Monday, 4 January 2016

Completed: A Christmas Jumpsuit!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! Apologies for the radio silence. I hadn't intended to disappear for a bit, but I was busy sewing, and once that was done, I needed to take a break to get organised for Christmas, and then it was Christmas. Well, you know how it goes.

I have been meaning to blog my latest make since I made it, but I just never managed to prioritise the time for photos. I finally managed that today, so here we go.

I decided that I wanted to make something to wear to my work’s Christmas Night Out. I always have time restrictions (as most of us do) at this time of year, so my initial vague plan of culottes/midi skirt plus matching cropped top were quickly dismissed as being too much work. I did think another Inari (quick and easy sew) in a flashier fabric like sequins, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to cope with sequins. So, I decided on a jumpsuit. Go figure as they say!

This is the Named Ailakki Jumpsuit, one of their patterns from a couple of years ago. I couldn’t actually find that many versions out there, but these versions by Sew Dixie Lou and Jolie Bobbins really sold it to me. Really, is there a pattern that Jolie Bobbins hasn’t made? I wasn’t sure I could totally pull it off, but I did fall in love the cross front bodice, so vowed that if the trouser part was horrific, that I’d use the bodice and make a dress (lovely examples here and here).

I decided to muslin it before even buying the main fabric, as I knew I’d want a different fabric if I ended up making a dress version. I actually made 2 muslins. The first muslin was in size 38 (my “true” size, according to my measurements). The bodice was OK, with a little excess at the sides and shoulders, but the trousers were huge, although the waistband was spot on. I then made a 36, but with the 38 waistband. The bodice was still a little strange fitting. It’s a difficult style to fit. The cross over part isn’t fixed, so it moves around, which was really making me worried about overfitting. And the trousers still didn’t look quite right.

In the end I went with the following:

Size 38 bodice, with 3cm removed at the shoulders (a bit too much in hindsight) and 2cm removed at the underarm, tapering to nothing at the waist.
Size 38 waistband, no adjustments. This give a nice but not overly snug fit, which is very comfortable.
Size 36 trouser, widened at the sides to fit the 38 at the waist. With a whopping 8cm off the length: 4cm taken off the crotch length, and a further 4cm out of the leg length, which gave me a slightly cropped/ankle length leg once hemmed.
Changed the exposed zip for a concealed. Just my preference.
Omitted the pockets because I messed them up and ran out of time to redo them.

First time I've ever seen my own back. How weird is that?!
The fit is still far from perfect. With hindsight I probably took a little too much out of the shoulders and/or the crotch length, however it’s fine to sit and stand in, and doesn't want to cut me in half unless I crouch right down. How do I know? I tried painting my toenails whilst wearing it! I also think that on the final version, I stretched out the bodice sections as I have quite a bit of gaping right above my right boob (for lack of a better description), which wasn’t there on the muslin. If you make this, stay-stitch those edges!

But, do I care, about these issues? Not one fig!!! I love it (me and my huge hair!)

The fabric decision was pretty easy. I wanted to make it in black or a dark colour. A cross front jumpsuit is a big enough statement for me, without throwing pattern and colour into the mix. I ordered a few swatches from The Splendid Stitch, a relatively new to me Glasgow based online shop, and finally decided on their Sybille poly crepe (currently out of stock). For a polyester, this is a lovely fabric, with a good weight for this type of project, and lots of drape. It was a little shifty during cutting, but was nice and easy to sew. Pressing was a little tricky due to the polyester, and I did scorch it a few times, but mostly on the inside, so that’s good. I also managed to snag it in the Black Friday sale, which wasn’t intentional, but was a happy result of delaying my order. I also ordered a metre of their basic polyesterantistatic lining for the bodice, but once it arrived I realised I didn’t like the feel against my skin, so instead used some remaining John Kaldor polyester left over from my Seachange top. I had forgotten that this fabric is very shifty and hard to sew, plus it frays like mad, so it added a bit of challenge, but it is much nicer to wear and prettier to look at.

So, in terms of construction, I printed, stuck and traced the pattern, made the first muslin, ordered the fabric, printed, stuck and traced* another size to make a panicky second muslin, spent several evenings debating over fit, before finally committing to how I wanted to make it. By this stage, I had less than a week before my night out. So I made this in 4 nights, not getting to bed until after 11.30 each night. And one of those evenings was my birthday! I changed the order of construction a bit on the final garment, starting with the trousers. I fully made the pockets, but then sewed them on so the raw edges were on the outside. I didn’t have time to unpick and redo them, so I just cut them off. That was annoying because I then had no pockets, but also because I’d wasted a good portion of one evening putting them together. That was my only major mishap though, and the rest went together without issue. Having made it twice already (in muslin form) definitely helped. The bodice is a real head scratcher to put together, but the instructions and accompanying illustrations are very clear.

This was the completed bodice before attaching to the waistband.
*I ran out of tracing paper halfway through, so cut some pieces out and traced the rest. By the end, I think I probably printed and stuck together 3 or 4 versions of this pattern. As it’s an earlier Named pattern, most of the pieces overlap.

My only issue with the pattern is that it doesn’t allow for turn of cloth in the bodice. So you cut the same pattern piece for both main and lining fabric, but you then understitch, so that the main fabric rolls to the inside slightly on both sides of the straps. This then means that the lining piece becomes too big. It was something I thought about from the start, but wasn’t sure how much to reduce the lining piece by, and I didn’t have the luxury of time to experiment. Since my lining is not black, it does show a bit.

Photobombing thumb from my director of photography, which led to...

But as I said, I love it. I love the cross over bodice, which makes me feel fabulous. I love that I can just pull it on, and I'm ready to go out. I love that it's so comfortable to wear - no fiddling required at any point! I love the low-ish back and the square armholes. I even love the trousers part, which makes it my first successful pair of trousers.

It is so different to anything else I own or have made, and my colleagues could not believe that I made it myself. Some of them are still going on about it! It performed admirably on the night, standing up to dancing, eating and some Rockaoke (karaoke with a band – apparently my 40’s are all about the karaoke. Who’d have thought?!). Although the cross over isn’t fixed, it stays in place no problem, and the little key hole at the front is not too scary. It also worked for a (dressed up) dinner at a friend's house!

And, because I am always curious about these things, I’ll let you know that I did wear a bra underneath. One of these. The back isn’t super low, but it would show a bra strap. I could have raised the back to cover it,  but my friend talked me into buying and wearing one of these, and it was great. And now I can make and wear all the backless styles!!!

I'll finish with a standard Xmas night out bathroom selfie. I think my smile says it all! :)



  1. It looks fabulous, you look amazing in it! And great pics!

    1. Thanks so much Katie! Your advice about not directly facing the light made so much difference! And I'm going to look into Photoshop/Lightroom too.

  2. The construction story sounded a bit hair raising (I don't like it when projects get close to deadlines!) but the final jumpsuit looks fab, very chic, I am not at all surprised your colleagues were full of admiration.

    1. Thank you, Philippa. Once I was satisfied with the fit, it wasn't actually too bad, but yes, a bit to close to the wind for me too. I normally avoid sewing deadlines at all costs!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Mrs C. I do feel rather groovy when wearing it! :)

  4. This is lovely! It's so elegant - I really like the idea of jumpsuits but some are too overall-like for my tastes. However this is just lovely and you did a great job with it

    1. Thanks Kerry. I am totally with you on that. Most jumpsuits I don't like either. I'd like to try a more casual one at some point, but I'm not sure how much wear it would get. x

  5. Absolutely stunning & worth all of that hard work!

  6. Helen this is truely amazing, you have been on a roll with great makes lately. I love the cross over bodice and the fabric is a perfect choice. Also you look fabulous in it.

  7. You look so fantastic! I keep eyeing this pattern up but never quite taking the plunge...I think seeing yours might be the final nudge I need!

  8. It is fabulous, and elegant. It really suits you. Love that lining fabric too.


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