At the end of August this year I announced our plan to expand to a size range of 0-32, and was thrilled with all the amazing responses from the community. It was great to get confirmation that there are lots of big-boobed sewists in smaller bodies who want to make patterns without the drudgery of FBAs, and also to hear a range of feedback from our existing awesome community in the 12+ size range.
As it’s been a few months since we made that announcement, and I wanted to give you an update on what we’ve been up to and where we are headed.
Size 0 – 16 pattern development
We kicked off our pattern development by working on two knit garments and one woven from our existing catalogue of patterns – the goal being to nail the fit on those, and then transfer what we’ve learned to other patterns. As expected, it hasn’t always been straightforward!
The knit garments have definitely proven easier, as they are generally much easier to fit. We didn’t simply “scale down” everything, but instead we re-developed a base size 8, and then graded thoughtfully. We discovered the need to move the waistline down (smaller people tend to have lower waists than bigger people), alter the width and depth of necklines in some cases to maintain the right proportions, and for some patterns also slightly shorten the front. For these two garments we did successful testing rounds, made some tweaks, and they are nearing completion, even with the photos done!
For the woven pattern… well, it’s been a much bigger learning experience! We are now entering round 4 of development, having already done three full rounds of pattern drafting and testing. There’s a reason a lot of brands don’t develop patterns for big boobs – it’s definitely a lot more complex than if there’s only a 2″ high bust/full bust difference! It’s particularly difficult getting a good fit in the shoulder AND the bust AND the arm – nailing that for the original range took nearly a year – so we’ve had to work through iterations. Right now we are about to test another sample (must be sample 85 by now LOL), and we are crossing our fingers this one’s a winner! But we will probably have to go to yet another testing round before it’s finalized. As we pay testers at Cashmerette, this is definitely not an inexpensive process, but in the long term it’s more than worth it for a high quality product that sewists will get in the end.
Our work to center our 12+ community
In addition to the excitement we heard from smaller sewists and many size 12+ sewists, we also heard reservations from some people in our existing community, which I anticipated would happen when we made this announcement. I totally understand how much people want Cashmerette to remain a safe space for sewists with bigger bodies, and we are 100% committed to that.
At the time, I spoke at length on Instagram about how dedicated we are to centering our plus size customers, but now I can share a bit more about how we intend to achieve that (although it’s still a work in progress!)
- Facebook: Our popular Facebook Community Group has been updated to be the Facebook Community Group (sizes 12 – 32). That means it will remain a place solely focused on size 12+ sewists, and effectively there will be no change for existing members of the group. In addition, we now have a NEW Facebook Community Group (sizes 0 – 32) that sewists of any and all sizes can join. It’s up to you: if you’d prefer to only see 12+ sewists, join the 12 – 32 group, and if you’d rather see all, you can join the size 0 – 32 one, or indeed you can be in both!
- Instagram: Our current Instagram account @cashmerette will cover our entire size range, but we will also be creating a size 12+ specific Instagram account, which will only feature models and customers in this size range. Again, we’re giving you the choice of what you want to see on your screens.
- Newsletter/emails: We will be giving you the option to choose what you want to see in your newsletters: models/customers across our size range, or just models/customers in size 12+. It’ll be a simple button to click and you can curate your emails! Whichever you choose, you’ll always receive all the news and discounts relevant for you, but if you choose 12+ only, we won’t email you specifically about historic patterns being launched in the 0 – 16 range, and when we launch a new pattern in sizes 0 – 32, we’ll only show you the 12+models.
- Website: The website has had a refresh (only partly visible right now!), and will have prominent buttons where you can choose to shop patterns that are size 12 – 32, or patterns size 0 – 16. From the product page you can also click on either size range, and when you do you’ll see photos of models in that specific size range.
- Photography: All our patterns in the 0 – 32 size range will be shown on a range of models of different sizes. We are actively working to have more models in the size 28+ range (on our next release, two of the three models are 28+!) and we’ll always show a good variety across the spectrum.
Finally, we’ve actually had a pattern launch logistics challenge which we are solving by prioritising our plus size customers. Due to COVID, the development of our blazer pattern has been delayed quite significantly, such that it will now be launching after the smaller sizes are launched in some of our old patterns. Theoretically, we could delay the blazer so that we can also do the smaller sizes of it and launch them all together. However, we know you’ve been waiting for the blazer for FOREVER so we decided to go and launch it in our 12 – 32 range only, even though we’ll have started the 0 – 16 rollout at that point. We had to make a decision, and we decided to prioritize our sizes 12 – 32 (but don’t worry, straight sizers, we may also expand it in the future!).
Progress on expanding the whole range to 32
Of course our straight size launch isn’t the only size expanding we’re doing! We announced in January that we’ll be expanding to a 32, and in that time, we’ve updated/launched 19 (PHEW!) patterns in 12 – 32 – they’re all clearly marked on our patterns page. Pandemic-permitting, the next patterns planned are the Upton Dress, Tobin Sweater, Ames Jeans and Ellis Skirt (in the spring), and the final 5 should be done by end 2021/early 2022 at the latest.
The Concord T-Shirt, modeled here by Michelle in a size 26 C/D graded to a 30 at the waist and hips, was one of our most recent patterns to be updated to sizes 12-32.
First up, we have to get this woven pattern sorted! Once we do, we’ll finalize all three and get them sent off to the printers, and start doing all the usual work we do for launch. At this point, we are hoping to launch the first 0 – 16 pattern from our existing collection in the first few months of 2021 – but given we must always expect the unexpected (pandemic, anyone?!), I can’t guarantee exactly when. We are also just starting to work on the NEW patterns for 2021 (beyond the blazer), and those will be done from the start in our full 0 – 32 size range, so do not fret if you think we don’t have enough work on our plates 😀
So that’s where we are! It’s lots of work from the team (not to mention investment) to expand a size range, and it takes quite a while, but I hope you’ve enjoyed a little bit of “behind the scenes”, and I’m happy to answer any questions as always.