Jungle January – how to squeeze your fabric

The Demented Fairy (here in a glorious velvet wedding jacket), sent me fabric for Jungle January.

Demented Fairy
Demented Fairy in 1920s shawl

In the package was 2m of glamorous, silky, slightly stretchy satin in blue snow leopard. It positively glows. I decided to use this fabric for formal evening attire.  I have a posh dinner next month, so I plan to make something a little bit special. The Annual Dinner of the Chartered Institute of Housing takes place in our local Natural History Museum, alongside the dinosaur bones, and with starry lights. The event is dominated by men, even in this day and age (where topless Page 3 pictures have finally hit the dust). I would guess women make up around 30% of the attendees. The men wear dinner suits (and very nice they look too) with the odd kilt amongst them (hurrah!). Many of the ladies wear long dresses or flashy cocktail numbers. Unsurprisingly most of them stick to black. So although I am not a trouser person (but may be changing) I decided to try a jumpsuit! I am surprised by my choice too, but the jumpsuit is on my list of trousers-to-try, and this is as good an excuse as any.

Also Jenny mentioned that a Jungle Jumpsuit has already been constructed by Fadanista. It looks great on Sue, who has a straight body shape. I, on the other hand, have a curvy shape, so I am not sure this is going to work. The snow leopard is not sure either. Especially when he realised I am planning on using a 1980s pattern.

snow leopard
Snow leopard looks on

This is McCall’s 7437 from 1981. I want to make view C with long trousers and sleeves. But the pattern requires (so they say) 3.2m.  I have 2m. Also, while the bust size is fine at 34″ I will need to add an inch or two to the hips.

McCall's 7437 Jumpsuit
McCall”s 7437

So here are some tips that may come in handy if you are in a similar dilemma yourself.

  1. First alter the pattern to fit you. I absolutely needed a little extra in the hips, and length in the upper body, but I shaved two inches of the length of the trousers and one from the long sleeves
  2. I cut this out on the floor as my cutting table was too small and I needed to see the whole thing at once
  3. With such long pattern pieces I was loath to cut the top from bottom and seam, so I arranged the pieces top to toe. So my snow leopard is running in the wrong direction but who will be able to tell? It’s a busy, relatively small-scale pattern.
  4. I managed to squeeze the long sleeve out of the fabric by reducing the seam allowances top and bottom. I could have gone sleeveless with this design had I been really short of fabric.
  5. The smaller pieces all fitted in.
  6. The breast pocket (single layer of fabric) and in-seam pockets (four layers) are easier to cut from the left over fabric so cut them when you have got your three big pieces out. I was prepared to make the pockets from lining material if necessary, but it isn’t
  7. I was prepared to cut the collar on the down rather than across the grain but that wasn’t necessary
  8. In extremis I could have had a contrasting top pocket, collar and cuffs. But again it wasn’t necessary.
    pattern pieces on fabric on floor

    I cut out the small pieces – I needed four pocket bags – from the off cuts. In the end I didn’t cut the breast pocket – I shall look at what the pattern matching looks like when it is ready to sew and may mess around with the placement of the pattern piece on the fabric.

    Cutting out patterns on fabric
    Cutting out the small pieces

    And, phew, all done, with not much to spare.

    tiny cut offs
    tiny cut offs

    Unlike Kadiddlehopper, I won’t be making a matching jump suit for my Barbie, I am afraid.

    jungle Barbie
    Jungle Barbie

15 Responses

  1. lynbromley

    Fab! I’ll look forward to seeing it. That will add a little pizzazz to the formal dinner! You’ll definitely stand out from the sea of black. I went to a black tie dinner there, years ago now, and it was very magical. Have fun!

  2. Steve Clarke

    Hello Kate ! Loving your writing style. Just curious, do you write it the night before for publication, or do you get up incredibly early ?

    Hope things are well with you?

    I’m just putting together content for my veggie / vegan cooking / foraging blog. I’ll forward to you once in shape.

    With best wishes

    Steve x


    • fabrickated

      Hi Steve – great to hear you are going to be blogging!

      I do get up at 5, but these days I use the tool provided in WordPress to publish at a specific time each day. I write most of the posts at the weekend, usually edit them several times before publication, but give them a last check the night before. I did blog about the process a few weeks ago as part of a “blog hop” – I may step back from daily at some point but feel I am still brimming with ideas that interest me. I guess one post takes between 20 and 60 minutes to write.

  3. Jenny

    Well done on the fitting to fabric. I remember in the 60’s and 70’s, when I did most of my dressmaking, that pattern companies always overestimated how much fabric one needed, by at least half a yard. Looking forward to the finished article.

  4. Juliet

    Yes, I would be willing to risk 0.5 yard/m less but you did wonders there.
    I’ve always thought that some day I’d get a length of cheap but on grain fabric and mark out different lengths and width to calculate “real” fabric requirements especially when contemplating very expensive fabric. Of course expensive fabric might need pattern matching too!

  5. DementedFairy

    Brilliant- I feel like the jumpsuit’s auntie! If you REALLY want a matching garment for Baaaaaarbie, I’ll send you a bit more [told you I had loads]

  6. Stephanie

    Laughing about the Barbie comment…I think you might need to get a Barbie. 😉 I was never very kind to my Barbies, those many years ago.

    This is genius, K! Genius! You are going to look fabulous and definitely will stand out in this in that crowd. I had a formal pantsuit in the late 90s that I wore all of the time for evening events, back when I attended them more frequently than never (as now). It was supposed to be a kind of a faux tuxedo I think and was all black. The top part was sleeveless and had strips in satin that crossed over the front to the waist I think, with a deep v neckline. It had a smaller v in the back neck and a back zip. It was fitted smoothly through the middle and then the pants were not slim but not wide either. I loved wearing it as it was so different and I felt quite chic. The only fly in the ointment was using the washroom, as I practically had to disrobe to do so!

  7. fabrickated

    Good point about wearability in terms of loo visits. Your outfit sounds like the height of sophistication compared to what I am making. I am getting more and more convinced that far from being stunningly original everyone will think I have turned up in a “Onesie”…. OMG what have you done to me “Auntie” Fairy?

  8. BeaJay

    Love your fabric. Looking forward to seeing it finished. I am participating in JJ this year. I have one dress almost completed and hoping to do a top too.

  9. sew2pro

    I love it when there’s an occasion (aka deadline) to get one excited about a sewing project. I can tell you that my cotton snow-leopard print jumper (from Gap) is one of my favourite things that I wear in winter. It brings out the colour of my eyes when I’m feeling pale. You will look great; may the sewing gods be with you for this one.

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