Thursday, 30 November 2017

McCall's 7135 Jumpsuit - for a murder mystery weekend

This post is about a jumpsuit I made from pattern McCall's 7135, a Khaliah Ali pattern for jumpsuit, maxi dress and jacket. I haven't seen it made up and didn't look at any reviews (though I have now!!). To add insult to injury, I altered and cut directly on the pattern and didn't make a toile. Those who read my posts will know that I *always* make at least one, usually several, toiles so what's going on?
Now, looking at the photo in comparison to the line drawing I can see issues!!

I made view C - but note the wide legs which don't seem to be there on model

Before the start of the event, two of out=r members hadn't yet arrived and Helen's husband was taking the photo.
David in the jeans I made for him

The answer was shortage of time and the reason I made this garment - fancy dress for a murder mystery weekend. The theme for this particular evening (there are two evenings, so two costumes each for David and me) is colourful. I originally thought of dressing as Zandra Rhodes complete with bubblegum pink hair (as a wig - my hair being grey, picks up and holds colour for ever and looks truly awful so I wasn't ever thinking of dyeing it) but then realised that wasn't necessary - just something colourful. I hoped this print would be colourful enough plus I originally intended to make a cardigan type colourful jacket (but didn't get around to making it!).

Our family group at the meal table - daughter Helen, back centre, in laws and ourselves

The fabric is stretch - both lengthwise and crosswise  - 2 way stretch (sometimes listed as 4 way stretch) as specified by the pattern - which I hoped would minimise any fitting issues. The fabric, lightweight jersey recommended, was required to stretch, folded both crosswise and lengthwise by 60%! This meant that some of the fabric I had bought was excluded as it was only 2 way stretch or not stretchy enough. Pity. In addition, I didn't see that I would wear this again so in effect treated it as a toile for a future garment that I might wear (much more sober!)

I decided to ignore the issue of the possible need for an FBA. I chose my pattern size based on my full bust measurement. This is a plus sized W pattern and I couldn't see what bust cup was assumed - it could well be C rather than B. I'm D/DD bra size but my upper bust/bust size difference is only 2”. My back length matches pretty closely to the pattern size. I'm tall but most of my length is in my lower rather than upper torso.
At the murder mystery weekend, meal table

I have never yet achieved a decent trouser fit but these are wide legged pants. I often have to deepen the crotch and lengthen the back crotch length. I decided to go for the biggest size in the pattern and later take in what I didn't need and I also added crotch depth. The bodice and pant sections were separate so it was easy to deal with width issues. The pant legs were too short so I lengthened them too.

I laid aside for several weeks before cutting out. Don’t ask! I found the fabric very difficult to cut out - it wanted to move all over the place. It took me ages. I drew out a whole back bodice piece to make placement easier and cut the other pieces singly. Pattern matching was tough and used up a LOT of fabric.  I gave up when I accidentally cut 3 front pieces for the legs! Pathetic excuse  - I was tired. At sewing class, Lyn helped me lay out, pattern match and cut the two back leg pieces. She made it seem easy! Unfortunately, this error (3 front leg pieces) combined with a very large pattern repeat meant that I didn’t have enough of the fabric to make a matching jacket. To be honest it probably would have been ‘too much’.

I went ahead and started to make up the top. The first thing I found was that the pattern match between back and front was less than perfect - after all that effort too! Lyn and the others in class assured me that it wasn’t noticeable so I gritted my teeth and carried on.

The instructions are for a double stitched hem on a standard sewing machine, which I did around the crossover. I found that my sewing machine didn’t like sewing this fabric, although I managed. Before that, I found something strange - I picked up, in a rush, a box labelled stretch needles from my needle stash but found that of  the 5 needles, none of them were actually the right thing! I had 2 of one type and 3 of an other - I’m not sure what - the 3 were plain black needles. I can't remember doing something so stupid. My eyes will find it impossible to read what they might say on them. I did have some ballpoint needles so used one of those until I got a proper stretch needle. I’m really not sure what the difference between stretch and ballpoint is (please tell me!). Anyway, I went ahead and turned over and tacked the required narrow double hem. I did try it on at that stage and it seemed fine.
Taken at home not at event, just to show jumpsiuit

My big home machine had been playing up very badly and a replacement part hadn’t solved the problem so earlier I took it to the dealer and they were going to send off this time to Bernina. However, in the end they found that the problem was the door of my bobbin compartment! It was slightly misaligned and this meant that all those electronic sensors were unable to do their job properly. They tested extensively and say the machine is fine now. I haven’t tried it yet.  At the dealer, I picked up a packet of stretch needles and some thread of the colour I wanted for my topstitching and for the narrow hem. I had asked in class and the unanimous verdict was green.

I was away for the weekend before the murder mystery weekend sewing with some friends in Yorkshire (Sue, Kate and Chris) and I worked on but didn't quite finish off the jumpsuit.

Sue strongly advised me to add stabilisation to the shoulder seam, not mentioned in the pattern, which I did. I then topstitched the narrow hem border in green. I wasn't clear from the instructions exactly how I was supposed to attach the sleeve borders - a number of ways were possible and it seemed that doubling the fabric made the finish unnecessarily bulky. I put it off that weekend and considered doing the short sleeves from one of the other views instead (I even had them cut out) or separating the layers and doing as a proper binding. Eventually, however, I simply stitched on the double band, folded back and top stitched - not how I would choose to do it but I was in a hurry. This was not the most satisfactory piece of the jumpsuit as the fabric distorted quite a bit, but it was acceptable after steaming and gentle pressing.

I sewed up the trouser portion and it was huge. I took in an additional ⅝" at each side and some from the inseam. I attached the trousers to the bodice. There was no mirror in the village hall so I didn't see what I looked like until much later! The front crossover was MUCH too gapey falling open in an indecent manner and I had to unpick and remove 3” of length on each side of the crossover portions, even taking into account the blouson effect. I was originally going to try to do the elastic as specified in the pattern.
As you can see, the legs are not palazzo-like, but rather taper a bit
(that's not due to me sizing down as I followed the lines for the smaller size)

Well plans change! I unpicked the front of the jumpsuit top from bottom and separated the crossover pieces of the bodice. Kate and Sue helped me by pinning where the pieces needed to go to tighten the crossover - this was both shorter and further out - that is, I had to pull each side further across to the other side as well as down. I tried to even between the sides and trimmed off the excess from the bodice. I then re-basted the crossover and after basting the whole thing together to see if it fitted and getting the okay, I sewed together.

The seam allowance didn't look very neat and I thought Sue’s preferred method of attaching the elastic was now my preferred method!  (the way suggested - the seam between top and bottom is made at ⅞ “ allowing the elastic to be inserted after the seam allowances are folded over and stitched.) Sue actually did this for me as I got the first bit wrong when attaching the elastic in a circle. She then attached the elastic to the trouser seam allowance using a zig zag stitch and it was done so quickly compared to the time I'd have taken.
With headband but still at home and still no makeup or accessories

The overlap was still a bit baggy and Sue stitched through the two layers, stitching the gap closed. Thanks to her the jumpsuit, which was nearly in the bin a few times, was rescued. This fabric was horrible to sew with. Sue asked me if it was 99p a metre from the market. No - I paid rather more than that!

I was getting tired by this time and made a mistake in making the belt which ended up half the length as I only used one piece not two so I had to cut another piece at home and redo.

The only essential thing to complete by that stage was the stitching of the trouser hems. I still didn't know what I looked like in it!

I had to unpick the top stitching of the joined together crossover to separate as in trying to get in and out of the jumpsuit, I broke the stitching on the band - not quite enough space. I added a poppet and refined the top stitching. This element wasn't quite satisfactory.

I changed the footwear I was going to wear and had to get repinned for length (longer). There was nothing to spare and I think I need to lengthen the legs more in a future version. The reviews I have read since making it all suggest the need for longer legs, even for short women. I added 5" which is not enough, though with lengthwise stretch, the legs are likely to grow in length!!

I made a headband. Chose some accessories. And was all ready for the weekend!!

  • My jumpsuit was successful in that my son in law loved it and says I should adopt it as a style for me.
  • I wore it with a silky cardigan that was a pretty good match for one of the colours. I managed to go to the loo!
  • I felt very comfortable in it.

Less good
  • I'm not happy with how the crossover lies. I tried to pin but that didn't work out. A flower didn't work out. The poppet I guess was in slightly the wrong place. Still it didn't really cause me much grief. 
  • I had bought some cheap earrings to go with the outfit but they didn't work as I couldn't get them on!
  • The headband didn't work as I thought it would.
  • Rory suggested the trouser legs should be wider rather than tapered - more like Palazzo pants. I see where she's coming from and agree that the pattern doesn't match the line drawing and the model is clearly not wearing a palazzo style pant


I was happy with my outfit and glad I'd made the effort - and I might not immediately discard the jumpsuit! I'd consider making another but I still don't see why I need lengthwise stretch. Well on second thoughts, I think the top should have been cut on the bias but that threw the pattern off (and the drawing clearly does not show that!) and why is bias necessary with 2/4 way stretch? There is a huge tendency for this just to stretch lengthwise. Not good. One way crosswise stretch would be more manageable and I think perfectly acceptable. I'd make a few tweaks but mainly just fit issues around the crossover. So next time with a 1 way/2 way stretch. I checked with another McCall's jumpsuit pattern - McCall's 7099 which is not dissimilar. It requires stretch across the way only and it requires less stretch.

Poor photo - comparison of stretch required for 7135 (crosswise and lengthwise) v 7099 (less and crosswise only)

So - success

It worked well for the murder mystery weekend. I wore it at times with a RTW waterfall cardigan.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A Murder Mystery Weekend

A Murder Mystery Weekend

This past weekend Friday to Sunday, David and I attended a marvellous Joy Swift  murder mystery weekend in Surrey. We had never been to one before but were invited along by Helen’s father in law, Peter, who is an old hand. The timing was just before both Peter’s and Helen’s birthdays. So it was an extended family event - Helen and her husband, his brother and girlfriend, his parents and us.

The background story was that we were members of a travelling fair and there were two costumed/themed events. Night one had a ‘colourful’ theme and night two was the letter ‘F’ I decided early on to make costumes - Helen, who had also been to one of these weekends previously, told me the idea wasn’t to hire or buy a costume. I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked but I started to make costumes.

My photos from the weekend are poor so I've tried to post some from this morning. Taken hurriedly. we both have colds and aren't feeling great - a lazy day.


David quickly decided he wanted to go as William of Baskerville from Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) a sleuthing Franciscan monk. He stuck to this plan and we bought brown boiled wool, which can be reused later. He made his own robe, hood and bag without any help from me, using his own sewing machine, never previously used by him - a vintage Singer bought to use for leather work. He researched the rope for the waist and ended up using undyed rope - originally we thought it would need to be stained with tea or coffee. He finally made up his robe on the very last weekend before we went, while I was at a sewing weekend in Yorkshire. I think he did so well

David even made his own pouch/bag

Originally I considered going as Sister Fidelma, a sleuthing nun, but quickly gave that one up when I realised that she had left the sisterhood and now dressed in royal clothes - too elaborate.
I also considered Miss Fisher as she has some fabulous clothes but decided her figure is more suited to them than mine.

Eventually I decided on a Flower Child - or in this case a Silver Flower Woman! I’ve posted separately about my outfit. Regrettably, this wasn’t so successful as people didn’t immediately recognise what I was supposed to be. However, I do feel I can use this dress again. I’ve posted separately about the dress, a Paisley pattern on black. I wore it with a headband, flower, pink sandals and some bangles.
Taken at home this morning - lacking the accessories

Some of the other outfits were fabulous. A group of Flappers. A female Flasher. A fishtank. Helen’s brother in law went as Fruit, dressed as a banana. His girlfriend was Flash, Peter was a Fly Half , Anthony a Fencer and his mother a fairy.


I suggested yellow jeans for David (already posted) and we ended up buying a kaleidoscope top. He wore these with a yellow hat and blue trainers, plus sunglasses. Alison thought the photos looked like Timmy Mallet!

Originally, I was going to go as Zandra Rhodes but then realised I just needed to be colourful.

I decided I wanted to buy colourful fabric and make a jump suit. I’ve posted details separately. I had a few fabrics to choose from but this was the most suitable for the pattern I used, though a pain to work with. I didn’t have time to make the jacket to go with it, so used a RTW waterfall cardi I already had, in the right shade of pink. I’m glad to say I felt comfortable all night and had no problems going to the loo.

Murder Mystery

I can’t give you any details of content as these are repeated on a number of occasions until the new one in January.

What I will say is that we thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend - everything about it. It initially seemed expensive but was well worth it. We had very late nights/early mornings on Friday night and Saturday night and chased a few red herrings before we finally came up with something pretty close to the solution with just a few minutes to spare before our solutions had to be submitted. The others, who had all attended last year, had succeeded in solving the problem so we had a lot to live up to. I’m glad to say that we did and successfully solved the crime.

Tiring but most enjoyable and we’d certailnly go back to another.

We had travelled by train via London and travelled back to London to meet with our other two daughters, son in law and grandchildren. We had a nice if fairly brief get together.

David and I stayed in London on Sunday night, though we really wished we had just arrnged to go home. Next day I re-visited the Balnciaga exhibition at the Vand A and took in Opera too.

A lovely weekend but we were glad to get home.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Bright Yellow Jeans for a Themed Event

A while ago, I made a pair of jeans for David using my own pattern, based on a Sure Fit Designs template but highly modified. These jeans were made in brushed denim in David's favourite green. He liked them and uses them a lot. However, when I decided to make David a pair of jeans for our upcoming Murder Mystery Weekend, I decided against using my original pattern. I couldn't immediately find it, also I wasn't happy with the zip insertion as the zip was almost exposed at the bottom of the fly (David asked me to change this so that the zip would be properly covered) and I wanted something easier - just a pattern to follow!

With that in mind, I decided to use Kwik Sew K3504. My fabric is bright in-your-face yellow. I had previously bought this chino fabric to make cargo pants for one of my sons in law who likes bright colours, at the suggestion of my daughter, but he wasn't keen. It comes in handy for the 'colourful' theme coming up. The fabric was prewashed etc.

I didn't make a toile as I didn't have time. I had previously considered that David would be a medium - he's pretty standard in RTW and doesn't have much bother buying clothes. However, the medium measurements were potentially a little small at waist and upper hip. David likes his jeans high (Dad's jeans I think they're referred to?) so I added to the crotch depth.  I also lengthened legs  by 1". I cut out in size large and basted the whole thing together. David was happy with height, waist and upper hip but they were too big from that point down and had a kind of jodhpur thigh. I took apart and replaced on the pattern and cut out medium from pocket height down but left large above that. I think the finished jeans still show a bit of bulge so I would further alter that.

We had decided to put some machine embroidery on these jeans. We compromised on just one Celtic design on each back pocket. I had treated the pocket as a practice piece and the resultant embroidery needed tweaked but David said they were fine so I went ahead and used them as they were.

The jeans came together pretty well - I don't have photos as I was in a hurry. However, I did have a bit of difficulty with the fly instructions as there was no photo - I was told to sew on one side but I didn't know what side! I have some problems when I'm trying to work these kind of things out. Fortunately Dan at sewing bee helped me out. (I attended Dan’s jeans class a couple of years ago) She didn't like the instructions and prefers her own but I must say I do like these as I think the result is better. Because I had lengthened the crotch depth I needed a different zip length, so treated the zip placement in the usual fashion rather than leaving a chunk at the top to cut off as per instructions - I was using a metal zip so didn't fancy that.

My front pocket linings are simply overlocked (as per instructions) rather than French seamed (as taught in my jeans class) but they're fine. I used white cotton for these. Oh, and David didn't want a coin pocket.

No major issues, as I said. I did have to recut the waistband as I accidentally put a hole in it - fortunately I had enough fabric. David said just to patch and use but I drew the line at that.

My seams were sewn, then overlocked together, pressed to one side and stitched on right side with two rows of stitching.The top stitching was rather enjoyable. Not contrast thread. The only slight issue I had was when using two different machines (class and home) - were the stitch lengths the same? Also remembering what settings I had used!

When David tried on, he was happy but they were too long - I had to shorten by 2”. Remember I had lengthened by 1” going on finished measurement of 32”; he asked for 33” but they've ended up 31”, actually less than that as the hem is bigger. I did rewash before hemming.

The pattern uses bar tacks rather than rivets and I could've sewn these better.

The very last thing was the buttonhole and boy I struggled. The large automatic buttonhole foot just couldn't cope with the fabric unevenness - the pattern doesn't have you trim the seams at trouser/waistband junction. I tried a few times and had to unpick. I got worried about the fabric and tried without a dedicated foot but failed. I was going to buy the original small buttonhole foot used for manual buttonholes when I realised I should use my vintage Bernina. I read the instructions, tried out a few times and Hey Presto! a satisfactory buttonhole. Sewed on button (David didn't want a jeans button here) and finished!

Now I think the jeans look good for the purpose intended. I'd use proper denim for proper jeans. This fabric creases too readily. I don't like the fit at the back and would try to change that. The pattern doesn't have you interface the waistband but I think needs it and I would certainly interface next time.

David says he's likely to wear them beyond just the themed weekend.

Wait 'til you see the tee shirt!!
I have lots to do for the weekend (outfits for me too!) so a quick post

Update and Continuing with Machine Embroidery Course

I haven’t been sewing anything recently. I’ve managed a few alterations and repairs and a little bit of machine embroidery - though I’ve f...