It is curious to observe that each time after an extensive and time consuming project I decide to choose something more simple – just to relax a little bit and hopefully have a faster going project. And yet, each time I end up finding myself involved in even more extensive project. It seems as though I somehow manage to underestimate the complexity of the make, or else complicate it myself by adding details or changing the construction of the garment altogether.
This particular project was exactly that! The initial plan was to make a very simple A line wool dress. Take plain fabric, sew it up, happy days! My sewing friend Laura was amused – “planning for a simple project, aren’t you?”. And instead I ended up with the result significantly different from what had been planned. But hey, I absolutely love my new jumpsuit! Which it turned out to become instead of a dress. Let me share with you how this happened 🙂
While shopping at Fabworks online store for my winter sewing I bought few absolutely fantastic pieces of Yorkshire tweed. One of them was this gorgeous check tweed in rustic colors. I was very much looking forward to working with check fabric, as I had not yet tried matching all those checks that thoroughly and was really curious to try. My single project with check fabric so far was Tartan check shirt dress, however then checks were small and not that much alignment was necessary.
Little did I know how extensive and time consuming a task I was getting myself into with these large checks of different colors. Good news though was that for this project I managed to choose decent patterns which did not need to be amended all that much. Fair enough, A LOT of calculation was necessary. But then the stitching mostly worked, and I did not have to unpick or redo that many seams. So all in all, it was quite a smooth project, albeit took me probably 30 hours or so to complete. Was totally worth it though – enjoyed every part of it and am happy with the end result!
My initial plan was to make a dress using Simplicity S9176 pattern. I liked the bodice and the sleeves of that pattern very much. But then I thought – oh well, that simple A line skirt does not quite appeal to me, so why don’t I add something else to this bodice. After skimming through my patterns, Vogue jumpsuit pattern V9075 caught my eye. It featured wide leg pants, and I decided to add them to the bodice of Simplicity dress and thus make a ‘Frankenpattern’ for my beautiful check tweed.
When this curious plot was born, I suddenly realized that actually I might not have enough fabric for this undertaking. Simplicity dress pattern asked for 2.5 meters of fabric, and that was exactly how much I’ve gotten. But that’s without taking into consideration check matching. And of course massive Vogue pants should have required more fabric than a simple A line skirt. Usually I am able to squeeze the most out of fabric pieces. So I decided to give it a try, and if I could not manage to fit into my 2,5 meters of fabric, the fall back plan would be to simply go ahead with the initial dress by Simplicity and scrap this entire pattern hacking idea.
Joining two patterns together is a task in and of itself – height of the waistline has to be assessed and adjusted for both parts of the garment. Circumference of the waist needs to be exactly the same for the bodice and the lower part of the garment. All of that was complicated by the fact that I had to match all those checks to fit precisely while cutting different pattern pieces.
The first important decision had to be made on the color that would run through the center of my garment. Since red was probably the most dominating of all the hues, I decided to have the red stripe going through the center of the front and also the back of the garment. This meant, that all seam allowances had to be accounted for and pattern pieces had to be cut so that after stitching them together my vertical red stripe would look uninterrupted. Up until this point I still was unsure if I was going to have enough fabric for my massive pants.
When paper pattern pieces of two different patterns were all cut and adjusted to fit together, I went on to cut the bodice pattern pieces first. Matched the red stripe and tried my best to match horizontal stripes as well. Then the fiddle with the paper pattern pieces for the pants started. After spending an hour or so kneeling on the floor, I was able to conclude, that actually everything is going to be fine. My paper pattern pieces for the jumpsuit were fitting onto the piece of fabric, but just. I would be steaming ahead with my first Frankenpattern! That’s how the floor of my sewing room looked at that moment. Practically all the fabric was used up in the process and there was almost nothing left after all.
Actual sewing started with the bodice. I made darts. Immediately realized that front darts were badly too low, unpicked and lifted them up. Joined front and back at the shoulder and side seams. Then continued with the pants. Basted the pleats, instructions called to unpick the basting after attaching the pants to the bodice. But I also kind of liked the top stitching of the pleats, so decided to calculate later if the pants would fit around the hips with the pleats closed, and if so, to top stitch the pleats. Every seam had to be stitched very carefully as checks had to be matched both, vertically and horizontally. Luckily, I had calculated correctly whilst cutting the pattern pieces, so stitching them together was quite easy – checks were simply falling into places.
Joining the bodice with the pants was quite a pivotal moment really, because that’s where the major checks matching was supposed to magically happen. It worked surprisingly well, and I was honestly quite relieved. After trying the jumpsuit on, I was able to conclude that with the pants pleats closed, the pants still fit me well, so I proceeded on to neatly top stitch all 12 pleats.
Then the time came to make the sleeves. I consciously had cut them so that the edge of red stripe would match the shoulder seam. Was also planning to match the checks of sleeve bands with those on sleeves. And that’s where I made a mistake. I had cut the band as though the slit was at the seam of the sleeve, but in fact the slit was supposed to go on top of the sleeve. Noticed the mistake only when the bands were finished with the lining attached and ready to be stitched on to the sleeves, and simply was unable to get myself to redo them. So I simply stitched them on as they were and accepted that checks would not be matched there. After all, I think this is even for good – matching everything completely would have made this garment simply too perfect!
Next I started working on the lining. At first was planning to only line the bodice. But then realized that the fabric felt rather coarse on the arms, so decided to line the sleeves too.
Finally, the last moment of truth came with the installation of an invisible zipper. I had to be really careful with this as my main red stripe was supposed to be made of two sides connected by the zipper. My seam gauge was my friend in the process! And in fact I almost made it right at the first attempt. Almost… One side of the zipper was making 4 checks misaligned, so I decided to go ahead and fix that. Had to unpick a short portion of the seam and try again. After the second attempt, the checks were aligned a bit better, but then the zipper was not going though the very center of the red stripe. So I had to unpick the seam once again. At my third attempt I ran out of bobbin thread, damn it! All in all, that short portion of the seam had to be redone probably five times until I eventually made it right.
Since I had lengthened the bodice, the bodice of the lining became a tiny bit too short. When I realized that I would not have enough of length to close the lining at the waist seam, I stitched a strip of contrasting bias tape to the lining, which made for a very nice finish, when I slip-stitched the lining in place.
And the last part of this project was to hem the pants. Making the hem for anything always takes me ages! Well, to be completely precise, deciding on the length of the garment is what takes ages. I spent probably an hour trying different shoes on and pinning the hem at different lengths, until I finally decided on where I wanted my pants to get hemmed. Curious point for future projects – it is so much better to have a light stripe at the bottom of the garment than a dark one. Optics, but rather important. Since the circumference of each pant was huge, I opted for using a blind hem stitch on my sewing machine instead of stitching the hem by hand. It worked really well and I was finally finished with this extensive and yet absolutely pleasant project!
With these types of projects – large, complex and involving some or a lot of seam ripping – I usually run out of thread. It has become some sort of a curse by now – when I start a large project I already know that I will run out of thread, and usually I do! 🙂 This was also the case this time. At the very end of this project, with only few seams to go I ran out of original Gutermann thread. Tried to find a similar one which in fact I did not have. All was well in the end, as for my blind hem seam I managed to match lighter thread, which worked perfectly fine.
For this project two patterns were merged into one. I took bodice of Simplicity pattern S9176 and added pants of Vogue pattern V9075. I used 2.5 meters of 100 pct wool Yorkshire tweed fabric which was bought from the Fabworks Millshop online store (the fabric is called Natures Larder Check), and I also needed approx. 0.7 m of acetate lining in mocha color. Other notions were thread and an invisible zipper. This jumpsuit cost me 73 Eur. It was made at the very end of December, 2020.
I absolutely love how this jumpsuit turned out! It is very warm (well, 100 pct wool does its magic) and fits me perfectly. It is also an interesting garment as from certain angles you could not tell that it’s a jumpsuit, instead it looks like a dress. When trying the completed garment on I chose some four pairs of shoes that would go really well with this jumpsuit. And I also matched a beautiful silver brooch made by my friend jeweler Viktorija, I think it fits perfectly here! (Will just need to move the brooch to the left side – was putting it in front of the mirror and mixed sides 🙂 )
This project also provided me with quite a bit of education on how to work with check fabrics. I am really good at math and geometry, that is probably why I dearly enjoyed the technical part of this project while matching all those stripes and checks. So the look is now complete and I will be eagerly looking forward for the quarantine to end so that I could wear my new creation out there in the open.
Let’s all stay healthy!