Now Get Excited And Make Things: Sewing fat?

It has been awhile, but I’m finally back!  Actually, I have not really been away – just insanely busy at work and busy socially and, well, a wee bit lazy.  OMG FAT STEREOTYPE.

Anyway!  My wonderful parents asked me earlier in the year what I’d like for Christmas, and I replied, “A sewing machine!”

I have fond memories of being poked and prodded with pins and measuring tapes for most my childhood.  My mother is an excellent seamstress, and the bulk of my clothes except for my socks, school uniforms, and some special occasion gear, were made for me until I was about eight or so.  My mother made my senior formal outfit (that’s prom, for the non-Australians), medieval costumes when I was at university, the works.

Now, I wanted to be able to alter my own clothes, and begin making my own too.  First I learned how to do the basics – thread the machine, fill a bobbin, and sew straight and zigzag stitches.  Although I’ve never sewn before, I’ve spent years around my mother and her machine, so it wasn’t too hard.  So I asked my mum to help me make a breezy summer top.  This is what we did:

Made a rough mock-up using one of my tank-tops and an old bedsheet, fitted the mock up, made a pattern out of newspaper, and cut the pieces – one centre back and two centre front pieces. After putting those together at the shoulder seam and sewing the darts, we decided that it needed facings, so cut out armhole and neckline facings, ironed on interfacing paper and added that. Then mum got the bright idea that we should understitch the facings.

It pulls a little oddly on the left shoulder, but given that we drafted the pattern mostly from scratch, I wasn’t expecting a perfect fit.  I’m slip-stitching all the facings down at the moment (neck done, one and a half armholes to go!), but other than that it’s finished



Apologies for the cruddy webcam headless fatty shots, but my camera was not playing nice this evening with the self-timer for some reason.  Also it is wrinkled, because I had it crushed in my lap while I sewed the facings down and watched The West Wing (which is an awesome show for sewing to, by the by).

I feel inordinately proud myself, and really inspired!  However, it’s clear that I need a lot more general sewing experience before I get to the stage that I want to be, which is to be able to draft my own patterns from scratch.  Going by measurements, I am right at the top of the plus-size spectrum in commercial patterns, and I want to have the skill to make what I want, when I want it!

I got rather excited when I saw these two patterns from Simplicity, as I can fit (just) the 28W, and I absolutely adore 1940s vintage stylin’!  I was disappointed to discover that these seemed to be limited to the US as well, though!  Isn’t that just awesome – not only is the range of ready-to-wear clothing in Australia shitty, but patterns are equally difficult to find. :/  I’m in love with some of the Burda patterns I’ve found too, but of course their online store doesn’t ship to Australia.  I know Burda is commercially available here; I just hope there’s a similarly awesome plus pattern availability.

There’s a happy ending though – I found both Simplicity patterns on eBay from a seller who ships worldwide, AND it was cheaper!  I can’t wait to try them out, though I’ll probably start with the skirt, as it looks the least difficult.  My goal is to channel Katharine Hepburn and make a fabulous pair of high-waisted, wide-legged pants.  First step is to buy some calico or muslin, as I’m far from proportionate, so there’ll be adjustments, no doubt.

So tell me!  Do you sew?  What are some of your favourite patterns, tips and tricks?  What do you find most difficult when adjusting for fatness?


(BONUS PHOTO:  I had my hair dyed blonde at the beginning of December.  EXCITING!  I won’t apologise for this being a webcam shot, it’s from my dailybooth stream)





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  • optimisticynicl

    I sew, and I HIGHLY recommend the Simplicity plus sized patterns, particularly the Kaliah Ali line. They're true to size, so take your measurements and choose a size based on those. And the styling is very up to date, particularly compared to the junk we fatties usually have to choose from!

    It's also fairly easy to re-size a multi-sized pattern, even if it wasn't plus sized to begin with. I followed instructions I'd found in “Threads” magazine but sadly can't find online right now. Will keep trying…

  • Sonya

    Yay, sewing! I can't sew to save my life, but errr, I love to watch other people do it. Ahem.

  • vesta44

    I've been sewing, off and on, for the last 45 years (and I'm 56), so I have a lot of experience. Not to mention I worked in a couple of garment factories when I was much younger (as did my dad's mother). My mother sewed, and so did her mother, so I come by my sewing talent honestly.
    One of the things I've found that works really well for me is to use tops that I've either worn out or are so stained that they can't be worn anymore (only the ones I really, really like) and take them apart and use them for patterns. I use the actual pieces of the top, since the fabric is much more durable than any paper pattern I could make from it. I can also make any necessary alterations by using old sheets that I get at thrift stores (I've found them for as little as 50 cents apiece) to make mock-ups and basting them together to see if the fit is right, then taking them apart to use for the corrected pattern.
    This can be applied to pants, skirts, and dresses too. Any article of clothing can become a pattern, and can be adapted for any use (I've used nightgowns to make patterns for blouses).

  • Zoe

    I think I have that Threads article bookmarked somewhere! Thanks for the rec of Simplicity patterns – my mother used them a lot when we were growing up, so they look familiar to me. The Kaliah Ali line does look – I shall try to pick some up :D

  • Zoe


  • Zoe

    Thanks for the advice! My mother mentioned that drafting from an existing garment that's been taking apart is relatively straightforward. Bedsheets from opshops is neat idea too, I'll have look into that.

  • optimisticynicl

    I like the idea of using old sheets for muslins. I also keep an eye out for fabric stores that are closing, then buy up bolts of ugly fabric super cheap.

  • Kate

    I sew.

    I mostly stick to dresses and skirts, I have tried pants but the results have been less then “inspiring” so I have mostly given up.

    I am trying to get into vintage patterns atm but the process is difficult. Resizing everything that already has different proportions has been making everything hard and extra time consuming.

  • Deidraaa

    I’m late to the party here, but I’ve been reading through your blog via a link on Joy Nash’s blog.

    I sew a lot of things for myself, and recommend making a fitting sloper (I can use it to alter any pattern above a sewing size 14, which is a regular size 10 to fit my size and figure).
    I also really like the “Sewing for Plus Sizes” book which shows you how to alter and adjust patterns.

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