Life on the Plus Side
My mind spun around for a bit of thinking of how I could fix this mistake I had made. I still wanted to make this beautiful pattern, but I questioned if I had the skills to figure out how to adjust up to my size. With the small amount of knitting experience I had at the time, I was doubting I had the ability to turn this around.
If you wear a size that bears an X, or multiple X’s for some of us, you may know the feeling all too well of finding a beautiful pattern you would love to make but the designer has stopped short of your size. Or the designer has written a pattern to your size, but they have used a size chart that scaled all the sizes down. The range of feelings this causes can go from pure frustration all the way to negative thoughts about our bodies.
As a woman in my late 30’s, I have been all over the place when it comes to the size and shape of my body. After having two large babies in 2006 and 2008, while already overweight, I found myself in a body I wasn’t happy with. Over the next three years I would shed nearly ninety pounds and then for the next seven I would gain it all back. I came to a place where I began to ask myself, what if this is the way I always look? What if I’m always plus sized?
We all know how good it feels to find that piece of clothing or outfit that fits just right, that helps us feel more confident, the one we stand back and smile in knowing we look good! When we’ve hand made that piece it feels even better. Designers within the needle arts community have the power to create more of those moments in makers’ lives. We can be on the side that leads people, of all ages, to accept their bodies in all the shapes they may take over the course of their lives.
What specifically can we do right now to help this movement gain speed? Here are a few things you can begin doing today to encourage progress:
“When you are willing to embrace your body, in every stage of life, and you commit to halting negative talk about yourself and others’ bodies, then you can influence others to do the same”
Speak Kindly to Yourself and Others
Whether you have a small amount of people you interact with daily or a large social media account, the way you talk about and carry yourself will influence others. When you are willing to embrace your body, in every stage of life, and you commit to halting negative talk about yourself and others’ bodies, then you can influence others to do the same.
Body positivity and acceptance doesn’t mean there aren’t things you wish were different on your body, nor does it mean there won’t be days you just won’t feel positive about your body. It just means you are making a conscientious decision to accept and respect the way your body is in the moment. To believe the good things you’re saying to yourself. It also means you do not value yourself or another person more or less based on outward appearance.
If you’re having trouble getting to this place, there may be things in your past or present that need attention. Ask yourself what you think the ideal body is and then ask yourself how you came to that conclusion? The answer may surprise you! Talking it out with a trusted friend or a therapist can help you begin to move in the direction of truly loving yourself.
Pattern Test for Designers/Model What You Make
If you’re not quite ready to test for designers, modeling the pieces you make for yourself will offer that gift to other makers out there and help the designer promote their size inclusive pattern. You never know who is going to come across your photo in the vast world of the internet and how that one photo might help them in their journey.
Write Quality Patterns for More Sizes
I think we all can agree that feeling included is a really good feeling. Having the option to make a pattern in our size elicits that feeling. Knowing a designer didn’t preclude anyone based on their size helps more people feel welcome and safe in our community.
As an aspiring knit and crochet apparel designer, I am absolutely dedicated to not only designing for a broader range of sizes, but also making sure I am using the correct range of measurements for those sizes. While I can use my own measurements to design larger sizes, I may have trouble on the smaller end of the scale. The same can be said for a smaller person designing for plus sizes. Even people who wear the same size can have vastly different body shapes. This is where size charts can be helpful tools. One trusted site whose charts coincide with the current U.S. standards from baby to plus size is the Craft Yarn Council. Their size charts can be found here. They also feature valuable information about fit and how to measure your body.
Once your pattern is written, have every size tested to verify your measurements are going to fit your makers. Be open to suggestions that your testers may make. I have been fortunate to work with designers who welcomed my feedback and felt comfortable asking questions about how the garment fit me. Pattern testers can be found in close friends, your local knit and crochet groups, or even moderated groups on social media platforms.
If you’re wondering if I ever found a way to make that pattern work, I did. I took this moment that initially felt like a mistake and turned it into an opportunity to grow and expand my own skill set. What could have led to frustration or negative thoughts, was taken by the reigns and used as a catalyst for change. Body positivity and acceptance may start from within, but when we choose to live it outside boldly, we can begin to positively impact the lives of others.