October 20, 2015

5 great resources for curvy & plus size fitting

We’ve got a bonus post for you today: five great resources to help you fit your sewing patterns if you’re curvy or plus size. The objective of Cashmerette Patterns is to get you really close to a perfect fit straight from the pattern, but most patterns out there are drafted for a B/C cup or have the sketchy grading problems I talked about here, so we need all the help we can get generally!

Here are my favourite resources for plus size and curvy fitting.

1. Fitting for Curves

Learning to sew when you’re curvy is a revelation – suddenly, you’ve got unlimited options rather than a rack of polyester cold-shoulder tops. But it can be frustrating when you don’t fit into a “straight” size out of the packet (almost no-one does!), and the prospect of learning to adjust patterns can be daunting. That’s why I developed the Fitting for Curves: Pattern Adjustments for the Upper Body online workshop which de-mystifies fitting once and for all.

This course consists of 21 clear and easy to follow videos which cover the basics of how to measure yourself, pick a pattern size to start from, and make a muslin, and then dive into sixteen common pattern adjustments to address fitting the bust, neck, shoulders, back and arms, including multiple types of full bust adjustments.

2. Fit for Real People

This is a fantastic book for fitting, with comprehensive information on a whole variety of fitting approaches. Don’t be put off by the slightly outdated styles – this helps you with the underlying adjustments you may need to make. An essential book for any curvy (or non-curvy) sewist! They also have a series of more specialized titles, including Pants for Real People and Knits for Real People.

Fit for Real People

2. Plus Size Pattern Fitting & Design – and more video classes

I love Crafty’s video classes – they’re taught by experts, the details are generally very clear, and you can watch and re-watch to your heart’s content. Craftsy has some great specialized classes on fitting generally and plus size fitting specifically. Barbara Deckert’s Plus Size Fitting & Design has an in-depth class on measuring and common adjustments and is recommended by my sewing friend Tanya.  If you’re making pants, there’s also Plus Size Pant Fitting by Kathleen Cheetham.


4. Sewing for Plus Sizes: Creating Clothes that Fit and Flatter

I haven’t yet found the perfect book on plus size sewing – yes, I can wear bright colours and stripes, thank you very much, and I do want waist definition! – but Barbara Deckert’s book is the best I’ve found so far. If you don’t fancy a video class like her BluPrint one above, this is a great reference book.


5. The Curvy Sewing Collective

Yes, my other home on the sewing internet! At the CSC we have tons of useful information on fitting, and a whole series of tutorials. They include the perennially popular Full Bust Adjustment, grading up a pattern to a larger size, narrow shoulder adjustment, wide shoulder adjustment, sleeve adjustments, expanding a waist, and more!

Curvy Sewing Collective

Do you have any of these resources? Which other ones do you recommend? I’m always on the hunt for more sewing education!

Note: This post contains some affiliate links

13 thoughts on “5 great resources for curvy & plus size fitting

  1. Rebecca says:

    Beware the Craftsy class, “Fitting Solo”! This class is VERY basic fitting. The pattern Ms. Lee uses for the top is a dartless, shapeless blouse. No FBA. She tells her viewers to choose a pattern size based on their full bust measurement (uh oh), and says that she will show us how to narrow up the shoulders later. Now, I know from experience, with this method anyone with a bust size larger than a B cup will find a great many areas of their pattern to be too big, including the shoulders, but also the armhole, the sleeve and sleeve cap, the entire back pattern piece, and the neck opening in both the front and the back. These areas are never addressed at all. She does indeed show how to do a narrow shoulder adjustment, and it’s different than others I have seen. It’s kind of a riff on a pivot/slide method, and it looks easy and effective – if your original armhole is the right size for you. But that’s a big if.
    I bought this class a few days ago, and after watching the entire thing, I asked for my money back – something that I have never done for a Craftsy class. And I own an embarrassing number of them… I generally don’t like making negative comments about someone’s work online, but if people are going to be spending money on something, I think they should know. Not for the curvy, or difficult to fit.

    1. Good advice, thanks for sharing! I’ve taken it out of my recommendations.

  2. Rebecca says:

    P.S. – I LOVE Barbara Deckert’s Craftsy class, and I found Kathleen Cheetham’s classes, particularly the bust fitting one to be very good.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I own the Fit for Real People series and the Barbara Deckert book – both are real gems and have helped me tremendously with fitting issues!

  4. Another AWESOMELY AMAZING resource for fitting real people with curves is an online class offered by Brooks Ann Camper. She makes the most gorgeous custom wedding gowns, many for plus-size ladies. She offers a class called “Skirt Skills” where you learn how to draft your OWN pattern to custom fit size YOU. I took it over the summer, and though I’ve been sewing for 29 years, learned an incredible amount in even just the first couple weeks. The class is geared toward seamstresses of all levels. You can find info on the class at skirtskills dot com.

  5. Paula Hendrickson says:

    I have the book ” Fitting for Real People” by Palmer and Alto and have taken a class from them. I also have taken the online Craftsy class from Barbara Deckert and have both her books, but nothing and I do mean nothing can compare to the amt of information, hints, sewing design and instruction I received from the Skirt Skills class taught by Brooks Ann Camper! You are taught how to draft a pattern in “size you”. It was and is a great approach on designing for and celebrating your curves. This class was empowering, encouraging and freeing all rolled into one 5 week online course. You owe to yourselves to give Brooks Ann’s class a try. You will now be disappointed! I am anxiously awaiting her next class offering on pants hopefully in the new year.

  6. Sheila Rieck says:

    I too have taken the Skirt Skills by BrooksAnn Camper the Bridal Couture, now I have skirts that fit my curves and short waist and short frame, and although I have been sewing for most of my life, I learned so incredibly much. I’m looking forward to her up and coming course in the spring for making pants!

  7. Paula Hendrickson says:

    update on my last reply- I made a spelling error and what I meant to say was You will NOT be disappointed

  8. Debbie Farr says:

    I have tried a couple of Craftsy courses. The couture dress by Susan Khalje which was great and also Sew the Perfect Fit by Lynda Maynard. Both seem very good but for me there was a lot of information missing, mainly I think because I’m a beginner. I’ve kept the patterns that came with each course as they are lovely and I will hopefully have gained enough skills in a while to pick them up and actually get them to fit. I attempted several muslins following the class instructions but ended up throwing them out as I couldn’t get them to fit me no matter how many times I tried. ….am relatively small but top heavy with a waist and hip ratio that I find tricky to buy well fitting clothes for….hence my desire to learn how to sew and fit patterns exclusively to me.

    I took a skirt skills class by Brooks Ann Camper after reading a blog that recommended her. It led me to her website which has the most wonderful stories of each of the brides she has made couture dresses/outfits for and was hooked by her relaxed style, beautiful dressmaking and mostly the 100% positive recommendations of everyone she has sewn for. That’s when I signed up to her class. It’s by far the best instruction I ever came across. Her classes are relaxed, informative and easy to follow with superb class interaction by the other ladies on the course who share their pictures and offer support too. I made a skirt block that fit me nicely and am now making my third skirt that fits my shape perfectly as a direct result of her superb teaching style! I believe there are many great resources out there but none, in my opinion, come close to Brooks Ann’s methods. Best course I ever took and would heartily recommend it to anyone!

  9. Cheryl says:

    Additional resources that I use are Sandra betzina’s books, particularly the titles about fitting and her patterns. Her pattern blocks have a better fit for me than the vogue counterparts. I also favor burda’s plus size patterns; I believe they are based on a c cup.

    This book, Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and… by Elizabeth L. Liechty, is also an amazing source. The first edition contains chapters dedicated to shoulders, arms, chest, etc, each page shows a problem and how to fix. This is a great starting point if you have you have identified fitting problems, or are trying to match a wrinkle to a problem. I believe the second edition has a very interesting approach to the crotch curve.

    My suggestions for sewers who are also trying to improve fit – Try to identify your problem areas and research how others have corrected similar issues. I have spent countless hours researching on the Internet and in libraries for information. I really enjoy doing the research. Again, I look for pictures of problems that look like mine. I don’t always find the information I need in the right order, but eventually I find enough peices to create a solution for one issue. Then I repeat for the next. So far I have my neckline, shoulder, hollow chest, Armscye and a full bust figured out. My sleeve is almost there. I have worked thru these fitting issues without a helper???? and with many test garments. The payoff? I have a template to use on almost any pattern. An episode of “fit to stitch” ( a new resource for me) shows how to use a shoulder and Armscye template. Genius.

  10. Nic says:

    So glad for this blog post, as I am fairly new to pattern adjustments. I had spotted “Sewing for Plus Sizes: Creating Clothes that Fit and Flatter” on the for sale stand at the local library. I had ignored it (judging book by its cover).
    It was still sitting there, so I picked it up for $2. Very happy, just now need to refer to it.

  11. Carolyn says:

    I love Sure Fit Designs system by Glenda Sparling. It’s a system to draft your own slopers, or what Glenda calls “blue prints”. Then you can draft your own patterns, or use the “blue prints” to fit commercial patterns. On Glenda’s website, she has dozens of videos on fitting as well as sewing construction for free. I have been using the system for over five years and have the best fitting clothes I have ever made.

  12. Mimi Routh says:

    I found Nancy Zieman’s fitting books a revelation. Alas, she left the planet! I enjoyed her TV series also. Nancy was kind and patient. I believe she came out of 4-H sewing and making school clothes for half-grown kids. While she appeared model slim, she did have some sophisticated fitting issues! So for small shoulders, a tummy, a hunched back neck or what my mom called a “back porch,” just seeing how Nancy handles the problem can ring a bell for us. She also offers clever sewing work-arounds, and great hints for getting a professional finish.

Let me know what you think!