Sew Your Wardrobe Basics: Workwear – A Tale of a Jumpsuit

My jumpsuit 3

I was intrigued by Sea of Teal’s sew your basics theme of workwear for the month of August as it’s been a year of change regarding work habits.  As a result of the pandemic many people have been working from home and with that there has been a shift of emphasis regarding the term ‘workwear’ and how it is defined.

During the pandemic with so many people working from home there has been no need to dress smartly for the office and so people have been able to put their leisure wear on and sit in the comfort of their home office, kitchen, dining room or garden to work.  However what has been interesting is that many people who have engaged in zoom meetings have still felt the need to don traditional smart workwear on their visible top half probably over an unseen pair of joggers!  It seems that many people will now be working from home on a permanent or part-time basis for the foreseeable future and so the trend for workwear suitable for home working looks set to continue.

I left my traditional office job a few years’ ago and since then you could say I have been sort of ‘working from home’ but this has involved sitting at a sewing machine making items to sell at trading events, making costumes for clients and now producing large quantities of fabric masks.  My standard workwear is therefore already comfortable and usually comprises joggers and T shirt but I have been known on occasion to wear a dress while sewing.  The reason I mainly avoid wearing my best clothes is that scissors are fairly dangerous and I have managed to make holes in several items I have been wearing!

Over the last few months the weather has been a bit strange in the UK and despite often raining it has also been very humid.  I began to think I wanted something loose and comfortable to sit in whilst working at my sewing machine.  I’d seen my daughter throwing on a jersey jumpsuit and it seemed so easy and relaxed.  To be honest as much as I like how they look I wasn’t fancying a jumpsuit for myself mainly because of the palaver of going to the girls’ room especially if a back zip was involved!  But stretchy seemed the way to go.

Now you would think with all the jumpsuit patterns out there I would find the exact style I had in mind but no!  All zips, buttons, long sleeves, collars, narrow legs.  I was looking for a simple pull on jumpsuit with extended shoulders, a small v neck and wideish 3/4 legs.  I came across a few contenders.  Butterick See and Sew B6312 was one but this appeared to be out of stock everywhere (discontinued?).  The Zadie by Paper Theory Patterns was another which I do really like but at £14 a pattern perhaps for another day.  Then I stumbled on Butterick Fast and Easy B6224 which almost fitted the bill but I would need to widen and crop the leg.  However the only sizing I could find was 18W to 32W.  I scratched my head.  Did the W mean waist??  As I was impatient I decided it did and went ahead and ordered the 26W-32W size.  Obviously when the pattern arrived I realised I’d made a bit of a faux pas as that pattern must only be available in plus sizes.  My only excuse for this is that these days I very rarely use envelope patterns preferring my back catalogue of various sewing magazines and I’m a bit out of touch with the new sizing but it looks like the W refers to the word Women on the pattern envelope.

Back to the drawing board I decided I would probably have to frankenpattern and find a suitable style bodice and attach to an appropriate trouser pattern. I trawled my Burdastyle back catalogue and came up with a few possibilities but then a light bulb moment.  I remembered I had seen a jumpsuit in my copy of My Image Issue 20.  I dug out the magazine and was so pleased to find it was designed for stretch fabrics.  The dilemma was did I want the lapels or not.  As much as I liked them I wasn’t sure how flat they would lay in a stretch fabric and so I redrafted the wrap neck on the front bodice to be made as a simple collarless wrap thus creating the V neck I had originally intended.

My Image Jumpsuit

The tracing of patterns from My Image is different to Burdastyle who, although using the same colour, employ a different patterned line for each size so it is fairly easy to identify the size you need.  With My Image each line is the same solid colour and labelled with the size so you have to be really careful as you trace off the pattern pieces that you don’t digress to another size.  However the pattern sheets are manageable and large pieces like trouser legs are done as two parts.  I traced off my usual Burda size 38 although the My Image measurements for this size are slightly larger.

I already had a length of black jersey from the local market and perhaps I was being optimistic but the amount I bought was 1.5 metres.  The pattern is only four pieces comprising a back bodice, wrap front bodice, front trouser leg, back trouser leg plus a tie belt. However when laid the pattern out on the fabric it became apparent that it was going to be a squeeze to fit the pieces on if at all possible especially as the wrap bodice pieces needed more room and that’s when I regretted not buying 2 metres.  I left it alone but decided to revisit it the following day.  I got more fabric by uncurling and pinning all the edges of the jersey.  I wanted crop legs on the jumpsuit so measured and folded up the hem edge of the trousers.  I had managed to get some sort of layout but there was no room for 5/8th inch seams.  As I was overlocking the jumpsuit I decided I could just squeeze 1/4 inch seams out and went ahead and cut the fabric.  In fact this made the decision to add or not add the collar irrelevant as there would not have been enough fabric anyway.

It was at this stage that I decided the garment might end up being a ‘wearable toile’ as I knew the narrow seams would allow little room for fitting although I was hoping that the stretch fabric would be more forgiving than a woven.  Now although I consider myself an advanced dressmaker I am almost a novice when working with an overlocker and stretch fabrics.  I bought a second hand serger a few years’ ago mainly with the intention of giving a professional finish to outfits I was making for various clients.  However working more with knit and stretch fabrics was always an aim.  My previous efforts on a standard machine had been okay often sewing the seams with a small zig-zag stitch but now I felt I had the right machinery for the job. I still find all that rolling up of edges on stretch fabrics a bit frustrating but overall I was proud of how I threw myself into overlocking without pinning or with minimal pinning.  The only places where I took more care were the hems on the wrap, sleeve and trousers.  I tacked them up and took my time sewing them as I find the twin needle occasionally wants to make a run off the edge of the fabric if I lose concentration.

As I wasn’t making the lapels on the jumpsuit I had to decide how to finish off the edges of the wrap bodice.  I thought about binding them with either bought or home made bias binding although the latter became an impossibility because of the lack of fabric.  I remembered Sea of Teal had made a beautiful blue wrap ponte dress and so referring to her description of finishing the edges I did a simple turn back narrow hem overlocking the edge first and then twin needle stitching.  The tie belt has been pieced together with the remaining bits of fabric I had left and at 2 cm wide is half the intended size on the pattern.

mustard cropped

Despite my fears regarding the outcome of this project due to all the pitfalls and adaptions I had to make I am actually quite pleased with the end result.  The jumpsuit made up very quickly as there are no darts of shaped seams to contend with.  The only alteration I made was to the sleeve width as the original seemed to gape on me and so I narrowed them by quickly serging the seam a few inches higher.

As a result of this project I definitely feel more confident working with stretch fabrics and I will certainly be using this pattern again.  I think it would look great made up in a woven like linen with the addition, if needed, of a zip fastening in the side seam.  The only thing missing – side pockets.  I might have to add them to any future makes.  I now have an easy to wear jumpsuit that will be comfortable to sit in whilst working at my sewing machine but in reality it can be much more than that.  I think jumpsuits have a part to play as conventional workwear.  Worn with a smart jacket, heels and nice jewellery this would look more than appropriate for office wear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sew Your Basics: Prints

front view

This was a quick last minute make to fit in with Sea of Teal’s sew your basics theme of prints for the month of June.  Originally I had wanted to make something grander but I have been so busy this month making face coverings for family, friends and local businesses that I suddenly realised I was running out of time.

I bought the leopard print fabric at a craft fair last July with a button up skirt in mind.  Leopard prints seemed to be all the rage last summer and although perhaps not as much this year they are a perennial favourite. At the time I was unsure what the fabric type was but from my last project I now know that it is a double gauze with its typical crinkle look appearance and two layer construction.  It is actually a good weight for a skirt as although lightweight it is quite opaque and so an underskirt is not entirely necessary.

The pattern I have used is from Patrones magazine 408 (April 2020).

patrones skirt

There are only three main pieces to the skirt – front, back, waistband – and so is very quick to sew up with 4 darts, side seams and front band self facings.  Then attach the waistband, hem, buttonholes and buttons.  The instructions are in Spanish and you could do a translation but for an easy skirt like this it is not really necessary. The pattern does have patch pockets on the front and I  do like this feature a lot. I actually did cut out and make up the pockets but once basted on the skirt they were just ‘camouflaged’ plus I did wonder if it would give people headaches seeing a clashing piece of leopard print on top of another so in the end I left them off. However if I were to make this skirt in a plain fabric I would definitely include them.

The pattern requirements suggest five 28 mm buttons and although I really love the drama of the large fastenings I was worried the spacing between the buttons might cause gaping especially when sitting  down.  Instead I have used six 20 cm buttons.  I felt black or wooden buttons would work well but in the end decided to use dark tan ones as I wanted to add more pop to the skirt.

I am new to Patrones patterns but I absolutely adore their designs.  I thought being European the sizes would correspond to Burdastyle but beware as when I double checked they are different.  I usually sew a Burda size 38 (which is roughly a UK size 12) but in Patrones the same sizing is a 40.  Also the Patrones sizing is more ‘hourglass’.  So when bust and hip measurement correspond to Burda the waist sizing is smaller meaning if you choose Patrones by hip size you may need to make the waist larger.

Overall I feel this will be a good basic skirt because of its neutral colour scheme.  It will look good in summer worn either with a black t-shirt and sandals or a cream t-shirt and plimsolls but it could also work into autumn/winter with a black polo neck jumper or loose fitting beige jumper with either ankle or knee high boots.  I will say the one thing I really enjoyed about this project was the relief of sewing long lines again after all the small seams on those pesky masks!

 

#Make Nine Number Two – Shirtdress

best dress

I wanted to like this dress more than I do.  I like it but I don’t love it.  I was excited when I saw Vogue V9371 last year.  View F with its elongated shoulder line which gives more coverage than a cutaway sleeveless armhole really appealed to me and I was looking forward to having a stylish shirtdress to wear during the summer.  I know it is designed as a slightly loose shirtdress with the tie belt to hold it all together but the problem is that it feels slightly big on me.  To be honest no-one else would probably tell but it is one of those things where you know how something feels on you and although not uncomfortable, I’m just aware that it is a tad too large.  To my shame I have actually had the pattern and fabric to make this dress for about a year and decided to add it to my #Makenine2020 plans to spur me on.  I was given further impetus to complete this project when I read that Sea of Teal’s SewYourWardrobeBasics theme for the month of May was dresses.  This seemed the ideal opportunity for me to complete my dress to include in Sea of Teal’s monthly round up for May.

Pattern

I read a few reviews beforehand and one commented that style F felt tight on the hips so as I was prevaricating between cutting a size 10 or 12 and, going by my body measurements on the envelope, I settled for a 12.  I needn’t have worried as once tacked up the 12 felt huge on me and even though I had chosen the straight version of the dress I could nearly wrap it around me twice.  The armholes were also gaping (showing underwear type gaping) and so I had to take the side seams in by an inch each side to try and eradicate some of the problems.

There were a few other alterations I also made.  One was the collar which I made slightly smaller (although the neckline still feels a tad too big) and the second was that I reduced the width of the sash.  I do like the sash and think it is a lovely feature but it just did not look right in the fabric I had chosen which, although a lightweight double gauze, does have a heavier appearance.  I feel it would suit something either more floaty or very structural to make a statement.  On a positive note the dress is very easy to make up as it is basically just a long shirt.  The only time consuming part is hand sewing the front edge of the band down before turning it in to make the button band facings.

best button

Despite these hiccups I would definitely sew this pattern again but with the following adjustments:

  1. Cut out a size 8 on the bodice going out to a size 10 over the hips
  2. Redraft the collar to the smaller size that I prefer
  3. Reduce the size of the side splits by around two inches in length as at the moment they are split to well above the knee
  4. Add an extra button on the button band for a similar reason as the splits
  5. Any alteration to the width of the sash would be dependent on the fabric being used

So although I wanted to like this dress more than I do,  it is still very wearable and comfortable but I hope my next attempt will be the perfect shirtdress I was hoping for.

#Makenine Number One – Vintage Blouse

blouse front

I thought it was appropriate that the first garment I would use my prize winning Janome Atelier 6 sewing machine to make should be vintage.  I already had a 1970 blouse pattern cut out since December 2019 and so this was the perfect opportunity to get it constructed.

The pattern I used is Style 2949 which has three variations – sleeveless, short sleeve tunic top and, the one I chose, a long sleeve blouse.  I’m not sure where I acquired this pattern but I think it was among a batch I bought a few years ago.  The size 14 is one up from what I would normally choose but I figured that 1970s patterns were not as generously cut as they are today and that minimum alterations would be required for fit probably just being limited to taking in the side seams slightly.

pattern

The fabric I had chosen for this project was a patterned polyester with a silken sheen in ‘de facto’ 1970s brown.  I had chosen this fabric partly for its retro feel but also to pair with some RTW brown corduroy trousers that already had a seventies feel to them.  From a distance the fabric also has a jersey like appearance.  I actually think this pattern would look good made up in a medium jersey or even towelling both popular fabrics from the seventies. I don’t know about you but I think it is about time for towelling to have a resurgence.

Construction progressed well considering I was getting used to a new computerised sewing machine.  The front has unusual long curved darts which involved some easing along the top curve.  I really loved the large collar on the pattern but made up it felt huge and so I reduced its width by half an inch which keeps its style but doesn’t feel overwhelming.  The topstitching on the collar, yoke, notch opening and cuffs is a nice feature as it is sewn 3/8 inch away from the edges as opposed to the usual 1/4 inch.  The zip on the blouse neck is inserted by hand after creating and topstitching the notched opening.  I guess I could have risked sewing the zip in using the machine but I am quite happy to hand sew and in some cases feel it offers more control than machine sewing especially in difficult areas.

IMG_4655 zip open

The long bishop sleeves are gathered into a cuff which fastens with two buttonholes which gave me the chance to experiment with the one step buttonholer on the Janome Atelier.  Having not had much success with the buttonholer on my Janome Sewist, which you can read about here, I wasn’t expecting much but the operation of this machine was pretty amazing and impressive.  Maybe I am now converted to one step buttonholers!  The finishing off was done seventies’ style with small hems on the facings and zig zagging of the seams.  However, this fabric did fray considerably and the overlocker would have sorted this but I just didn’t feel like rethreading the overlock machine which is already set up in the colour of my next planned project.

blouse done up2

All in all I’m very pleased with the result. As much as the fabric was difficult to work with due to its slippy nature and constant fraying and given that at the same time I was acclimatising to a new machine, I feel the blouse has turned out well and is the perfect partner for my RTW trousers.

 

#Makenine 2020

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I’ve read about the #Makenine challenge for a while now but have mainly been introduced to it through reading the interesting posts on the topic by the Steely Seamstress.  The challenge sounds a good way of adding focus to creating items by limiting it to just nine things.  Sometimes there are just so many ideas floating around in the brain that it can all become overwhelming just like that stash of fabric always lurking in the background.  This seems a good way to tackle both the ideas and reduce the stash by planning a fairly achievable number although the challenge in no way puts pressure on to complete all nine articles either.  It also seems a very popular challenge with the online community because of its flexibility.  Items can be sewn or knitted.  These can be garments for yourself, your friends, your family or items for your home and crafting.

So with this in mind and I have put together the following nine items based solely on patterns and fabric that I already have in the stash and this is in no way a ‘capsule’ wardrobe.  I’m sure some of the things will be able to be worn together but others are designed to go with items already in my wardrobe or are purely stand alone.

Black Trousers – I’ve had a remnant of back fabric bought a while ago with the intention of making a plain pencil skirt but in reality I wear trousers more. So I have been wondering if I can squeeze a pair of trousers out of a metre of fabric. I only want a fairly basic pair of ever day flat fronted trousers and I remembered some I had seen in Burdastyle 01/2012 style 122.  They are fairly hidden away in a very small photograph in the magazine but surprisingly they are the topic for the in depth sewing course in that issue which means lots of instructions and diagrams.

3fa20-bwof-2012-01-121

Jacket – I’ve actually got a length of speckled black and grey jersey which could be used for making a jacket.  I purchased this with the intention of creating a biker jacket but for some reason I just cannot get on with biker jackets so I am looking at a more casual slightly tailored design.  I really like style 116 in Burdastyle 05/2009 but I’m not sure if it is too boxy plus it is sized for extra tall so I would need to check the back length to waist measurement.  I also realised it is fully lined whereas I was thinking unlined or half lined.  So I am still ruminating on this one.

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Sweater – I picked up some mustard knit fabric that has a slight sparkle to it in December last year – I think with a Christmas sweater in mind! Despite having an overlock machine I don’t work with stretch fabrics that often so this will make a change for me. I just want a basic sweater similar in style to a Uniqlo RTW one I already own.  I’ve got my eye on style 118 in Burdastyle 12/2019 or Simplicity 8529 which, although I’m trying to avoid new purchases, could be a good buy as it has useful pattern variations.

Dress – Shirtdresses are the only style of dress that I enjoy wearing and so I am very happy that they are in fashion right now as it also means there are a multitude of patterns out there.  Vogue V9371 captured my interest when it was released last year because I find some sleeveless shirtdresses a bit too cutaway on the armhole and so the slightly extended shoulder line of View F is particularly appealing.  The shaped sash like belt also adds a small touch of flamboyance and I already have a length of spotted mustard fabric perfect for this style.

Pattern

Seventies’ Blouse – I think one of my aims for the year is to make and wear more garments made from vintage patterns.  I’ve actually got Style 2949 from 1970 already cut out and ready to go in some suitably retro looking brown patterned fabric and am particularly excited about this project.

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Cargo Skirt – I haven’t made any skirts for a while now yet at one time they used to be the one thing that I continually made.  The cargo style skirt in Burdastyle 2/2018  has some nice detailing but I also like the wrap skirt in January 2020 Knipmode.  I’m still prevaricating on the fabric. I was hoping to use up some fawn needlecord but as I would like to wear the skirt in summer this may be too warm.  Beige or khaki drill does keep coming to mind but I so want to diminish my stack of fabric and not go out buying some more fabric!

Drawstring Trousers – These fulfil the need for some lightweight summer trousers and I have some lovely striped linen in the stash suitable for them.  There are lots of paperbag type trouser patterns out there but I will probably use M2004 in My Image 20 Magazine.

Knitted Hat – I wanted to include a knitted project but knew if I chose something too large it would be a challenge for me to complete within the time framework.  I always start off with a flourish but then get bored and put the project away sometimes for as long as two years.  Therefore I’m going to use Sirdar pattern 9060 for a cabled chunky knit beret as I do like knitting cables and I feel a hat is fairly achievable in my terms!!

hat

Wild Card – This could be another vintage garment, a more flamboyant outfit or maybe something ambitious such as a coat.  Who knows???

So that’s the plan but in reality I’m hoping that if I manage to get four or five of these completed amongst all the other projects I’ll undoubtedly end up working on it will be a success.