Confessions of a Couturier (for Curvy Sewing Collective)

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

I’m thrilled to announce that a guest post I wrote titled “Confessions of a Couturier” ran on one of my very favorite blogs Curvy Sewing Collective!

Curvy Sewing Collective is a fantastic and unique plus-size sewing community run by some of the top curvy bloggers in the country “intent on demystifying all things plus-sized and home sewing.”

I encourage you all to read the story of how this community got started and follow their blog!

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal CoutureIn the post “Confessions of a Couturier” (which was my first ever Guest Post on another blog!), I tell a little bit about my experience learning to sew as an adult. When I first learned to sew, I started in a professional environment working with patterns drafted specifically for individuals. I still have never used those pre-printed pre-sized patterns offered by pattern companies.

Many of the conversations I see on the Curvy Sewing Collective are about how patterns and clothes don’t come in the right “size”. There are often discussions about grading to create a larger size and other various adjustments to make these patterns fit the various shapes of individuals. To me, these adjustments sounded kinda difficult, frustrating, and a bit demeaning. It kind of broke my heart to think that people first had to compare themselves to an ideal and then learn exactly where they don’t align with the ideal in order to alter it to make it more personal. These techniques do work for a lot of people and I am certainly glad that more people are sewing because of them! But I also see a lot of frustration in adult sewists who start off by learning “home sewing” methods. Since I always viewed sewing was a way to get away from “sizes” and “industry standards”, I really felt like I needed to reach out and let people know that there is another way to learn to sew.

Since I’ve started to teach what I call “custom sewing”, I have gotten some reactions from people who think I’m crazy and don’t want to believe that designing your own clothes and making your own patterns can be just as achievable as the more common methods of choosing a style and a size and then altering it to fit.  But since I started teaching last year, those who have worked with me have been overwhelmingly positive about their experience using my methods.

In the post, I hope to inspire curvy (and non-curvy) sewists to give up the fear that starting from scratch is “too advanced” and embrace the possibilities of learning to sew for individuals (rather than for “sizes”) in a comprehensive way.

I’d love for you to read the piece and share your thoughts!

Brooks Ann Camper featured on Curvy Sewing Collective


Ready to learn?

My Intro to Custom Sewing eCourse: Skirt Skills starts its Summer Session on July 6 and runs for 5 weeks. Registration opens on June 1.

Visit for more information including Frequently Asked Questions, Course Breakdown, and Praise from former students. Join the Skirt Skills mailing list to catch the Earlybird Discount.


 Photos by Shane Snider Photography

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6 Responses

  1. As someone who has taken Skirt Skills and gotten TONS out of it, I’d like to tell you to ignore the detractors — but I know you’re a caring person and I’m sure it stings a bit to see you good intentions skewed. This is why the popular wisdom is “never read the comments.” :) Oftentimes, the Web makes me want to lob a comment over the fence, run away, and never look back.

    I re-read your post and didn’t see it as shilling at all. It sounded more like an explanation for why people need to look at sewing beyond pre-made patterns and sizes. The fact that you offer a class that focuses on that very thing is a related point, but doesn’t turn what you wrote into an infomercial.

    Anymore, I think we’re all extremely aware of being “sold” stuff — especially those of us who don’t fall within the bounds of traditional sizing; buy “controlwear” to reshape and resize your body; pay more for the size you need; pay extra for things that are standard on smaller sizes; and so on. I’m not very familiar with the Curvy Sewing Collective (having just discovered it recently), but I’d guess that such skepticism runs high there.

    1. Yes, while there was a lot of positive response to the piece, there were a few very vocal negative commenters and I’ll admit some of the words they used really stung. I never dreamed that what I wrote would be offensive, but I can take the criticism and see where they were coming from. I was encouraged by the CSC to let the readers know how they can learn these techniques “right now”, and since I don’t know another way other than my course, parts of it regrettably came off to some as (to quote some of the kinder words used) “an advertisement”. Hopefully the majority of the readers see the overall positive message.

  2. Brooks, I am utterly fascinated by your background as I learned to sew from patterns and then as an adult taught myself drafting. I still occasionally use patterns especially if I have a design idea that I can’t figure out on my own but my gosh, drafting is so much easier. And relaxing. And intensely satisfying in terms of problem-solving! You are so right in that adults aren’t given enough credit for what we can learn and how fast we can learn it, especially when we don’t have other assumptions in the way. While I love making patterns for others to use, I still find that the very best one is the one I drafted to a body rather than to a size.

    1. Thanks so much Amy! I enjoy using commercial patterns as “cheat sheets” from time to time. Especially in interesting vintage patterns, I’ve had fun peeking a the general shape of the pieces and then using that info to draft my own. I’ve always hated alterations and have always loved starting from scratch.
      I’ve also loved following your blog at Cloth Habit! I absolutely love how sewing inspires so many people in so many different ways and how once you find your own unique groove, the possibilities are endless.

  3. I found your blog two days ago and have read every post over those two days. As a Curvy sewer who learnt to sew at school using tissue patterns, I have frequently been disappointed with the outcome despite being able to complete a garment to a high standard. It’s interesting to note that over the last few months I had come to the conclusion that I needed to learn how to draft my own patterns and stop being controlled by RTW sizes, after all, they are just numbers. I now wear clothes that I would never have contemplated before, clothes that because they are made to fit well, look good. I look around me and see so many women wearing clothes that are the fashion industries sop to the plus size woman that are simply oversized, a cover up, and do not celebrate the beauty of a woman’s body.
    As for the comments on the other blog, it’s a shame that, instead of rereading your post to really understand what was being said, I suspect that there was a certain amount of knee jerk commenting, I see it all over the web and am saddened that people are so quick to criticise what they havnt taken time to really think through what is being said. I have to wonder if they would be as critical in person!
    I certainly do understand where you are coming from, it’s a journey I’m currently undertaking, and it’s been an absolute joy and inspiration to follow your journey so far. I look forward to seeing where you go next in your creative life!

    1. Wow Beverly! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story and for all your kind words. Keep up the good work on your sewing journey and please stay in touch so we can help each other along the way!

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Hi there! I'm Brooks Ann.

I’m a former professional costumer and couture dressmaker for one-of-a-kind bridalwear located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, who teaches custom garment sewing too the sew-curious online.

My blog mostly follows along with the couture process of how each heirloom-quality custom wedding dress was made from idea to wedding day, as well as other interesting tidbits related to sewing, weddings, and body positivity.

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