Every person's body is a little different. Even if two people are wearing a size 10, something about their bodies will be different.
But even when we talk about bodies in this way, it can be a really sensitive subject to those who don't feel the most confidence.
One woman discovered this when she tried to describe her inability to sew clothes for body sizes other than her own, according to the "Am I the A**hole?" subReddit.
Redditor orangeflowerpots found herself unsure what to do next after her sister-in-law didn't take her explanation of her sewing skills well.
The Original Poster (OP) asked the sub:
"AITA for telling my SIL (sister-in-law) I won't sew clothes for her because I don't know how to set for her body type?"
The OP explained her sewing capabilities were pretty limited, since she never really had to learn.
"I started sewing in college and have a wardrobe full of me-made clothes. I'm really proud of it. There's a big huge point that is going to make me come across wrong: I have the 'ideal' body for sewing."
"(In terms that other sewists might get, I am apparently the person whose body matches the sloper used for drafting patterns in the mainstream pattern companies. I can sew a size 8 for tops and bottoms.) This means that aside from very slightly adjusting the hem length or straps of a garment, I do not have to make any adjustments from the pattern."
"No lengthen, shorten, scooping armscye, FBA (full breast adjustment), SBA (small bust adjustment), etc. I never learned how to make adjustments. I don't need to, I literally only sew clothing for myself, and nothing has ever not fit me perfectly."
The OP felt the adjustments her sister-in-law would need were beyond her current skills.
"I really really love my SIL. She's super friendly and sweet, she welcomed me into the family with open arms, and she's always been supportive. But about three months ago, she asked me to sew her something that she would pay for. I kind of put off telling her no."
"My SIL is fairly chubby. She has a beautiful body that she's proud of, but I know without even measuring her that because of her weight distribution (she has a fairly large chest and a bigger belly but smaller hips and not much booty, she slumps forward and has a very arched lower back), I don't have the skills to sew for her. I tried to learn a little bit but was overwhelmed because of all the math."
But when the OP tried to explain this to her SIL, things went south.
"Two weeks ago she finally 'sat me down' to go through my patterns with her. I had to be honest and I told her, word for word, 'I can't sew for you because I don't know how to sew for your body type.'"
"She got very red and started asking me what I meant, what exactly was her body type, did I think I was better than her or something, and it turned into a big argument. She accused me of fat-shaming her and mocking her with talk about 'body types' and stuff and that the idea of 'flattering' clothes is based on trying to make fat women look smaller and I'm pushing beauty standards on her."
The SIL's community also didn't take the explanation well.
"I ended up crying and kicking her out of the house and she took it to the court of public opinion, Facebook, where her friends bashed me."
"MIL got involved and told me that she was ashamed of my judgmental behavior and that she expected better of me, and told me that I should probably just not come to family Christmas because SIL is depressed now."
"My husband is on my side, but keeps imploring me to smooth things over."
"I don't get how I'm even supposed to do that! AITA?!?"
Fellow Redditors reached out anonymously, rating the OP's explanation on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You're the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some confirmed the OP was not in the wrong for being open about her limitations as a seamstress.
"NTA - you aren't capable of doing it. You probably could have been more tactful - ie telling her you only have the patterns for your size and you aren't knowledgeable on making clothing in any size other than your own, but she's being unfair and taking what you said as a personal attack and involving Facebook is super immature" - luminousslarkspur
"I agree. I can make beautiful clothing for my 18-inch dolls (a hobby I started after I outgrew playing with them), but I have no idea how to make clothing for a human at all. Particularly one without a precisely symmetrical, flat doll body! People learn and hone their skills sometimes in very precise ways."
"It's not mean for the OP to tell her SIL she literally doesn't know how to alter a pattern while making clothes. SIL is just sensitive she doesn't fit that 'ideal' pattern. Besides, you aren't obligated to make clothes for anyone if you don't want to. NTA." - SilverHeart1990
"I feel like I can relate to this as a baker. I can make miracles happen with buttercream, chocolate and glazes on cakes but fondant is a disaster, it's not something I ever mastered."
"I never developed that skill set but try explaining that to someone looking at my buttercream cakes and trying to convince me to do one covered in fondant. 'It can't be that hard, if you can do that then you can do this, how different can it be, if you don't want to make a cake for me just say it!' There is nothing inherently wrong with fondant, I'm just not very good at working with it."
"OP is buttercream, SIL is fondant." - pacingpilot
Others suggested this was probably a reflection of how the SIL felt about her body.
"NTA for f**ks sake. You can't make something you don't know how to make. You didn't tell her she was fat, you didn't say she was too big. You didn't say there was anything wrong with her body. You simply told her the truth: you don't know how to sew for her."
"She clearly has insecurities about her body (geez don't we all?) and it sounds like she handled this so poorly and unfairly. I also can't believe how your MIL reacted. Maybe your husband can talk to her and try to find out exactly what his sister told her, because I have a feeling she fudged the truth."
"Sorry that you are stuck in the middle of unnecessary drama. I hope they come to their senses, but you might have to concede a small apology for everyone to move on. 'SIL, I never meant to hurt your feelings or shame you. I just really don't have the skills you think I have. I'm sorry if it came across as hurtful.'" - N0_Soliciting
"You are so right! If you don't sew clothing, you don't understand what goes into getting a proper fit. She misunderstood what OP said as an insult when it's just a matter of fact. Flattering doesn't mean making someone look smaller, it means making clothes that fit properly and are tailored. It's shoulders that don't droop and bust darts that are impeccably placed."
"She is imposing her judgments and thoughts on OP and not giving her the chance to help SIL understand what she meant. More than anything she didn't accept OPs original 'no' as a full answer and then pushed her into giving her a reason, one she didn't want to hear."
"I've been sewing my own clothes for over a decade, but I don't sew for other people (that aren't my kids/hubby) it's a lot of work and people never respect that. I have, however, offered to teach people how to sew their own clothes, dozens of times, and no one has ever taken me up on it..."
"You are NTA OP!" - Obnoxiumumum
Several others suggested the SIL simply didn't know enough about sewing.
"'I don't know how to adjust patterns other than slight changes to hems or strap lengths. I do not know how to correctly do the math to adjust pattern sizes. If you can get me a pattern that's in your size I might be able to make it.'"
"All of that should make sense to someone like me, who cannot do much beyond reattaching a button." - adotfree
"I don't sew and I perfectly understood OP's post. Anyway, NTA."
"It's a misunderstanding. SIL dove headfirst into AH territory for involving her whole family and posting on FB. You should respond to the post since that SIL misunderstood what you were saying. That you only know how to sew on a pattern and don't have the necessary skill to sew beyond the pattern and make the necessary adjustments for your SIL body type." - TypicalManagement680
"I'm sorry, but you're mistaken."
"I don't sew, and I'm able to see that OP is clearly NTA here."
"Sil doesn't understand that this is about being unable to make alterations to patterns and that OP is unable to do that because it's complicated."
"Maybe OP could ask her husband to let Sil know that OP can't alter patterns and has no experience of doing that, and that is would have said the same thing to anyone who needed an altered pattern." - Rainbow_dreaming
This is a very sensitive subject for some people and should be treated as such. That being said, the subReddit seems to agree the OP wasn't especially in the wrong, either, for her explanation, though her phrasing could have been a little more thoughtful.