Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

September 13, 2012

Thursday Miscellany

Filed under: What Miss Plumcake is — Miss Plumcake @ 2:47 pm

Recently, the stars aligned so a professional seamstress with lots of time on her hands moved across street, and –much like when I realized one of HLB’s myriad young nephews was gay– I thought “You don’t know it yet seamstress/small gay child, but this is your lucky day.”

It was my lucky day too. I’m not sure I can handle another dress that looks great in the photos and turns out to be made of the thinnest imaginable t-shirt material, sewn together by a blind monkey on a roller coaster.

I’m just so sick of the scuzzy feeling that comes with playing along with shops that take advantage of an underserved market by hiking the prices way up and dropping the quality way down, because hey, where else is the fatty going to go?

I’ll tell you where she’s going to go: Across the street.

Dressmaking will never be my strong suit (see what I did there?) but I can design like a house on fire. Actually, I bet I could design better than a house on fire, although I’ve only set a church on fire, so I don’t really have a frame of reference.

Anyway, I’m working on sketches for a half-dozen dresses to tote along on my upcoming trip to the east coast and then Europe: a tweed for travel, a silk for evening and four wool pontes for meetings and general swanning about. Nothing extraordinary, just classic, well-tailored pieces in natural fibers.

I don’t think it’s any secret that what’s appropriate for autumn in conservative Washington D.C. and winter in chic Italy and Spain is not exactly de rigeur here, where the last three meals I’ve eaten have been out of coconuts.

(I’d hit it)

It’s a pleasure being able to design precisely what I want and have it made on my body instead of suffering through an obstacle course of cheap knits, tacky prints and indignity.

It’s guilt-free shopping since the fabrics are from Italian mills, and they’re being constructed by a seamstress across the street, not a seven year-old across the globe.

And even though representing Team Fat American Chick abroad smacks of respectability politics (“No, no! We’re not all sloppy, lazy and slothful! Let me take it upon myself to vastly overcompensate for your ridiculous bias against people like me, because God forbid you look past your prejudices.”) it’s fun to fret over a hemline for dresses that will be immortalized in pictures for decades to come.

Who knows, maybe I finally will release a plus-size collection. Lord knows we need all the designers we can get.

Oh, have you been following my posts at the Manolo’s Shoeblog?

On Tuesday it was “What Miss Plumcake is…

and today it’s a collection of $1000+ shoes that are all on sale for at least 70% off, plus a brief tutorial on how to perk up your feathered accessories.

Go visit. The comments are quiet over there.



  1. Dear God, please release a plus-size collection. Include turbans. And I’ll do all your jewelry. Everyone wins.

    Comment by Monica — September 13, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  2. Yes, please do your own collection! What I wouldn’t give for well-made, tailored basics.

    Comment by fat lazy celiac — September 13, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  3. I bought a sewing maching this summer. My grandmother taught me how to sew and I have managed to put together a couple of dresses for my girls. On bad days at work I fantasize about starting a business designing, making and selling clothes.

    Only I’m not that experienced.

    And then I calculate how much I’d have to charge per item to be able to keep the house.

    And then I go back to work.

    But I’d love to see your designs!

    Comment by marvel — September 13, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  4. “. . . made of the thinnest imaginable t-shirt material, sewn together by a blind monkey on a roller coaster.”

    THANK YOU. *And* cost three to four times as much as anything comparable made for standard sizes.

    Question — do you know of a service or designer that sells useable sewing patterns for superplus sizes (6X-7X neighborhood)? I really don’t want to have to try and improvise a pattern by taking apart a shirt that’s already doing duty as clothing.

    Comment by BJ — September 14, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  5. BJ –

    I have the impression, from reading sewing blogs, that a skilled dressmaker can take a pattern and scale it up or down as need be. I do not sew. I have dresses made for me, and I usually buy patterns that more or less fit my shoulders/bust. But some folks just by a pattern they like in whatever size and go from there.

    Miss Plumcake –

    I’d REALLY like to know where you’re buying your fabrics. Finding suitable fabrics is the hard part.

    Comment by Susan — September 14, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  6. BJ, I suggest Coni Crawford’s patterns: She wrote the book that most fashion students learn to draft from. They’re designed specifically for larger bodies, not just graded up from straight sizes. Most of them are a bit on the frumpy side, but you can use them as a base for cooler designs.

    Plumcake, and anyone else who’s considering designing a line, you need this book: Really. It’ll tell you everything you need to know.

    Comment by Margo A — September 14, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  7. Oops, I forgot to say, the Coni Crawford patterns generally only go up to 5X, but I’ve found that they run very large.

    Comment by Margo A — September 14, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  8. There’s a cluster of fabric wholesalers open to the public in Dallas, and one of them — Super Textiles — deals in apparel fabric (the rest deal primarily in upholstry, no knits). It’s kind of catch-as-catch-can, but they’re miles cheaper than JoAnns and the material is better.

    Comment by BJ — September 14, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  9. Hot Patterns ( go up to size 26 ready to wear. Because all sizes are included in the envelop, you can see how the grading was done and move the sizes up as needed a bit easier as well as adjust for when you are multiple sizes.

    Another option is to create basic pattern blocks based upon your measurements that can then be used for a multiple garments with slight variations. Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear by Winifred Aldrich is considered to be one of the better/best books on this subject and the book is at Amazon.

    The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress by Sarai Mitnick (Amazon again)is one of the better intro sewing books currently in print. It also discusses fit probelms as well as how to solve them.

    Comment by txbunny — September 14, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  10. your own collection? How cool would that be!

    Comment by jason — September 15, 2012 @ 10:41 am

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