Sew aggravating! Plus size patterns and new book

3 Aug

I recently got the sewing machine out and faced the music about whether or not I was still capable of sewing and enjoying it after becoming disabled.  I have a large collection of sewing patterns, but I bought a simple, easy-to-sew pattern to use for my initial foray into sewing again.

I was ecstatic to discover that yes, I could.  I couldn’t sew very long, and cutting the fabric is a huge challenge that has resulted in Greg being recruited…but I can do it.  I was off and running again, with something that I could do and enjoy.  I refreshed basic sewing skills through making my granddaughter and grand (or is that a great?) niece some skirts that were ideal for twirling in.  The pattern I used just asked to have the techniques upscaled  a bit from beginner to more finished, as well as for a bit of embellishment.

My creative juices were flowing again, only this time, it’s a calorie free pleasure!

That has me working on the next non-fiction book.  I’m going to do a book of projects, including sewing patterns and instructions, for dogs & their doggy people.  It’s a sort of super-sized pattern, I suppose, although it’s also about teaching people to make customized projects that actually fit their dog, rather than being merely a duplication of off-the-rack projects that may or may not work for their beloved companions.

So, while I’m working on that project, I decided my next project for myself would be some clothing.  I wanted a new sewing pattern or two as well.

Now that sounds easy enough, right? After all, women’s clothing sewing patterns are available with hundreds of variations.

Wrong.

With disability, I’ve gained a lot of weight.  Far too much, to be honest.  That has resulted in my clothes size going up.  A lot more than I’m comfortable admitting.  I need  plus size sewing patterns now.

Then, I made a horrible discovery.

Major pattern manufacturing companies don’t have much in terms of options for plus size sewing patterns.  To make it worse, they also don’t have much in anything I could wear.

Let’s amend that.  They had very little, if anything, I would wear.  They had even less in things I wanted to make at this point.  There was a handful of sewing patterns for plus sizes.  There were more options for maternity clothing than plus sizes in their sewing patterns.

As I recall, when I was pregnant, I spent a very brief time in maternity clothes compared to how long I’ll be in plus size clothing.  I’m not alone in that either–just walk through any mall or big box discount store (you all know which one I’m talking about here) and you’ll see plenty of plus size men and women, and you’ll see some that dwarf even plus sizes.  A lot of them surely sew? Or want custom clothing?

Apparently they either make their own or make do with off-the-rack clothing.  Maybe that explains some of the “fashion” we see on the plus size crowd.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m no fashion plate myself.  I pay very little attention to the latest fashions, actually.

What I want is along the lines of classic, with a focus on easy to sew, easy to get on, and easy to get off again.  Oh, and comfortable to wear.  Right now, I wanted a simple tiered skirt pattern and a pattern for a pull on tunic with a collar and options for either short or long sleeves.  On the sleeve thing, I could adapt a long sleeved pattern to a short sleeved one, even if it didn’t include that as an option.  I wanted the patterns to be designed with sufficient ease to make them out of lightweight and medium weight cotton or cotton blends as well–while summers are boiling hot in Mississippi, winters can be chilly too.  Sounds simple enough to buy a sewing pattern like that, right?

Wrong again.

I came up with exactly zero for the tiered skirt or the tunic in sewing patterns.  On the tunic blouse front, there were some pretty awful designs, usually with ruffles, some odd asymmetrical design, or horrible extended collars that had dangling bits to tie (and get caught in things when I’m doing stuff around the house.)  Even a full skirted, easy-to-wear dress wasn’t an option, as the offerings leaned towards knit fabrics (too hot for summer) zippers in the back (impossible for me to put on without help) boat necks, ruffles, more asymmetrical designed skirts, and overall just too fussy for my more tailored preferences.

Searching the independent pattern companies was my next option.  With higher overhead per pattern, their patterns are slightly more expensive, but my experience has indicated that they usually have far better directions as well as come in a bigger variety of sizes on one pattern.  This is fantastic if you tend to need one size on top and another on the bottom, or are sewing for more than one person.

Plus size patterns had slightly better options here, but once again, I was out of luck on the tiered skirt and the pull on tunic.  If you know of a small pattern company that has more classic and plainer designs, comment and tell me!

We can insert a long suffering sigh here.

So, years ago, I had made a pair of pants using a pattern from Suitability.  This company caters to the equestrian crowd.  The pants pattern, long discontinued, was for a zippered pair of unisex pants with cuffed ankles, waistband, was lightly gathered at the waist (maybe just in front?) and was the absolutely most comfortable pants I have ever owned besides my karate pants.   No matter what you were doing, they never restricted your movement.   They looked great too.  Unfortunately, the pattern was lost in moves, and I never could get another one.  (if anybody has that pattern…I think its name stared with a b?  You’d be my friend for LIFE if I could get it again!)  I even wrote to Suitability and plead my case to them, hoping they had a forgotten pattern package lingering somewhere…but no such luck.

I did find a pattern that looks like it might be a great one for me.  This time, instead of Suitability, it’s with Hot Patterns.  Hot Patterns also had a free downloadable pattern for what they called a waist coat and we’d call a long vest.  I may make that too!  They call them cargo pants, and they come in a multi-size pattern with both long pants and capri pants.  Instead of a cuffed bottom, they have a drawstring bottom.  I think I may just have to order that pattern…

So, without a pattern that I can purchase for the desired pieces I want to make, I may have to either design my own or modify some existing pattern into something I’m willing to sew and wear.  Not easy, but not impossible, even though I’m far from what I’d consider an expert seamstress.  I’m just long on sheer guts and creativity, I suppose?  I also know what I can and can’t do easily in terms of sewing, so I’m not going to jump off into the world of sewing a fitted fully-lined blazer just yet.  I have had a number of years in hiatus from sewing anything at all.

With regards to my upcoming book with projects for the dog lovers and their four legged companions, there is a list of projects already appearing, but I am still thinking about what people would want to make.  Everyone loves the quick & easy projects to use up scraps, recycled clothing, and cute projects, but what kinds of things should I include?  What do other dog lovers want for projects?

Personally, I think that sewing a dog bed is very expensive compared to ones that are purchased–I’m not inclined to regard that as a good project.  Most people don’t have the heavy duty machines necessary to sew actual collars and harnesses out of poly or nylon webbing either.  (I don’t!)  Are people more inclined to make things for their own dog or for gifts for their doggy friends and their companions?  Should I include items for the people that love their dogs as well as the dogs themselves?

So many (or should I say sew many?) choices to make!

What do you think I should include?  Comment and tell me!

Don’t forget–this blog is being moved to a new location.  Go check it out at www.exogenynetwork.com and click on Gia Scott Blog.

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