluable to any sewist. This one focuses specifically on learning how to scale smaller-sized patterns to fit your body. If you’re a reasonably experienced sewist, this may present a fun and rewarding challenge.
  • “Sewing the Curve” by Jenny Rushmore: Another one by Jenny Rushmore, this book is a more general take on creating clothes that flatter plus-sized bodies. This book details picking a suitable fabric, sewing the right kinds of seams, and draping the fabric for the most complimentary fit.
  • “Sewing for Plus Sizes” by Barbara Deckert: If you only buy one book about sewing for plus-sized people, make it this one. This comprehensive and concise guide gives you all the information you need to know to make stylish and flattering clothes.

Sewing as a plus-sized person is about more than just creating garments; it’s a powerful avenue for empowerment, self-expression, and embracing your body with confidence. The art of custom sewing opens doors to a world where you can take control of your wardrobe and truly celebrate your body. So, embrace the art of sewing and unlock a world of fashion freedom where confidence and creativity reign supreme!

To set up a sewing space that suits your needs, look no further than Arrow Sewing. We produce high-quality, specialized sewing furniture that makes sewing easy, convenient, and unobtrusive. Whether you need an ergonomic chair with storage included or a modular fabric storage system, we’ve got you covered. If you’re just starting to create your sewing space, read our blog post on What you need to know before buying your first sewing cabinet.