Several months before I started sewing, I made a commitment to purchase clothes from companies that were not only sustainable in their sourcing and ethical in their employment practices, but as much as possible also size-inclusive. I wear about a UK 14, and I’ve found that in a lot of so-called ethical brands I’m an L or XL – and they only go up to XL. So while I can buy clothing from those brands, more than half of women cannot, given the average woman in the UK is a size 16.
In my opinion, a brand is not truly ethical if it only clothes those with thin privilege. Indeed, in most high street shops I find a much larger range than I do with many sustainable brands with transparent business practices. I understand there is a cost to sizing up, and this is especially true if you’re committed to doing it properly and not simply making all your pattern pieces bigger. But if a brand is offering a UK 6 and not a UK 16, that is a choice, and it’s a choice that says the brand would rather sell to fewer, thinner customers than more, larger ones.
Part of my commitment to supporting brands that offer a wide range of sizes is selfish. A size-inclusive brand is much more likely to use models of a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easier for me to see what clothes might look like on me. I was very disappointed once with a popular company that makes custom-sized clothing, because although the clothing was made to my measurements, the original pattern was clearly for a taller, smaller-busted figure, and the style just didn’t translate properly when they tried to size it up in girth and down in length. I hadn’t been able to tell this would be a problem when I was browsing their site, because all their models were at least 5’8″ and wearing their size S.
On the flip side, when I look at knitting patterns from Ysolda, I know what they look like on busty figures and bodies that don’t fit into our narrow societal definition of the ‘ideal’ figure.
But it’s also because I have thin privilege that I choose to support brands that offer a wide range of sizes. There are few sustainable brands that don’t offer sizes that fit me, so I could simply ignore the issue of size inclusivity and buy whatever I like – and that’s exactly why I should do the opposite, and choose brands that offer a wide size range, and financially support size-inclusive companies rather than those that only cater to smaller than average sizes.
As you may know, of course, I’m not buying any new clothes this year, however, and I’m committed to making all my clothes. This means I haven’t been looking at brands that sell ready-to-wear clothing, but I have been looking at brands that sell sewing and knitting patterns, which is going to be the focus of this post. This is going to be a relatively small directory at this point, but I’m hoping to continue to add to it over the rest of the year as I discover more pattern companies.
How I’m defining size-inclusivity
I don’t know if there’s a specific, numerical definition of a size-inclusive sizing system. However, I’ve noticed that a lot of sustainable clothing brands offer around 5 sizes with 8-10″ between the smallest and largest bust measurement, so for the purposes of this directory I’m requiring a minimum of 20″ / 50cm between the smallest and largest bust/chest measurement.
I’ve given an example size range for many of these companies, based on the chest measurements for a garment, though I can’t guarantee that all of their patterns will fit this range. Some of these companies have been around for decades and committed to size inclusivity comparatively recently, so their older patterns might not have been sized up yet. I have provided a link to the particular pattern I’m getting the size information off of for clarity. In a couple of cases I’ve given more than one example simply because I happened to notice one garment that fit my parameters and then another with a larger range, and wanted to provide both.
And with that, on to the pattern companies!
Size-inclusive knitting patterns
I actually started following the founder of this company waaaaaayyyyy back when I was in high school and she was just a university student with a knitting blog. She fell off my radar for many years and I re-discovered her when I got back into knitting last year. I was thrilled to find that this blogger I’d loved so many years ago was committed to not just a range of sizes but also gender inclusivity. Patterns aren’t divided into men’s and women’s, and the company has recently been reworking some of their patterns to accommodate options for bust shaping or broader shoulders without putting them into binary categories. I made the Stockbridge cardigan earlier this year and absolutely love it, and Threipmuir is definitely on my to-knit list (even though I know I shouldn’t wear pullovers because my body’s internal thermostat is a rickety old thing that’s always malfunctioning).
Name: Stolen Stitches
Example size range: 28-54″ / 70-137cm (Akoya cardigan)
I haven’t yet made any actual garments from Stolen Stitches, but I’m halfway through the Feamainn shawl and have plans to make this beautiful cardigan at some point.
Size-inclusive historical sewing patterns
Example size range: 32.5-54″ / 83-135cm (Gibson girl blouse)
I have so many items from Folkwear on my to-sew list. They have A CLOAK. I am thisclose to finishing their walking skirt pattern (I’m about two-thirds of the way through the hem at this point) and I’ve certainly found the sizing for waist/hip to be accurate. Their patterns are also clear and comprehensible for a beginner sewist and provide instructions for basics like pressing and recommended seam finishes.
Name: Truly Victorian
Example size range: 30-56″ (Countryside blouse)
I just made up their petticoat this week to go under my walking skirt, when I tried the skirt on to hem it and decided it needed a petticoat (yes, I am going full on Victorian trash with my personal style). TV patterns are not as beginner-friendly as Folkwear patterns, and I’m pretty sure I did a few things wrong and a few things that look pretty awful, but it’s an undergarment, so who cares! They also only provide imperial measurements, which drives me batty as I prefer to work in metric.
Name: Laughing Moon Mercantile
Example size range: 29.5-50″ (Ladies’ Bicycle Outfit)
I haven’t used any Laughing Moon patterns yet myself, but I’ve heard good things about them and they seem to provide size-inclusive historical patterns with clear instructions.
Size-inclusive contemporary sewing patterns
Example size range: 40-60″ (Holyoke dress)
Cashmerette is a little different from most of the other companies on this list in that they have always focussed on creating sewing patterns for curves. This means that they provide three cup sizes for each clothing size, based on the difference between the high bust and full bust measurement, and it also means that they’ve only recently started offering patterns in a smaller, but still curvy, size range. Thus far, they only have one pattern in the new range, as they’re re-patterning each size rather than just shrinking the existing patterns.
Name: Closet Core Patterns
Example size range: 31-60″ / 78-152.5cm (Elodie wrap dress)
Like Cashmerette, Closet Core offers two different overlapping size ranges, with their larger range being drafted for a D cup bust rather than the standard B cup. Sadly for me, I need the larger bust sizing but their smallest size in that range is a liiittle too big for me. However, they do offer a large range of sizes to fit many different bodies.
Size-inclusive lingerie patterns
Name: Madalynne Intimates
Example size range: 28.5-50.5″ underbust with A-F cups / 33-55″ hips (Maris bralette and panty)
I have been looking for good bralette patterns recently that come in my size and offer good support, because I loathe underwire bras and the bralettes I own are not supportive enough. The Maris looks like a good candidate, with the wide shoulder straps and thick band. Madalynne Intimates also offers ready-to-wear options for those of you who aren’t interested in making your own clothes.
Name: Emerald Erin
Example size range: 26D-26FF to 38B-38E (Jordy bralette)
This is next on my list of things to make. I bought the findings kit (which appears to throw a 404 on their site now; hopefully it’s just out of stock and not something that will no longer be offered) a couple of weeks ago so I have all the elastics and closures, but I’m still doing a bit more research before I get started because, although a bralette is much easier than an underwire bra, it still has to fit much better than the skirts I’ve made already.
A final note
I’m hoping to add to this over the coming months as I purchase and make more clothes. I’d love for this to be a comprehensive list of dozens of companies offering a variety of patterns for sewing and knitting alike, so if you have any suggestions please do let me know in the comments.