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My Tips for Sewing for Curves

The struggle of curvy women to find clothes that are not only the appropriate size, but also the right fit is nearly impossible, and when we do find it, it’s usually very expensive and hard to come by. That is why I love sewing my own clothes, and I’ve picked up quite a few tricks along the way, so let me share them with you:

Tip 1: Know your exact measurements

There are three main parts of your body that you should know the exact measurements of the bust, measured at the widest part of your chest, your waist, measured at the smallest part of your stomach area, and your hips, which are the measurement around the widest part of your bottom. For specific projects, you might need to know some extra measurements, but these are the ones that are most useful. If you are making a piece where you can freely choose the length or width of an item, try using another piece as a reference for what looks good on your body and what you like wearing. When measuring, make sure you are getting the exact measures – taking a few inches from the number will only yield ill-fitting clothes, so make sure you get correct and honest measures. After all – it’s just numbers!

Tip 2: Know your body shape

I’ve been told so many times that shift dresses were the way to go for me, because they hid the visible stomach outline that I have, but after the first time I tried taking one of them in at the waist and making it into a skater dress, my eyes were opened. I started exploring more options for hourglass-shaped bodies, and I found what works well. I had a lot of shirts that simply sat at the back of my wardrobe because I didn’t like the way they figure-hugged my body, but after sewing on a peplum piece on one of them, it became my new favorite thing.

Tip 3: Choose the right fabric

In sewing, the fabric is everything. The way a fabric falls or moves will determine the type of garment that you will have. For most of the pieces I make that have a looser fit, like skirts, tops or dresses, I like to use a heavy jersey, because it falls straight down, meaning it doesn’t give you any extra volume, but when you move, it flows beautifully with your body. For figure-hugging styles, I make sure that the fabric is breathable and that it doesn’t have a shine to it because a shiny fabric will show every lump and bump when it reflects the light.

Tip 4: Recreate the clothes you love

There have been so many times when I’ve bought clothes that fit me perfectly in one area, but completely fail in another department. That is when you can let all of your designer creativity shine. I love buying pieces I like and then making them my own. Whether that means attaching sleeves to them or tracing the pattern of the top of my favorite dress as part of the pattern for a dress I’m making for myself, I love to let the clothes I like inspire me to make something that will be the ultimate piece. Try buying trendy plus size fashion pieces from companies that specialize in plus size or curvy clothes, and study their design. High-quality pieces like those are a great way to learn about curvy fits, stitches, and materials, and I’ve learned too many things that I can apply in my other designs.

There is a big gap in the fashion industry for curvy ladies, and even though we have and are thankful for the devoted stores that give us the pieces we need, the industry as a whole has ways to go. Until then, it’s important to learn the trick on how you can create and modify your clothes to make you feel comfortable and confident while wearing them.


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  1. User avater
    alisonjaeger | | #1

    very unique tips

  2. User avater
    prhpage | | #2

    These hare helpful tips. I'm going to try adding sleeves to tops and dresses that are sleeveless, because although I really like the look and fit of some of them, I don't like how my upper arms look.
    At the beginning of your article, you talked about the revelations you've had in changing patterns. I've got to get busy on this!

  3. doreet | | #3

    Wow, you are one of the first sewing designers that have finally talked about how the fabric determines how your clothing will look and fit. Heavy silk will fit a lot differently than a light cotton.I used to buy a lot of heavy-women's clothing,but I stopped cause so much of it is just bad cheap polyester,and the companies have given up on real quality. May I name one,"LB"? Their stuff is so bad,and yet they have taken over other clothing companies,and ruined them too. Some that were good,went out of business.I went back to sewing out of sheer necessity. I have a lot of old fabric from the 60's,and I notice that Retro fashion keeps going on.WHEW!! I commented to that :"give away free book"that I needed instructions that were PRACTICAL FOR EVERY DAY CLOTHING I DON'T WANT TO BUY ANY MORE.--not fantastical gowns. Example,I was just sewing a Gingham checked white and green summer dress,and am getting help from a much more experienced sewer. it's a large size.If I had tried to buy it,it would have junky fabric and be badly sewed.--And it would have cost a fortune.As it is,when there is a sale in any fabric company near me,or even online,then I can get something at least that will be wearable and sewed ok, by me., eventually.My friend took a very soft plaid blanket,and sewed it in the shape of a poncho with a hood. --You cannot tell anyone sewed it herself!!That is how helpful that sewing can be for us. There not only is a worse gap in large clothing for fashion, there is also much worse quality in all the clothing.Years ago,I was in Sak;s 5th Ave store,for a meeting after hours,and my sister and I looked at all the expensive clothing.It was very badly made and sewed.The silk stank because it was rotten. phew!!That was Saks!!Diane Von Furstenburg!! Do you really think very rich women would buy that stuff,and not just get a seamstress to sew them up some decent clothing instead?QUALITY in clothing made in Asian and other countries,is really getting bad.

  4. tdu | | #4

    I'm curvy AND short, and that combination really scares me away from taking on a project. I hate failing. :) Thank you for these valuable reminders that will at least get me off on the right foot.

  5. jodiegraham | | #5

    Truly an inspiration for my next dress for my mom!

  6. User avater
    bradleyrowe | | #6

    This is great.

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