A Transatlantic Long Haul Flight Suit by Janet
I have had a few attempts sewing jumpsuits, with varying degrees of success. This one presented a more serious challenge. There are lots of details, and the overall look is rather workmanlike. My son is a pilot and wears a flight-suit every day for work, so I wanted to focus on the details of this one to make it more special than his work uniform vibe. By using a contrasting print for the zip placket, under collar and some seam bindings I hoped to elevate the look from Bob the Builder to comfortable workaday chic.
This is the 8th pattern I have made from Closet Core Patterns. The Blanca Flight Suit is a relaxed fit jumpsuit with lots of pockets, a centre front zip and a belt and fasteners to alter the width of the legs and sleeves. The front pockets also form belt loops and there is a back inset waistband to support the blouson back, creating extra length so you can sit (in the pilots seat) in comfort.
It comes in 2 size ranges, 0-20 based on a B cup and 14-30 for a D cup. The cup sizes are not based on bra sizes but the difference between high bust and full bust. I gravitated towards the D cup range as normally if I cut a size to fit my bust measurement then it is invariably huge on my shoulders and front neck, but reading advice on the www.closetcorepatterns.com I plumped for the B cup size range, knowing it would likely mean doing a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) and altering the bottom, hips and leg shape quite substantially.
The pattern instructions are detailed, clear and well illustrated and there is a Sew-Along on the Closet Core website. Whilst it is not a beginner pattern as there are a lot of processes, none of them are difficult.
The fabric recommendations from the pattern include sturdy woven like denim, twill and canvas, or drapier fabrics like linen, Tencel or silk noil.
I chose a Flow Viscose Linen mix in a lovely dark Teal colour from the great selection at www.lamazifabrics.com, having been impressed by a previous blogger make on the Lamazi Fabrics Blog. It is 75% Viscose 25% linen and at 210 gm/sqm it is a light to mid weight fabric but with more drape and a warmer handle than pure linen. For a contrast I used an Atelier Jupe viscose that is also available from Lamazi but I bought elsewhere. It is a lighter weight than the main fabric but has similar drape qualities. I used a weft insert fusible interfacing as this strengthens without altering the hand of the main fabric. I wanted the collar to be able to stand up so I also used a medium sew in interfacing to support the collar.
The main fabric has a slight lateral give after washing so I gave it a good ironing before cutting out to avoid mis-shaped pieces.
Based on my body measurements I cut a size 14.
I initially did a forward shoulder adjustment to the pattern, which I removed after the muslin showed it wasn’t necessary, a small high round back insertion went in from the centre back neckline seam position to the shoulder just before the back pleat. This meant the neck circumference didn’t change so no alterations needed making to the collar.
A 6cm FBA (3cms each side) allowed extra room for my ample bosom and created additional width for my waist. It also created additional length. As the pattern is cut to sit 1” below the waistline the extra length proved to be superfluous.
I also did a small full tummy adjustment so the waist increase was more evenly distributed. This did slightly change the angle of the centre front seam below the waist but the effect was minimal.
I knew the pants section would be huge. My hips measure s.12 and I have very skinny legs, so I overlaid the pattern pieces with those from a pair of pants I was happy with and blended from one to another, also borrowing the front crotch curve.
Finally I shortened the legs at the lengthen/shorten lines as the pattern is drafted for a 5’6” tall figure and I am 5’4” - having shrunk 2” as I have grown older.
As there are a lot of pattern pieces I only traced off the ones I knew I was going to alter. I prefer to buy PDF patterns and send them off to be printed. That means I don’t have to trace off every piece, I can cut most directly from the print-off knowing I can reprint any parts if I need to make a different size.
I initially cut a bodice muslin from calico to test my alterations. The forward shoulder was too far forward. The lack of shaping didn’t match my body and created a lot of excess in the armhole, so I cut a second front with an FBA and a dart. This solved the armhole issue, but the dart was at the wrong angle, so I changed that. I then cut pants (only down to the knee) and attached them to the bodice. I didn’t insert the zip, I wish in retrospect I had done because it would have highlighted the problem with the extra length in the front bodice. The pants fit was good (Phew!) and needed no further adjustment, so I went ahead and cut the fabric. I had 3.5 metres and used every centimetre. It is interesting looking at the fit photos of the muslin that the crispness of the calico and cotton fabric I used doesn’t show up how wide the shoulders are - they are designed to be off the shoulder. Its not easy to get material for muslins that recreate the characteristics of the final fabric.
The pockets and zips
I wanted to use some ‘zips by the yard’ that I already had, it is quite a chunky silver zip on a black tape. I was concerned that the weight may overwhelm the fabric, and the ends would be more difficult to deal with on the pockets. I decided to change the pocket design to make a slot similar to a welt pocket with the zip behind the slot. I used the contrast fabric to back the pocket for less bulk, and interfaced it with a lightweight fusible interfacing. I have an old Singer Sewing Book that I refer to for techniques that vary from the pattern instructions. The only other concern I had concerned using the lighter weight contrast fabric for the zip facing would it be substantial enough to retain its shape in use. I did a couple of samples using more or less layers of interfacing and decided that two layers gave enough support.
The remainder of the construction was straightforward. I used the Stitch-In-The-Ditch foot that came with my Juki DX7 sewing machine to secure the back waistband, and the stitching is really invisible.
There were lots of pockets, tabs, zips, nothing difficult but the topstitching needed to be accurate.
The front trouser pockets form the belt holders. There are regular belt holders on the back. I have a yellow belt which is just the right width which makes the whole waistline sit really nicely.
I wanted to be able to turn up the sleeves so I borrowed an idea from my fellow Great British Sewing Bee chum Jen Hogg @jenerates and bound the sleeve seams with bias tape cut from contrast fabric.
The pockets are all faced with contrast so it shows through a tiny bit on the edges. I don’t think I have a plain garment in my wardrobe that isn’t embellished somewhere with a sneaky contrast.
I found vintage buttons in my button box that look like they might have come from a utility garment so they are on the tabs that narrow the width at the bottom of the trouser leg.
Conclusion - What would I change
I finally have a jumpsuit that I am happy with. There are things that I will change. The sleeves are a too wide to wear rolled down, so I will add the pop fasteners as the pattern suggest when I get some of a suitable colour.
I am going to undo the zip from the bottom to just above the waist seam and remove some of the excess length then reinsert the zip. Hopefully the join in any visible stitching will fall under the belt.
All else is good.
Not a Concord flight, more a trip in a Sopwith Camel but with plenty legroom. It took much longer than I anticipated, none of it was difficult, just rather a lot of it, but I enjoyed every detail.
I ran out of my main thread colour as I was sewing the sleeves, I had another reel of a slightly different blue green so I used that for the remainder of the topstitching and the bar tacks, and guess what? - no one would know, only me.
What changes would I make next time? I have altered the pattern to reflect the shorter bodice that is in the original pattern, it is designed to sit 1” below the natural waistline so should have a small amount of blouson. The extra length came from the FBA, and is exaggerated by the zip.
I was confused by the pattern size options and how they applied to me. I am sorry that the various cup size options are in two separate patterns and you have to make a choice between the two, and I have communicated my thoughts to Closet Core Patterns. I think I made the wrong choice, despite taking the advice of the website.
I don’t think this fabric is perfect for this task, it is a bit floppy in the pocket department, however that is good for the dropped shoulder so I don’t look like a line backer, it hangs really nicely and is very comfortable to wear. It bruises under a hot iron so I used a press cloth to avoid shine, but I quite like the relaxed look that it gives the finished garment. A firmer choice would have been linen or cotton drill.
I like the cheeky peeps of contrast fabric, the zips with a bit of pizzaz and the tabs to alter the shape of the legs.
All in all I have a very successful jumpsuit - at last - thanks to Lamazi Fabrics and a lot of air time. I’m looking forward to another one for spring, with short sleeves, cropped legs and different pockets, I may even add a button placket to replace the front zip (I will examine Henry’s genuine flight suit first). Hopefully next time it will be a shorter flight in a fast jet.