Who do you sew for?
Instinctively, I think that most of us would answer, “Me, of course!”. Or we sew for ourselves and our families. For those of us who are active on social media, however, the answer to this question isn’t quite as clear cut. For example, have you ever found yourself scrolling through a set of 40 different iPhone photos looking for the 2-3 best ones to post on Instagram? Or maybe you’ve limited your poses and camera angles to ones that will disguise how that one bust dart is a little wonky on one side? Or heck, maybe you’ve got a blouse that fits ten times better than any RTW, but from looking at your photos, you realize that you needed a larger FBA?
Why do we care? For some of us, it’s a matter of perfectionism …. we start to see all of the little flaws in our me-made garments when we look closely at our photos. For others, especially those of us with curvy bodies, we’ve had a few experiences with back-handed or even overt comments made on our blog or Instagram posts that have left us scratching our heads or even left us seething. Let’s face it, to post on social media is to invite judgemental comments. Note: I’m not talking about constructive comments in response to a “How can I improve the fit on this?” or an open-ended “How do I look?” I’m talking about the out-of-the-blue comments on garments that we’re proud to show off along the lines of “That print does nothing for you” or my favorite, “You need a better bra.” Unfortunately, the effect of this type of comment can discourage curvy women from posting photos of themselves online. After all, who wants to share something that you’re proud of, or heck, just sharing to show how a certain pattern looks on a curvy body, only to have it picked apart by strangers?
Of course, when you post online, most of the comments that you receive will be supportive and encouraging. But human nature being what it is, it’s easy to fall into a trap of focusing on the negative. Personally, I find the negative comments–especially those that are nit-picky about fit–particularly frustrating when they come from someone who clearly lacks awareness of the amount of extra work that goes into fitting a curvy body.
One of the missions of the Curvy Sewing Collective (CSC), where I am an editor and regular contributor, is to “normalize” curvy bodies. Garments simply don’t look the same on a full-busted size 18 woman as they do on a woman with a B-cup bust who wears a size 6. For example, in woven garments that don’t have princess seams or a ton of darts, I always get a dragline from my bust to my high hip. Frankly, I see this same dragline on a lot of large-busted women. I can increase the size of my FBA, but then I run the risk of the garment hanging from my bust like a tent, or sometimes, I even start to get fabric pooling in my cleavage. What’s the solution here? Do I add a bunch of darts to a relaxed, casual garment to meet the standards of the “fit police”, or do I just go with the dragline and sew something that I actually want to sew and wear?
Does the person commenting on Instagram really understand that maybe I already made two muslins, had the final muslin looking good, but something with my “good” fabric’s properties caused a change in fit, and now I’ve got a final garment with some fitting “flaws”? Do I not share my now-imperfect garment simply because of that? From some of the indignant comments that I’ve read online over the years, you’d think that we should simply bin all of our me-made garments that don’t meet certain fitting standards.
I’ve seen people defend these negative comments under the guise that they’re giving “constructive criticism.” Constructive criticism is great when someone is asking for feedback because they’re on the fence about how something looks, unsure how to style a garment, or looking to improve a future version of a pattern. The unsolicited comments that I’m talking about, however, don’t fall into this category. I’ve seen people post in the CSC Facebook group that “Well, I would want to know if something I made doesn’t look good on me.” The problem with this line of thinking is that it’s subjective, and frankly, a lot of times it comes from people who believe that larger women should go hide in a hole somewhere or at least, dress to look as thin as possible all the time. Screw that line of thinking. There’s a particularly cringeworthy recently bumped thread on a popular website for pattern reviews on the plus size sewing forum (of all places) that engages in some brutal fat-shaming of anyone over a certain BMI. Because, apparently, we don’t deserve to wear nice clothing unless our weight-to-height ratio is an acceptable number!
When it comes down to it, most of us spend our time and money sewing things that we want to wear. We choose to share on Instagram or on a blog, but our primary sewing “audience” should be ourselves. Ignore the fit/body police if they comment. As our esteemed Sewcialist Gillian said to me when we were brainstorming this blog post, “I’m a big fan of sewing what makes you feel good, and eff anyone who wants it to look different on you!”