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.


  1. Great jumpsuit, really fits the bill. The M7099 is the one I used, I have not had trouble with the cross over, it has a press stud to keep it crossed too.

    1. Thank you, Clare. I loved your jumpsuit and bought the pattern as a result so next time I'm likely to use that. As you say, this jumpsuit and fabric fitted the bill and I wouldn't have used this fabric with the other jumpsuit as stretch requirements different. I did have different fabric though which would have worked well with 7099. It was the presence of the cardigan pattern which swung me in favour.

  2. What a lot of work - I always find it easier to make a toile than to alter and fiddle on the run! But it turned out beautifully.

    1. Thank you, Sarah Liz. In class I'm known for my (multiple) toiles but there were a couple of extra challenges here - lack of suitable toile fabric plus trying to avoid a focus on perfection!! I was trying for 'good enough'- just not like me!


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