Modest Sewing for Plus Sizes

I used to wear a size four. That was a while ago. While I haven’t had to move to the upper teens in size, I have sympathy for my friends who find that advancing years have meant advancing waistlines. I say it’s a natural process, that our bodies get smarter about not wasting all those useful calories by running them off. That’s my rationalization, and I’m sticking to it.

While culture pushes us to look like pubescent girls or stick insects, men may not find that very attractive. Husbands in their honest moments may even complain if their wives have lost too much weight. They may like a certain roundedness to the womanly figure. My husband does. I was a runner when he started dating me, but aging and lack of time to run mean I’m back to my old seminary weight. I don’t like it, but he appreciates it. So I’ve come to accept it.

Dressing Plain means I don’t have to worry about tummies and soft padding. It pretty much gets covered up. I’m wearing clothes that allow me to move, work, lean over, stretch and reach without showing what doesn’t need to be shown.

But if you have gone past the point where off-the-rack fits well, and you have to hunt out speciality stores for your sizes if you want anything of quality, it may be time to get out the old sewing machine and oil it.

The following measurements refer to American sizing and inches.

Friends Patterns ( has sizes up to XXL, with a waist measurement of 34 and a bust of 48. Three of their patterns come in the largest size, the Ohio three-piece dress, the contemporary Plain dress, and the women’s jumper. I would recommend scaling the patterns to fit best, in case you aren’t tall as well as plus size.

Folkwear Patterns ( are sized for women up to 16, which I don’t find particularly “plus.” But some patterns are sized for men as well, like the Black Forest Smock, up to a chest size of 44.  Made in a dress length, it would be modest, and attractive. The English Smock has nice detailing on the front.

Candle on the Hill ( offers a Kwik Sew button front dress in sizes to 4X (bust 47, waist 49). It is very modest and something beyond the a-line jumper so common in plus size patterns. They have a good variety of different patterns. Their Simply Modest Dress and Country Cape dresses are sized up to XXL, and work well for Plain women. The Jewel’s Apron pattern goes to XL, waist 47.

Sewgrand patterns ( , while not specifically a modest dress company, does have some lovely and modest patterns. They have sizes up to 26, bust 50 and waist 42. They have a full range of modest clothing – tops, skirts, dresses, pants and a raincoat. They seem to really understand how to fit a plus size woman. I have never ordered from them; if anyone has any experience with them, please add a comment. They are a Canadian company.

Some commercial patterns (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall`s) are scaled to plus sizes, but it takes a bit of hunting amongst them to see what will work.

Unless you want to wear just caftans and muu-muus, I recommend that you borrow a book on fitting a pattern from the library, have a good friend help with your measurements, and most importantly, take  your time sewing. You can try pinning the pattern pieces on what you are wearing, if you have an extra pair of trusty hands, or pin the pieces onto a dress you know fits. This can help you decide where things need to be modified.

I think plus size women often get discouraged about their clothing. Don`t be! No one has the perfect figure without a lot of life-threatening, expensive surgery, and whose idea was it that there had to be some ideal – not yours or mine!


One thought on “Modest Sewing for Plus Sizes

  1. I am fortunate that I found a couple modest patterns from Kathy’s that are super easy, look nice and no zippers which seem to hate me! LOL! I wear a bit looser fitting clothes than many because my body is, well, twisted and crooked. One hip is higher than the other, exaggerated by the leg on the opposite side being shorter. Add to the mix a condition which is pulling my back in toward my stomach and you get the picture. With looser clothing it is not so noticeable. Besides, I do not like tight clothes showing my body as it were. I have been on the folkwear site and they have some wonderful things. Some that would actually fit me. Thanks hon!

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