I rarely fail to finish a sewing project. They aren’t all successes by any means but I aim to get them to a state where I can photograph them. This time, not so much.
I was trying to reproduce the Saint Laurent jumpsuit below.
Burda 130-04-2009 seemed like a good starting point: it had the notched collar, close fit, and two piece sleeves. I make a lot of Burda patterns and I’d made a pair of jeans from this very issue which I wear almost once a week, so I was confident about the fit.
I traced the pattern off, armed myself with every photo I could find of the original Saint Laurent garment online and made a list of things to change.
Add the crossover front
Change side seam pockets to slash pockets
Add fake pocket flaps at waist
Add back welt pockets
Tweak the shoulder line to accommodate shoulder pad
Move the darts to line up between bodice and trousers
Not that I like jumpsuits a lot, but this is the fourth one I’ve made in the last 12 months. It’s another Closet Core Blanca. As always I made view A because it has long arms and sleeves and I am permanently cold. This time I used the patch pockets from view B on the chest instead of the zip pockets, but it’s not much of a variation. All the difference is in the colour and the topstitching. But if anyone wants to compare: black version, grey version, blue version.
This was a project inspired by the fabric: dark ochre stretch denim from Empress Mills. It’s bolder than I’d normally go for and I added contrast topstitching too. I didn’t have any black topstitching thread handy so it is all done in Gutermann Extra Strong, which is a weight between their Sew All and their Topstitch ranges. It makes a good bold line and comes in much bigger spools than the specialist topstitch thread; highly recommended. I used regular Sew All in yellow for the rest. I kept the yellow thread in the bobbin for topstitching to save time swapping out thread, but I do wish I’d switched to black in the bobbin when I sewed the zip in, as the yellow bobbin thread shows up on the black zip tape. It’s one of those things that doesn’t show from the front, but if I look down I can see the yellow stitching on the back of the tape and it bugs me. But not enough to rip out that zip and do it again. The stretch denim is a nightmare to put a zip into.
I used contrast hardware: a black zip with black plastic teeth, black buttons for the leg tabs, and a black belt buckle. The belt buckle isn’t a very satisfactory choice. The design means it needs to be under a bit of tension to stay closed, so my belt had to be made tighter than I’d like. The buckle is probably intended for elastic belts.
I shaved a tiny bit of height off the top of the trousers at centre back, and a little width off the back waistband, because I always seem to get a bit of bagginess there on this style. It’s helped somewhat. That big wrinkle in the picture is just the bottom of my t shirt. I couldn’t reduce the length much further, I’d never get in and out of it.
Despite yellow fabric and contrast stitching and hardware this has come out more muted than I expected. Hopefully that bodes well for getting lots of wear out of it. And I had a small fear it might come out like Kill Bill cosplay, which it hasn’t, so that’s a bonus.
I added the patch before I realised why the design seemed familiar; it’s the Versace logo. Oops. I ironed it on very thoroughly before stitching it down so I can’t easily remove it now. No one has commented in real life yet; I’m hoping the fact you need to be really quite close to notice the detail means this will continue. Same goes for my dreadful bar tacks on the pockets…everyone who said no one other than a very critical sewist would notice was right. I hardly see them myself now.
This jumpsuit means I’ve finally scratched my Blanca itch – four versions should keep me clothed for work for quite a while and I’m now keen to move onto more frivolous projects.
Last year I made two more Closet Core Blanca jumpsuits to take my total to three. And now I’m working on number four. This one is in dark yellow stretch denim. The colour alone makes it a lot more in-your-face than my previous black, grey and blue affairs, so I doubled down on that with contrast top-stitching. This needs to be really accurate to look good and at first it was going fairly well: the back has come out nicely.
The pattern mentions sewing bartacks to hold the front hip pockets in place ‘if your machine will cooperate’. I didn’t bother on my previous versions, but on this one I needed to hide a top-stitching wobble on one pocket so gave it a go. My machine did not, in fact, cooperate. They’re very uneven – weirdly the width is inconsistent which I don’t understand at all – and you should see the mess on the back. I’m relying on the fact that most people don’t look closely, as unpicking it now will probably not improve the effect.
And I also added a patch to one of the breast pockets. This Medusa is a decent colour match and seemed highly appropriate for me; anyone who’s been following this blog for a while knows I have a bad case of resting bitch face. I realised after I’d ironed it on and sewed it down that the vaguely familiar design is actually a copy of the Versace logo. Not what I intended at all. Too late now.
I’m quite pleased with the buckle I found for the belt though. I wanted metal and matt black, which was surprisingly difficult to track down.
I’ve come too far with this not to finish it now, but I do wonder whether the final effect will be tragedy or triumph. Watch this space.
I’m still reaching for a jumpsuit when getting dressed more often than not. I’ve currently got two Closet Core Blancas on the go, one in black denim and one in grey denim, and a drapey Burda one in grey tencel . There’s no denying the Blanca is the more practical of the two designs and it’s the one I wear the most so it was time to make a third version. This time I went for a bright blue stretch denim from Fabric Godmother.
Here’s the line art. I made view A but skipped the leg tabs and lengthened the legs considerably, intending to make turnups. Then when I got to the end I couldn’t be bothered and just hemmed the legs and rolled them up. This turned out to be a good decision because I find it needs different hem lengths depending on whether I’m wearing it with boots or trainers and I can just adjust how much I roll the legs. Laziness for the win.
I made the size the pattern recommended for my measurements. It’s a close fitting design and for nonstretch denim I would definitely size up. I added length for fit to the bodice, legs and sleeves as is usual for me on almost any pattern, plus the extra to the legs for the turnups that didn’t materialise.
The bodice back is meant to be blousy, but I always also get a big wrinkle just below the back waistband with this pattern, and the waistband is a little loose. The design doesn’t have back darts or a yoke on the trousers to take up the excess fabric. I added elastic to the waistband on my grey version which pulls it in nicely but changes the wrinkles to gathers which I’m not fond of either. Maybe next time I’ll try adding a yoke?
I was surprised how difficult this fabric was to sew with. It’s 98% cotton 2% elastane so I was expecting something fairly stable but in fact it’s very stretchy indeed. I sewed the centre front zip in three times and ripped it out again because the fabric stretched and my zip went all wobbly. Eventually I resorting to adding extra interfacing along the front opening. The pattern says to add a strip wide enough to cover the seam allowances but I needed to double that so that the interfacing extended over the top stitching lines on the bodice front. Anyway it did the trick. And the stretch is nice to wear. No danger of ripping a seam when you reach for something.
I’m glad I picked top stitching thread close to the fabric colour; there are lots of places where I had to unpick and redo bits. This one is the Gutermann Extra Strong thread: not quite as heavy as normal top stitching thread but still makes a nice line.
I couldn’t get zips to match the blue. These are navy. They also had to have silver teeth to match the buckle which reduced the choice even further. I ended up with very chunky ones which were a bit much for the breast pocket pattern pieces. There’s some extra hand sewing holding those pockets together.
This has become a firm favourite already. Thanks to my husband for the photos.
My last post was about a grey jumpsuit. So obviously the next thing I made was another grey jumpsuit. This one is Burda 130 09/2011, a drapey style with a crossover front. Burda’s version below looks quite fancy but mine turned out to be surprisingly practical. I wore it a lot just after having a baby, and it shrugged off all the food stains and was comfortable for sitting on the floor and provided deep pockets to stash all the things I didn’t have enough hands to hold, while still managing to look presentable.
My original version fell to bits some years ago, tencel twill not being the most hardwearing fabric. And having recently realised that the thing I wear the most these days is my black Closet Core Blanca jumpsuit, I decided to remake this pattern and compare. I had a length of suitable fabric in my stash from an abandoned project (Merchant and Mills‘ tencel twill in the colour ‘pluto’, sadly no longer available) and I’d kept the pattern tracing, so it was meant to be. I dived straight in and cut out the pattern I’d traced in 2014. I didn’t recall anything particularly difficult about sewing the first version, or any fit problems with the result.
Well this was the most annoying thing I’ve sewn in a while. The fabric was very unstable and I obviously wasn’t careful enough to true it when cutting out the bodice fronts, because the pleats have ended up in slightly the wrong place. They are meant to line up with the topstitching line holding the yoke facing in place, and they don’t. I’ve also got a bit of gapping just under the front yoke seam because the interfacing I added to the self facings was too heavy. The side zip went in perfectly…and then I realised I’d lined it up with the wrong notch and had to rip it out. The second insertion was not nearly as good. The shoulder pleats collide with the shoulder seam allowance in an annoying way. I struggled to turn under the edge of the back neck facing neatly so it’s all jaggy on the inside instead of being a smooth curve.
But this is not all; the fit’s not great either. This wasn’t supposed to be a Tall pattern, but I wonder if it was labelled incorrectly. The bodice is much too long – look at that pleat forming on the back in the photo below – and the crossover won’t stay put. I resorted to adding a small snap. But that’s nothing to the arms and legs. I carefully made the prescribed turnups on the legs, and then had to roll the legs up about 10cm to wear the thing, so I really needn’t have bothered. The arms are a similarly excessive length and so those are turned up up in the photos too. I noticed those in time and hemmed them with the hem allowance turned to the outside so it’s hidden when the sleeves are turned up. I notice I rolled up the arms and legs in my previous version…and the bodice on that just gaped wide open. I always wore a t shirt under it.
Interestingly now I look carefully at Burda’s model in the photo above she is showing a suspicious amount of forearm, so I think her sleeves are rolled up too. There’s a second version of the pattern shown in the magazine and there the sleeves are clearly extra long even though the model has lifted her shoulders.
It’s not the end of the world. I’ll certainly wear this, although always with a tank top underneath. And it does have good pockets. If I ever make this again I’d shorten arms, legs and bodice, and forget about turning the facing edges under. Overlocking’s good enough as an edge finish. I’d probably skip interfacing the self-facings, not that the pattern called for it in the first place. I’d keep the interfacing I added to the zip and pocket openings though.
So after all that, how does it compare to the Blanca? It’s fussier to wear, but the pockets are roomier and it’s a lot more comfortable on a hot day. With my usual brilliant timing I completed it just as the summer is ending, so I’ve got maybe three more weeks before I have to start layering something warm underneath it. I’ll report back.
Quite a lot has happened here since I last posted. I had Covid, fortunately a mild dose, I’ve been on holiday, and the normally cool and wet UK is having a record-breaking heatwave. While it’s been a couple of weeks since the peak it’s still very hot indeed where I live.
I finished my 80s wardrobe but wearing any of the pieces is unbearable, even just for photos. So they’re sitting in the wardrobe and I moved on to making a (checks notes) denim jumpsuit. Maybe not the ideal choice. But I’ve been doing a bit of wardrobe tracking and the garment I wear the most in normal times is my Closet Core Blanca flight suit. It’s comfortable, practical, and I think it reads as quite put together, at least when I put on lipstick. And it was great for wearing on holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland, where it was a lot cooler than England.
Here’s the line drawing. As before I made view A, with the long sleeves and legs and the zip pockets. This time I went up a size from the recommended one as I used a less stretchy fabric than before and wanted a more casual fit. I always have to lengthen bodice, arms, and legs on patterns by 5cm, and for this version I added an extra 2cm to the legs and 1cm to the bodice on top of that.
The Blanca has some thoughtful features that help in getting the desired fit without necessarily making a toile or doing a lot of unpicking. I found the back was a bit baggy at the waist this time around, but the hips felt too tight due to the lack of stretch in my fabric. The side seams are sewn last and the back waistband is constructed in such a way that it’s easy to run elastic through it to pull it in. I unpicked the side seams, added the waistband elastic, and resewed taking a smaller seam allowance below the waist.
I added a patch on the arm. Why a TV test card? I like the colours with the grey denim, and the technical vibe of the design.
The extra 1cm in the bodice turned out not to be needed and isn’t easy to remove once the garment is in a state to be tried on, so I left it, but I’m glad I added to the legs.
The fabric is a denim from Fabric Godmother. I originally wanted a stretchy denim and sent off for a few samples from that category, of which this fabric was one. Compared to the other samples I got it barely stretches at all, and I notice it’s described as a cotton and spandex mix but no percentage for the spandex is given. I liked the colour and weight so much I bought it anyway. I also happened to have regular, overlocker, and top-stitching thread to match the grey, which was handy.
For comparison here’s my black version of this pattern, in much stretchier fabric and one size smaller.
Now I’m impatiently waiting for the temperature to go down so I can wear both of them some more. I’m not done with the pattern yet either…I have some more stretch denim lined up for it. Thanks to my husband for the photos.
I posted about this jumpsuit last week but now I have photos of it on me, thanks to my husband, and it’s always easier to talk about fit when there are pictures to look at. This is Closet Core Patterns’ Blanca Flight Suit. I normally stick to Burda and Vogue patterns, with occasional diversions to Style Arc, but I had a clear idea of the sort of jumpsuit I wanted to make and even with ten years of Burda back issues I couldn’t find one with all the right details. Blanca had everything I was looking for, so I decided to risk an unfamiliar block and sizing system, and sprung for the paper pattern. Here’s the line art:
It comes with several options to change the look up a bit, although nothing radical: short or long sleeves, two belt versions, two breast pocket versions, optional tabs for tapering the leg and optional press studs for tapering the arm. I added the optional tabs and press studs on mine and did the breast pockets with zips, the buckle belt, and the long sleeve. A jumpsuit is a big project so I wanted to be able to wear it a few different ways. Below is with wide sleeves and trouser legs.
I think one of the cleverest features about this is the back. There are top stitched pleats to give a little interest and extra reaching room. And it does need it: this is designed to be fairly snug, especially on the hips. (Excuse the keys in the pockets in the picture below).
Now obviously it would have been sensible to make a toile before diving into a big project with a pattern company I’d not tried before, especially as they have their own sizing system. But my sewing time is limited, so instead I carefully consulted the very detailed table of finished garment measurements provided to choose a size and decide on adjustments.
I ended up making the sizes my body measurements put me in (sizes plural because I am more pear shaped than the Closet Core block) but that was because my fabric is slightly stretchy; it’s Empress Mills’ 7.5oz premium denim. I added 5cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and 6cm to the leg. The body length has come out fine overall but the waistband is lower than I expected; definitely below my natural waist. And I wouldn’t want the legs any shorter.
I was slightly surprised by quite how close fitting it turned out. I knew there wasn’t any ease at the hip, but from reviews I’d read I’d expected the bodice to be more blousey. It’s not a bad thing, but I’m still debating if I can safely wear it to work. And if I made this again in a nonstretch fabric I’d size up one. As it is, it requires a slight wriggle to get on but once there it’s comfortable.
Here it is with tapered arms and legs. I wasn’t expecting to like this look as much as the wider option but in fact I think it works.
Despite the sizing surprise I’m very happy with the way it’s come out. I even found myself browsing the Empress Mills denim section to see if any of the other colours the fabric comes in caught my eye for a second version. But as I’m still slogging my way through my wardrobe sewing plan, that’s going to have to wait a while.
This is the Blanca flight suit from Closet Core Patterns. It wasn’t on my original wardrobe sewing plan, but it fits in well with the other pieces. And I wanted a project that would make use of one of my birthday presents: a hand press. This gadget makes installing press studs (or rivets, or grommets) absolutely painless. Each type of hardware needs a different set of dies which screw into the press, but once they’re on, installing hardware takes seconds and requires very little strength. No more loud hammering noises, and it sets the studs perfectly straight every time. The only problem is that it’s so simple it’s all too easy to get overconfident and install a press stud on the wrong side of the garment. Luckily there were no disasters on this project.
Blanca has press studs on the sleeves which can be used to turn the wide sleeve into a tapered one.
And tabs on the ankles which can be used to taper the leg. The pattern calls for buttonholes and buttons here but I wanted to keep things consistent, so more press studs.
It’s a very well thought out pattern with a lot of options. I went for all the bling with the zipped breast pockets and the buckle belt.
I struggled a bit with the zips on the pockets and my topstitching is distinctly wobbly. I probably would have done better with lighter weight zips. But these were a good match for the teeth on the centre front zip.
It took me a lot of searching to find the buckle. Once I figured out the right search term (surcingle, if like me you didn’t know) they’re plentiful on eBay. They seem to mainly be used for horse blankets of all things.
I was complaining about my inability to sew good belt loops the other week. These ones aren’t bad. I made them as flat as I could with the folding in three method, and kept the turn under short. I didn’t hammer them but pressed them as hard as I could before sewing them on. Still not perfect, but better than the last lot.
There’s just one thing I’d like to change about the pattern, but I’m not sure how. The underlap for the front zip has an overlocked edge that’s visible when the collar is open. That edge needs to be pretty flat so replacing it with another seam wouldn’t be great. Perhaps bias binding on the edge?
This jumpsuit was inspired, although in the loosest possible sense, by a visit to the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A earlier this year. One of the models on display was a beautiful black evening jumpsuit with an asymmetric draped lapel detail. While I couldn’t come anywhere near reproducing the inspiration, seeing it did remind me that I’d put a slightly formal jumpsuit pattern on my to-sew list a while ago and that I had some black crepe in the stash.
So this is Burda 2014-04-111 made up in black poly crepe. In recent years Burda has taken to labelling certain pattern in the magazine as ‘masterpieces’ and this is one of them. It’s not clear whether ‘masterpiece’ is meant to mean it’s difficult to sew or takes a lot of time or both. This one certainly took forever to make, but I couldn’t describe it as my best ever sewing. On the other hand it’s my first attempt at a notched collar and it came out reasonably symmetrical, so I’m delighted with that. And I made it using only Burda’s instructions. They seem to make more sense these days, or perhaps I’ve finally tuned my brain in to the less than idiomatic translation from German. It always amuses me that they say things like ‘stitch again close to seam’ instead of simply ‘understitch’.
It’s come out a bit baggier than I expected. It’s meant to be a loose-fitting style but the version on Burda’s model looks a bit sleeker than mine. Once again I think I’ve made the legs too long which contributes to the effect. I think I took most of the length I added in the legs off again before hemming, so I can safely say this one runs long. But I hate trousers that are too short; one of the reasons I started sewing my own clothes was in order to have things where the legs and sleeves are long enough. At least there’s no danger of revealing my woolly socks. Here’s me with Mrs Burda below for comparison.
Her jumpsuit is a lot better pressed than mine. I had been wearing mine all day when the photos were were taken and I don’t think this crepe holds a crease all that well. I doubt I’ll bother pressing the creases back into the back legs after I wash it. They certainly don’t seem to have survived for the photos.
The pattern comes with two views, one of which doesn’t have the creases pressed in, so I may claim my version is View B whereas Mrs Burda is definitely wearing View A. The other differences between the views are that A has a modesty panel and closes with snaps instead of buttons. I skipped the modesty panel as it’s easier and safer to wear a tank top under this. I did use snaps though.
I’m not entirely sure what shoes go with this. It’s an evening style, but realistically the place I’m going to wear it is to work on days when I want to look a little smart. This means reasonably comfortable footwear is required. The wedges I’m wearing here are about the limit of what I can manage at work. If anyone has any better ideas than the wedges I’d like to hear them!
Mine is considerably less glamorous. I suppose I could have styled it with heels, but that wasn’t really practical for taking photos by the lake. And it does feel more like a garment that should be paired with a headscarf, or possibly goggles and a biplane. I’ll spare you the pictures of me trying and failing to do the classic Rosie the Riveter pose though.
This is made from a very silky cupro twill from Maculloch and Wallis. It looks like sandwashed silk. At the time of writing it’s available here in a few different colours. It feels beautiful, but it’s an odd fabric to sew with. It marks if you so much as look at it. I started out being very careful and pressing it only on the wrong side, and rapidly gave up on that because the iron marked it no matter what I did. But the funny thing is that all the marks vanished after a day or two. I’d just about resigned myself to them and now I can’t see them at all.
I used a blue tip size 70 needle to sew it, and even changed the overlocker needles to size 70 to match. I also used a lot of lightweight interfacing. The pattern has you interface the waistband and the seam allowances around the side zip, but I also interfaced the self facings and the pocket edges. That helped with getting nice sharp edges and I think it made the very wide top stitching around the facings easier to do.
This is a regular-sized pattern. It runs fairly true to size. I made my normal length adjustments but that was all. By the way, when cutting this one out watch out for the hem allowances! Burda magazine patterns normally have neither seam nor hem allowances included. This one has the hem allowances included but no seam allowances. It sounds insane, but makes a certain amount of sense given that you’re supposed to make turn ups of a particular size at the wrists and ankles. I didn’t bother and just rolled them up. Once I’ve figured out how long I want the legs and arms to be I may sew them in place, but they seem to behave OK as they are.
The back bodice pleat is a nice design feature, but is entirely non-functional as it’s stitched shut along the whole length. I could do with a little extra room in the back so I might unpick that.
The sleeves are interesting. The shoulder is very extended and has a small pleat at the top which gives it an unusual shape. There isn’t a lot of sleeve cap but you do still have to set them in.
This was definitely a pattern where I needed to follow the instructions carefully. There were a couple of steps where they seemed to make very little sense, but if you do exactly what Burda says it does all work out in the end. The construction of the pleats and front facings is particularly pleasing because you end up with a very clean finish inside and the facings all firmly top stitched in place.
For a garment that claims to have a relaxed fit, it’s not an entirely fuss-free wear. I find myself adjusting the bodice quite a bit. I haven’t actually worn this out of the house yet other than for these photos. But it’s going to the pub tonight and I might try it at work next week. At some point I will definitely report back on the wearability of all these Burda patterns.