Sewing and Body Image

I’ve been eagerly following the Curvy Sewing Collective – not because I fall into the category of ‘plus-size’, but because I’ve noticed that no sewing pattern caters precisely to my body type, and I’m interested to see how others deal with such issues. I realise that for many, sewing their own clothes is a way to avoid the frustrations of RTW shopping where one size never really fits all, items that look pretty on a model are far from flattering on a real-life body, and the emphasis undeniably lies on the very skinny end of the spectrum. I, for one, never EVER manage to squeeze my thighs into pants that fit at the waist, so I inevitably have to size up and take my gaping waistbands as a bonus. Making my own clothes bypasses the impossibility of trying to fit into a ready-made size and I am thrilled to be able to do that. It is clear that many sewists share that experience.

The day I realised I needed to learn about swayback adjustments.

The day I realised I needed to learn about swayback adjustments.

HOWEVER. I’ve found the very same adage to be true for sewing as for buying off the rack: in order to be comfortable, you have to sew for the body you have, not for the body you want. The truth is that I feel more comfortable, more confident and more beautiful when wearing something that fits me perfectly, rather than anything that pinches, cinches, or is just two sizes too small. But when my measurements put me at a size 42 instead of the elusive but oh-so-desirable 38, I can only admit that I tend to cut a size 40. As a compromise. A compromise for the benefit of my self esteem or my preconceptions of what is acceptable as good, pretty or even healthy for a woman. But also, I am well aware, a compromise on comfort and even happiness.

Too small? Ohhh yes. DEFINITELY too small.

Too small? Ohhh yes. DEFINITELY too small.

Sewing changes nothing about that. Yes, I can alter patterns to achieve the perfect fit: smaller at the waist, larger at the thighs, and let’s not forget that I have that ampler-than-average chunk of meat on my rear as well. If done properly, my me-mades fit me well and flatter my figure. But it also takes courage and an almost cruelly honest eye. I need to know precisely how large my bottom is if I am to fit the perfect pair of pants around it. And I do find that an unpleasant confrontation. Does anyone else?

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2 thoughts on “Sewing and Body Image

  1. I’m pretty lucky that most things fit me straight off the rack. If anything, my arms are too long, but you know, I can handle it! Oh, and Im a bit too tall for bathing suits.

    My sister in law, has a similar body shape to you though. She laments, but more recently has accepted she has to pay more for jeans, and always asks to get fitted. She has made herself some awesome skirts though, that fit her teeny waist and full hips. They look so good fitted 🙂

  2. Hanne says:

    oh, the neverending alterations we must make in orde to fit our behinds…
    Well, I must admit that facing the facts (the amount of cms that is my hipwidth) is less hard than trying on the biggest size at Topshop only to notice that the thighs will not fit and the waist is too big. I can accept the size of my hips, but obviously, ready-to-wear has a bigger challenge doing so 🙂

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