To put it simply, expanding our size range is the natural next step in our commitment to being an inclusive pattern company. We’ve learned and grown a lot over the years, and while we know it’s impossible to truly include everybody all of the time—that doesn’t mean we can’t always do and be better. When Deer&Doe launched in 2012, not only was our size range incredibly limited, so was the imagery we used to reflect the brand. On both fronts we’ve invested time into learning and changing—making it a priority to reflect a diverse range of sewists in our photoshoots and communications, as well as adding three new sizes to our size chart in 2017. Of course, it didn’t take us long to realize that this wasn’t nearly enough, and even with our expanded range there are still many people who cannot access our pattern designs.
To be frank, one reason it has taken us this long to increase our range is that we were scared of the amount of work and the lack of available resources on the topic. We also lacked the time and attention that we knew this project would require of us. Producing a quality pattern for plus sizes requires the development of several new blocks, new grading rules, and familiarity with the specific nuances of pattern development for larger sizes. Unfortunately, resources for developing these skills are few and far between in the pattern making industry, and until recently we were stumped at how to go about learning them. It is thanks to the wonderful contractors we hired in 2020, and the generosity of pattern designers who have shared their homework and resources with us (specifically Kim McBrien Evans, Raphaëlle Bonamy, Heather Lou, and Jen Beeman), that we feel confident about both the work needed and our ability to accomplish it moving forward.
On that note, the first thing we need to do is invest time into learning. We will be drafting and grading the new block ourselves (just like our current size range), but before we can start we need to learn how to do it properly. To that end, we will be taking multiple online courses specific to plus size pattern development, and Eléonore will be receiving private instruction on plus size grading with a RTW industry professional. We’ve also ordered two new dress forms: one is a plus size Alvanon form that will be crucial in developing and testing the new block; and another is a size 40 FR / US 18, which will ensure that the drafting and pattern design ease are standardized across both size ranges.
We expect to receive the new dress forms sometime in April or May, at which point block development can begin in earnest. Although our measurement chart and size range will not be finalized until then, we know that it will go to at least a 53”/ 135 cm bust measurement, and a 56” / 142 cm hip measurement. We are also planning to have some overlap in the two size ranges, so that anybody who falls in the middle can have flexibility when it comes to choosing which block will fit them the best.
With the blocks developed, grading rules defined, and measurement chart finalized, the normal pattern development process can begin. We are hopeful that we can begin this stage in the second half of the year, and release the Sirocco jumpsuit in the new size range by November of 2021. We’ve chosen to start with Sirocco first because it is our most requested pattern, and since it is an existing pattern, it will save us time in the design stage that we’ll likely need in the testing stage (at least for the first pattern). Additionally, starting with a pattern we know inside and out will help us test and tweak the new blocks as needed, because we already understand exactly what we’re aiming for.
After Sirocco, the next release in the new range will be the Spring-Summer collection of 2022, and every new pattern launch after that. We will also continue to re-release popular older patterns in between the new pattern launches.
Speaking of testing, rest assured that we will take this process as seriously as we always do. The entire size range will be tested thoroughly—from top to bottom, not just as an afterthought. Likewise, we plan to find plus size models to ensure that both size ranges are represented and photographed whenever new patterns are released.
Our pattern prices will remain the same, and both size ranges will be sold in PDF format as a single product. In other words, there will be no need to buy the pattern twice if you fall in both size charts. Likewise, as older patterns are re-released, anybody who has previously purchased them will receive the updated version. We did look into releasing the new size range in paper format as well as PDF, but to do so would have required a drastic overhaul to our current printing process (and added at least another six months to our timeline). Instead, we have decided to prioritize an earlier release date, and save that project for another day.
Last, but not least, one of our top priorities in this endeavor is making sure we are transparent, accountable, and communicative about our plans. This includes sending regular updates about our progress, details as they are finalized, and otherwise relevant updates. Of course, if you don’t fit into our current range, we understand that you might not be interested in receiving all of our updates (and we don’t expect that) — so we’ve created a separate email list for anybody interested in news exclusively regarding the expanded size range. That way you can receive anything relevant to you, and skip the rest.