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June 2008
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Expand Your Sewing Business – Sew For Plus Sizes

As plus sizes become more mainstream, and as waistlines expand nationwide, plus-size clothes that are fashionable are getting harder to find.  Recent statistics have indicated that among children and teens ages 6 – 19, about 30 percent are overweight or obese.  These same statistics show that nearly two-thirds of the adult population is categorized as overweight or obese.  Buying or making clothing for plus size children or plus size / full figure women can be very stressful and difficult as there is literally no standard size that fits properly.

Look around at school playgrounds, in restaurants, at shopping centers or any other public place and see for yourself the numbers of children and adults that are in the overweight and obese category.  I think you will be surprised at what you’ll see.

Plus-size customers are “loyal”

The plus size market is underserved, so the response to those reaching out to the overweight and obese has been very good.  Plus size women are very loyal to those who can give them the fit they deserve.  Plus size children and adults need patterns and clothing that fit THEIR “larger than average” measurements.  Sadly, neither ready made clothing nor commercial patterns address the real issue.  As you think about customizing your sewing business to include this market, consider whether you’d be more comfortable sewing for plus size children or if your ideas and styles would more pertain to plus size women

A major factor in setting your “sewing for plus sizes” business apart from anybody else could easily be the “help” you can give regarding the type of patterns to use, the fabric selection and the accessories to go with the finished garments.  Consider what the “appearance” of the finished garment will look like.  Will the garment be “trendy”, fit properly and also flatter their figure?  A few items that immediately come to mind, that are seldom thought about are:

1. Solid colors and vertical lines will heighten the body, while contrasting colors in tops and skirts, as well as big bold prints will shorten it.

2.  Waists seem to expand with wide or conspicuous belts or buckles.

3.  Dresses with several rows of elastic sewn at the waistline will appear to thicken the waist and shorten the height, while semi-fitted dresses with vertical line designs and A-line skirts will give a thinner and taller appearance.

4.  Hips will seem to increase in girth with tight or full skirts.  The A-lines or princess style skirts will create a more slimming appearance.

You can probably think of additional items that you’d be able to help the customer with.  As you get into this niche market and start to cater to the plus sizes, you will have more “word of mouth” business coming than you ever dreamed possible. 

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author


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