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Sew Better Plus-Size Garments

Implement simple revisions for comfortable, long-wearing clothes
Threads, Issue #209 June/July 2020
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Don't be limited by the size range on the pattern envelope: Sew to suit your own figure.

If you’re investing time in sewing clothes to fit your figure, it’s worthwhile to employ smart, durable construction techniques. In Threads #208 (June/July 2020), I described the basic method for adjusting a standard-size pattern for a fuller figure. Once you’ve gotten your pattern to fit correctly, you can build in some give where you need it and create stronger seams where there may be strain during wear. You don’t have to default to knit fabrics to get the comfort you desire—although knits are an important part of most contemporary wardrobes.

Create a custom-fitted suit with easy sizing and sewing techniques. Patterns: jacket, Kwik Sew 3334; skirt, Butterick 5466 (out of print), modified. Fabric: stretch jacquard suiting, EmmaOneSock.com.

The methods I show work for any size garment or figure but are especially helpful in clothing for plus-size women. As the body bends, moves, or sits, fullness can shift. This causes waistbands to dig in or roll and puts stress on seams. You may doubt the fit of your clothes in action, even if they look and feel great when you’re standing still. A few adaptations can solve this. I’ll explain how to adapt a straight waistband to add elastic along the back, where it can be concealed under a jacket. You may prefer to add elastic at the sides only and keep a fly front and a couple of darts in back for a smoother look; this is another simple update. You’ll also learn methods for sewing reinforced seams. These seams are helpful on fitted garments and prevent wear and tear at the crotch seam, upper inseam, and side seam from waist to thighs. With these methods, you can sew clothes that are easy to wear and last for several seasons.

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