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episodes

B-sides: Sewing While Food Insecure

Kelly & Jenny talk about what it’s like to balance a need to create with being food insecure. 

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episodes

70. Cutting into Vintage Textiles – yay or nay?

Episode 70: June 21

Topic: Cutting into Vintage Textiles   #pfScrappy

Sponsors:

Fibr & Cloth Studio Iris Pattern

Warp and Weft Textiles $100 gift card

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Any pdf pattern

Catch up:
Jenny:

Chart of projects Jenny made: Olive by Style Arc, Kineton Dress by Cashmerette, Hope by StyleArc, Atlas by Stitch Witch, Self-drafted by Self-drafted, Adrianne by Friday Pattern Company, Veronica Hope by Pattern Division, Saguaro Top by Friday Pattern Company

Attended sewing retreat by TopStitchAtl – and it was divine!  A great time – well organized, good pacing, lots of free time, and focused time.  Staff were amazing.

Beverly:

Made a #pfScrappy dress but it needs some work.  I used some nani iro double gauze and several types of linen and it hangs weird.  It is a landscape dress from a photo of the place Jim and I got engaged.

Boxy dress in angled color blocked fabrics in color to imitate a photo of a sandy beach with a tree in the foreground.
Sandy beach with a tree in the foreground with blue skies.

Made a matching Ashton top to go with the resort wear shirt I made for Jim.  

Two people stand facing the camera; both are wearing black pants, black sandals, and black shirts with art-deco style figures & creatures on the shirts including giraffes, zebras, and snakes.  The figure on the right has their head turned to gaze lovingly at the smiling person on  the left.  Both are also wearing glasses.

Made another Dragon Fruit dress in beautiful leaf printed cotton voile from Mood fabrics. – had a struggle with the serger, but it turned out ok.

Two more Sew House Seven Free Range slacks, one as shorts and one as pants – wide leg version.  I used the most fabulous textured cotton from Core Fabrics.  Love them both!

New patterns: Tauko Tuesday!

Jenny’s favs: note Tauko is available from Warp & Weft Textiles!

Image of the Hepla Dress pattern, showing a black person seated in a white dress with pleats at the center front waist of the dress; they are wearing pink fuzzy clogs, a cream colored neckerchief, and sitting in a plain room with a red tapestry behind them.  Another image shows the same person in a black version of the dress from behind; you can see their braided hair, the split opening at the center back, and a tie to close the neck as they gaze to the right of the image.
A black person with center parted braided hair wears a brown collar with a cascading scarf-like tier.  They are also wearing a blue ribbed shirt.  A smaller image shows black hands wearing similar cuffs in a taupe speckled material.

Marseille Dress – Hey June Handmade

Up to 63” hip

Make by  TFS- May Jean – max hip 63”

Two smiling persons, one white and one black, wear loose fitting jeans with plain white tucked-in tee shirts.  One is a plus sized person, the other is a straight sized person.

Closet Core Patterns Faye Swimsuit

Three persons wearing swimsuits.  Person 1 is wearing a hot pink two piece suit with narrow straps & no cups for the top, and a bikini bottom.  Person 2 is wearing a blue one piece suit with narrow straps.  Person three is wearing an orange two piece suit with no cups for the top, narrow straps, and a full brief bottom.

Max size: 60/53/63

Tilly and the Buttons Coralie swimsuit

Two persons are wearing swimsuits.  Person one is a plus size back person wearing a two piece suit.  The view is from 3/4 back; the top is aqua with a peach ruffle.  The back is a low U back.  The bottoms  are full briefs in lilac.  Person two is a straight sized white person wearing a one piece ruffled suit.  The neckline is scooped with a ruffle.

Max size: 60/53/61

Topic: 

Vintage Textiles & sewing. 

I do a lot of thrifting; I thought talking about re-use, re-fashion, and cutting up vintage textiles might be appropriate.   

Examples might include:

  • Granny Square afghans – make into sweaters, skirts, etc – okay, or not? 
  • Table & kitchen linens as fabric. 
A pair of color blocked shorts made from vintage linens.  The left side is made from terry cloth in orange and a woven Mushroom dish towel; the right size is vertical strips of gold and orange towels.

Brittney https://www.instagram.com/brttnlsn/ talks about making still functional quilts into clothing as akin to gentrification and notes that many quilters still here say they’d be devastated to see their quilts cut up for clothing. Once a quilt no longer functions as a blanket, she likens its use as fabric to a collaboration with the original artist. 

  • Mary Fons (Fons&Porter?) posted a viral video that said quilts into clothing is never ok – and likened it to cultural appropriation. Eek. The language used & tone of the vid got a lot of grief from BIOOC quilters especially. 
  • Is there an intersection with fat here? A quilt is a good-sized bit of fabric from one perspective. 😂

Tiny pricks project – IG – I submitted some artwork for this project.  The formal project is over now, but the account is still a great one to follow.  Diana Weymar created the project – stitching a material record.  Lots of quotes by Trump and responses to him.  She started it using thrifted and other vintage housewares.  

Categories
episodes

68 Intro to #pfScrappy

Sponsors:

Fibr & Cloth Studio Iris Pattern

Warp and Weft Textiles $100 gift card

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Any pdf pattern

Catch up:
Jenny:

Ashton Top Helen’s Closet

Estella Curve Paper Cut Patterns

DragonFruit Caramiya Maui

Dharma Trading Company Procion Fiber Reactive Dyes

Beverly:

I’ve done some sewing!!!  This week I made a slightly more A-line Ashton top using Pierre Cardin floral fabric from Mood Fabrics.  I added an inch to the hem and made a straight line.  It came out really nice!

Next I made a Caramiya Dragonfruit! Also from Mood.  I love it!  The fabric is the same that I sent to Jenny.  Did you get it yet?  If not, I won’t talk about it.  I totally did!! 

Finally I made an Ashton dress!  I did it just like you said – cut at cropped top length, and add a gathered skirt.  My fabric was about 52 inches after removing selvedge, so I used 2x that width and gathered it.  So many compliments! Yesterday at work a woman asked me, “Where on earth do you shop? You’ve got the best clothes!”  

New patterns:

Elbe Textiles Weiland tank: cropped tank – max measurements 58.5 chest and 50” waist – love to see a C/D cup in a tank.  I am interested in making the Caladium Jumpsuit by Caramiya and I think this would be a great thing to wear under it.

Plus size woman facing forward wearing a black tank top and black bottoms, hands at sides.

Itch to Stitch Sentosa Tank: I don’t usually go for things like this, but I like it.  It is a loose-fitting tank with an asymmetrical pleated neckline.  It is designed for knit fabric but several examples appeared to be woven.  Lots of examples on the website.

Cashmerette Kineton Dress. 

Line drawings of a dress with a deep v neck front and a shallower v neck back.  Gathered at waist, with center seams front and back.  Set in sleeves with a gathering at the top of the sleeve, and elastic at the cuffs.  Second set of images show the same dress but with short gathered sleeves.

Made for mermaids Ruthie Dress: max 64” hip

Colorful image with 8 variations of a garment.  The first four are variations on the tank top including a gathered keyhole neckline & gathered front center. These are show in both cropped and full length tank tops.  The four dresses are the same four variations on the bodice, with full circle skirts that are knee length or above the knee length.

So what’s our topic this month?  We’re taking a cue from our listeners, and this month we’re looking at all things scrappy.  The hashtag is #pfScrappy.  We asked you all to give us ideas for this year’s episodes and MargieMakes, FatThighsAndMermaidPants, and Sara.Fornia all suggested scrap busting, using up what you have, or color blocking – and that’s great for this month’s theme.  

MargiemakesFrugal challenge, like use what you have? Or a pattern you’ve been putting of?
fatThightsAndMermaidPantsScrap buster, but with ideas for fat sewists
SaraForniaScrap buster
SaraForniaColor blocking

Examples might include:

Illustrations of high waisted underwear with the front & back as single pieces of fabric, or as front, back, and sides.  One pair is edged with lace.

Underwear: it’s easy to use up knit scraps here; before I realized I just like my Cacique ready to wear undies, I used my knit scraps to cut fronts, backs, and linings so I’d be ready to make u dies any time. Fav pattern is the Muna & broad Kapunda undies. Up to a 71.5” hip

Line drawings of a shirt with a high round collar that ties in the back.  The sleeves are very fully with gathering at the shoulder, and elastic at the short sleeve hem.  The shirt has a yoke; in the front the yoke has a gathered trim inserted.
Photo of two women wearing a woven shirt that hits at mid-hip.  The seated woman is wearing a white shirt with horizontal tucks in the long sleeves that have elastic at the wrists.  The neckline is a keyhole with ties joined at the center.  The standing woman is wearing the same shirt in a burgundy fabric, with the keyhole neckline ties left open.

Dresses: I love a dress with a yoke for color blocking. I’ve used Friday Pattern Company Sagebrush (max 60” chest), Cashmerette Alton (62” max chest) this way – making the yoke in a solid & the rest of the dress in a coordinating solid, or print. CrisWoodSews Envelope Dress

Isabelle_sews – and if you don’t follow her, you SHOULD!- has posted a few dresses with pieced bodices and I am so inspired.  She mentions in her posts that she was inspired by mabelmade and pettypopcornmakes.  I went to their Instagram pages and OMG!  So much good stuff for this challenge.

Make your own fabric: here you can piece together a quilt pattern & use it to cut out a garment, or strip piece fabrics together to the same end. I have several plans along these lines already. 

Illustration of a very gathered pair of pants; these are so full they might be mistaken for a floor length skirt if you didn't know they were pants.  THere's a seam line below the knee where fabric was joined to make up the length of the pants.

Pants: Tauko Panel pants are designed for color blocking.  Max 53” waist (finished fitted measurement).  

Do you have a treasured fabric? Consider following DivineDita (Nandita) & using it as an accent. 

An instagram profile for divinedita with images of Nandita wearing colorful dresses appear.

Make a garment where you cut each piece out of a different fabric. 

And instagram profile for renegadeseamstres where images are shown of colorful color blocked dresses.

Pdxsquared made this beautiful quilt out of largish pieces of leftover linen – smaller than you’d generally use for a pattern piece, but larger than quilt pieces often are.  

A pieced quilt with very large solid pieces and some smaller pieces.  Random size and colors.

Here’s RenegadeSeamstres to share more ideas on how to make use of scraps in your sewing this month! 

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episodes

66: All About Linen

Topic: All About Linen 

Sponsors:

3/10/2022StyleArcFree pattern – any monthMay
1/10/2022CaramiyaMauiFree pattern – any monthMay

Catch up:
Jenny:

I’ve been on a tear with the Isla Wrap dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade.  I tested this dress is a lovely midweight navy linen, and then made another in a black-and-white windowpane cotton, followed by one from a quilting cotton printed with canned veggies.  I also made one more Dragonfruit dress by CaramiyaMaui  from a voile I bought at Mulberry Silks in Carrboro, NC.

Beverly:

I finally finished something!!! I made the Seamwork Marlow in navy blue linen from fabrics-store.com.  

I started my Merchant and Mills Eve Trousers toile.  Real toile!  Using muslin (calico) fabric all marked up with sharpie! I am using the Top-down-center-out method of fitting created by @ithacamaven

Let’s do a deep dive in to one of our favorite fibers:  Linen.  Right of the bat, let’s be clear that we’re not experts.  We’re linen-lovers, but that doesn’t mean we’re where you should come for you eduction about linen.  For that, please go to Love to Sews episode about linen & their podcast all about different fabrics.

Tomkat Stitchery new episode: Top 10 Patterns for Linen

Is your linen scratchy?  Whitney suggests soaking in 50% coke, 50% water. She thinks the acid does the trick.  Perhaps a citric acid wash would do well too.  Ooo!  So you could try Mountain Dew, too!

So why do we love linen?

I have Beverly to thank for my love of linen.  This is a fiber I just thought of as too expensive for me to sew with – even though, most of the linen I buy is about the same price as high quality quilting cotton (but wider!) & nice rayons (same width).  While I do mostly source from Fabric-store.com, here are some other great places to get linens:

Where to buy:

Mulberry Silks:  Sign up for their newsletter, call them and ask for help with their linens, or if you’re lucky enough to be in the area, go visit them in NC.  Everything about this varies wildly – price, width, texture.  

Mood Fabrics: I want to call out specifically their Mood exclusive Linen & Rayon blend fabrics. These are 53” wide, and 55% linen/45% viscose rayon.  They wash up and feel like a silk noil to me – and I’m here for it.  I love the drape, the hand, the smell, everything about these.  About $18/yard.

Domesticity:  This is the Baltimore shop we met podcast listeners at a in February.  They carry the Merchant & Mills linens which are as delightful as their very high price tag would imply.  I’ve got one on my cutting table now for the new Jennifer Lauren Handmade Isla wrap dress.

The Fabric Store in New Zealand

What to make:

StyleArc Hope Dress

Line drawing of a raglan dress with long sleeves gathered at the wrist.  Skirt is also gathered and extends to tunic or midi length.

Made by Rae Trillium Dress & Made by Rae Ruby Dress

  • Change the sleeves
  • Add a tie
  • Use a casing for the elastic
  • Add piping
  • Change amount of gathers/pleats
A headless body wears an orange dress with pleated skirt.  Neckline is round and scooped.  Bodice has cap sleeves.
Image of a dress with a dark above check yoke, to which is attached a gathered skirt made from orange fabric printed with white intricately drawn feathers.

Trillium: 

This sweet dress or top features a cut-out scoop neckline, pockets, and shirring in the back for an easy, comfortable fit. Choose from two lengths (dress or top), scoop or cutout neckline, and sleeveless or cap sleeves to create a number of different styles. No zippers or closures are needed, making this a wonderful project for the confident beginner or intermediate sewist!

Ruby: 

Ruby is a great, basic beginner’s dress or top for woven fabrics!

Ruby features a contrast yoke and gathers for a comfortable and flattering fit without the need for bust darts, zippers, or closures. Armholes and neckline are bias-bound for an easy finish. Two lengths, dress (above the knee) and top (hip length) are included.

Anything by Muna & Broad

This image features two images from a sewing website.  In both a plus size asian woman is modeling a garment.  In image 1, she is smiling & wearing a denim jacket with large pockets on the front at the waist & chest.  In image 2, she is not smiling and is wearing a black shirt with collar, pockets, and long sleeves.
Image 1: a white plus size person stands turned 2/3 of the way to the back, wearing a gold tank top tucked int o dark, slim legged pants.  In image 2, a white plus size person is facing the camera, wearing a white printed top with long sleeves, and bright pink pants with wide legs.
A white plus sized person is standing facing the camera, but looking off camera, in bright pink pants with wide legs, and a boxy top in a garnet color.

Alton Blouse by Cashmerette Club / Montrose Top by Cashmerette

Alton: 

Boho is in full bloom with the Alton Blouse! The Alton features striking pleated sleeves with elastic cuffs or straight long sleeves and a faced keyhole neckline that can be worn open or tied. Sew yours up in a silk or voile for an ethereal blouse you’ll love to wear, or mix and match the Alton with the Montrose Top’s necklines, yoke, and sleeves for even more options!

Montrose: 

This timeless pattern features two variations: View A is a scoop neck blouse with short sleeves and curved back yoke, while View B shows off lace fabrics with a jewel neck, elbow length sleeves, and keyhole back. 

A plus sized person with dark hair is wearing a white swiss dot top with a keyhole neckline that is tied closed at the top; the shirt has long sleeves with tucks in it at the bicep and near the wrist.  The wrist is  gathered.  This person is also wearing jeans which can be seem slightly at the bottom of the image.
A black and white line drawing of two shirt.  Shirt 1 is short sleeved, with bust darts on the front; the back has a yoke with a gathered skirt back attached.  The shirt is hip length.  Shirt 2 is boat necked, with elbow length sleeves, and is made from a lacy fabric.

Belemnite Dress by Marilla Walker

A line drawing of the front of a pattern envelope for the Marilla Walker Beleminte dress 101.  The dress is shown with two sleeve varieties, one is grown on long sleeves with a gathered wrist; the other is a short grown on sleeve with a wide ruffle attached.  The dress is princess seamed with waist ties that extend from the front princess seams to a bow in the back.  The skirt is gored and ends with a lantern hem.

BELEMNITE DRESS

View A – Easy fitting, fit and flare dress with long gathered sleeves and an A-line, lantern shaped skirt. There are self-fabric ties at the waist, a back-zip closure and the v-neckline is finished with a facing.

View B – Easy fitting, fit and flare shirt style dress with grown on sleeves, ruffle cuff and an A-line lantern shaped skirt. There are self-fabric ties at the waist, button front closure and the neckline is finished with a facing.

BONUS SLEEVE – View A with extra sleeve volume.

All of the patterns by Elizabeth Suzann

Helen’s closet Gilbert

An image of a fat person wearing a purple dyed button front top with a camp collar & ties at the waist.  The sleeves are short with a cuff.  The person is standing in front of greenery and trees, with their hand in their hair.

Sew House Seven Free Range Slacks

A black and white line drawing of pants with an elastic waist & deep front pockets.  In one version, the legs are tapered and a back patch pocket is added; in the second version, there is no back pocket and the pants are wide legged.  Both pairs of pants have a panel extending from waistband to cuff at both sides.

Merchant and Mills: Shirtdress, Factory Dress, Florence

Planning to try a linen scrap quilt, similar to this striped quilt pattern from Gathered.

This is an image of a quilt hanging on a wall.  It is made up of horizontal striped pieces.  Every other stripe is a single fabric, and the alternate strip is pieced from several different fabrics.  The fabrics are generally pastel prints, with a few bright orange & red fabrics used in the piecing.

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blog

Sizeism in the Sewing Community

This is a topic that is near and dear to my fat self – and I am delighted to have a chance to share it in a longer form than my usual Instagram posts about the same.  I’ve shared a little about this in the past on my own blog here: https://thatssewjenny.com/episodes/being-part-of-the-solution.

And I accidentally shared a bit about how sizeism makes me feel in a YouTube pattern haul video here.  The video started as a celebration of the patterns I’d bought on sale, but by the end was really a commentary on how the “big four” pattern companies don’t really see my body at all.

Let’s dive in:  what do I mean when I say “sizeism”?  Well, there’s a default setting in sewing communities for a smaller body size – so when things are drafted, they’re generally drafted for that smaller body.  Bigger bodies end up as an afterthought (leaving the design challenges to the sewist instead of the designer) regularly.  This leaves bigger bodies in a marginalized space within the sewing community.  

Why do I talk about size extension instead of size inclusion?  Because it is impossible to include everyone in any sizing chart – so what I’m asking for is that pattern companies extend their sizing charts to include a more significant number of sewists.  I also recognize that it is unlikely that sizing charts will include all sewists (true inclusivity).  There are several designers who will draft their patterns to include your measurements (Muna & Broad, SizeMe, RubyNZ) which can make their designs very inclusive – but even then there can be a barrier to getting this done as the measurements required may be intimidating or hard to come by if you’re a sewist without someone to assist you in taking those measurements.

You’ve likely seen this at one time or another when you check out a pattern and find you aren’t able to fit it due to some measurement or another.  For me, it’s almost always hip size, but sometimes it’s also my waist size.  If you fit easily in the standard size patterns, you may have become aware of this issue when you recommended a pattern to a larger friend … only to have them report back that it doesn’t come up to their size.  This was Beverly’s experience when she looked for a pattern for her daughter to sew.  

In addition, the topic comes up regularly on discussion forums & Instagram posts when a designer is called out for their lack of size extension, usually with bad results. 

Want some context? Check out these discussions that have occurred elsewhere:

  • A discussion on size extension, inclusivity, & Gertie’s Charm Patterns here.
  • Before Tilly & the Buttons announced they’d be extending their sizing, they first said they weren’t going to make it a focus. @threadyforit started a conversation on size extension on Instagram in December 2021.  That discussion also occurred on Reddit here.
  • Designer Tessuti Fabrics committed to extended sizing, but then released a very simple pleated skirt without including larger sizes.  The fallout can be seen here (Tessuti turned off the comments on the post launching the new pattern in Jan 2020, so you have to read between the lines a bit on this post from Leila Sews with a tutorial for self-drafting a similar style skirt).  I did a quick review of their current offerings, and it appears extending their size range never became a priority.

So what can designers do to make a difference?  

  • Starting today, plan to create patterns in sizes up to 70” hips minimum for all future patterns
  • Create a plan to extend previous designs
    • Make sure expansion prioritizes popular designs
    • Make sure expansion includes updating the images on the website
      • Your models should reflect your size range
      • Your Instagram feed should reflect your size range
      • Update images of size charts (if I have to dig around to see if something fits me, I get the message that you don’t care about me)
  • Talk about what’s needed to make extending the size range feasible
    • New pattern block
    • Pattern testers
      • Paid
      • Fabric provided
      • Paper printing reimbursed
    • Additional training on grading for larger figures
      • Apple-shaped
      • Pear-shaped
      • Gender-neutral styles
  • Commit to transparency regarding your plans, your barriers to extended sizing

The fat sewing community is a significant underserved community.  Designers who get it right have access to $ that other designers – those who can’t picture bigger bodies in their designs – are missing out on.

We should also recognize the damage done to fat sewists when patterns aren’t designed for our bodies.  We’re all a part of the community until the latest pattern that’s all the rage goes around … and it turns out your body isn’t one that can participate due to a lack of size range.  This happens to me all the time… I rarely get to go all-in on the latest pattern you see on every sewist’s “must make” list because it’s all too uncommon for these to come up to a 61” hip.  Recently a favorite sewist shared yet another one of her amazing Wiksten Shift dresses – and I finally decided that I’d buy the pattern and make it … but of course, it isn’t sized for me.  This hip stops 9” before my hips do. This is one of those blind spots I have.  I am so used to being excluded, that I hardly get disappointed about it when it happens now.

Linked here are three conversations I had with members of our community about this topic.  I hope you take the time to listen to each one.  Share with us your thoughts here and on Instagram by tagging us #pfSizeExtension

First up, my conversation with Marianne (Instagram: @therotund)

Next up, my conversation with Leila (Instagram: @leila_sews)

Finally, my conversation with Aaronica (Instagram: @theneedleandthebelle)

In addition to actions designers can take, here are some things especially straight-sized sewists can do to make a difference (big thanks for Beverly for the suggestions here for straight-sized sewists):

  1. Refuse to purchase patterns that don’t come in decent size ranges.  You can draw the line where you please, but a good recommendation might be to avoid pattern companies that don’t have a larger block for plus-sized sewists.  Typically, if a pattern company isn’t designing for a 60” hip, they’re not reaching a significant number of fat sewists.  
  2. If that’s too big an ask for you right now, you could choose not to advertise for those companies – either not posting those makes or not tagging the designer/pattern when you do make something from a non-extended pattern.
  3. And if that’s too big an ask, you could post the maximum size of patterns that you make.  This is especially important for patterns with limited size ranges.  It’s not nice for plus-sized sewists to get excited to make a pattern only to go try to get it and find the largest size is much too small for them. 

If you aren’t ready to try 1, 2, or 3 above, I understand.  It’s really hard to look at the world of possibility and realize you can’t participate because you decided to be an ally to fat sewists … that inability to participate is a fat sewists reality every day.  

What do you think should change?  Where do you see problems? How are you going to help?