Interview with Lindy- her notes

First we will ask you to introduce yourself and tell folks how to find you.
You can find me on Instagram @stokxpatterns and my webpage is

When, how and why did you learn to sew?
I learnt to sew by hand as a child. I also watched my mother crawl around the floor cutting out patterns. We would go to department stores and look through the big books of patterns . She would buy a pattern and material and it would still be there years later. Although she did make the school uniforms on time.

Did you go to fashion school?
I did a certificate in dress design . It was a course of just over 2 years and I was finished before I was 20 years old. One of our teachers was an English lady- a couturier .We had a lesson with her about draping- I use this method to find my shapes to this day. Our design teacher was a maverick- she really encouraged us to think outside the box.
She gave us the task to imagine another planet- with a different type of society. This is still one of my design filters.

How did you start your pattern design process?
I have always been fascinated by shapes. Geometry was my favourite part of maths. My certificate in dress design gave me the basics. The reason you make a pattern is to be able to reproduce a shape.There is a logic to assembling shapes. What goes where is indicated by the pattern notches. There are a series of symbols my colleague and I have created for the patterns including a symbol to indicate when a
pattern piece is cut as a pair.

What do you do yourself and what do you contract out?
I make the patterns and sew the models myself. Some styles come together quickly- others knock around for years. The patterns are the same as the ones I use for the clothes in my shop. My shirtdress pattern has been in production since 2006. I skipped the testing process initially for this reason- because the pattern works. However what needed to be checked was how clear the instructions were- how the makers understand them and what can make the process more enjoyable. Next the patterns go to a clothing engineer who grades the patterns with me breathing down her neck. Then -This data is sent to a graphic designer who formats the patterns: the cutting lines,
seam lines, grain lines,text ,notches… layers. My colleague, Norea does the beautiful construction drawings . She is also a dress designer and we discuss the best construction methods.

What are the most rewarding parts of having your own pattern company?
It ticks so many boxes for me. Finally – every style, every colour, every size! No bricks and mortar shop is big enough for this. I love seeing what everyone is making. It is also important to me to document my work. With each pattern I am setting myself free. Letting go. I need this. The sewing community is multi talented and warm and funny. I have so much more in common with other makers than with the fashion industry.

The most difficult?
Technology is difficult for me – but I wont give up! And I need to accept that it is impossible to make everyone happy.

What to talk about on Punk Frockers.
“Design for Disability”
We could call this Design. With a capital D please. Should Design for Disability be only for those with disability or should suitable garments
already exist within the realm of inclusive design? The answer is probably … sometimes . Let’s just start the conversation.

What is disability?
long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder [a person’s] full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Disability can be visible or invisible – severe or minor. 15% of the world’s population can be considered disabled.

What is Design ?
Design is about making decisions. At best, informed decisions.
Start by informing yourself. Interview the person or persons you would like to design for.. Find out what is important to them.Do they need special equipment? How does a day in their life look? Ask how they have been sorting themselves out until now. Listen . Ask “what if” questions. Have an open mind. Don´t jump to a solution before you have been thoroughly briefed. In the perfect world the clothing will enhance and empower the wearer. This would be my goal and the method I have described is how I would begin to achieve this.
My design style could be described as pragmatic- but that is how I express my rugged individuality.
Here are some examples of clothing design rather than fashion design.
Classic workwear is a favourite source of inspiration for me. In Germany workwear has been perfected over generations. Carpenters wear flared trousers so sawdust doesn´t get into their shoes. Cooks´ Jackets have round buttons so the jacket can be removed quickly .
If the jacket is on fire or covered in hot sauce, you don’t want to be stuck inside it. Also, because classic cooks’ jackets are double breasted they can be re-buttoned to hide a dirty front and instead show a clean front when a cook is called into the restaurant. (this doesn´t work with snaps- another quick release method). Uniform design is especially interesting because it needs to be ergonomic and fit very large
and very small sizes- but this is an enormous subject we can talk about another time.

So getting back to specifics. Who?
We all know one size doesn´t fit all… except for maybe an earring.
It is the same with style. One style isn’t right for everybody. How we dress is a language. What does the person or persons want to say?
We all know that clothes are worn for more reasons than JUST keeping warm. Disability is a broad field. One thing we can all agree on is SAFETY. Imagine a wheelchair user would like to be married in a traditional style. I would discourage wearing a long train because it would be awful to have it caught up in the wheels, although
there is still enormous scope to create a memorable garment . But you know what ?- if a bride wanted to be wildly impractical- this is Ok too!
I have recently created costumes for a trapeze duo. I want to use them as an example because they have special criteria that need to be taken
into consideration. They are clowns and their characters need to appear as a conservative couple. The Lady wears a knee length skirt, but she has to be able to see when she is hanging upside down. The skirt has been secured at the high hip to keep her safe. Her gentleman friend has other problems. His shirt has to stay in his trousers when he is swinging on the trapeze. I have created sleeves so that his arm movement is unrestricted. The bottom of the shirt has been sewn onto dance briefs which can´t be seen because he wears trousers over them. Let me add that I have sewn 2cm wide webbing to the entire
inseam of his trousers because he uses them to swing from the trapeze as part of the act. The garments are worn during rehearsal. If something doesn´t work or even worse is through oversight, is potentially dangerous,I look for a new solution.

I have customers in all shapes and sizes. Over years we have established trust- They see my sewing machines and might mention that they wear a pump for diabetes. It is a quick fix to open the inside pocket seam so they can wear their pump. If I know this is the case I will suggest other things in the shop that would work for them.Another one of my customers has trouble with buttons so snaps are a good substitute.

I have a love hate relationship with Fashion – However sometimes it gets it so right! In 1999, the british designer Alexandra McQueen designed some exquisite wooden legs for Aimee Mullins, whose legs were amputated below the knee when she was one year old.
She opened the fashion show wearing her bespoke carved legs. The collective shock of this moment still resonates. On this occasion the boundaries between “able-bodied” and “disabled” took a second place to beauty. She started off as an athlete and wanted to run really fast. She could only achieve this with access to the newly developed special carbon fibre legs. A designer solved this problem for her.

Who the hell am I?
Hello, I have been a designer and maker for more than 30 years.
One of my first jobs was making costumes for a childrens´ theatre.
I made kings and Queens, Spanish renaissance dresses and a frock for Carmen Miranda. In Australia in the 80´s I wasn’t aware of dedicated costume making schools- I figured out how to make these things.

One of the strangest things I have made was a sequinned octopus with detachable legs. “Nautasophities “was made out of foam rubber covered in navy lycra. 6 lycra sheaths were attached to the rounded body of the octopus. 6 detachable legs were attached with velcro
inside the sheaths and the other 2 legs;in navy lycra tights ,belonged to the actor inside the suit. The octopus ,featured in a play called “The Water Babies.” The playful water babies would pull off the octopus`s legs every night.

The largest thing I have sewn wasn´t clothing, it was a collapsible darkroom for a pin prick camera. It was made of thick black cloth; the kind used backstage in theatres. The structure, at its largest, was 4m x 3m x 2m. It was commissioned by an artist who wanted to expose a sheet of photographic paper for a minute or so out of every room of a kilometre long building built on Germany´s coast. Each room had a view of the sea. The camera room had to be so big to get a sharp image on the sheet of photographic paper and be collapsible to get into the rooms.

I prefer to call myself a clothing designer rather than a fashion designer. Designing has a number of “enabling constraints”
The styles for my shop had to be adaptable for people of different heights and body shapes. Making everything in Germany, with a living wage, allows for no time consuming and extraneous snick snacks.
My use of patterned fabric has been limited to stripes or checks so that it made more sense to customers to purchase my clothes as investment pieces. Fashion tends to be about exclusivity- I am much more interested in inclusivity. I am embarrassed when someone comes into my shop and I have nothing that fits them.
The idea behind my pattern project started with the wish to have every size in every colour available. Over the years I have developed 150 styles.-If you multiply this by 13 sizes- A problem starts to emerge, you’ll get a number over one thousand, closer to 2000. Each colour
multiplies this number and you still only have one of eachSo many clothes don´t fit in my shop. However making styles available for people who want to sew for themselves or pay someone in their community to do it, is a creative solution. Each solution throws up more challenges- communication, tech-compatibility, copyright.
This is par for the course with implementing new systems. It has also been exciting to discover the activism in sewing communities. You can find discussions about body image. The LGBTQ community are seeking their own style. They can´t find styles that fit their
expectations , so they are making their own clothes as they like them.
In my view the Fashion gods on high have lost the plot. I love the sewing community- I am not getting back in my box. I have had a year of hanging out in the sewing community- unlike the rag trade ,I share their values and feel emboldened.


Emery Smith on GLAM

When I was a kid I never liked getting dressed up. I hated dresses. I never wanted to be the princess, I actually wanted to be the prince. But that always felt like something impossible, and something shameful.

And as I got older, I grew more and more apathetic about clothing. I wore clothing in styles that other people said they liked.  It didn’t really matter what I wore because nothing felt right anyway.

But when I began exploring my gender identity in my mid-thirties and realised, I was non-binary, I discovered a newfound confidence to express myself the way I wanted for the very first time. I began to realise clothing, in fact, has no gender. Life is too short to worry about what other people think.

And I realised that dressing up didn’t have to mean wearing a dress.

I began to dream of three-piece suits, ties, cravats, brogues….

I quickly learnt though, that the clothing I wanted to wear was generally not made for body shapes like mine. In fact, they often made me feel worse about myself. Shirts would not button up around my hips. Jackets were too big across my shoulders. I decided there was nothing else for it – I needed to learn to sew my own clothes.

It’s not always straightforward – the sewing pattern industry is heavily gendered. As a non-binary or gender-non-conforming person it can be difficult to know where to start.  I often have to decide between patterns advertised for ‘men’ or for ‘women’ and make a judgement as to which one will be the easiest to adjust to my body.

There was a steep learning curve but the first time I made a button up shirt that actually fit I felt like I’d discovered a superpower. The buttonholes were wonky and the seams messy but I was hooked. I haven’t looked back.

So far I have focused most of my sewing efforts on shirts and waistcoats. Shirts are a wardrobe essential and waistcoats are one of my most favourite things to make – fairly straightforward to sew and produce instant dapper style! Plus you can really have fun with fabrics and linings. Eventually though I hope to be able to make an entire three piece suit.

Clothing has now become a way to bring immense joy and gender euphoria to my life. And sewing has allowed me to keep my own sense of style regardless of how my body changes with time. I didn’t even let pregnancy stop me from looking dapper, so I certainly won’t let anything else!


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:

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?