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clothing-L-msg - 9/29/98


Clothing for large women.


NOTE: See also the files: clothing-MN-msg, clothing-books-msg, patterns-msg, merch-cloth-lst, underwear-msg, trim-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: dawolkes at netcom.com (Fred and Evelyn Wolke)

Subject: Re: Living Large in Period Garb?

Date: Fri, 8 Jul 1994 20:04:22 GMT


: Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

: Maybe fat isn't "period."


Au contraire, dear lady.  


: Who knows?  In any case, I'm a size 32W and I'd like to sew my own garb,

: but I can't find patterns which would be suitable.  I'm a pretty good

: sewer, but have never really altered a pattern before. (And altering a

: pattern from a size 12 to a 32W stretches the limit of almost anyone's

: imagination!)


Patterns, especially for medieval or rennaisance fashions, are not easy

to come by for us larger or Reubenesque women.  However, I feel MUCH

better about myself when wearing period garb, as much of it looks a

helluva lot better on us larger folks (I'm a size 28W and expecting

twins; in anything else I feel like a beached whale) than on skinny



Unfortunately, the patterns available are on the whole made by sizephobic

Nazis who wouldn't know a healthy measurement from a hole in the ground.  

Some you may try which have better attitudes are: Folkwear patterns, made

by Taunton Publishing, the kind folks who give you _Threads_ magazine,

and a few of the minor houses which make patterns that can be modified to

make medieval looks.  However, in the long run patterns are not really

available for the more flattering fashions, and you may have to learn to

draft them yourself.  It may sound like a daunting task, but I'm a

complete artistic washout, and I've learned.  There are several fine

books on the subject available, and I'd suggest that you start with the

library in your town or city.


: I've looked at a few catalogs before, but the patterns are for itsy

: bitsy little women, and I'm neither itsy nor bitsy.


Hear, hear.  


: I'm initially looking to sew peasant-style clothing, but would

: eventually like to sew something suitable for nobility.


My dear lady, bear in mind that we in the SCA are ASSUMED to be nobility...

the only suggestion I would have is to keep it simple at first and have

fun with it.  Start with some inexpensive stuff so you can use the

trial and error method with impunity, and fool around!  If you wish

peasant garb, start with a simple skirt, chemise, and bodice.  The only

tricky part will be fitting the bodice, and if you have a kind friend,

an old t-shirt that can be sacrificed to a cause, and a roll or two of

duct tape, here is a method:


1. Put the t-shirt on over a bra which gives you good support, as the

finished bodice will be molded to you as a custom fit.


2. Have said kind friend COVER the shirt with a solid layer of duct tape

from the desired neckline to your hip line.  DON"T miss any spots, as you

are using the layer of duct tape to form this shirt to your body (Yes, we

in the SCA use Duct tape for almost EVERYTHING.  What fun.)  BE SURE TO



3. Have the said friend draw the outline of the desired bodice on your

body, including side seams, shoulder seams, neckline, waistline, front

and back center lines.  Hope you're not ticklish.


4. The last duty of your patient friend will be to cut the shirt, duct

tape and all, up the back along the back center line. Have them be very

careful not to cut your bra, obviously.


5. You are now the bemused owner of a form-fitted duct tape shirt.  Cut

it carefully on the pattern lines drawn and you will have a reasonably

accurate record of your current measurements.  Trace the front and back

on whatever you want to make a pattern, remembering that you must add

seam allowances.  Straighten out the lines as much as possible, and fool

around with it until you get something that works.

Hints are to make itof a heavy, firm fabric and line it with canvas (at least

two layers for support) and to bone it on the front and sides.  Use grommets

in front if you wish to lace it, but attach them firmly as they can weaken the

fabric. Good materials are corduroy, heavy velveteen, wool or other such

heavy fabric.  


You will find this garment a good deal more comfortable than a bra if

you've made it correctly, since it is made to your measurements. If you

have any questions or run into any hassles, email me and I'll try to

help.  Really, it isn't too tough.


                       Best of luck and keep in touch!

                       Lady Dierdre Kyle, often known as the Bewildered...  



From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Living Large in Period Garb?

Date: 11 Jul 1994 04:07:00 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


In article <dawolkesCsn13B.Hsp at netcom.com>,

Fred and Evelyn Wolke <dawolkes at netcom.com> wrote:


>>How can I make garb for a size-large body?


> [good instructions for making a close-fitting bodice]


Or, start out in early period.  Wear large T-tunics, very large

T-tunics, T-tunics that are large even on you.  I am no delicate

little flower myself, but my ankle-length T-tunics would

comfortably contain Rosanne Barr and me simultaneously.


To show you're noble and rich (or to put up a good illusion), use

silk and lots of trim and gold thread and pearls.  


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin          Dorothy J. Heydt

Mists/Mists/West                   UC Berkeley

Argent, a cross forme'e sable           djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu




From: Tracey Miller <tmiller at haas.berkeley.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Garb for the Voluptuous

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 18:41:38 -0800

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


Greetings from Tracy!


I lost the thread, but someone wrote asking for advise on garb for larger

women.  As a larger woman, I think that Elizabethan bodices look *HOT* on

our body type.  Not difficult to make, and quite comfortable when well




From: connect at aol.com (CONNECT)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Garb for the Voluptuous

Date: 2 Mar 1995 14:44:31 -0500


Tovah Scofeld says:


now if only we can get Medevil Misalnia (sp) to understand that there are

some of us that are larger then a size 18 we might just have



If you mean Mediaeval Miscellanea (now being called Past Patterns), then I

agree, with a proviso. Their pieces are good, but their directions stink.

I've made trunk hose and doublet for my husband, and the trunk hose were a

pain, because I followed their directions. Just using the peices of the

doublet and using common sense, I wipped together the doublet.


My suggestion to any large busted woman (like me) is to have a friend help

you make a bodice pattern out of junk fabric, transfer that to paper or

pattern fabric (something that won't stretch as you reuse it) and voila!

I've made 3 bodices (to date) from the one pattern, and they fit like a

glove--like they're supposed to. Of course, you want to create the pattern

while you're wearing your corset.  You can then modify the bodice anyway

you like, since you have your original design....you can have an arching

front, a square front, hook-and-eye closure in the front, lacing up the

back...all sorts of fun!!


My first corset isn't quite right, so I'm in the process of making a new

one. When you have a corset that's made right, it's more comfortable than

wearing a bra. I know my shoulders are permanently indented from the

straps I've been wearing all my teen and adult life.


One thing to watch out for is the uncourteous men who don't look at your

face when you're talking to them. Their eyes are elsewhere.          



Rosalyn MacGregor of Glen Orchy

Pattie Rayl of Cynnabar



From: pat at lalaw.lib.CA.US (Pat Lammerts)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Italian Ren Dress Help

Date: 22 Jul 1996 23:17:39 -0400


Francesca wrote:

>Greetings to one and all this fair evening.  I am looking for help

>with a costuming question/problem.  A friend and I have been

>attempting to recreate a mid 16 century Italian ren dress, and have

>been having some problems with fitting the bodice. Since I am a

>large woman, it has been difficult to get the shoulders to stay up

>when I am sitting down (they slid).  I'm also having a problem with

>getting the front of the bodice to stay flat. If anyone has any

>suggestions, would you please e-mail me with them?




>P.S.  Please don't tell me that I have to put any more boning in my

>corset... if I do I'll be up to armor class 3 from the front! ;-)


>tempest at cannet.com

>Francesca de Onorati

>(Norma Jean Storms)

>North Canton, Ohio


I am going to assume that you have already made your bodice and are

not working from a muslin fitting version.


The problem with your shoulders is that when you sit, you are

pushing up the bodice, hence the shoulders slipping off.

The easiest way to correct this problem is to make a "pocket"

at the bottom v of your bodice so that it will fit in to the

bottom v of your corset.  If your corset is tight enough, it

should hold your bodice in place and no allow it to ride up and

allow the shoulders to slip.


Secondly, while your corset may not need any more boning, your

bodice obviously does, since it will not lay flat.  If your

bodice has already been made, you should add the boning to the

lining, so it won't show.  Probably (since I don't know what

your bodice looks like) in this pattern:


\  |  /

  \ | /



This should force the front of the bodice to lay flat. Also

the back of your bodice should be boned, especially (if is

is still possible) between the lacing holes and the bodice

opening.  This will prevent gapping.


One word of advice:


Always make a muslin version of your bodices first and try

it on wearing your corset.  Then sit, stand, bend, twist

... in other words, move all about so that the problems will

appear with the muslin version and be corrected with your

fittings.  Usually, I have found that once the real bodice

has been sewn, fitting problems are hard to correct without



I hope that you find this advice helpful.





+ Mistress Huette Aliza von und zu Ahrens und Mechthildberg +

+         Ars non gratia artis, sed gratia pecuniae       +

+                     Kingdom of Caid                     +

+        Barony of the Angels, Canton of the Canyons       +

+                   (pat at lalaw.lib.ca.us)                   +




Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 16:02:13 -0700 (PDT)

From: Cynthia Virtue <cvirtue at well.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Pattern sloper webpage!


Ciorstan writes:

> Once a seamster knows how to perform alterations, changing seam lines

> and eliminating darts is simple stuff. Having a sloper that conforms to

> one's individual body, IMHO, is a wonderful tool for someone to use to

> create their own patterns,


Which brings up another question of mine:


I, like many heavier-set women, am lumpy.  My silouette in front and

sides is not a smooth curve, or even a cylinder; there's a bit of a swell

both above and below the "waistline."  How do you make a sloper (or fit a

Uniquely You dressmaker's dummy) to reflect this, er, curvaceousness?  

Most snug fitting will compress the excess into a smooth curve, but it

just isn't the truth!





Date: Wed, 13 Aug 1997 10:01:21 +1000 (EST)

From: Miesje Devogel <d9304570 at bohm.anu.edu.au>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Pattern sloper webpage!


On Tue, 12 Aug 1997, Cynthia Virtue wrote:

> sides is not a smooth curve, or even a cylinder; there's a bit of a swell

> both above and below the "waistline."  How do you make a sloper (or fit a

> Uniquely You dressmaker's dummy) to reflect this, er, curvaceousness?  

> Most snug fitting will compress the excess into a smooth curve, but it

> just isn't the truth!


Standard practice over here is to pad up a dress makers dummy with towels

until they fit the measurements taken. Or to do a body wrap (I recommend

masking tape as duct tape is to unforgiving and pulls you oput of shape.

Howver quite frankly, most people I know p;refer to get the smooth curve

look, or go for a corseted look (more along the lines of Veronese). I

jhaven't seen "lumpy" in the portraiture I've studied, except for some

1480-1550 middle class dutch type stuff.



politarchopolis, lochac



Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 22:55:38 -0700

From: Brett and Karen Williams <brettwi at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Pattern sloper webpage!


Cynthia Virtue wrote:


> Ciorstan writes:

> > Once a seamster knows how to perform alterations, changing seam lines

> > and eliminating darts is simple stuff. Having a sloper that conforms to

> > one's individual body, IMHO, is a wonderful tool for someone to use to

> > create their own patterns,


> Which brings up another question of mine:


> I, like many heavier-set women, am lumpy.  My silouette in front and

> sides is not a smooth curve, or even a cylinder; there's a bit of a swell

> both above and below the "waistline."  How do you make a sloper (or fit a

> Uniquely You dressmaker's dummy) to reflect this, er, curvaceousness?

> Most snug fitting will compress the excess into a smooth curve, but it

> just isn't the truth!


> Cynthia


Um, in a nutshell, that depends*. I personally don't use a dressmaker's

dummy, though I've been lusting after one for just years. As Joan Rivers

says "can we talk?"


Please be advised that these are my personal opinions, as usual, and

Your Mileage May Vary. I would love to see discussion on this.


I think your question involves a set of decision left up to the

individual in question, how the individual reacts mentally and

physically to a garment's idiosyncracies, and personal taste as to what

that individual feels is a flattering garment style on that individual's

body. The latter of the three I will not dictate to anyone. So, if I

were a hypothetical dressmaker commissioned to make you, let's say, a

Elizabeth Plantagenet transition-type early Tudor, I'd have these

questions in mind. (Think Anne of Brittany, if the Elizabeth Plantagenet

reference doesn't conjure a mental image-- the gown is something of a

transition style between a cotehardie and a Jane Seymour early Tudor,

which I would build over a light corset.) I'm going to play

schizophrenic and answer with mine own personal preferences.


1.  Does it bother you to have your waist compressed?


        A. Makes me cranky and also makes me consider putting my immediate

neighbors out of my misery. Permanently. Tight jeans are Not A Clothing



2.     How much compression is too much?


        A. I'm 40"-30"-40", sorta near an American 16. I Really Hate more

subtraction than 2" less than my measurements.




As a comparison for designing a snug garment from our period vs. a

modern dress, most modern slopers have 2" extra added into horizontal

measurements (bust, waist, hip, for example) for what's called ease.

Ease is defined as the extra fabric surrounding the body that allows it

some freedom of movement. The less the amount of ease built into a

sloper, the more restricting the garment. A corset has negative ease,

which equals body compression. So, in my schizo case here, I as the

dressmaker would recommend adding tabs on the bottom of the corset to

lessen the mental and physical compression effect on the waist.

Physically, the corset's tabs will eliminate chafing in the waistline

and indeed smooth out an upper waist roll. The lower roll she mentions

will be smoothed out by the corset's tabs, and to some extent turn into

the equivalent of a natural bum roll. If I were working on a later

period garment (let's say 1560's) for Cynthia, I would make a smaller

bum roll than normal in order to compensate. Wheel farthingales are

another matter entirely!


If I were to approach the task of putting Cynthia's body type on a

Uniquely-You type dress form, I would have Cynthia decide on Bra or No

Bra, put on a expendable bra if necessary, a ratty t-shirt, and get out

the duct-tape. I would wrap her in the duct tape until the shirt was

covered, draw a straight line down the center front and cut it off (the

disposable bra might be a casualty of Fabric War, like the t-shirt). I

would quickly use the duct-taped shirt to make a fabric shell for the

dress form (the duct tape doesn't need to shrink before I'm done!). The

alternative method suggested by Uniquely You is a more formal drape-type

procedure, where one carefully fits a fabric shell directly to the

individual. Both procedures necessitate another person involved in the

process; the latter method involves a second party prepared to avoid

stabbing Cynthia with pins, and who is familiar with fitting/tailoring

procedures. It can be extremely frustrating to fit, take it to the

machine, stitch, fit, rip, refit and pin, stitch...and so on. Once the

dress form is 'dressed' with Cynthia's body, I'd dress the form in her

period undergarments and go on my merry way. For the non-cognoscenti, a

Uniquely You form is made up of this squishable foam type stuff that can

be easily compressed into an individual's body shape by virtue of its

non-stretchable cloth cover. Fitting that cover is the task of the



Now, there's a whole 'nother set of considerations when designing a

loose gown intended to be worn with a belt, most of them involve the

client's personal preferences. I would ask my client's opinion on how

she felt she looked in such a proposed garment and allow her opinions to

guide me. Let's say she wanted a belted garment.


My client has three strong horizontal 'lines' across her torso in

addition to her waist, which are the bust, the upper roll, and small

lower roll. *If*, and this is a big if, she's unhappy with drawing

attention to the upper three horizontal lines, I would suggest an

exaggerated dolman-sleeved tunic of the 1260's, belt at natural waist

line, and, possibly, a cyclas/early sideless surcote over all as a way

to draw the outside eye's attention from those horizontal lines. The

dolman sleeved tunic cutting diagram is given on page 73 of Jean

Hunnisett's "Period Costume for Stage and Screen, Medieval-1500", ISBN

0-88734-653-7 and is an *excellent* source for SCA costume cutting-- as

are her two other books on later periods. This was an expensive

hardback, and I'm not regretting a single penny of its cost. An early

cyclas/sideless surcote can be found in Katherine Strand Holkeboer's

"Patterns for Theatrical Costumes" on page 98, ISBN 0-89676-125-8,

however I do not know if lengthening the armsceye sufficiently to turn

it into more of a sideless surcote-type makes for a historically

accurate pairing of garments, and the cyclas as given in Holkeboer would

probably 'break' over a belted garment**. Additionally, Holkeboer is an

unreferenced tertiary source at best-- and some of her pattern diagrams

repeat information and errors in Hill & Bucknell's Evolution of Fashion.

Hunnisett is secondary documentation; her assertions are based on

thorough and careful examination of period illustrations and an

experienced clothier's experimentation with the effects of draping

fabric. Neither book is primary source documentation, which would be the

physical remains of a garment.


I digress. If my hypothetical client were to prefer no belt, and

expressed displeasure with her waistline, I would offer her an early

sideless surcote and kirtle like Lady Luttrell, 1340's, found on page 63

of Hunnisett. I would suggest a loose-ish 10-gore dress or Hjrolfnes

(sic?) loose-ish cotehardie to go under the sideless surcote, and, if

she were boldly inclined, go so far as to suggest a vertical stripe

(from foot to neck) for her cotehardie to again act as visual camoflage

for those horizontal torso lines. The long vertical lines of the

sideless surcote's armseyes would do the same, too. I would use the

upper roll measurement brought down to the 'waist' in drafting such a

garment-- since this type of extremely loose dress has totally the

opposite idea on ease built in, my opinion is that the difference in

substitution of the upper roll measurement for the waist measurement _at

the waist line position_ would be pretty much inconsequential, as a

loose-ish cotehardie's ease would hide the waistline.


I hope that the underlying reasoning for all of these decisions is

understandable. If my yacking is as clear as mud, let me know and I

would be happy to make another attempt!




*I've been hanging around lawyers too much. Don't you just hate

wishy-washy answers? I do!


**A 'break' is the technical term for the way the lower pants leg falls

over the wearer's shoe. Some pants legs don't have any break at all,

some have a small one, and some have a major break. Look at a man's

formal suit for an example. I'm thinking of the way a cyclas with a

small/high armsceye could shadow the waist belt's position through its




Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 22:17:03

From: Nancee Beattie <nbeattie at blackcat.dunklin.k12.mo.us>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Houppelande & plumpness


>I've been looking anew at the pictures of women in houppelandes in my various

>sources, and it is again very clear that the ideal of the time included small

>breasts.  I'm overstocked in that department (relative to the medieval ideal)

>and am considering an Ace-bandage approach to solving the silhouette



>How have others of us dealt with this?  Does an Ace bandage work fairly well?


>Lady Cynthia du Pre Argent, Minister of Silly Hats, Crosston


You don't need to bind yourself. The proper underdress fit is what you

need. The breasts weren't necessarily small, just compact--a unibozom

effect. If you wear a kirtle underneath that raises your breasts to your

armpits, and belt the houppeland high up under your breasts, you will

achieve the desired effect without binding.


Let me know if you want more details.





Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 10:54:44 -0500

From: caroline at netusa1.net (mystarwin/Moira)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Houppelande & plumpness


From: Cynthia Virtue <cvirtue at ricochet.net> said on Dec. 10, 1997:

>I've been looking anew at the pictures of women in houppelandes in my various

>sources, and it is again very clear that the ideal of the time included small



Just a comment from my point of view.... it seems to me, since I've made a houppelande, that it's not that the women then really had small breasts, but that the draping of the dress, with all the weight at the bottom caused the appearance of a small top.... similar to a maternity dress.


You could bind yourself, however, if it's uncomfortable, you wouldn't find me doing it!!!!! *grin* Why don't you try a good sports bra instead?


Moira Breabadair of the Shire of Narrental



Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 12:06:38 -0500

From: Yllaria <yllaria at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Houppelande & plumpness


Lady Cynthia,


From the pictures I've seen of the houppelande era, the ideal seems to be

not only small but *separate* breasts.  Ace bandages (which, by the way,

don't seem to work very well) and sports bras give a flattened "mono-bosom"

silhouette, which isn't correct either.  Whatever undergarment you use,

whether a bra or corset of some type, try for a "lift and separate"



Slightly loosening the belt under the breasts will also tend to minimize

the apparent breast size.


The other thing to keep in mind is that, no matter what extant paintings

may show, not everyone had the "ideal" figure at any given time.   In

recreating a particular era, those of us with unfashionable figures for

that era can only do what the people with unfashionable figures *in* that

era did:  wear the fashionable garments anyway.


BTW, I am just getting into houppelandes myself, and I am both

large-breasted and short/wide.  After a bit of experimentation to see what

gave me the closest silhouette, I settled on a bra that is considerably

sturdier than what I usually wear.


Lady Yllaria of Wildewode



Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 16:30:29 -0800 (PST)

From: Jenn <audacity at teleport.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Houppelande & plumpness


>and am considering an Ace-bandage approach to solving the silhouette



I've never tried that, I don't have that problem. Depending on the garment

worn over the ace bandage (I'm not quite sure what houppelandes is, I'm an

ewcomer), the sides of the bandage may be visible. I would suggest silk,

it's thinner, breathes easier (Trust me, i've broken many bones, silk may

not have the nifty litle metal clasps, but ace bandages hold in moisture

VERY well), and won't leave as many lines...



From: aelfwyn at aol.com (Aelfwyn)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Larger size clothing patterns for women

Date: 18 Mar 1998 03:06:33 GMT


Some sites you might check for larger size patterns are:


They carry Costume Connection, Fantasy Fashions, Period Patterns and Eagle View



Another goody is


they carry Alter Years and many mid eastern patterns as well as some of the

previously mentioned.  Hide your plastic and have a great shopping trip.

I have had very good luck "adjusting up" the sizing on Costume Connections and

Atira's Middle Eastern patterns. Hope this helps. Feel free to e-mail me if I

can offer any other advice. It's nice to know 30+ years of sewing are good for



<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org