Five tips for sewing for curves
Learning to sew can be a fantastic experience for anyone – but particularly if you find it hard to find clothes to fit you in shops. The average UK woman is a size 16 and has a D cup chest, but it can be really difficult to find well-fitting, fashionable and modern clothes, so it’s no wonder that so many of us turn to sewing. Once you’ve mastered some basic techniques the world is your oyster: get ready for an amazing confidence boost when you step out in clothes that fit perfectly and look great!
Here are five tips for sewing when you have a curvy figure:
1. Know your measurements.
It can be hard being labeled with a certain size when you’re in a shop, but when it comes to sewing, measurements are crucial – but much more objective! After all, your waist measurement is just that, and it’s not about trying to squeeze youself into a specific size. If you make your clothes in a size that fits you, you’ll be so much more comfortable, and they’ll be much more flattering. So, make sure that you are taking your measurements accurately and are honest with yourself, as it’s the crucial starting point for sewing well-fitting garments. Not sure how to measure? Check out this guide to taking your measurements on the Curvy Sewing Collective.
2. Pick garment styles that work for you
The joy of sewing is that you can make and wear anything! But I think there are some sewing patterns and clothing styles that look particularly awesome on curvy women, so they’re a great place to start.
- Fit and flare dresses. Especially loved by my pear shaped sisters, this style nips in at the waist and skims over the tummy and hips. They look fantastic with a skinny belt, and can be dressed up or down
- Wrap dresses. Not only are they elegant while feeling like secret pyjamas, but wrap dresses are also a girls’ best friend if you body fluctuates up and down over time. They look fantastic on women of all sizes and shapes, but are particularly great if you have a bigger bust. I have a whole section of my website dedicated to wrap dresses if you’d like to learn more!
- Knee-length skirts. These are a great place to start if you’re new to sewing. I particularly love McCall’s 6931 which has an elasticated waist but can still look really sophisticated. If you’re an apple shape like me they’re also a godsend when you sit down! I’ve made several versions including a lace skirt with a silk underlay.
3. Consider your fabrics
Everyone has their own style, but many curvy sewists I know are looking for fabric that will give shaping and definition without being clingy. For non-stretchy fabrics, I recommend trying out mid-weight cottons which are great for everything from shirt dresses to pencil skirts, or chambray which is a sophisticated twist on a denim look. If you’re looking for stretchy fabrics, ponte knit is heavier and less stretchy than average so is easier to sew with (though make sure it has enough stretch for your pattern), and midweight jerseys are also fine if you take a little extra time with them.
4. Use patterns designed for curves
Did you know that most pattern companies design for a size 10 body and a B or C cup chest? That means that if you’re bigger the proportions and sizing may not work for you. There are a number of pattern designers who are now designing for curves which means it’ll be much easier to make the garment work for you!
- I run Cashmerette Patterns, which is the first pattern company in sizes 16 – 32 (UK) and cup sizes from C – H. My first pattern is the Appleton Dress, a classic wrap dress with a no-gape neckband! You can see it here.
- Sewaholic is a brand which designs for pear-shaped women, and some of their patterns are available available up to a US size 20 (UK 24).
- Simplicity has cup-sized patterns in their “Amazing Fit” range, some of which are available up to a D/DD.
5. Learn how to do basic adjustments
In an ideal world you’d only use patterns designed for your body type and in your size, but sometimes we want to make something that isn’t just because it’s so great! That means you need to learn to make adjustments. Some of the most common are a Full Bust Adjustment, enlarging the waist, or making sleeves bigger. You can also see more tutorials at the Curvy Sewing Collective here.
I hope these tips help you, and you discover how amazing sewing your own wardrobe can be!