How to Expand Your Fashion Line to Include Plus Sizes

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Last night on my Instagram Story, I shared my thoughts on why brands don’t include plus sizes:

Since many fashion schools don’t teach how to design for plus size bodies, what is a designer supposed to do if they REALLY wants to expand to plus?  After my 6-part think piece (lol) on IG Story, I decided to write a post full of ideas and resources.

Not every tip will work for every brand, but this will give you a good place to start.  If I’ve missed something, please pop in my email and let me know!  I’ll be sure to add it, and I always cite my sources.

1. Craftsy Sewing Classes

While we wait for fashion programs to catch up, Craftsy has created a plethora of classes on designing for plus size bodies.  Honey, you don’t need to search YouTube endlessly for info on designing for plus!  These classes are high quality, with knowledgable instruction, great camera angles, etc:

2.  Analyze Commercial Patterns

When first learning to create patterns, you likely did a lot of step-by-step patterning.  For a DIY version of a plus size pattern making class, make pieces from commercial plus size patterns, and build your intuition on proportion and sizing.

I would recommend starting with Burda Plus Size Sewing Patterns, as they have the most robust selection.

3.  Drape & Pattern Using a Plus Size Dressform

You understand draping and patterning, but now you need to adjust that knowledge for plus sizes.  Start by designing for a plus size dress form, and analyzing how you need to adjust your patterns.  At a certain point, grading up from a size 6 stops working!  I’d recommend going with a dress form in a size 22.  (You can grade down and up from there.)

4.  Hire a Blogger as a Fit Model

The #1 challenge (in my opinion) in designing for plus sizes, is that plus size bodies carry their weight differently.  If you gather a few size 18 people in a room, you’ll notice their bodies are different.

Not to worry.  You can easily find a fit model in your area by hiring a plus size blogger – and you can avoid agencies (not that very many have plus fit models past a 14)!  Search instagram for plus size fashion bloggers, and ask if they’d be interested in fit modeling.  You can also search “Plus size blogger [+your city, state]” and see who pops up!

Plus size bloggers know what brands work well and which have failed for their body type, and they’ll likely be a wealth of information.

View this post on Instagram

I’ve been busy working away on my collection, so I thought it would be fun to give y’all a lil update on how things are going: . After doing 10 model fittings in Portland, I flew back home to Utah to begin making pieces! I had mockups created for those 10 looks (called “toiles”). . I’m on look #7 out of 13. This dress is the most recent piece, an off shoulder and curve hugging dress (goes to mid calves) in a US size 22. 👗 . The hardest part about this process has been fitting garments for plus size models. Traditional fashion education only teaches how to make clothes for size 8 folks. I’m iterating a LOT for plus size pieces, making around 4 mockups in muslin before going to final fabric (and the fittings after that). ✂️ . Because estimating the amount of time it will take to make one garment is, well, never accurate, I’ve switched from a calendar of finished pieces to blocking out time spent on a collection. Each look in my collection has taken an average of 32 hours. It’s a one-woman shop over here, so that’s allllll my work. 💪🏻 . I really have to give a shoutout to my clients and students, because your hiring with and taking my courses makes my dream possible!! Creating a luxury collection with couture sewing techniques would be impossible if I had a 9-5. THANK YOU for sharing links and referrals. 😭😘😘 . Would you like to see more BTS goodies like these on Instagram? Generally when I’m in the studio I’m over-caffeinated with ZERO makeup 😂😂 #visiblyplussize #emergingdesigner #plussizeluxury #plussizedesigner #creativityfound #createeveryday #fashiondesignerslife #sewist #dreamersdoers #sewcialist #effyourbeautystandards

A post shared by Brianne Huntsman 🏹 (@the_huntswoman) on

5. Hire a Fitting Consultant

If you’re a design professional who knows how to draft patterns for plus size bodies, you’re in a tight knit group – it’s almost like t like the mafia, lol.  We all know each other!  Hiring a consultant who is an expert in fitting and patterning for plus sizes may be the best way to learn.  If you’re looking for recs, pop in my inbox!  Share your brand and location, and I’ll be happy to intro you to a consultant (no finder fee).

6.  Are You a Luxury Brand?

Fashion startup 11 Honoré connects luxury and high end fashion brands with the resources and infrastructure necessary to expand their sizing.  I’d reach out to them if you’re catering to the luxury market!

7.  “Dissect” Plus Size Clothing

Similar to #2, you’re going to want to analyze already made plus size clothing.  Commercial patterns only get so complicated, and you’ll definitely want to purchase and “dissect” (ie rip the seams) of plus size clothing to analyze proportions, fit and style lines.  I’d recommend you hire a fit model to see the garment ON before ripping it apart.

You can purchase garments from resale sites like Poshmark and ThredUP.

There’s the scoop on how to learn to design for plus sizes! I’m also available for consulting work on plus size design + marketing.

If you’d like to keep in touch, be sure to subscribe to weekly my newsletter, so you’ll stay up-to-date on new reviews and fun plus size fashion content! 

 

[Notice:  This post does contain affiliate links, which help me write more great content! I only endorse products I truly love.]

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