Can we talk about a delicate topic for a moment? When we develop new patterns we don’t use professional models for our pattern covers. We do that for a variety of reasons, the first of which is because we want to highlight the beauty of “regular” people–people like you who will be sewing and wearing clothing made from our patterns. We always ask friends and acquaintances to model for us. We have had a variety of interesting and talented people appear on our pattern covers. For just our Liesl + Co. women’s patterns, we’ve featured (among others) a human resources executive, a social media manager, a brain surgeon, a designer, and a student. Several of these women are also mothers. As it has happened, some of our models have been quite thin.
Unfortunately, our use of friends and acquaintances as models has generated some negative comments and emails that have been hurtful to the models. I want to be very clear here: body shaming in any form is not OK in this community. Everyone, of any size or shape, is welcomed here.
In recent years, the plus-sized sewing community has found a voice about body shaming, and I fully support this because no one should be embarrassed about his or her body. To support this community, we’ve expanded the sizing on our Liesl + Co. patterns (yes, I know some of you would like to see us increase the size range further, but that’s another topic for another day…) and we’ve been including cup sizes in our patterns specifically to help provide a better fit for a diversity of sizes and shapes. I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to other ways we might be able to expand our offerings to further support the community.
But let’s keep in mind that being body-positive applies to everyone–including women who are very slim and are at the other end of our patterns’ size range. The important thing is that we’re all healthy and taking care of ourselves. And I can assure you that everyone we have ever asked to model for us (including my own daughter S who is naturally slim and whose photos have also occasioned hurtful comments from some) is healthy and happy.
I think you know me well enough to know that I stand behind my principles and try to support our customers in every way that I can. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that you also support the lovely people who bravely stand in front of the camera for us. Modeling is not easy, and the person in front of the camera often feels very vulnerable. I think our models are beautiful, both outside and in. As I meet more people here in Spain, I hope to include a variety of body shapes on our pattern covers, and I hope you will be supportive of all of them. S is excited to model for one of our upcoming pattern covers, and I hope you will welcome her and speak positively about her very thin body as well. We’re naturally slim in our family, and that’s normal for us. There’s nothing unhealthy about it. Enough said.
On to more pleasant topics! I’m back from a trip to London, and it was wonderful to meet so many of you at the Great British Sewing Bee Live show and to see a little of the city.
I had lots of great conversations at the event, and it was really exciting to be at a show that focused primarily on garment sewing. My word, the excitement about the yellow Lisette for Butterick B6423 coat pattern was amazing! The pattern sold out twice during the show, despite a large re-order. I had a great time signing patterns, answering questions, and learning more about you and your likes and sewing challenges. And of course it was fun to see some of the Lisette designs on the runway, which is always a thrill. I also had a little time to see the Balenciaga show at the V&A as well as the Anna Sui show at the Textile and Fashion Museum. The Balenciaga show was particularly good and well worth a visit if you get a chance.
Do you like this multi-patterned shirt as much as I do? I was thinking it would be really fun to sew for Todd using our new All Day Shirt pattern, especially since Kaufman’s gingham comes in three different scales which would make it really easy to get the same color and fabric weight. You could sew it in all one color or in a variety of colors all in the same scale. Also, this little dress is so sweet and would be darling as a tartan for the upcoming holidays. I’d use the Building Block Dress book to make it, of course.
Speaking of shirts, gingham, and holiday outfits, I love the idea of sewing View A of the Recital Shirt with a lace or eyelet at the center-front princess-seam panels, sort of like this vintage Victorian blouse. You could pair it with a SoHo Skirt, maybe in a silk tartan. I’m more of a separates type, and I’d be all over this one for the holidays.
It’s also been on my list for quite a while now to try sewing the Woodland Stroll Cape in a fake fur. Wouldn’t it be fun? I love this color, too. Also, I’ve been looking for a fabric similar to this for the Lisette for Butterick B6482 dress. So far no luck.
- I mentioned seeing the Balenciaga show in London. One of my favorite parts of the show (aside from seeing the clothes themselves, of course) was these videos that demonstrate the patterns and construction for the dresses. When you can’t touch a dress it can be maddening to understand the underlying structure, so I really appreciated this insider’s look.
- When a designer joins a well-established house, the history of that brand can be a burden or a blessing.
- What it’s like to be a petite main at Dior.
- I thought this was a fascinating look behind-the-scenes in a costume shop. I’ll have to query a few friends in this side of the industry to learn more! (Also, isn’t it great we know how to sew so we can alter and make clothes that fit our own bodies?)
- It’s official: we’re eating plastic.
- I don’t know if this is really a solution to our plastic problem, but it’s a fascinating idea.
- We need to become more materialistic; an interesting definition of the word and the concept.
I’ll be traveling back the the US next week (my grandma’s memorial service), but Rachel will be here with all sorts of fun things, including a visit to Minneapolis and an appearance by an old friend! Have a great weekend.
I am so sorry you even had to write the first part of this post. How very upsetting! Especially from this community that always seems so helpful and supportive. I for one love the diversity in your models. They do look like regular people and I appreciate that. Enjoy your weekend,
Thanks for your support, Jill!
I’ve always loved that you use “real” people – your friends, people you love – as your cover models. It makes your patterns even more wonderful! Please don’t be discouraged by negative comments about the slim models . . . I think they look beautiful!
Thanks, Lucinda. I’m not discouraged at all. I just want to make it very clear that we won’t permit that kind of talk about anyone. It’s not how this community works. xo
I too feel very saddened and disturbed that the situation had gotten to the point where you felt it was necessary to have to write the first portion of today’s post. I too have always loved your choice in models. So refreshing to see that in every facet of your business you have kept things personal. This is why I have become so deeply loyal to your company.
We are all created different, which is why so many of us sew. Your models are no different than anyone associated with this community. I think they are all amazing and I appreciate them “putting themselves out there” when I don’t think many of us would be willing to do the same. Keep up the great work and take care!
Thank you so much, Rebecca. I appreciate your kind words and your support. I love that I can let my work be personal, and I love this beautiful community! Thanks for being part of it.
Liesl, I appreciate your willingness to hit the tough topics head on with grace and kindness. Thanks for all you do to keep your little corner of the internet a happy one for all. Much love from Atlanta, GA.
Thanks for commenting, Lauren!
Thanks for writing the first part of this – I had made the mistake of assuming that the model for the latest release was a professional catwalk model, as she’s so slim. I should know better, having been healthily a very small size myself in my teens and early 20s! I think it’s great that you use non-models for your pictures (can we drop “real women”, as if models are not?), and the only improvement I’d like to see on that front would be if you could use several differently shaped people for each garment – of course that would make sample-sewing more work, though, and I suppose we get a similar benefit from the tester photos.
Also thank for sharing that lovely shot of Liverpool Street station – a good reminder to us Londoners to look up as we hurry about the city.
Hard to tell from the photo of the dress, but perhaps the type of fabric you want might be found as a vintage sari?
Thanks, Nina. You’re right–we’re all real women. And I wish we could put more than one model on the cover!
I used to work with a many who said we miss half the city because we don’t look up enough.
And a sari is a great idea! Although it would be difficult to bring oneself to cut it up, wouldn’t it? Cheers!
I’m so sad that you had to write the first part of the post! I really appreciate your efforts to showcase your patterns on ALL bodies and I especially love that you use real, everyday people instead of professional models. Thank you so much for everything you do!
Thanks, Jamie! I appreciate your comment.
Liesl – Thank you so much for your blog post today about your models and different body shapes and sizes. As someone who is naturally a size 0 (which is also a ridiculous vanity sizing number), I’ve experienced so many negative or dismissive comments about those of us who are on this end of the size chart. Yes, size 0 is also a regular size and you can’t always assume that we have to starve or workout 24/7 to be this size, sometimes it’s just genetics. We are “real” people too!
Vanity sizing is crazy, isn’t it? But it would be nice if we could do away with numbered sizes altogether. Way too much baggage and pressure there. Thanks for your comment!
I’m always so absorbed and excited looking at all the amazing designs and fantastic fittings of the new patterns that unfortunately, I hardly notice the beautiful people in the the photographs! Unimaginable that they should be exposed to inappropriate and unnecessary comments!
On a slightly different but related note, I was privileged to be a tester for the kids buttoned-up button down shirt. My 4 year old son, for whom I made the shirt, has Down Syndrome. I was so thankful that we could take part and that his photo was proudly included in the blog about testing!
I’m so thankful for such great designs and highly professional drafting and grading that always look fantastic on ‘real’ people in the real world. Heartfelt thanks!
Thanks so much, Kirsty! Your son is adorable, and I appreciate your kind words.
I agree with all the comments written by the other readers of your article. It’s such a shame that despite all your positive efforts to make and show patterns and garments that suit everyone, that people feel it’s their right to make negative comments. Please don’t be disheartened please continue to make our lives beautiful. As a slight person myself, I can relate better to patterns when I see them on equally slight people. Again, Thank you.
I appreciate your support, Krystyna!
Thanks for the way you addressed the “body image ” subject.
It has been fun to see S modeling on your fall patterns. She has grown up right before our eyes. What a great way to see you child move forward in life and it all recorded(pic) in your patterns.
Enjoy the good memories of your grandmother. Grand mom can be such a blessing in this world!
I love it that she’s grown up right under our eyes, too! It’s just happening a little too fast for this mom…
Now much on the GBSB–has it found a channel? If only someone would write a tell-all on screen dressing–“Costume Confidential”?
That was the chatter at the show, too, Frances! I don’t have any insider information for the UK, but it looks like we’ll be having a similar show in Spain sometime soon! Can’t wait.
It is frustrating that when you are bringing all of your talent to us, there are some who respond negatively. It is further frustrating that women continue to be so judgmental of each other, at all ends of the spectrum. Thank you for taking on the issue and I hope it gives some critics pause for thought. We should all think before speaking – is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Those are the right questions, Fran! I hope everyone will take them to heart. Thanks for your kind words.
I’m half sorry you had to write the first part of the post and half glad you did if that makes any sense. Thank you for standing up for ALL shapes and sizes. I was thrilled when I saw the pattern on a variety of shapes–it made it so much easier to figure out how the pattern would look on me. I appreciate all the men and women who modeled your recent patterns: y’all rock in my book!
Thanks, Diana. It’s been weighing on me for a while now, and I guess it was about time.
🙂 Now I want to get all my Liesl + Co pattern envelopes out and try and play Match the Profession to the Person. People are nearly always more interesting than what size they are.
Your London trip looked great, it’s amazing what seeing a sample can do for pattern sales.
Ha ha! Brain surgeon: Classic Shirt. Beautiful and talented!
I agree fully agree that no one should be put down because of the body that have – like you stated the main thing is that the person is happy with themselves and healthy. We are a global society and no matter what a persons ethnicity, religion, etc. is, it is for the most part a personal decision that they alone live with as well as whatever body shape/size they sport. It is good to show that these clothes are available to all sizes and shapes. I’m pretty sure the harder to fit bodies are extremely excited to be able to sew clothes that are comfortable and fit their body.
Keep up the good work! Bless everyone of your models and I thank them for their support. I’d gladly volunteer to be a model for you with my imperfect body if I lived near by you.
You’re so sweet, Eilene! Thanks.
Another wonderful post Liesl. How true your words at the beginning of your piece. I am lost to the motives of people who post negative comments and agree with all that you have said. Thank you for that.
On a lighter note, it was wonderful for my daughter, Eva and me to be able to talk to you at GBSB Live last Saturday. I am back in London this weekend and used an hour I had spare to pop into the V and A’s Balenciaga exhibition as you had recommended. So glad I did!! Wonderful. I may be able to sneak back in later this afternoon for another dose. All the best.
It was lovely to chat with you, Sheila! Thanks for coming by, and I’m glad you got to see the show! xo
I don’t usually comment on an article, but am appalled by the inappropriate comments people make not only online but to another person’s face. I have several daughters, each built differently. One is very thin, and the other has always struggled with her weight, the other two are pretty average. Each is beautiful in her own right. I LOVE the fact that you show different body types for your patterns because I can get an idea what will work for my daughters different builds. When we dress in flattering styles, well fitted clothing (hence the reason we love to sew clothing), and beautiful colors and textures, we feel attractive. Thank you for your instructions in fitting and your patterns with different bust sizes. Keep up the good work. And thank you for your kind reminder that all of us are beautiful!
Thanks, Mary! If there’s one thing I’ve learned from teaching fit workshops it’s that every body is beautiful. And the women within them are each amazing in their own way.
Thank you for writing about your real people models and their healthy weight. It is a very important issue and it is sad that we judge upon appearances. Please don’t let me distract from this important issue, but as a busty person myself I do struggle with Liesl+Co patterns. I know you do include a variety of sizes in your testers, and share images of these with us – and they are very helpful!! But it is difficult to look past the image on the pattern, as well as the style of the garments themselves. I know different pattern designers target different body shapes – some have it in their description – and I have not seen a mention of this with Liesl+Co. I buy your patterns because of the instructions and styling, but have learnt to be very selective within the women’s range as many sleeve styles do not suit me. Please continue to share a variety of body shapes on your blog and I am looking forward to seeing more beautiful women on your pattern covers.
It was almost unbelievable to read your words about the negative comments in this supposedly safe corner. It is the power of the Internet, isn’t it? Hiding your own insecurities behind the faceless negative comments about someone else.
I was the lucky tester of the new men’s shirt and the lucky wife of the handsome slim “model” in the pictures. I was very slim myself prior to having my gorgeous daughter. I didn’t apply to test your women’s patterns as I didn’t want to pose for the final pictures. But after reading your words, next time you need testers, I will stand tall in your wonderful design, just like the beautiful young lady S.
I am really very sorry to hear about what you wrote in the first part of the post. You are absolutely right, both ends of the spectrum are just that- ends of the spectrum–no less healthy than the ones in the middle. As sad as I am that you had to write this, it needed to be said as well. It’s to me a great source of inspiration that you use friends and family as models, because as a beginner then I know how clothes look on normal real people. I do wish you had not had to hear these nasty things.
Thank you for posting the first part of the post. You are right, the plus size movement has made great progress to end body shaming for plus sized or more normal sized proportions. But the other end of the spectrum does exist, and is also normal.
I used to be one of those very tiny women/teens, and was heavily bullied for my weight all the way through school. The teachers would stick up for the bigger girls, but wouldn’t stick up for the skinny one. It’s good to see someone say that normalizing all proportions is body positivity, not just focussing on one end.
I’ve appreciated your use of people in your lives as your models to show an average person wearing your patterns. It lets us see how the patterns will fit into our wardrobes much easier.