Hi, my name is Thandi, and I am curvy with an extra helping of curve. I’m making a handmade wardrobe as part of my personal project to take back ownership of my body, to learn to love it for what it is, and not what I think it should be. Sewing fosters a new, brighter relationship with my body that I can enjoy, producing garments I can be proud of.
One of the unfortunate side-effects of years of trying to hide my plus size body, of years of very sad RTW choices in large scale floral polyester with enormous buttons (no thank you!), is that I have almost no idea of what constitutes my personal style. Am I a t-shirt and jeans girl? Do I like jumpsuits? Wide legs or skinnies? A-line dresses or gathered waists? All I know right now is that I love stripes, and that’s not terribly helpful. To make it harder to choose a pattern for my curves the garment illustrations on the patterns generally only show “regular” bodies, which isn’t helpful for a very curvy sewist who is already anxious about how clothes look on her body.
This is where the MyBodyModel App comes to the rescue. Not only does the image of yourself really put your body shape and size into literal perspective, but it gives you the opportunity to play with silhouettes and styles which you might not otherwise try. I am a grad student, and every penny I spend on fabrics and patterns must give me maximum bang for my few bucks, I can’t afford to make garments which I won’t wear. Up until now, I’ve been playing it safe with simple tops and nice shirts, but with my custom croquis I can finally be more adventurous with my sewing, taking some style risks, without spending a cent.
I want to show you how I’m going about choosing the best coat pattern for my shape. I love coats, the snuggle factor, the drama, the beautiful lines, but making a coat is an investment in time and money. I need to get it right the first time, and that’s a lot of pressure for any sewist.
1. Rumana Coat
Let’s begin with the Rumana Coat by By Hand London. This coat is a classic with elegant lines, a slim lapel, and princess seams which make tailoring so much easier. It’s exactly the kind of coat I would drool over in the shops. But is it me? I don’t think that the formality of this coat fits in with the “comfort chic” wardrobe that I’m currently building.
2. Oslo Coat
Next up is the Oslo Coat from Tessuti Patterns. This coat grabbed my attention immediately. But the moment I drew the sketch everything about it was a firm No. I still think it’s a great coat, but with my large bust and hips, I feel like the length of the lapels just makes me look like a big, soft pear (delicious to be sure, but not what I’m going for!).
3. Clare Coat
Third in line is the Clare Coat from Closet Case Patterns. I must be honest and say that the photos on the pattern website did not appeal to me, but after seeing some of the gorgeous makes on Instagram, I couldn’t get the chic cocoon shape out of my head. I really like the diagonal pockets and the subtle funnel collar. This one is definitely a contender.
4. Yates Coat
The fourth pattern is the Yates Coat from Grainline Studio. I wasn’t sold on this coat when the pattern was released, but the boxy shape is so versatile. I like the simplicity and the modernity of it, plus it’s not overly feminine which is a bonus for me. I may paint my nails pillar box red twice a week like clockwork, but I’m not a girly girl. I also like the long lapels which would add length to my torso.
5. Jill Coatigan
Coat number five is the Jill Coatigan by Seamwork Patterns. This pattern has great sizing options which makes it very appealing. However, the versions I’ve seen online have me torn between loving it and thinking that it looks a bit like dressing gown. I think this one would come down to getting your fabric choice spot on, and that could make it a challenge for a novice coat sewist.
6. Sapporo Coat
The last coat is my wildcard option: the Papercut Patterns Sapporo coat. This coat has a soft, oversized cocoon shape with beautiful diagonal lines front and back. It is a statement piece with its wide, cropped sleeves. But is it a good look for my body shape? I don’t want to say no, because I love it so much, but if I must be completely honest I don’t think it’s a winner (please feel free to change my mind in the comments!).
I have the pattern for the Jill Coatigan, so I’m keen to give it a go, but I’ll have to be careful to avoid the dressing gown trap. The Yates is probably the kind of coat I’d wear to death, but the sizing is very limited, so I’ll keep ogling versions online until I can commit to the process of grading it up. At the end of the day, my favourite has to be the Clare. I like the way it hugs my figure while simultaneously hiding all manner of sins. It would make a great statement coat in a bold colour, spicing up my wardrobe palette of navy, mustard, and ivory.
I’d love to know which coat your favourite is, so feel free to give your vote in the comments.
I hope you’ll use your croquis to take some style risks with your sewing plans for this year! I can’t wait to try out some more challenging silhouettes with mine.
Thandi is a PhD student living in South Africa with four birds, a fabric addiction, and a very patient partner. She had always loved making bags and things for her home, but after making her own wedding dress in 2015 she realised that she could make clothes that fit her plus size figure, rather than trying to make her body fit into RTW clothes. You can find her, and her birds, on Instagram at @thandiwh, crafting and sewing to keep the thesis madness and chronic illness blues at bay.