Plus Size Fit & Grading Explained

How do you make plus size clothing that fits well? This post explains the sizing process called Grading. Grading is taking a clothing pattern that starts off as one size and creating all the other sizes. Diane Kennedy makes two (not just one) base patterns: a plus size and a regular size pattern. From those two original patterns, the other sizes are then created. Making two patterns and then grading (sizing) them separately is what gives our garments superior fit.

Making the variations between each size is subjective and up to the designer. We use a C.A.D. (computer-aided design) program called Optitex to make the patterns and do the grading.  Each corner and each segment of the pattern is given a value to increase or decrease the size. If you look at the image below, each larger dot that you see is given a value. These values or increments are often very tiny, often an 1/8″, 1/4″ or 3/8″ of an inch.

Diane Kennedy explains about plus size fit by showing graded pattern pieces using Optitex C.A.D.

Above left is the regular size pattern, on the right is the plus size. While they look similar, the differences are there if you look closely.

When you go plus size shopping, you may have come across a garment that has sleeves hanging way off the tips of your fingers. Or perhaps the shoulder seam is halfway down your arm!  This usually means the person doing the grading doesn’t have a very good understanding of how bodies get bigger and smaller.  This is where skill and knowledge come into play.  Especially on plus-size bodies, as we get bigger in size we don’t necessarily get longer.  We might need more depth in the crotch for example because our bodies are wider from front to back.  This is especially true for North American bodies and why pants graded in Asia often don’t fit well. We probably need more room across the back (but not the shoulder) and in our biceps or our thighs because those parts get bigger as we get heavier.

Recently a customer ordered a size 2X when she should have ordered a 3X,  which was her correct size. She thought they ‘might’ fit.  This is what inspired us to write this blog post just so you can have a better understanding of how size and fit changes. This chart shows how much of a difference there is between one size and the next.

Diane Kennedy explains about plus size fit by showing the increments between sizes

Hopefully, this explains some of the processes that go into making a garment that fits well.  After designing, making patterns and grading for almost 35 years Diane Kennedy knows a thing or two about design, sizing and fit for all sizes.

XOX Barb

P.S. The pattern in the top image is the Point Grey Jacket, back in new arrivals in two colours.

Tips from a Sentimental Rose Gardener

The fragrance of a rose is very sentimental to me. I remember fountains of pink and red roses that grew in my Mother’s garden and the subtle scent that wafted through the window. As long as I’ve had a garden, I’ve grown roses.  From those uninspiring thorny canes sprout heavenly beautiful and often fragrant blooms every year.

Rock n' Roll rose
Rock n’ Roll rose

Queen’s Park

Now in a townhouse, I have space for only a few roses.  But luckily, I’ve only a short walk to one of the prettiest rose gardens in the city.  Maintained with love and attention, the Queens Park Rose Garden in New Westminster is a gem with roses of every colour. Purest white through every shade of pink, apricot, yellow, red, mauve, burgundy and combinations of red or pink and white stripes can be found. The varieties here have been chosen for colour but more exciting to me, also for fragrance. My favourites are the roses where the petals melt from soft yellow to pink to salmon….just like the most beautiful sunset.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Rose
Archbishop Desmond Tutu Rose
Cinco De Mayo Rose
Cinco De Mayo Rose

Living Easy Rose

Organic Growing Tips

If I could share a few bits of wisdom on growing roses, first it would be to pick trusted varieties for health and disease resistance.  This can vary by region, so do diligent research and then also get opinions from knowledgeable gardeners in your area.  Roses get all manner of bugs and problems so choosing well and treating them right will go along way in your overall enjoyment of your rose(s).  The second most important thing is to provide good quality soil, something akin to fluffy chocolate cake by liberally mixing in manure and compost.  Also feed the soil which means using organic fertilizers like bone meal, alfalfa, greensand, kelp and epsom salts.    It’s very important to pick an area with at least 6 hours of sun a day and good air circulation.

Wild Blue Yonder Rose
Wild Blue Yonder Rose
Julia Child Rose
Julia Child Rose
Poseidon Rose
Poseidon Rose

Would a Rose by any other name smell as sweet?

Sometimes we need to look past what could be a slightly less than pefect flower to the hidden beauty, which in this case is the most delicious ‘Fragrant Wave’ of ‘Dee-lish’ perfume you could possible imagine.  Aside from health and beauty, in my opinion, fragrance is a top consideration when choosing a rose.

Fragrant Wave Rose
Fragrant Wave Rose
Dee-Lish Rose
Dee-Lish Rose

Happy sniffing!

Love Diane

Our Designer Wears Many Hats; Meet Cherry Velvet

We like to think we know our Diane Kennedy customers pretty well after all these years. We know you love to wear pants and separates, and that you love to be comfortable, but sometimes the occasion may call for something called …..a dress?!

For example, what exactly are you going to wear when you get that invitation to have tea with the Queen? Hmmmm? What about that garden party on the hottest day of the year, that Summer wedding or semi-formal beach party?  Or maybe you need something nice to wear in front of a judge?  These are all good times to be a little more dressed up, no?

Kristen Meyn models a Cherry Velvet dress designed by Diane Kennedy and a hat by Maria Curcic

Did you know that designer Diane Kennedy has also created a dress line called Cherry Velvet? Cherry Velvet is a line of (mostly) breathable cotton dresses in amazing prints that will help you stay cool while looking hot. Did we mention they all have pockets? Diane has also designed a matching bamboo shrug, for those who like to keep their arms covered.

Kristen Meyn models a Cherry Velvet dress designed by Diane Kennedy and a hat by Maria Curcic

Maybe dresses just aren’t for you but this photo shoot was too pretty not to share. It was shot in the gorgeous gardens of The Burnaby Art Gallery, an elegant heritage building surrounded by rhododendrons in full bloom. The spectacular blossoms in a rainbow of shades were the perfect backdrop to showcase an array of stunning spring beauties.

Kristen Meyn models a Cherry Velvet dress designed by Diane Kennedy and a hat by Maria Curcic

The shoot was actually planned as a collaboration between several designers. In addition to the freshest Spring frocks from Cherry Velvet, the beautiful derby-style hats were designed by Maria Curcic, The Hat Goddess and the jewelry by Pam of Mirror Mirror Bijoux. Classic polka dots, florals, and prints are pretty spectacular among these beautiful gardens.

Kristen Meyn models a Cherry Velvet dress designed by Diane Kennedy and a hat by Maria Curcic

Diane was so enamoured by Maria’s hats, of course, she chose one for herself…

Designer Diane Kennedy wears a Cherry Velvet Dress and a hat by Maria Curcic

If you’re ever in the mood to dress up for any reason at all,  Cherry Velvet Dresses might just be the perfect solution for you.

XOX Barb


Spring into Flattering Style

Do we know what flatters our figure? Maybe you have someone in your life who has impeccable taste and the ability to gently steer you into clothing that flatters your body type, skin tone, hair colour and personality. Probably not though. Most of us are on our own when it comes to discovering what’s flattering on us.

Barb Wilkins wears a Diane Kennedy bamboo outfit of the Soft Shirt and Movie Legging in Black Dots
Barb’s wearing the Soft Shirt and Movie Legging in Black Dots.

Plus-Size Proportion

As a plus-sized woman, I have struggled with this in my life and have had both glorious successes and epic failures. I have been guilty of falling in love with a garment and wearing it with much joy only to find, usually after seeing a photo of myself, that it’s NOT as flattering as I thought. This doesn’t always stop me from wearing it again, especially if it’s very comfy.

I’ve discovered it has a lot to do with the proportions of my clothes and I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. For example, I’m a typical apple shape.  I carry a lot of my weight in my tummy but have pretty good, albeit short legs. I look best in a fitted legging like the Rejuvenate Legging or a slim legged pant like Diane Kennedy’s Flex Pant. Having a pretty ample bust and a tummy, it’s a fine line between having some ease and looseness in the tummy area without my tops cascading straight off my bust completely eliminating any sense of a waist. A top that comes in a little at the waist like the Renew Wrap, and is not much longer than the widest part of my hips,  like the Market Tunic, works well for me. Creating a silhouette that’s balanced is key.


Flattering colours are often what you consider your favourites. There’s a reason we like certain colours. Pay attention when someone compliments you on something you’re wearing. It may be a very simple piece of clothing, like a t-shirt, nothing really special, chances are it’s the colour that’s bringing out your eyes or complimenting your skin tone.

Break the rules!

It’s okay to break the rules sometimes too. Getting dressed should be fun and too many rules can take the joy away sometimes. I may or may not have had an obsession with denim overalls in the 90’s. When they came back around a couple of years ago, I couldn’t resist buying a pair. I kinda know they don’t completely flatter me but I still like wearing them once in a blue moon. Mostly around the house, to the relief of my partner.

The bottom line is, you can ask people you know, take a selfie and have a good look at how your clothes are fitting you or stick with cuts and brands that you know just work well for you. Think of the silhouette you are trying to create. Don’t forget to have fun and try new things!

XOX Barb

Plus Size Capris – What to wear when it’s HOT

The temperature is climbing and there’s so much to do. Outdoor get-togethers, picnics in the park, shopping, eating lunch, walking.  My Mom always jokes about it being so warm she had to wear her “shorts”. She means capris because my she doesn’t do shorts anymore. Are they short pants or loooong shorts? lol The joy of capris is they are much cooler than pants, look great paired with loose tops, and who doesn’t like to show a little ankle? That’s still a crime, isn’t it?

We have a great selection of super cute Capri-length bottoms to get you through the dog days of Summer. Pair with a flowy top made of breathable bamboo knit and you’ll look as amazing as you’ll feel comfortable.

A selection of Spring Capri pants made of bamboo from Diane Kennedy clothing

Movie Legging

Stripes or Dots, what’s your favourite? Our Movie Leggings are a 3/4 length Capri based on our Rejuvenate legging. They’re cut to fit comfortably in the crotch and seat in every size.

Spring Capri pants made of bamboo from Diane Kennedy clothing

Motion Capri

This design started out as a unique sleeve.  We were fooling around with a twisted detail and it found its way into the leg of our Motion Capri.  With our signature smooth waistband, it fits just like all our classic pants. It also features handy, flat to the body pockets, a mid-calf length and the openwork detail at the hem.

Ankle detail of Diane Kennedy's Motion Capri

Flight Capri

If you love our Flex Pant, you are in luck! The Flight Capri fits just like our Flex Pant but with flat to the body pockets. These capris aren’t tight on the leg but cut just right to give ease of movement and a more relaxed fit.

Spring Capri pants made of bamboo from Diane Kennedy clothing

Casting Capri

Based on our Serene Pant, this Capri has a wider leg for anyone that has a preference for a wide, flowy leg. Designed to perfectly complement any of your warm weather tops or jackets. Black and white stripes give this Capri a modern graphic look.  The Casting Capri can be dressed up or down to suit your needs.

Spring Capri pants made of bamboo from Diane Kennedy clothing

We want you to be cool and comfortable from top to bottom this Summer!

New arrivals of our Capri-length bottoms made from softest bamboo can be found in our online shop here.

Visit us at our next Studio Shop to see everything in person. We’re open for shopping Friday, June 1 from 2-7 and Saturday, June 2 from 11-5 @ 1635 Powell Street, Vancouver B.C.

XOX Barb