I've never been one to be into fashion and what's hot this season, what colors are "in", what styles are the latest, etc. My biggest problem with clothing was either finding something I liked that fit, or finding a pattern I liked in a size that fit. I don't care if you label it plus-sized or Omar-the-Tentmaker sized or Jane's-Tent-and-Awning sized or Fat Fatty McFatFat, as long as it fits me and I like it. It's one of the reasons I hate shopping for clothes. I can find plenty of tops that I like the design, or I like the fabric, or I like the color/print of the fabric. I can even find tops that fit now (and for someone with 60" of boobage, that's amazing). But trying to find a top with all of the above in one item, not so easy.
Then trying to figure out what size I am in each designer label, forget it. I don't have that much time. The size I wear in Liz & Me is not the same size I wear in Just My Size is not the same size I wear in Bobbie Brooks is not the same size I wear in Northcrest or any other label. That's just for tops. Dresses are totally out of the question. If it has a waist, I can't wear it, period (waists on dresses hit me 3 inches above my natural waistline, 2 inches below my boobs). If it's an empire waist, I can't wear it because those aren't designed for my particular sized rack of doom (not to mention trying to find a bra that fits that will go with the deep vee necks they seem to think we all want). Sorry, I don't want the rack of doom falling out of the top of my dress, thank you very much, and I don't want to show a lot of cleavage either. Slacks are a whole 'nother story. I have to buy talls because I have a 32" inseam (yeah, I'm average height, but have long legs). I haven't figured out if I have more ass than belly or if my waist in front is just lower than designers think it should be. Pants that fit my waist and hips and have legs long enough also have a waistband that hits me right under my bra band in front (they're fine in back). Even LB's Right Fit jeans have a waistband in front that's about an inch too high, so it rolls over when I wear them. When I used to make all my own slacks, I cut the waist lower in front and moved pockets down, lengthened the legs, and left a large hem in them, just in case the length shrank in washing and drying.
Those are just some of the reasons I resorted to making most of my clothes for years. I just happen to be lucky to have inherited a talent for sewing from my mother and two grandmothers. I also was lucky (if you can call it that) to have worked in a garment factory when I was younger and picked up a lot of shortcuts so it doesn't take me a long time to make tops and slacks. But again, finding patterns that fit without making major alterations is an impossibility. I can find patterns I like, but none of them come anywhere near close to hitting my measurements (that's why I have a box full of patterns that I can't/won't use, because adding anywhere from 2 to 4 inches to the bust/waist/hip without altering the shoulders/neckline is more work than I want to do). I've resorted to taking tops I've bought that I really like the design (but didn't care for the fabric/print/color so much) and once they're worn out, I take them apart, make any minor alterations (like narrowing the shoulders, why do designers think that if you have serious boobage you also have the shoulders of a linebacker to go with them?), and use them for patterns to make more tops. I can then go out looking for fabric and get the type/color/print I want and have a top I'll wear, look good in, and feel fabulous in (I also get a lot of compliments on what I make).
The outfit I made for my son's wedding is a case in point about purchased patterns. The envelope said it was a size 30/32. Now, when I buy a top, it's usually that size, but guess what? The pattern runs smaller than ready-made. I cut out the pattern, compared the pieces to a top I'd taken apart for a pattern, and the purchased pattern was 4" smaller. Now I paid $15 for a pattern I couldn't use (alterations were not an option, no way to do them without changing the way it was supposed to look). And I really, really liked the design. I ended up using that top I had taken apart and adding the slanted hem to it and going with the neckline on it instead of the neckline on the purchased pattern. I did use the sleeves from the purchased pattern, they were a short flutter sleeve and I wanted that, not a fitted short sleeve.
When I wore it to my son's wedding, everyone wanted to know where I got such a cute outfit. When I told them I made it, they were like "no way, it's just so cute, where did you get the pattern?" When I told them I copied, sorta, one I had bought, that didn't fit, they were saying "you have mad skillz when it comes to sewing then." Maybe I do, but it isn't because it's something I really love to do, it's because if I want something I like, that fits, and is in the colors/fabric/print I want, I have to be able to create it myself because there just isn't a lot out there for a woman my size.
I quit doing a lot of sewing when I worked, I just didn't have the time or the energy for it. Now that I don't have to work anymore (thank you, DH), I have the time for sewing, but I haven't managed to wear out any of my really cute tops yet so I can make patterns out of them. I've done some looking at fabric here in the last few months, and the price is killing me (can you tell I'm cheap?). Geez Louize, I can remember when I paid $1 a yard for t-shirt knits and single-knit blouse weight fabrics. And the color/print selections were just fabulous, I could usually always find something I liked that I could afford. Now, I'm lucky if I can find it on sale for less than $10 a yard, and the color/print selection isn't the greatest. Are they trying to keep us from making our own clothes? Do they want to make sure we have to buy ready-made? Is that why I can't find patterns in my size? I know I represent a very small percentage of fat women (my size is probably 1 or 2% of all fat women), but that doesn't mean I want to sit home naked or wrapped in a sheet all day long (or wearing those gawd-awful muu-muus or caftans).
I think I'm going to go back to making most of my clothes again, and buying clearance at LB and Catherine's if and when they have something I like. It seems like that's the only way I'm going to have the clothes I like, that fit, and are comfortable. I really feel for women who don't have the time, patience, or talent for clothes-making.