The weekend long read.
I’ve been dreaming of a silky, swishy jumpsuit for a few months now. The kind of jumpsuit that is loose fitting, elegant and made from fabric that has a shiny liquid quality. Think Victoria Beckham at her sons wedding.
Last year I made a version of the Jesse Jumpsuit that felt a little bit different to the others. If you’ve made this piece before you’ll know that there is an important step to alter the body length to fit your own measurements. However for one piece I made last summer I used the pattern at its full body length which is about 2cm longer than it should have been (this will make more sense if you look at page 6 of the PDF instructions).
When I tried it on initially last summer it was far too big and baggy. I then added a tie belt and belt loops and it really helped to make sense of the extra volume. Sewn in a striped linen it felt very casual but with a feeling of elegance too.
You can take a look at this piece in the first blog I wrote on this pattern: 'Introducing the Jesse Jumpsuit.
I chose to do this silky jumpsuit with the longer body length for two reasons. The first was that I thought the extra volume and the belt tie would look beautiful in a soft, luxurious fabric. And the second is that silk satin isn’t a strong fabric and I felt the body length could do with some extra help to avoid ripping when sitting down or generally moving freely.
I’ve only sewn with silk satin a couple of times before so this was by far the biggest project working with this fabric. It was a learning curve and I almost wish I could start it all again and re-do it but I’ll have a few more tricks up my sleeve for next time. Overall I’m really happy with the outcome and the jumpsuit feels very special to put on.
I hope it proves useful if you're thinking of making a smarter piece to wear to an event. I can't imagine I'll be wearing this more than twice a year but it will be a real treat when I do.
Pattern: Jesse Jumpsuit
Size: UK Size 10 with the pattern cut to the full body length (I'm 5ft 10 so it was 2cm longer than intended). I will mention that adding the extra length results in a much baggier fit, even though it's only 2cm. I like this baggy fit but if it's not for you I would stick to the length it's supposed to be for your body measurements.
- I added a tie belt and belt loops
- I used the Under Collar pattern for the top collar to remove the ease
I ordered 3 metres of silk (as per the consumption requirements) but it was the end of the roll in the shop so he gave me 4 metres in the end. It turned out I really needed the extra as I added the belt and then cut the fused pieces all together which changed the lay plan.
If you're using a sturdy fabric without the tie belt you can follow the consumption requirements in the instructions but if you're working with silk and adding a belt I recommend getting a bit extra.
I found fusing to be a very helpful tool when sewing with silk. I had originally planned to use fusing tape on all of the seams before starting the sewing process as this would give a lot of stability and strength to each seam.
Annoyingly the fusing tape I've had kicking around for about 8 years had vanished the morning I wanted to start sewing. So I had to go without but I do recommend using this if you're planning to work with silk satin.
I recommend piece fusing the silk before cutting any pieces that need to be fully fused. This means you might need to buy more fabric than stated on the consumption chart as this isn't the most cost effective way to cut fabric.
Although I was without my fusing tape I did manage to cut specific strips of fusing for the inside of the centre front and front neckline curve. I wanted this area to be as stable as possible.
This jumpsuit pattern has a Top Collar and Under Collar piece to help shape the collar and give it a more professional finish. However I found the ease very hard to even out and so I recut the whole thing and used the Under Collar piece for both the top and bottom.
Below you can see the first collar on the right with the lumpy ease and the second collar on the left without any ease.
I fused the seam allowances on the under collar as I found the fused side and the unfused side were fighting with each other. Here are both sides laid out with the different fusing shapes shown.
I decided to be bold with this piece and add a zip to fasten up to the top. The process was going really well until...
.... I tried it on and sat down. The zip didn't have enough flexibility to fold in on itself with the silk and it gave me a tent shaped point on the front. Not ideal!
I unpicked a lot of work and then cut the zip down to finish just above the waistband. I then finished the fastening with 2 poppers on the inside.
The instructions for the jumpsuit come with an option for a buttons only fastening or a zip & buttons fastening. The idea is the zip saves a bit more time when taking the garment on and off and as I didn't want any visible fastenings on the silk it was a good option for this piece.
Here it is with the zip crisis resolved. First without the belt and the second photo nearly finished.
Other things to think about:
Sewing with silk is a different ball game to your usual cottons, linens and even wool. It requires a bit more care and attention so I've listed some other tips below.
Cutting - Careful and stable cutting of your silk will ensure the piece isn't off grain. Take it very slow, check the grain line hasn't wobbled off centre and try to only pin inside the seam allowances.
Tension - The thread tension was a little tight on my make which was frustrating to realise when I was already half way through. Take your time checking the tension and make sure it's nice and loose without loosing the strength.
Iron Heat - I used only a small amount of steam and it's best to use a slightly lower heat.
Needle Size - I used the smallest needle I could find and this was important, especially on areas where I did some unpicking.
Thread - I used a very strong and delicate poly thread instead of the thicker ones I usually use.
Overlocker - My overlocker was my best friend for this project. I usually prefer to use seam finishings such as french seams but I was so relieved to have the overlocker given how much this fabric frayed.
Overall I'm really pleased with this piece - it feels understated, comfortable and stylish which is usually what I try to achieve with the clothes I make.
If you're fairly new to sewing and would like to make a Jesse Jumpsuit I have a few recommendations. The first is to choose an easy fabric such as a cotton twill or lightweight denim and opt for the buttons only fastening option.
This pattern doesn't have an online workshop but the feedback on the instructions has been very positive. You should be able to take it slowly, step by step.
If you'd like to first improve your general sewing skills and confidence I recommend completing an online workshop such as the Over Shirt, Daphne Trouser or Worker Trousers. These workshops will help you to build good habits and confidence with sewing clothes and provide a really good basis to build from.
If you have any questions just hit reply to this email!