One of the things that can be a bit of a hurdle for engaging with vintage looks is physical size. A lot of the true vintage clothing available in shops is teeny tiny and so unlikely to be of use (not however because in Ye Olde Times people were smaller, but much like now the bigger sized clothing was less accessible and more expensive so it tended to get worn until it was completely destroyed and/or handed through the family rather than surviving in a wearable condition. Thin people could replace their clothing much more easily so didn’t have to make things last as long) and even if you do try to repurpose modern styles into vintage looks, plus size options still aren’t great.
Couple that with more increasingly widespread awareness about the extremely unethical nature of fast fashion and the social and environmental impacts of purchasing on the high street and it’s a bit of a recipe for “well shoot, what do I do now?”
I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenge. And that’s where sewing comes in, or at least it does for me!
This year there have been a load of videos published on YouTube for the CoCoVid event, an online alternative for the weekend that should have been the Costume College Convention in America. The ones I’ve watched have been super fun, covering areas of costuming and historic fashion both familiar and new to me. The one I’m really thinking of right now though was called ‘Plus Size Historical Costume Tips – Help, I don’t fit any patterns!’ and was such a joy. Rebecca of the Pocket Full of Poseys channel did such a wonderful job breaking down some of the concerns or issues new people might have when approaching historic clothing as a bigger body.
It’s a great video that I’d recommend to anyone with an interest, and it also introduced me to new pattern makers I’ve not yet tried! I don’t love maths and the thought of grading from a size 12 to a 24 makes me extremely uncomfortable and is also quite unlikely to be a success anyway, to be honest. I also don’t want to financially support designers and pattern makers who don’t cater to my size. That just doesn’t feel right to me. For more modern styles of clothing I’ve made, the businesses I support are those who do facilitate my shape existing as is. But finding ‘older’ styles isn’t always easy, so here are some links! Some of these I’ve tried, some I’m looking forward to experimenting with, but all come with a decent size range.
Laughing Moon – lots of corsets, gowns, older styles (ie pre 1900? I don’t know enough to be more specific, and might be wrong there anyway!)
Black Snail – again, lots of things pre 1900 and nice categorisation by period on their Etsy page
Truly Victorian – does what it says on the tin, mostly specialising in that bustled Victorian silhouette
Scroop – these have been in my bookmarks for a long while now because they have styles approaching the more 1940s era of my preference, but they do also have stays and walking skirt patterns too
New Vintage Lady – I love her blog and creativity, and though I’m yet to buy a pattern this is another one where I’ve had them on my wishlist for a very long time
Hopefully one of these makers have something for the era you like, and if not then this was a useful list for me anyway to be able to come back to if I ever want to try a different period!