Designing Prints for Curvy Girls

Since I started adapting my fine art prints for T-Shirts, I’ve struggled with something that can be a little awkward to talk about, which is: Most of the print-on-demand market does not work for the larger population.

What?

No, I don’t mean “larger” in terms of numbers of people. I mean “larger” in terms of T-Shirt size. The designs work great on T-Shirts for children and for the fashion models. But for those of us who might choose to call ourselves pleasingly plump, curvy girls, persons carrying a few extra pounds, plus-sized clothes wearers (or the much more direct but less flattering “fat” or “overweight”)…most of these clothes just don’t work.

Usually the printed area is the same on all of the adult-sized shirts, whether a size small or size XL, so on the larger sizes, the printed area looks inapporpriately tiny, and in the process making the wearer look disproportionally large. Nobody wants that.

Very often the t-shirts (even the larger sized ones) are designed for “unisex” which means that they are literally cut like a “T,” not accounting for the fact that some people are larger on top, others are larger on the bottom, and many may be largest in the middle. This leaves the shirts bulky in some spots and too tight in others. Ugh!

I’ve always been a “curvy girl.” Even when I was younger and in good shape physically (circa the 1980s) I was never able to save money on clothes by buying from the mens department like my friends could. (Yes, that was a real thing.) I wasn’t even able to buy the smaller women’s sizes that were on the clearance rack. No, I had to shop in the “Queen” sizes. (Yes, that was a real thing, too…and very humiliating.) In recent years, the plus-sized market has grown dramatically (as have I…ahem). This simple fact leaves me bewildered as to why it is taking the print-on-demand market so long to catch up.

I’ve been working with surface patterns, and am hoping to eventually find someone who can help me make some great tunic tops and sell them in a way that will be affordable for the customers and still make us money. I haven’t been able to figure that out yet, but meanwhile…

I’ve fund a couple of options online for curvy girls who like to wear custom, trendy designs, colors, and prints.

Redbubble

Redbubble’s designs go up to 4XL and 5XL on TWO styles. Those sizes mean nothing unless you’ve checked the size guide for each garment. I have, and for women those largest sizes equate to clothes that are about a size 26/28W in stores that specialize in plus-size clothing in the USA. If you’re looking for roomier tops, check out these two products on Redbubble:

Redbubble Classic T-Shirt: (Note that in order to find these larger sizes, you actually have to tell Redbubble to search for them by checking the 5XL box in the left-hand sort column. Otherwise, you might only be given options up to size 3XL, which are the traditional mens larger sizes). This shirt is still cut like a classic “T” (thus the name) but the chest and hips go up to 64 inches on the 5XL, which is quite generous.

Unlike some printers, Redbubble automatically adjusts the print area on these larger T-Shirts, so the graphics are appropriately proportioned, which is nice.

Redbubble A-Line Dress: This trapeze-styled sleeveless top is available in up to sizes 4XL, which is approximately a 26/28W in plus-sized clothing shops in the USA. In this largest size, it’s 40 inches, long, so it CAN be worn as a dress, but many of us would be more comfortable wearing it as a tunic top over leggings.

Because this is an all-over print (front and back), the graphics don’t need to be adjusted for size, but one might want to keep in mind that the size of the person who will be wearing the garment might not be the size of the model. This A-Line style is known in the fashion world as a “trapeze” cut, which is flattering if done correctly. No one, however, wants to look like a walking circus tent, or like we’re wearing our grandma’s drapes, so make sure the colors and lines are flattering to your figure so you’ll be happy the style. The only thing I don’t like about these dresses is that the seams are not matched front and back, so watch out for patterns where this will cause an unattrative distraction on the sides.

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I’ve put some of my favorite graphics on these products, so be sure to check out A-Line Dresses by @jennspoint on Redubble and Classic T-Shirts by @jennspoint on Redbubble for ideas and inspiration.

Spreadshirt

Spreadshirt Plus Size T-Shirts go up to a 4X, which is approximately a 26/28W (always check the size table for your fit!) in plus-size clothing shops in the USA.  There are two styles that come up in the “plus-size” sort. One is a little more curvy, and the other is a little more A-Line. Both have generous hip room.

Spreadshirt also has some other flowy, and relaxed-fit T-Shirt styles that only go up to about a standard size 2XL, which is approximately an 18/20W in plus-size stores in the United States, but they are defintely cut for women with curves, rather than in standard unisex “T” shape.

Spreadshirt allows for much more detailed customization, so the graphics on each shirt are adjusted to order by the designer (each customer is their own designer), and can always be sized appropriately to the garment.

Spreashirt is vast and can be overwhelming to sort through, so I’ve curated my favorite styles and added my graphic designs to them in a Spreashirt Shop called “Curvy Girls” by @jennspoint. Feel free to use it as a starting point, and either customize my designs or create your own shirts.

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Let me know if you’ve found any other great print-on-demand options for curvy girls or other plus-sized clothing.

 

 

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