I took a meandering road to this romper. First, I spotted Faye’s adorable playsuit over on The Fair Stitch. Next, I was overcome by the punchy color of the (free!) playsuit pattern sample. Then, I would have printed and assembled the pattern, but I realized…eh, my unused M7577 pattern was traced already. So I made that, but orange-red. And that’s how my cross-bodice shortie romper was inspired by a floral playsuit. You can totally see the similarity now, right?
I’ve been calling this garment my chitoniskos, after the trendy short chitons worn by fashion-forward Greek youths in the late 400s BC. I feel like a mango Artemis.
The Greeks didn’t have elastic, though. Sorry, classical Greeks.
And elastic is the only notion you need for this McCall’s pattern! I sewed view B, but sleeveless, with Brussels Washer Linen in Poppy. It is the most (and only-est) orange thing I own. I graded from a 10 chest to a 14 waist. The pattern asks you to bind the armscyes and long crossover opening with what I recently read is called ‘the French method’, but I used traditional bias binding instead. The other sounded too bulky for summer! I also added inseam pockets. I caught the tops of the pocket bags in the waist seam so they don’t flop around, a tip I got from a Vogue pattern and really like.
The bodice is obviously spacious, but I don’t regret a single quarter-inch when I’m wiggling in and out of this romper. The extra ‘puff’ above the waist is essential, especially on the way out! If you’re more flexible than me (either literally, like you can jump rope with your own arms, or metaphorically, like you’re willing to pop in an invisible side zipper) you could achieve a closer fit.
It’s possible to wear this without the belt – the elastic is doing the meaningful cinching, if cinching is what you’re after – but I like it with! By sitting an inch or two above the elastic, I think it also helps keep the wrap wrapped shut.
I sewed the elastic waist casing as essentially a big French seam; first I sewed the bodice to the pants wrong sides together with a ¼” sa, then I flipped them and sewed them right sides together with a ½” sa, leaving a small gap. Then I threaded the elastic through the casing via the gap, joined the ends, and sewed the gap shut. A nice clean casing! You can topstitch it. I couldn’t. It got weird. I unpicked it. But maybe you can!
My major change (there’s often one) was to the bottom half of the pattern. I traced the largest size in my envelope, 14, for the waist and legs, but I just could not convince myself that my legs would fit inside. The pattern pieces looked darn small; but with straight inseams and outseams that were parallel to the grainline, they also looked easy to alter. I slashed-and-spread each leg front and back piece to make them 3” wider, so a total of 6” per leg.
First, I marked the new width on what would become my pattern paper. After cutting to but not through the waistline of the original pattern piece, I taped the outer bottom corners to my marked lines and futzed the middle bits evenly apart. Then I traced, cut, labelled, and ta-da! Like many people I use bum paper, a.k.a. medical examination paper. It’s see-through for tracing; easy to mark, fold, and store; and one roll is seemingly infinite.
You’re supposed to trim off the seam allowances before adjustments like these, but I wasn’t bothered. It didn’t affect the stitch line dramatically, and this linen/rayon has some give anyway.
Once you have a crotch curve and waist size you like, you can easily redesign a basic pants or shorts pattern into any non-fitted silhouette. Box pleats, inverted box pleats, gathers, a slash-and-spread technique like this – as long as you pay attention to the grainline and finish by fitting the legs to the original waistband, swooshy shorts/pants/culottes are your oyster!
I might have been able to squeeze inside the legs as drafted, but I like these. I think it balances the blousy bodice, plus “snug” is not a summery word. ‘Gimme some of those snug shorts!’. No. “Swishy”, that’s a summer word.
And I’ve never regretted extra thigh room for Terminator-style crouching!
This was always meant to be a straightforward summer sew – it’s not going to do double-duty for work, it’s not transitional, it’s pretty much just for hanging out with friends in hot weather. Which is why I find it bitterly ironic that it looks kinda frosty cool layered under a jacket.
Why?? Why you, when I have so much trouble layering actual fall clothes?!
Until next time, hypíaine! (<– Greek theme).
Pattern cost: $4.49
Size: 10 at bust, 14 at waist
Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer linen/rayon blend in Poppy, $25.44, fabric.com; thread, Michael’s, $1.91; elastic from stash
Total time: 8 hours
Total cost: $31.88