Last Resort

I really like black outfits in the summer even if they effectively make me look glow-in-the-dark, but this one kind of crossed the line from “casual” to “deadly-widow-on-a-cruise”. To be fair once I realized that I leaned into the styling; since I’m only going to wear this outfit this once, I may as well wear it as hard as I can. This is my wearable muslin for M7936.  

Sometimes a muslin gets promoted to the big leagues. This isn’t one of those times. I haven’t really been tempted by short rompers lately; I feel simultaneously overdressed and underdressed, and this summer has been so relatively cold in New England that I’ve gotten to enjoy long pants most days anyway. But I wanted to sew through this pattern once before deciding whether or not I would make myself a full-length version. Honestly, I’m still not sure.  

The drafting was simple but good – everything lined up, there’s generous hem allowances, and the pockets are a good height and size. I had to sew my nemesis, an invisible zipper, but even that went okay thanks to the expert guidance of Kenneth D. King! However, it seems my new nemesis is facing a V-neck with an invisible zipper at the point. My fabric was a slightly grow-y, slightly shifty rayon/linen blend, and I didn’t make it perfectly symmetrical. I hand-stitched the edge of the facing in place to minimize the mismatch.

It’s obviously not an invisible finish, but if a line is going to be slightly wobbly anyway, I think hand-sewing visually justifies it. I wonder if a closed-end dress zipper in the side seam would make a good replacement for the center zipper, possibly if the back neck had a “V” neckline as well for extra hip-in, hip-out room? I’m not fond of placing the thing I’m most likely to mess up front and center, but a back zip can be a hassle too.

Fit-wise there’s not a ton to say – the intended fit is free through the waist and loose in the hips and shoulders. I sewed a straight size M (the pattern alpha-sized, by the way). It’s comfortable but the inseam pockets gape a bit, so grading to an L probably would have been more suitable. It passes my squat test for thick thighs as-is, though.

Unfortunately it’s a little uncomfortable to raise my arms above my head. It’s a cut-on-sleeve issue, not a body-length issue. Lifting my arm moves the whole garment, inevitably, but the sleeve digs into my arm before I run out of crotch space; if it were a set-in sleeve I would have a sense of how to adjust (all due to ikat bag’s generous post, an evergreen from 2014) but I’m not sure what to do about it here. Adjust the shoulder slope, possibly?

I sewed and finished the pattern according to the directions before adding my own twist, the little strappy hardware bits. It’s just four rectangles folded like double-fold bias tape and topstitched shut, plus four D-rings. The strap width was determined by the D-rings I had sitting around, 1 ½”.

These straps each started life much, much longer. I pinned them to the finished garment before trimming. This was easiest, but it wasn’t always easy. I was home alone for this sewing project and pinning straps above my own booty with the help of exactly 1 mirror was a bit fussy. They were unsurprisingly unsymmetrical, so I took measurements on the flat garment and tried to split the difference, only to somehow end up sewing the back straps symmetrical to each other but a good 4” lower than the front straps. Several tries later I ended up with this arrangement.

I was a little worried that the cinching would pull back the fabric around the invisible zipper and reveal the coils, but it’s all good. These look a bit useless when fully loose and a bit tortured cinched to the max; this sort of half-waist seems to be the sweet spot. You can get a similar(ish) effect with something like this elastic waist, with the exception that I have a flat area (panel in that link) between the strap ends on both the front and back.   

I’m not super excited about this romper, alas. Why’d I even bother poisoning the Colonel, y’know? The one thing I unabashedly like is the depth of the V. I really wanted to recreate a particular denim jumpsuit I have pinned, but now I dunno. I was pretty grateful to pop this off in favor of jean shorts and a tank; I just feel more like me in that outfit. On the other hand, denim makes everything better.

It did inspire me to go through my wardrobe and pull out a few other things I don’t feel excited about. My clothing swap pile is growing. Got to get that stuff out before the if/when of another lockdown…

On that cheery note, arrivederci! If Scotland Yard comes sniffing around, tell them it was natural causes.

Pattern: M7936

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M

Supplies: 2 yards of black linen/rayon, $11.98, Sewfisticated; 22″ invisible zipper, Gather Here + 1 1/2″ D rings, Winmill Fabrics, $4.79

Total time: 7 hours

Total cost: $22.26

Nutmeg & Tum-Tum

This is the second item I accomplished from my recent plan of three (the summer pajamas are on hold unless I decide to use a solid or something else I can reliably order online, but these newly chilly nights have got me thinking long flannel thoughts anyway). So! Jumpsuit!

My first impression was not madly propitious – kind of a Low Security Pumpkin Spice situation – but I went to Professor Boyfriend and demanded compliments. He told me “It looks like you’re overseeing a dig site” and also to try a belt which were both the right things to say!

The pattern is the Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit, and while I’m happy with the finished look, I feel like I let the side down by buying it. I couldn’t find a finished size chart anywhere on the website, but after purchase I saw in the file that I’m the largest one. I’ve happily transitioned from being the largest size in a small envelope to the smallest size in a large envelope – lots of room to grow! – so butting up against a limit like that is both surprising and disappointing! Spending my money there was self-defeating and anti-social. I still wanted to sew this pattern, but I waffled on sharing it. I am sharing it, obviously, but I’m making the recommendation to wait to purchase this or another Workshop pattern until they improve their size range. Also, here’s the size chart!

I sewed a size 12 at the bust, grading to a 16 at the waist and hip.

Some good things about the pattern: the fit is comfortable and easy to move in. Getting into the jumpsuit is easier than getting out, but both are doable. Style-wise, I’ve been on the lookout for a shawl collar blouse pattern since seeing this one on Mr and Mrs Rat, and this is pretty much a shawl collar blouse with pants stuck on. So, value! Also, every pattern piece matched at the notches and seamlines, no trouble, except…

Neutral thing: I was EXTREMELY annoyed to discover the front leg fabric piece was about 2” shorter than the back leg. I pulled out the pattern pieces to walk the seamlines (I know, I should have done this before cutting my fabric) and discovered I hadn’t fully unfolded one piece of paper. If the legs on mine seem a little short, um, that’s why. My fault entirely. I compensated with a baby hem.

Finally, the bad thing: the directions. HOT DOG.

There’s no information about finishing seam allowances, stay-stitching, understitching, nothin’. If you’ve got some experience under your belt it won’t matter, but I got the impression that this was a teaching pattern used in their workshops, and it’s at least supposed to be beginner-friendly if not beginner-oriented. The PDF instructions are 12 pages long – 5 of those are essentially a cover with glamour shots (one of the 5 is blank), 4 are general (yardage requirements, lay plans), and only 3 cover the whole jumpsuit. There are 4 diagrams, that’s it, and they’re kind of godawful anyway.

I found the collar directions really hard to understand at a read-through. It was a little easier when I was actually sewing, but my finishing doesn’t feel secure or look neat (the directions tell you to fold under the seam allowances, then join the back and the collar/facing with one line of topstitching).

Next time I’ll try drafting a back facing and following these much more thorough directions.

I reshaped the collar slightly; it’s drafted with a little triangle bite taken out of it (I hesitate to say ‘notch’ because it’s not a notched collar), but even on the Workshop sample this looks pucker-y, so I changed it to a continuous curve. I applied it to the bodice and the facing.

I understitched towards the facing from the waist up to the breakpoint (where the collar rolls outward), and towards the bodice above it. The underlapped piece is behaving nicely, but the overlapped one is breaking lower than it should. I’d like to lower the breakpoint next time anyway, for a deeper V, and make the collar curve smoother/shallower as well. I accommodated the triangle this time in case I changed my mind about using it but next time I won’t bother!

Because of the misplaced roll, my fifth and top button is hidden under the shawl part of the collar.

Originally I wanted to find metal buttons, but I like these little wooden biscuit-y ones, too.

The wrinkles on my upper chest are intense. The bust darts (which appear in no photos, somehow) are definitely too high by an inch or two; maybe lowering them will help in the future.

Oh! Also I added pockets! I used this Threads technique which has directions only in the print edition, but it’s worth searching out. I like it because you can finish the seam allowances together, and then topstitch for added security.

I actually topstitched all the legs seams, just in case. The fabric is soft, light shot cotton – I ordered Harissa, but I’m pretty sure I received Nutmeg. Hard to get upset when I’ve been sewing the heck out of this copper/fox color lately anyway! It’s pajamas-soft and goes great with my plan to #dresslikeacrayon.

I might make another one. I don’t have a specific fabric in mind, but this was comfortable for lounging, hiking, and eating, and YES visiting the bathroom takes a little longer but what, am I in some big hurry? Nah. Plus I want another crack at that collar. And second time sewn, the pattern is free…so…rematch!!

Catch you later!

Pattern: Hello Workshop Alex jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $11.18

Size: 12 bust, 16 waist and hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton Harissa, $27.62, fabric.com; buttons, elastic, $3.68, Sewfisticated; thread, $2.39, Michael’s

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $44.87

Vacation Roberts

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Here’s something a bit different today – the background! Professor Boyfriend and I went on a semi-spontaneous 3-day trip to Mexico! We both have family (and in my case seasonal employment) in Europe, so whenever we’ve travelled together it’s been to visit various dads and sisters and things, or for work. It was a bit strange going somewhere just, like, ’cause, but once I got over the hump we booked a trip and a few weeks later we were on our way to Isla Holbox in the Yucatan (which I first learned about on Made by Meg, funnily enough – I’m a travel copycat!).

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I was excited to road test my new Roberts Collection jumpsuit months ahead of schedule. This jumpsuit almost wasn’t; my fabric order showed up a full meter short, but luckily it’s an ikat fabric with no wrong side and no obvious up-or-down so I was able to creatively cut a size 4 from 3 meters of 45” cotton. Before cutting, I shortened the bodice pattern pieces by 1”. This is easy on the front, but there’s a diagonal seam on the back, joining the bodice to the leg. I cut horizontally just below the ‘sleeve’ (it’s a little overcut kimono thing, so not really a sleeve, not really an armsyce), overlapped my pattern pieces by 1”, and redrew the diagonal from the center to the side seam. I then made sure the seamline matched that angle on the back leg piece.

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That diagonal back seam is the only one I flat-felled, before deciding the fabric was too soft and squashy and life was too short! Everything else is serged and top-stitched.

You might notice one of my shoes is darker than the other. It’s wet. I fell off one pier (and later, out of one hammock).

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I’d love to figure out a different way to finish the ‘sleeve’! I think even extending it slightly and hemming it before sewing the side seam would be better. This is a simple bias tape finish but it’s wrinkly and strange around the armpit. Or maybe a facing would be best? I’ve heard from some other sewists that they struggled with the Marilla Walker Roberts collection directions, but the sleeve is the only place they really fell down for me.

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I was never going to pattern-match with my shortage of fabric (I have just shreds left) so I cut the pocket facing on the cross-grain, and frankly I dig it! The pockets are a nice size, too.

I went to Gather Here for buttons and brought home snaps instead. Then I learned that different size snaps require different size snap setting tools. Oops. I thoroughly mangled one, returned the rest, and ordered snaps + tools (which Gather Here doesn’t stock, and I wanted to make sure they’d match) from GoldStarTool. They have a great selection, fast service, and they’re cheap cheap cheap. I recommend them for hardware! Though, the minimum order was 100 snaps. I needed 5. All is snaps now. Luckily I love installing them! Bam! Bam! SNAPS!

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The Roberts neckline facing was a great opportunity to try a new-to-me facing finish, which I discovered on Made by Rae. Since the facing has a concave corner it was the perfect tidy, low-bulk finish! I’ll definitely use it going forward, though you can see I didn’t quite roll my interfacing far enough to the wrong side everywhere.

I love this summer outfit! So easy and relaxed and breathable, with good sun coverage. I want to make another, possibly a solid one in linen? I mean, I always want another anything in linen. I exist in a permanent state of wanting linen.

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How’s that for comfort?!

Taking blog photos on a relaxing vacation was actually a blast! It was a chance to wander and explore for half an hour each beautiful evening, and we always concluded by watching the sunset from the beach. Holbox would be an Instagrammer’s paradise! So many murals, all the signs are hand-painted, plus vivid tropical plant life – we walked by a dozen amazing ‘backdrops’ for each one we photographed (partly because my boyfriend won’t take pictures if it means standing in front of someone’s house, or even on a bit of sidewalk that seems like it might belong to someone. He’s a very polite young man). My only regret is that I can’t compete with the super-saturated backgrounds we did find. 😉

This would have been a low-cost trip, by the way, except that all of our travel was impacted by winter weather (none of the flights we actually took were the flights we initially booked, and thanks to a connecting flight cancellation the whole trip was pushed back by a day, so we paid for shuttles/accommodations we couldn’t use. Also Air Canada is a fart in the sky and rebooking with them took 11 hours of grim effort). It was so luxurious to eat maracuyá gelato in 86°F weather with a fresh sea breeze, but I probably won’t choose to travel to or from the Northeast in February again. I already miss my summer clothes, though – it was nice to get a glimpse!

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Love from among the palms!

 

Pattern: Roberts Collection jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $8.50

Size: 4, shortened 1” above the waist

Supplies: 3 meters of dark green ikat cotton, $26.16, Etsy; $10.49, snaps, GoldStarTool (set of 100); thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $45.15

Icarus Flops

A few weeks ago I posted about my plan to sew the Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit in time for The Sewcialists‘ #sewmenswearforeveryone. I wasn’t sure what fabric exactly I wanted to sew it in (a drapey rayon? A structured denim?) but let’s flip to the last page of this mystery: I chose wrong.

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Look, this isn’t terrible. It’s a wearable garment with no major fit issues. It’s comfortable, surprisingly practical for winter (I’m basically fully dressed before the jumpsuit goes on! Fully dressed as a cat burglar but still =^owo^=), and I learned something while sewing it. It’s not a dead ringer for my inspiration, but again, not terrible.

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I was never going to be spare and distrait and dramatic, but my main mistake was in focusing on the color of the garment in this picture, rather than the fabric substrate. I bought an olive green gabardine with 3% Spandex; the color was spot-on and I thought the stretch would be an asset (you’re fitting a lot of zones with a jumpsuit), but while the rayon/poly blend has a nice weight and drape and doesn’t wrinkle, I miss the crunch of natural fiber.

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Honestly, I miss the wrinkles! For a piece drawn so literally from manual workwear, wrinkles showing its use pattern are, for me, part of the allure. I also prefer sewing and pressing natural fibers; I don’t have a ton of experience with polyester, but the boilersuit involves a lot of patch pockets and topstitching, and the springy-spongy texture was harder to keep straight and true. All this plus stretch!

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Okay, enough of fabric, on to pattern. I sewed this almost exactly as written and was happy with the fit; Ready-to-Sew includes half sizes, which is awesome. If you’re a pear like me don’t do what I did and use your waist measurement for the waist; it sits much closer to my hips. It’s fine, thanks to the straight silhouette, but barely.

The collar and collar stand pieces are asymmetrical (I think!) but I failed to notice this and cut them on the fold and nothing dire happened! My only deliberate change was to the front pants pocket.

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The pattern calls for this to be lined, but it’s all straight edges, so I figured I could fold and topstitch. I made one change to the pattern piece, below –

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Nothing to it really – I just grew on a little flap, hemmed it, and then folded and topstitched the remaining edges. The fabric requirements were accurate. The chunk I have left is a little larger than two of these patch pockets!

There’s some funny bunny stuff in the pattern. For example, the horizontal pleat is folded and topstitched from the right side, but it would be much easier to sew as a tuck (or even baste as a tuck and then topstitch).

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That wide pleat is also folded over itself when you create the right button band. It’s a bulky area. I would prefer facings there, especially if working in a heavier denim or canvas. The left button band has a facing already.

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Argh, the dirty details of my topstitching. I used snaps mainly because I recently wanted 5 snaps for a different project and the minimum order was 100. Everything is snaps now! I made a little hole when installing one, darn it, but hopefully some rice stitching there will keep fraying at bay. I also lined up the snaps with each other vertically instead of checking to make sure the actual seams lined up – double-check your laps (in both senses I guess!).

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In terms of style, I like the lowered waist, the valiant effort to straighten my cuddlesome figure vestigial darts notwithstanding, the leg shape, the horizontal pleat. I’d like wider sleeves, maybe a wider collar, faced button bands instead of a collar stand.

My cardinal sin was in not knowing myself!! I just want to wear plants and animals. I’ll hang on to this jumpsuit for a minute, but if I could snap my fingers and make it broadcloth or canvas, I would keep it for sure. This is your friendly neighborhood Obvious Reminder – construction is important, fabric choice equally so.

Critical reception of this jumpsuit ranged from (grownups) “That’s…a lot of suit”, a silent but much appreciated thumbs-up, to (children) “Amazing” and because of a game where I was meant to be captured by pirates “Perfect, you’re dressed like a servant already”.

Sadly this wasn’t my only sewing project that went a bit flumpo recently. I just sewed the Lazo Trousers by Thread Theory but no pictures because I can’t get inside them! Pure bush league eff-uppery, I sewed 10 waist 12 hip but could really use a 12 waist minimum to probably a 16 hip. I’m particularly disappointed in myself because the fabric was a gift from a friend – the ‘short end’ of lightweight wool, purchased in 1948 (!!) from a Pennsylvania mill by her great-grandmother, who worked there. I was so excited to be working with a fabric that passed from working woman to working woman over the decades, and to use this traditional menswear fabric to clad my lady legs. Even when it became clear the ship had sailed on these legs getting into those pants, I finished them; it didn’t seem to honor her work and the fabric’s journey just to toss them aside. The finished trousers are actually quite lovely if very small (though the directions for the zipper fly installation are fully bananas). I’ll pass them on at an upcoming clothing swap. Blame it on my juice!

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Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $11.50

Size: 41 waist, 46 hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of olive bengaline suiting (rayon/poly/spandex), $24.32, Joann; thread, $1.91, Michaels; snaps from stash

Total time: 12.25 hours

Total cost: $37.73

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Are you participating in Make 9? I never have in the past, but I’m dipping my toe in with a Seasonal 3. In all honesty it’s not even all that seasonal! It’s just the next three (new-to-me) patterns I hope to make! Keep reading for planning (and budget options for similar patterns)…

  1. Marilla Walker Roberts Collection, view A. £7.50/around $9.50 American (though possibly subject to change – good luck to you, pound).Marilla Walker Roberts Collection

This has been on my to-sew list for a while, but the most concentrated downtime I have is over winter break (academic schedules 4 LIFE, except I also teach in the summer), so this will be sewn and tucked away in a drawer until The Sweaty Season. I already have the fabric for this, a cotton ikat I purchased on Etsy. I bought the last of it,  but I’m sure there’s similar choices out there:

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Hoping to sew something similar? The Peppermint jumpsuit isn’t, at first glance, too much like the Roberts jumpsuit, but they both have dropped crotches and an easy fit through the waist. Plus the Peppermint pattern is free! You can see my Peppermint jumpsuit here.

  1. Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit. €10.20/around $11.60.

Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul

I’m a little psyched out of my mind about this one. I first saw this boilersuit on The German Edge. I haven’t decided whether I want a structured fabric like Edina’s, or a drapey fabric like the red one from this pattern’s inspiration roundup, below –

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But I’m settled on long sleeves, so this can be my winter jumpsuit. I’m hoping to find a fabric I love in the spruce/ivy/evergreen range. “Do you…need…two loose green jumpsuits?” my boyfriend delicately inquired, a question with only one answer (“YES”).  I’m also hoping to get this finished in time to participate in the Sewcialists menswear theme month!

Some free options – this Mood pattern offers a fitted seventies silhouette (but caveat emptor – I mean, it’s free, but your time/fabric isn’t and I have no idea if their patterns are any good). And for a near-perfect match, try the JUMPSUIT! The JUMPSUIT is part of an art project I definitely have some quibbles with (they never talk about the fabric supply chain! At all! Also, does it fit anybody? I think maybe not?) but that article is well worth reading, whether or not you sew the JUMPSUIT!

  1. Peppermint wide-leg pants. ZERO SMACKERS, BABY. These ARE the free option!

Peppermint In the Folds Wide Leg pants

I’m planning to use the directions from my Morgan jeans to install a button-fly. I have heard that it can poke you in the pooch when you sit down, though.

Potentially I’d like to make these in a 14-wale corduroy, maybe in one of these colors by Robert Kaufman.

I don’t reach for yellow clothes as often as I think I will but I just love the name of that third color – cider! And it would look pretty killer with exposed brass buttons! Mmm, ciiiider. Realistically either navy or ocean would be a better team player in my wardrobe, though. I love that petrol/smoky blue in the sample, too, and I wouldn’t mind finding something just like that!

You might notice that I’m planning to add a lot of blue and green to a closet that, let’s face it, has a quite a bit of blue and green already. I think that will be easy to do. The 2019 Pantone color of the year is Living Coral.

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And take a look at that first set of coordinates:

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Forest Biome? Beluga? Um, yes PLEASE. I can’t wait for these to reach the fabric world! I might not use coral itself but I am going to be a big piece of murky ol’ seaweed if I have my say, oh yes.

Do you sew out of season? DO YOU OBEY THE COLOR AUTHORITY? ALL MUST OBEY. Just kidding! But do brace for coral.

I made the Peppermint jumpsuit!

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And it was…okay. The pattern is free (!) and found here. I think the style is actually pretty impeccable (is that a self-brag since I made one?) but I didn’t really adore the process of sewing it, and my fitting is very so-so.

I genuinely love this fabric, a light, soft black-and-white ikat cotton that somehow just doesn’t wrinkle, but it was so soft that the 3/8ths   seam allowances shredded easily. Not much manhandling or unpicking allowed.

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I added pockets, but about 5” too low! They’re comfortable for my hands but visually they should probably be sitting on my high hip, not my thigh. However, I think the way the pockets gape indicates that my thighs needed the extra breathing room, so it might have been a lucky mistake. I cut the size that should have yielded me a couple inches of ease by measuring the pattern pieces, but it’s a close thing!

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When I first tried on the jumpsuit I was really disappointed. The back gaped inches away from my body and the front was worse. It was loose, without being either easy or breezy. I needed to lose some length from the straps – eventually I settled on a whopping 1 ¼ inches from the front strap and a relatively discreet ¾ inches from the back. Turning the jumpsuit right-sides-out through the burritoed shoulder straps was nearly my Waterloo the first time, so there was no way I was going back in. I just tucked the excess under and stitched it down by machine! Thank you, black fabric! As you can see there’s a sizable lump on my shoulder now but at least the back sits fairly flush.

A note on the burrito method: wonderful in practice, a bit crap in effect, at least this time. I just couldn’t get the narrow shoulder strap to give birth to the second half of the jumpsuit. Eventually I opened part of the armscye seam to release the pressure and was able to turn the garment! I topstitched that opening shut, which was technically visible though hard to see, and eventually irrelevant because of the further shortening of the straps. Not my most notable success with a sewing technique.

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Shortening the straps had a knock-on effect, obviously. The bust darts now ended too high, and the high bust area, as you can see clearly above, is simultaneously too tight and too long. I am stymied. STYMIED. No idea what to do about that.

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Also, the zip now ended higher up on my back. I can get out of this on my own, but not into it, making this jumpsuit strictly a weekend garment! My coworkers are swell but there’s no one I have a zip-me-up-I-just-peed relationship with. I also added a button and loop at the top, since my zipper installation was too low and not right (sensing a theme?). I used this trick from Self Assembly Required for the loop!

Absolutely no issue with the body length though, even after my changes! So that was nice!

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I cut everything on the fold rather than my usual habit of cutting as stingily as possible on a single layer. My bum appears to be having a conversation with Woodstock from Peanuts. IT’S FINE.

I wouldn’t make this again without some serious tweaks, but it could be a good way to grow my understanding. Fitting above the bust is a big ol’ mystery to me. Once I read some books I could maybe sew this again as a practical test of new knowledge. Later. Much, much later.

Dang it, I still like this garment, though.

Thanks for finishing this saga! Any tips on fitting the high bust area? Which fitting zones give you grief?

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BYE!

Pattern: Peppermint Magazine free jumpsuit pattern

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: between D and E

Supplies: 4 yards of black and white ikat cotton, Etsy, $23.40; zipper, Gather Here, $3.00; thread from stash; hair elastics, CVS, $3.71 (and I’ve got a ton left over for the same use in the future)

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $30.11