Jungle January Jumpsuit

It seemed like a, like, totally cool idea.

An animal print “jump-suit”.

In my imagination I would turn up at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s posh annual dinner and look unique and elegant. With an ironic 80s vibe. I fear, however, that I may have made a baggy, summer weight “Onesie”. (Unfortunately the onesie is a garment I loathe. Cheap, synthetic and universally unflattering. And in terms of jokey prints and playful childishness, in the same category as the humorous tie-and-sock set.)

animal print Onesie
Leopard like fleece Onesie

I enjoyed making this garment, using McCalls 7437. It was a little intricate for what can only be described as fancy dress (in this incarnation), but I enjoyed the process. The pattern was well drafted and the instructions clear and concise.  The collar and rever worked perfectly, as did the continuous lap cuffs and pleated sleeves.  I liked creating a bias casing for the elasticated waist. The pocket bags are caught in the same casing. The fit is good and it actually feels nice.

2015-01-27 18.22.07
McCalls 7373 1981 Jumpsuit

I do wonder if it is wearable to a serious black tie dinner, where I am in my professional incarnation. I do, after all, have some dinosaur lace which could have led to a tasteful skirt.


The all-in-one trousers and shirt/jacket ensemble has had different names historically – the flying suit, boiler suit and cat suit (Emma Peel) for example. It has veered between the practical and shapeless workman’s overall and the revealing, sexy outfit they went in for in the 1970s.  I think some of the best examples were those favoured  by wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, who died 50 years ago. Although the press went with “siren suit”, Churchill himself called his garments a “romper suit”. Maybe he was thinking of Raglan and Wellington and wanted it to be called after him – a Churchill suit? He had several made for his specific shape, including one in pinstripe (see top of post). It was obviously a comfortable garment for him, (nothing tight around the middle) and he wore it on formal occasions, perhaps wanting to show he was a man of the people, a man of action, but also expressing his dramatic taste in clothes. I am delighted one of his onesies is now available for viewing at the Science Museum, alongside the original paper pattern used to make it. I hope to go and pay my respects. 

I wore romper suits when I was a little, and my grandchildren wear them today. When my sons went skiing they noted that all the French kids wore colourful all-in-ones (whereas the English youth had adopted a transatlantic snow boarder/skateboarder look, usually in black).

ski suits
French kids skiwear

I had some lovely stiped, stretchy towelling ones for sleeping in, that had a flap at the back for night time toilet trips (thank you for bringing this issue to my attention Stephanie).

So comfort is really the main thing with these all-in-ones. However, styled, they can make a person look long and slim as there are few horizontal lines. The all over pattern keeps the eye moving and disguises figure faults. What do you think? My daughter says NO! I say “Grrrgh!”

Jungle January Fabrickated
Jungle January

24 Responses

  1. Juliet

    You have made a really good job of this but I cannot quite see it for the occasion you describe. I think that fabric would have looked wonderful in a shirt dress with a floaty skirt but then I did covert it! Your jumpsuit might do better at a casual party in the summer, please don’t trash it.
    Could the dinosaur skirt be made in time by the way?

  2. DementedFairy

    I actually like it- and I wasn’t sure about the jumpsuit idea! It defiitely doesn’t look like a onesie. I agree about trying different belts. ALternatively, the top is particularly nice- could you reclaim it as a shirt and wera with a different bottom half? LOVE the dinosaur lace. I’m wearing the first part of my jungle collection today- the trousers. Teamed with a funky print top, I’ve already had compliments. Result!

  3. Nicola Briggs

    The top half is lovely, very flattering but maybe there’s a bit too much on the bottom! Maybe you could try cutting it off to Capri length to show a bit of ankle and showcase your shoes?

  4. Stephanie

    What a fun post! I think you look lovely as always and it does not look like a onesie. I think you could wear this to the event, although as I am imagining it perhaps this isn’t quite formal enough? I’m trying to imagine the bottom half with a slimmer cut, but in the final photo it doesn’t look too baggy. What are Esme’s arguments for not wearing it, or does she just not like it overall? My initial thought when I saw the pattern was that perhaps the top, shirt part was suited to a different type of event. I was seeing a modification to something with French cuffs perhaps and then a more fitted look through the mid-section and upper rear. In any case, you’ll figure it out, and the perfect occasion for this is out there for sure.

  5. Joyce

    Tee heee… so cute. Yes, it’s a fabulous outfit! (Just the wrong party Im afraid) Oh but I do see you wearing it at a morse casual affair! It’s a keeper. Love the idea of the lace skirt, classy but fun too. So, I’m afraid I vote no to the lack tie affair. I’m so happy to see the upside down pattern is not one bit noticeable. — hurrah

  6. Maggie

    I agree with the people above who say the outfit suits you , but it is not formal enough for the event you describe.

  7. Karine

    It looks good !. I think you should wear it at the event, maybe with a different belt. You wished it were unique, elegant, with an ironic 80s vibe ? Check, check, check!
    It’s funny you’ve posted pictures of Churchill today. Yesterday, I was searching pictures of Leaders from a time when everybody wasn’t looking the same and saw for the 1st time the picture of Einsenhover and Churchill in his dressing gown (and siren suit).
    “Relaxed business” wear ?

  8. symondezyn

    Thanks for reminding me about snow suits! haha – we always had those as kids ^__^ I guess in a way maybe the allure of wearing a jumpsuit is partly that it reminds us subconsciously of the good times we had as kids in playsuits and onesies but in a more grown up fashion ^__^

    I think you look fabulous and are totally rocking that print! If anything, you could perhaps take in the pants so they look more slim – because they are tapered at the ankle, the loose leg looks like it is too big rather than like a design feature 🙂 Your best accessory wearing this will be confidence – then anyone who is unsure what they think about a jumpsuit will be convinced that they need to go out immediately and get one of their own! 😀

  9. Jenny

    Late to the post today, which I usually read first thing but I have been to London, visiting our new great niece.
    Looks fantastic – check
    Suits your figure – check
    Looks like a onesie – no, no, no
    Suitable for serious, posh business event – I don’t really think so, but if anyone can pull it off you can. You have presence and poise.

  10. Alli

    Hahaha! …where in the world did you get dinosaur lace? That’s awesome!

    I love your last picture! I’d never have the guts to wear a jumpsuit anywhere, but you could definitely pull it off. It looks wonderfully sewn! 😀

  11. Esme

    I just can’t get on with this jumpsuit! It’s all 80s, nothing subtle. It needed either the ironic fabric with a more sedate pattern or the ironic pattern with a more sedate fabric. If you’ve just got irony – you’ve actually just got a garish 80s jumpsuit…

  12. fabrickated

    Well thank you everyone, very much, for taking the time to comment. I actually agree with every thing you have said.

    I made this item partly as a wearable toile to test the idea of a jump-suit. In general the jumpsuit is a good style of trousers for me, and something I can wear even with my curvy shape. But the colour, fabric choice and exact styling are very important. This fabric, combined with the defined waist and voluminous pants, makes my bum look huge. So a useful experiment!

    In terms of what to do with the jumpsuit, and what to wear at the event I have lots of options, many of them mentioned here. The most useful, in my view, is the idea of taking some of the width out of the legs and hips in order to produce a more streamlined shape, and a similar alteration to the pattern. At that point it will be a useful basic jumpsuit pattern that I am confident will work well in a range of fabrics. I might even be able to wear the item to a summer event (I fear it is just too thin for the chilly museum). So an entirely sucessfu toiling experience. Thank you for coming along with me.

    • fabrickated

      My pleasure Auntie DF!

      I would feature your collection here, or at least share the photographs. Let me know if that is OK.

      I plan on tapering the legs on the jumpsuit and if that doesn’t really work I shall keep the top half as a nice blouse that will definitely get some wear. But I have toiled a jumpsuit now which gives me a good block to develop in future. It has been so lovely to work on this alongside you. Hope to stay in touch. xxx

      • Demented Fairy

        Auntie?? AUNTIE??? Deeply wounded. Huff… there was me thinking I look all youthful and all that… ahem. Share away, I have no shame lol

        • fabrickated

          Well you called yourself the auntie of my jumpsuit – I didn’t mean to imply anything about age – we youthful grannies must stick together. You hair cut is gorgeous.

          • Demented Fairy

            Phew! Thank gawd for that- I don’t mind being a nan, or even a jumpsuit’s auntie, but even I must draw the line somewhere! Our pal Scott is indeed an amzing hairdresser- and this bob looks even better from behind: full-on ‘boy in the back, girl in the front’ stylee. Love it. It had got very overgrown with being poorly over Xmas, but now I feel re charged, and ready for Zebruary…watch my [FB/TSF] space

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