Jean-Paul II

I hope you’re okay with a post which is mostly shouting, since this was the most frustrating sew! Such a marathon!! And like any time someone does a marathon, you know I have a LOT to say about it. Also, like a marathon, it was my own fault. Okay, let’s take a tour of what went wrong –

I changed the collar, which meant drafting a neck facing, only mine was disastrous. So I unpicked that and tried a wide binding. Also bad. So I unpicked that to try a narrow binding, which basically worked, except I’ve sewed dozens of them and yet it somehow took me 4 tries to catch one 2-inch section of this one??? And THEN I noticed one collar point was fraying ALREADY because I clipped too close to the stitches before turning, but I could not have it with taking it off at that point, especially because I had already added my plackets, which were also NO PICNIC.

And of course after one trip through the washing machine the collar point basically exploded, so I whipped some hand-stitches around it and now it’s fraying but also covered in hand stitches. So that’s…fun.

Back to the sewing – I couldn’t get the buttonholes going for some reason, and finally I noticed I hadn’t set my stitch width to the maximum. I adjusted, I sewed them, and they were basically fine. But then I realized I had accidentally put interfacing in the blind button overlap, not where the buttonholes go, so I unpicked them – AGAIN – so I could iron on little patches of fabric + interfacing and restitch.

Then, I French-seamed the bodice but the first time I did it inside out (!!!) and the second time I didn’t trim my seam allowances aggressively enough so all the seams on the right side ended up with what I call despite my better judgment “hairy crack”. No pictures of this because I picked out all the stray threads in a sputtering rage, like Mrs. White with a pair of tweezers.

FINALLY, I had decided to cut my fabric in two sessions (what a ding-dong) – and when I went back to cut the pants pieces I somehow hadn’t budgeted enough for full-length pants legs. So, sick of this project and unwilling to sink more money and time into it, I jettisoned my plan and just made it with shorts. GAH.

The thing is, even though it was going poorly, I didn’t stop. Is there a name for that? Dark flow, maybe??? CURSE US AND SPLASH US, I HATES IT FOREVER.

Okay, okay. I’m done.

Listen, is this garment fine? IT’S BASICALLY FINE. Is it what I wanted? NOPEDY NOPE. Alright, now I’m done.

The pattern is the Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit, which I made, poorly, once before. I bought the expansion pack because hope is the thing with feathers, I guess, but I still couldn’t get this pattern to really work for me. It’s not a drafting thing (with one quick exception, the waistband, more later) – it’s meee.

When reading about utility collections and clothing rationing in WWII Britain (I enjoyed this article), I learned about siren suits. Gorgeous and functional! Most of the examples I saw had a notched collar, rather than a collar and stand, and I thought I could fudge the Jean-Paul to match.

Here’s how I reshaped the collar and stand into one piece:

I have no idea if that’s the recommended way, but the collar rolls correctly. I extended the collar piece right to the edge of the stand because the plackets are sewn on separately.

I must have grabbed the wrong pattern pieces to make these changes, though (the ones from the original Jean-Paul pattern and not the extension, at a guess), since the new collar ended about 1” away from the placket seamlines on either side. This was after the grueling session binding the collar edge, so I just shaved a diagonal chunk off each top center front, grading to nothing at the waist. Oddly, this went fine. Off all the decisions not to bite me in the butt!

I extended the plackets slightly, folded over the extra at the top, and then attached as normal, so all raw edges were concealed.    

While this worked, more or less, the neck doesn’t sit open – there’s got to be more to a notched collar than just blending the stand into the collar piece. Someday I’ll crack that nut. Or, um, buy a pattern.

Sleeves, darts, tucks – all that went okay. Even the shorts (once I came to terms with the fact that they would be shorts and not full-length pants) weren’t too bad. The concealed button fly directions were solid! I used the slash pockets from the extension, and the openings feel nice and sturdy, no stretching on the bias. I was calming down. I just had to smash the top half into the bottom and call it a day.

But then the waistband was several inches too short.

At this point I wanted to set a small fire, but instead I chopped up the chest pockets I had cut and abandoned and patched them onto the waistband center fronts. This was not a victorious ending, but thank goodness, it was an ending!

The process of making this suit was so much more interesting (negative, but still interesting) than the finished project. I’ll still use it, but I think I have to cool it on this pattern for a while. The difference between my plan and reality is just bumming me out. Plus I’m not totally sure this outfit likes me either, because sometimes in the silence I can hear it whispering…

“…Oompa-Loompa costume…”.

Well, better luck next time, I hope.

Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $7.05 (expansion)

Size: 41 bust, 46 hip

Supplies: scraps 3 yards of Brussels Washer linen blend in Indigo, $26.19, fabric.com; thread, Michael’s, $2.96; buttons from stash

 Total time: 13.5 hours

Total cost: $36.20

8 thoughts on “Jean-Paul II

    1. That’s a good idea! I was looking into metal collar tips, too, but those seem to be for a specific collar point angle. Embroidery is much more flexible!

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  1. Certainly true that we like to point out all the problems with our makes, but the overall look of this boiler suit is great. Good idea to do some embroidery by the way on the collar, that would look super!

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    1. Yeah, I really like that idea! I’m looking at functional embroidery now (sashiko mending, that kind of thing) since the colors make sense. Thanks for your kind words! 🙂

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  2. Lol @ “dark flow”!!! I don’t like to have more than one sewing project going on at a time because 1. space, but also 2. I know I will never finish the one I abandoned. So when things start going south my pace picks up and it’s a rage sew until I can call it done and move on.

    But like most rage sews – your finished product looks great!! Hopefully you can take a time out from each other and come back in a week or two with less bad memories. The embroidery idea for the collar is great.

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  3. Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one! Rage can be weirdly motivating, right??! I wonder how many people work one-at-a-time (me, too) versus lots of projects…and how many of those get finish-it-rages! 😀

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