As a plus size woman, finding clothes that fit me well is incredibly difficult. As a young plus size woman, finding clothes that fit me well and are also fashionable is almost impossible. Although there are a couple of stores that cater to my needs, they are often expensive and their models tend to be the idealized version of what a plus size woman should look like, rather than what we actually look like. Once I started sewing, it became clear to me that sewing patterns were not much different. Much to my chagrin, they cater to thin women, and I simply do not yet have the skills necessary to create my own patterns or alter existing ones.
Then, I found Ashley Nell Tipton’s patterns. There are two, a body suit pattern and a dress pattern, each with a multitude of variations. Not only were they made for women my size and shape, they were cute! I had to get my hands on them, so I figured I would document the process so other plus size women could start making their own fashionable wardrobes.
Fabrics & materials used:
- 3 Yards Metallic Silver Textured All-Over Foil Knit
- 3 Inches Natural and Gold Snap Tape – 0.75″
- 2 Yards Lastin Stretch Stay Tape – 0.25″
- 1 Yard Black Grosgrain Ribbon – .375″
The first thing I did was order my pattern, and will you look at that I’ve already messed up. It turns out that sewing pattern sizes are very different from store sizes, so make sure you measure yourself first and match it up with the sizes on the back, or else you’ll end up with the wrong size and you have to rush to exchange it because you have a deadline to meet and definitely should’ve checked the sizes in the first place.
Then, I chose my fabric. The bodysuit craze is blowing up, whether you like ballet style or you’re stuck in the 80’s, so although I chose a fantastic metallic knit, any of Mood’s knit fabrics will make a great choice for a bodysuit. Need some inspiration? Check out my overview of bodysuit and jumpsuit style!
Next, cut out all your pattern pieces along the proper lines. I decided to make option A, which was the tie in the back body suit, and I was a size 30. So, I located all the pattern pieces that said A on them, and cut them out along the 30 lines. Then, I cut out all my fabric pieces, most of which needed two.
Now, I was ready to sew! Keep in mind that knit fabrics tend to be difficult to work with. They’re thin and slippery; so they require a lot of focus. Don’t be discouraged! Although there were some rough patches throughout the project, I came out of it a more knowledgeable, and fashionable, sewist.
The first official instruction is stabilizing the neckline on the front of the body suit, which took me way longer to figure out than I’d like to admit. Basically, I straight stitched a little v onto the front, and then cut a slit down to the stitching, making sure I didn’t cut through.
Since I was working with knits, I made sure my sewing machine was set to the zig zag stitch, which makes the thread capable of stretching with the fabric. I sewed the two back pieces together, and then sewed the back to the front at the shoulders.
I sewed the neck hole binding together, and then had to sew the neck hole lining onto the neck hole. In order to do this, I had to stretch the neck binding out, so I recommend pinning it down first, with the seams matched up at the centers of the front and back.
Once this is done, the rings for the tie get sewn in. Although the pattern calls for actual rings, I used little pieces of the scrap fabric left over. I cut rectangles, 2 inches by 3 inches. I folded it width wise a couple of times, and then length wise. I sewed the end onto the back of the fabric, and then repeated that five more times. I really like how this came out, plus when I wear the suit in the fall and winter, metal rings won’t freeze and make my back really cold.
I then sewed the sides of the bodysuit together. I made sure to try it on after this, and realized that the waist was a little too large for me. So, I took it in a little. Side note, this is my favorite thing about learning to sew! No more ill-fitting clothes, no more loose in the caboose jeans, or bra straps that are just a little too long for my shoulders. Everything is customizable!
Okay, after I calmed down from the excitement of realizing that all of my clothes were about to be much more suited to my body, I sewed the binding on the arm holes. This process is similar to the neck hole, so again you’re going to need to stretch the binding to fit the hole, but I promise it fits.
Then, the leg hole binding gets sewn in. This part is much easier than the neck and arm holes, since there’s less stretching and the leg holes aren’t actually sewn shut, as the snap tape is going to be what keeps the leg holes shut. Although it’s a little easier, there needs to be enough room left in the lining to slide the elastic through. Basically, you’re making a tube for the elastic.
Once the tube is sewn on, the elastic has to be threaded through. First, I tried on the bodysuit and made sure the leg holes fit well. I then attached a safety pin to the edge of the elastic, scooted it through the tube, and then clipped it at the end. I hemmed the edges to make sure the elastic stayed in it’s place, and repeated with the other leg.
Finally, the snap tape gets attached. The front groin gets what I would describe as the anchor of the snap tape, and the back part of the groin gets the actual snaps. I didn’t have a zipper foot, so instead I hand stitched the snaps on, making sure to sew all around the rectangle of snap tape.
And last, I had to string the tie through the loops, with the bow ending up at the bottom. And that’s it!
I loved making this bodysuit! Although I didn’t totally understand all of the instructions, I’m sure I’ll figure out how to decode sewing patterns the more I use them. It was a relatively simple piece, and I look forward to making the dresses that Ms. Tipton designed, which I’ve already made sure to purchase! Here’s hoping she makes some more, I’m in need of a new skirt!
My bodysuit ended up reminiscent of the recent space trend that’s taking over the runway! What style would your bodysuit be perfect for? Let me know in the comments!