The Sewing Place

Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please


Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« on: June 05, 2021, 17:49:07 PM »
I am not a standard size - short, dumpy and apple shaped. :S  I struggle to find ready made patterns to buy.  I haven't managed to grade a smaller pattern. I have done a small amount of pattern drafting, but struggle without instrctions to follow.
So I was wondering if anyone has any advice?
I am looking at at Lutterloh xxl and Wild Ginger software.  Both pricy to buy and I think I will still have the lack of instrctions. 
Petite Patterns Plus are drafted for my kind of figure I believe but aren't big enough size wise they only go up to US size 24 (UK 28).  So is anyone else in this conundrum and / or has any suggestions?


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2021, 17:54:36 PM »
Have a look at Love Notions Patterns. They have a huge size range as well as different bust  cup options.
If life gives you lemons, add to gin and tonic !


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2021, 18:33:09 PM »
Personally I wouldn’t bother paying out for either of the pattern drafting software.  You still need to understand pattern drafting to use it. 
I think you would be best to start with something simple.  Get it to fit and then that can be used and adapted.  Different sleeves, necklines etc. 

Petite Plus patterns could be graded up.  It would be better grading up from them rather than a pattern that is designed for a smaller frame.  I have simple grading instructions if you need them.  But @Catllar has suggested a company with a good size range as a start.

This has a list of free patterns which might be of use

List of plus size patterns

And this company drafts for plus size.

Info on sewing


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2021, 18:37:38 PM »
My suggestion is for you to buy yourself Full Busted by Marta Alto DVD, and also the book Fit for Real People written by Pati Palmer ad Marta Alto - a much cheaper option.  Then learn how to do a FBA (full bust adjustment) and also follow Marta as she demonstrates how to tissue fit to a human being - this is where having a willing friend to help you helps no end.  The beauty of the DVD is that you can play it and stop it as many times as you want, and I often work alongside Marta in this way copying what she is doing, and believe me I have a very peculiar shape indeed.  Marta uses real people to tissue fit her patterns on and of course makes it look so easy, and because I was so fascinated with this I wanted to buy the patterns that she actually used - not all of them, only the ones I particularly liked, however most of them were out of print.  So with great difficulty I scoured  the DVD for the actual pattern numbers, and then set about looking for those that were factory folded and uncut, and bought these via the internet mostly from the USA.

Once you have all the equipment you need to start following Marta, given time you should  be able to take any pattern and do a FBA where necessary and any other alterations.  The beauty of this is that the Palmer Pletsch people produced some patterns for McCalls, and on the pattern envelope they had printed Palmer Pletsch, and on these patterns certainly from the time around producing Fit for Real People there were extra lines already printed on the pattern tissue where you cut in order to do the various alterations.  I found this a great help.  Initially I thought Oh I can do that this way and do not have to bother about getting certain things - I have learnt the hard way. (I had tried using pattern tissue from old patterns that I no longer wanted - a great big mistake!!!) 

Now a couple of years ago now, the Palmer Pletsch people updated their Fit for Real People and their new book is called The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting not cheap, but well worth the expense, however either of these two books will  help you no end.  They have also published along the same lines, Jackets for Real People, Pants for Real People, and Knits for Real People.

I am also a great believer in making a toile every time I choose to make something new, for me it is worth it, and the calico is not wasted I can always find a use for the different shapes for other things.

If you choose to go down this line, I can let you have the pattern numbers of some of the patterns that you could look out for, at the very end of the DVD Marta tissue fits two older ladies who are both rather  well built and needed multi alterations.

Since I started doing these FBA's  I have now padded out my dress form to suit me, and to achieve this I have a calico bodice that fitted me and I was happy with this and I have stuffed her out so that the calico is a tight fit - thus this gives me the ease I would need to be able to breathe.  I was originally wrapped in  brown paper parcel tape mixed with glue with the result that when it dried it was hard, and this is fitted over an old dress dummy, again padded out to stop any wobbling, and it is so useful to be able to pin fabric to her and note the alterations that I need to do.  I have quite a few plumb lines of thick string curtain weights hanging from the stand so that I can feel these through the fabric and yes it works.


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2021, 00:17:06 AM »
Take a look at Lekala too - they offer custom made patterns to your own specific measurements at $3.49 each.  You have to print them out yourself and tape them together, but I have had some great patterns from them.
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2021, 00:33:01 AM »
I you are bigger than a size28, then Muna and Broad have a small selection of patterns, in a good size range, and they will grade up bigger when requested.

StyleArc patterns go up to size 30. 

Cashmerette patterns have a good range, and are lovely, although I find they are a little "hourglass" focussed. 

SBCC (skinny b!#ch curvy chick) terrible name, but they are a petite range that also do plus sizes.

Lekala, or Bootstrap Fashions, for a custom measured pattern. 
The barefoot seamstress:  smelling vaguely of lavender and mothballs, and desperately craving chocolate.

2021 Fabric Fast:  Metres used: 20  Items Made:  10     Upcycles: 4   Howling disasters:  2


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2021, 05:10:12 AM »
Lots of good info here. Some people have stressed the FBA thing, but you didn't say this was an issue. My sis is petite, 5'2", very apple shaped yet only a "B" cup - no FBA needed. I'm a DD and 5'6" with no waist definition - and my sloped narrow shoulders make for a VERY troublesome FBA.

Your best fitting tool is your smart phone (or digital camera) using the automatic timer. Selfies taken in a mirror or any that involve you holding the camera are quite useless for judging fit. Take photos from straight on front, back and each side. This way you can study ALL of your fit issues. Photos taken at slight angle to appear slightly smaller, ( as used in a family gathering photo) are also useless for fitting.

Don't know your age, but by my 50's, my once "little too much junk in the trunk" butt, had become quite flat. Surprise! That extra padding didn't actually disappear, it now hangs limply well beneath its former post - requiring a dug out "J" shape for the back rise of my trouser seams.

As for drafting, I took my first official drafting courses in high school 45 years ago, did board work for jobs and eventually trained in Autocad for architectural design. I LOVE designing buildings for a living (including exceptionally detailed electrical and plumbing plans ) and DETEST  drafting clothing patterns for myself! The good news is, you only need to accomplish 6 or 7 basic patterns and then it's just a matter of tweaking for slightly different design details.

I would waste no money on pattern drafting software, as someone else said, if drafting by hand is confusing, computerization doesn't help.  I always must review computer generated designs on paper when checking for errors and finalizing layouts, and my 32 year old niece (a licensed architect) has to do the same - and she of course grew up with computers. So no need to bother.

Try some or all of the pattern companies listed here, but if you wind up drafting, the folks at "" are very knowledgeable and helpful once you've mastered the basics and need help.

Good luck.


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2021, 10:01:37 AM »
I'd recommend Lekala and Love Notions also.


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2021, 13:21:26 PM »
Thank you everyone.  I think I don't need to invest where I thought I might!  Now I need to investigate all the suggestions you have given and possibly download and print out a pattern - I haven't done that before -<

I do need to understand FBA and will look out Palmer/Pletsch  DVD, books and patterns.  Its just a shame they stop at size 22/24, but I see a unisex shirt whick may work to try the system out with.

Maybe I also need to buy a dressform and pad it up as I have bought a few clothes to "alter or make 2 into 1" but haven't started on this!  I get a lot of ideas but very few make to finished garments.


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2021, 14:28:14 PM »
I think there's already some great advice here. I do think your best best is to find the pattern companies that offer your size range, and then instead of grading from a smaller size you can customise the fit by grading between the sizes of your measurements.

Companies to consider: Itch to Stitch does cup sizes, and are expanding their size ranges. Sinclair Patterns has a wide range (though I've yet to make any Sinclair patterns, I have a long list of ones I want, lol). DIBY club has a wide range of sizes, I just made their Bravado jeans, and they are my fav pair of jeans. George and Ginger is expanding their size range right now. Fibre Mood also seems to have a wide range of sizes.

If you need help with printing pdf patterns, just ask away. I survive on pdf patterns. Also most pdf companies offer the large A0 format that you can have printed at a print shop.


Re: Plus size Sewing and pattern advice please
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2021, 03:54:17 AM »

I do need to understand FBA and will look out Palmer/Pletsch  DVD, books and patterns.  Its just a shame they stop at size 22/24, but I see a unisex shirt whick may work to try the system out with.

I just wanted to note that you can use the P/P fba method on any pattern, not just theirs. I do fba's all the time but don't think I've ever used a P/P pattern. I also don't do tissue fitting as they suggest as a) I find it too fiddly and b) I'm mostly not working with tissue paper patterns.

I'd suggest finding a pattern that you like that's as close to your size as possible. invest in some time and cheap fabric to make as many test garments as you need to get the fit right.

You might also be interested in Barbara Deckert's work. She has a Craftsy class and some books on plus size fitting.