Recently, there’s been much discussion in the online sewing community around inclusive sizing. From the #sewmysize hashtag on Instagram, to the increasing use of the ZOZOSUIT to generate accurate measurements, we’re talking about our bodies’ numbers – and demanding they be accounted for in the patterns we buy. This is pretty cool! I love that people are sharing their measurements, and that indie brands and community blogs like the Sewcialists are collecting body measurement data to further aid the community in getting patterns that fit all bodies (at least size-wise). Quick note: we’re collecting body measurements until April 8 on the Sewcialists blog, so please head over there and share yours! Data will be publicly shared after the survey is closed.
There is currently no formal definition of what inclusive sizing for sewing patterns entails. For some brands, it means going up to a US 18/UK 14. For some, it means going up to a 50″ (127cm) bust. For others, it means cup sizes up to H, and for others it means catering to particular body shapes – like petite or pear. It might be confusing to navigate this changing landscape with such different parameters, but it makes sense. It reflects the reality of body diversity, doesn’t it?
It does bring up some questions for those of us who sew, though. As our expectations adapt to these advances, so do our standards. More and more, I hear sewers refusing to sew patterns that don’t go up to their size, or don’t have cup sizes that accommodate their bodies. In the past, the bigger restriction was sewers being afraid to sew something because it wasn’t ‘flattering’ or ‘appropriate’ for certain bodies. On the one hand, it’s great that sewers are embracing all silhouettes and garments as appropriate for them! On the other, it’s still – technically – sewing under self-limitations.
Given the lack of a formal definition of inclusive sizing, how can every pattern company – indie or otherwise – achieve it? And given the variables of inclusive sizing – bust sizes spanning 20″ (51cm), cup sizes from A-H and larger, heights from 4’10 to 6’2 (1.5-1.9m), etc – is it economically realistic to expect every pattern company to cover every variation in figure?
It is definitely good to ask, ‘where’s my size?’ It is definitely good to ask for representation. It is even better when these asks are met with expanded sizing and new models! And it’s totally okay to boycott brands when they give us lame reasons for not meeting our needs. But we should not impose limitations on ourselves. A pattern you’ve been eyeing doesn’t come in your size? Examine the finished measurements. Maybe it could fit you! Or look for similar-looking patterns that do come in your size. Or use some ‘sewing for larger bodies‘ tips to make the too-small pattern work. These options don’t take a ton of work, and they keep open the doors to a variety cool new garments.
In the end, sewing our own clothes is a personal labor of love, so I’m not here to shame anyone for how they go about making their garment decisions. Body positivity, and body positive sewing, ask us to break down the walls of ‘should’, of judgment, of preconceived and unexamined notions. So I’m here to help anyone and everyone I can, sew without limitations. <3