A year ago boilersuits were definitely not a garment I was drawn to and the thought of making one had never even crossed my mind. Fast forward to early 2020 and they seemed to be everywhere. All of a sudden making one seemed like an excellent idea. I was particularly inspired by this and this one and started researching patterns. Not long after I’d decided to make one Closet Core patterns released the Blanca flight suit which was pretty close to what I was envisioning however I wasn’t too keen on the front opening being a zipper.
Seeing as I would have to make lots of alterations anyway I decided to try and hack some of my previously tried and tested patterns to create my own boilersuit. I had a look at my (old) copy of Helen Joseph Armstrong’s Pattern Making for Fashion Design to see if there was any information that might help. I have the 4th edition (no longer available) which did have a small section about jumpsuits. Perhaps the newer editions (there is a 5th and 6th edition now) might have more info. Basically according to my book you could use any top and bottom pattern and mash them together at the waist seam.
I did this with my TNT Grainline Studio Archer shirt pattern and Kwik sew 4221 (view D) which is a basic woven elastic waisted tapered pants pattern. Obviously the circumference of the waist seam of both patterns has to match up and I did have to alter the pattern pieces slightly. I had previously altered my Archer shirt to remove the slight waist shaping so the side seams were straighter. Figuring out where to join the top and bottom patterns together definitely took some trial and error. I started off by trying on an Archer shirt with a muslin of Kwik sew 4221 pinned them together to see where my natural waist was.
I’m definitely a fan of making a muslin anyway but I think when making a boilersuit or jumpsuit it really is an important step. No one wants to have excessive room in the crotch area or even worse not enough ease there! I muslined the bodice and pants (leaving off the collar and sleeves) and discovered that I would have to raise the waistline seam even higher.
After spending way too long looking at RTW boilersuits online I decided that I wanted to have a placket opening with buttons at the centre front. Originally I wondered whether it would be possible to just use the original button bands on the Archer shirt without extending them into the pants portion but soon realised that this made it impossible to get into the boilersuit. To create the popover placket I reduced the width of the front pieces of the shirt so they would overlap the centre front by ½”. I could have reduced the width so they would meet in the middle but I’ll explain why I didn’t do that later on.
The seam allowances of my pants pieces were also ½”. My placket pieces were both 20” long with one being 3” wide and the other 3 ½” wide. With an ½” seam allowance the maximum width of the placket piece which would lay under the other piece was 3”. If you take into account the seam allowance x 2 (1/2” x 2 = 1”) the remaining width cannot be more than twice the width of the seam allowance. Otherwise the underlying piece will not lay flat – ask me how I know this (eyeroll). I referenced this fantastic blog post about sleeve plackets when figuring this part out (seeing as the concept is exactly the same) but also check out this post for more detailed information about a popover placket.
I made the other placket piece slightly wider to ensure it would overlap the stitching line on the opposite side of the placket. I sewed up the front pant seam so that the stitching line ended a few inches below the top of the pattern piece and backstitched carefully. I overlocked the seam open up to the end of the stitching line. I also sewed the back and side seams of the pants together. I sewed the bodice together to the point where the side seams were sewn up but without attaching the collar.
I then attached the bodice and pants together at the waist seam matching up the side seams and centre back carefully. I backstitched ½” away from the start and end of the waist seam. I then carefully trimmed off ½” from the centre front of the bodice piece and front pant piece until I got to the stitching line and cut perpendicularly at this point. This is why I left that extra ½” on the bodice pieces so that the edges of the bodice piece and front crotch curve would line up nicely.
I then sewed on the placket which it always such a satisfying step. Then the collar could be attached and sleeves and legs hemmed. With this version I only had about 1.6m of this heavy weight slate linen from the Fabric store so there was not enough fabric to cut out the full length sleeves. Instead I only just had enough to cut out short sleeves but I did make them wider towards the sleeve hem for more ease of movement (something I’d read was useful). I ended up having to cut out the inner yoke from a different colour linen and also had to piece together the placket band and waist band.
When wearing my only other all in one outfit, this peppermint jumpsuit, I’d always found the waist tie a bit fiddly to keep sitting nicely so decided to add an elasticated waistband to define my waist with this make. I just created a waistband that would sit on the outside of my boilersuit which ended an inch or so before either side of the front placket. This worked fairly well but in retrospect I would make sure to have a button placed right at the level of the waistband as it does pull open a bit at this point.
The other issue I had was that there seemed to be excess fullness just above the centre back of the waistband. I’m not 100% sure why this happened but I ended up just removing a horizontal wedge of fabric about 1 ½” tall at the centre back tapering to nothing at the side seams. I’m currently making a second version of this boilersuit and ended up removing the centre back pleat at the top of the back bodice piece as I feel this has something to do with it – stay tuned to see if this works out or not!
Anyway I’ve been wearing this layered with a hacked Lark tee underneath and have found it to be comfortable but stylish at the same time. Of course with the current COVID restrictions in place in Victoria this means the most exciting place I’ve worn my new boilersuit to has been the kinder drop off but still I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out. Happy sewing xx