This week we want to welcome another guest blogger: Geri of @geri_in_stitches! Geri has such a playful sense of creativity and style—we love following her for her bold use of color, her fun poses, and radiant smile! She’s not afraid to take on a big projects either, like this Sashiko Pona Jacket she made last year. We knew she’d be the perfect blogger to a share a fun March hack with you, and this March Winslow Jumpsuit did not disappoint. If you’re ready to dip your toe into jumpsuit sewing with some of our patterns, read on!
March Jumpsuit Hack
As soon as I saw the pattern release for the March Top and Dress, I knew I wanted to hack it into a jumpsuit. I am a jumpsuit junkie, and am always on the lookout for jumpsuit patterns or patterns that can be hacked into one. When Helen approached me to write a guest blog for Helen’s Closet Patterns, I jumped at the chance to share this jumpsuit hack of the March Top and Dress, and to collaborate with one of my favourite pattern designers.
Even though I already have 30 me-made jumpsuits in my closet, none of them have the unique voluminous silhouette of this jumpsuit. The March Top and Dress provides a fantastic top half for the garment; and Helen’s Winslow Culottes are the perfect bottoms to fit the former for a double-happiness Helen’s Closet Patterns mash-up!
The first wearable muslin that I made was pieced together out of 6 different Indian indigo cotton block prints. These are all leftover fabric from previous makes. The March Top and Dress pattern lends itself to colour-blocking or print-mixing the different pattern pieces, and I extended this idea to the jumpsuit pant legs.
Working on this first version afforded me the opportunity to try out the jumpsuit hack idea and iron out all the problems that I might not have foreseen. Then I made a second version in order to document the process for the tutorial.
This version is made with 2 different fabrics, and both are cotton double-gauze fabrics that are reversible. Each side of each fabric has a different yarn-dyed check or plaid design, and again I played with some print-mixing as a design feature for this jumpsuit.
For both jumpsuits, I chose the shorter sleeves so that I can get as much wear as possible out of them for the coming summer.
The pant legs are gathered at the waistline, and that produces all this airy volume. It feels like I am walking in a cloud when I am wearing these jumpsuits. Sewn up in light to mid-weight fabric, this garment is the perfect summer playsuit for me.
There will be extra yardage required to hack the March Top and Dress into a Jumpsuit. I reckon that 1.5-2 extra metres should be added onto the yardage requirements for your size indicated for View A (the March Dress).
Without further ado, let’s dive into the details of the hack!
March Dress Jumpsuit Hack Tutorial:
There are 2 main tasks to accomplish when hacking the March Top and Dress into a jumpsuit. First, the pant legs have to be drafted using the Winslow Culottes pattern as a base pattern. The pattern for these pant legs are ideal because they are drafted straight up and down at the side seams and inseam, which make them much easier to transpose into jumpsuit pant legs for the March Top and Dress.
The second task is widening the neckline so that it is wide enough to step in and out of the jumpsuit to put it on. This widening has to have enough ease to move the neckline easily past the hips. With the widening of the neckline, we also have to make extra closures to secure it when we put the garment on. I offer two solutions here:
1) to make an extra pair of front ties for the front neckline extension; and
2) to make a button-loop closure for an added key-hole opening in the back bodice.
Both the front ties and button loops are created with bias tape that can be made from the self fabric. These two closures are installed into the jumpsuit via the pattern instructions for View C of the March Top neckline.
Lastly, I added an optional set of waist ties for my jumpsuit in order to cinch it in the waist by tying them in the back.
We will follow along with the main sewing order of the instructions of the March Dress, and the extra steps for the above tasks will be inserted into Helen’s pattern instructions throughout. As such, it is important to keep Helen’s instructions on hand for easy reference as you are sewing up your jumpsuit.
Choosing Your Size
When choosing the size for your March Dress to transform it into a jumpsuit, double check that the finished measurements of the dress pattern at the waist will be wide enough for your hips to fit through. For example, I am a size 4 for Helen’s Closet Patterns, and a quick check of the finished waist measurements of this size of the March Dress is 38’’ (96cm), which is 2.5’’ (6cm) wider than my 35.5’’ (90cm) hips. This means that this size will work well for my jumpsuit because I can easily move the waistline of the garment up and down past my hips.
If you require more ease for this to happen, you can either choose a larger size or grade to a larger size at the waist. Once you’ve chosen your size for the March Dress pattern, then we can move on to cutting out a paper pattern of the Winslow Culottes in your corresponding size.
Drafting the Pant Legs
The tools and materials required for drafting the jumpsuit legs are:
- The Front and Back Pant of the Winslow Culottes paper pattern (#1 & #2 pattern pieces respectively) cut out in your size
- The March Dress Top Front paper pattern (#1 pattern piece) cut out in your size
- The Skirt of the March Dress paper pattern (#6 pattern piece) cut out in your size
- Tracing Paper or Tailor’s Drafting Paper
- Paper Scissors
- Measuring Tape
- Plastic Ruler
- Pattern Weights
In order to fit the Winslow Culottes to the March Dress as pant legs for the jumpsuit, we have to match the 2 patterns at the waistline. The March Dress is drafted with a waistline that sits higher than the natural waistline, while the Winslow Culottes are drafted to sit on the natural waistline. This means that the waistline of the Winslow Culottes has to be raised in order to match up with the Front Top pattern of the March Dress. This will make sure that the jumpsuit pant legs have a crotch depth that is deep enough for a comfortable fit, sans painful wedgies!
To determine how much rise to add to the Winslow Culottes pant legs, first take the body measurement of the high point of the shoulder to your waistline with a measuring tape. For example, my measurement is 16’’ (40.5cm).
Next, measure the high point of shoulder to waistline measurement on the March Dress Front Top Pattern piece.
Remember to exclude the ⅝’’ (1.6cm) seam allowances at the shoulder seam and the waistline seam. Again, as an example, this measurement on my pattern piece is 14’’ (35.5cm). Please use the following equation to calculate the difference in measurement:
Shoulder to Waistline Body Measurement – Shoulder to Waistline Measurement on March Dress Front Top = X inches or centimetres
The waistline of the March Dress is drafted higher than the natural waistline, and this 2’’ (5cm) difference for me has to be added to the pant legs of the jumpsuit to make sure that the crotch depth is deep enough for a comfortable fit. Find this difference in measurement for you (which we will call X); and using X we can now redraft the Winslow Culottes pant legs to use as the pant legs for the jumpsuit.
Measuring 2.5’’ (6cm) down from the waistline of the Front and Back Pant Leg of the Winslow Culottes, draw a straight line across the width of both pattern pieces to add in a lengthen/shorten line.
In order to add the height of X to the pant legs, cut open the pattern pieces at this lengthen/shorten line.
Spread and open the pattern pieces, and fill in with tracing or drafting paper, making sure that the cut pattern pieces are X distance apart. Tape and true up the crotch and side seams, making sure to extend the grainline markings. Remember to transfer all important markings, i.e. the crotch seam notches. Then cut off the excess paper.
The next step is to widen the Winslow Culottes waistline so that it will be the same width as the waistline of the March Dress Skirt. Using the March Dress Pattern #6 (Gathered Skirt), line up the center front line (also the fold line) of the pattern with the top edge of the crotch seam of the Front Pants Pattern of the Winslow Culottes. Match up the waistlines of both pattern pieces.
Then using drafting paper to fill in the extension of the side seam, draw in the new side seam of the jumpsuit with a pencil/marker.
Extend the width of the waistline and the hem.
Transfer the pocket notches of the March Dress Skirt to the new side seam of the jumpsuit pant leg.
Use tape to attach the pants pattern to the extension and cut out the newly drafted pattern with paper scissors.
Repeat the above steps to draft out the Back Pant Leg, and using these paper patterns, the pant legs of the jumpsuit can now be cut out on your fabric.
Cut 2 each (mirrored) of the Front and Back Pant Legs. Set the fabric pieces aside until we arrive at Step 34 of the pattern instructions.
Preparing The Front Ties
The extension of the neckline in the front bodice is secured with 2 pairs of front ties. I used the March Dress pattern piece #9 (Neck Tie) to cut out the fabric for them. Take note that this pattern piece has to be cut out on the bias.
Since I am making 2 pairs, I would need to cut out 4 fabric pieces. We are essentially making rouleau straps to create these ties.
To make rouleau straps, fold the bias tape lengthwise with the right sides together. Pin and sew ¼” (0.6cm) from the FOLDED edge. This means that there’s a seam allowance of ⅝’’ (1.6cm), but since we are sewing up bias tape, sometimes the tape narrows as it moves under the presser foot, and the seam allowance may look like it’s narrower. Just keep your eyes on the folded edge and make sure that you are sewing a line that is ¼” (0.6cm) away from it.
Back stitch, and with a loop turner, turn the strap right side out.
I do not trim off the excess seam allowance for the front ties because I want the extra fabric to bulk up the rouleau strap. It is up to you to trim some off if you prefer less bulky straps.
After the right side of the straps are turned out, tie up one end of the strap into a knot to close up that end and keep the fabric from fraying.
Alternatively, if the strap is not too bulky, the end can be folded under twice and hand stitched to close it up. Repeat this rouleau strap-making process for the rest of the front ties. Set these front ties aside till we arrive at Step 12 in the pattern instructions.
Preparing the Loop for the Button-Loop Closure
For a button that is ⅜” (1cm) in diameter, which also has a shank, a loop with the length of 2’’ (5cm) is required. It is always better to cut extra lengths of fabric to make these button-loops to accommodate fraying at the ends in the process of making them. I am using only one button-loop closure, and I cut up a rectangular strip cut on the bias that is 5’’ (10cm) long and 1¼” (3cm) wide.
Again, a rouleau strap is constructed for the button-loop. Fold the bias tape lengthwise with right sides facing, pin and sew a seam line ⅛” (0.3cm) away from the FOLDED edge, and shy of ⅜” (1cm) from the raw edge.
Remember that the bias tape will narrow as it moves under the presser foot, so keep your eyes on the folded edge to make sure the seam line is even. Depending on the thickness of fabric that is used, some of the seam allowance may have to be trimmed so that it can pass through the narrow ⅛” (0.3cm) channel when it is turned right side out with a loop turner.
When the rouleau strap is turned right side out, cut off the length that is required for the button-loop. Set the button-loop aside till we come to Step 12 of the pattern instructions.
Preparing the Optional Waist Ties
The waist ties are ¾’’ (2cm) wide and 30” (76cm) long. To draft these waist ties, cut out 2 rectangular strips that are 2¼” (5.5cm) wide and 31” (79cm) long on the grainline of the fabric. These dimensions have a ⅜” (1cm) seam allowances included. You may want longer or shorter ties, so you are welcome to change the length of them. Just remember to add in the seam allowances when drafting these ties.
At one end of each waist tie, fold the seam allowance of ⅜” (1cm) under, with wrong sides facing. Press.
This fold will help close up the seam at this end of the waist tie when it is turned right side out. Next, fold the fabric lengthwise with right sides facing together. Pin and sew ⅜” (1cm) away from the raw edges, and this sewing line will also secure the previous fold that was made at one end of the waist tie.
On the other end of the tie with the raw edge, pin a safety pin to it and use it to turn the waist tie right side out by feeding it through the channel created by the seam line. Remove the safety pin, then press. Top stitch ⅛” (0.3cm) away from all the edges except for the raw edge. Repeat the above steps to make the second waist tie. Set the waist ties aside until Step 23 before the side seams of the bodices are sewn up.
Sewing Up the Jumpsuit: Widening the Neckline
Please follow along with the sewing order of the March Top and Dress pattern instructions, and any changes or additions to hack it into the jumpsuit will be annotated below by their respective Step Number in the pattern.
The first change to make according to the sewing order is widening the neckline of the March Top and Dress. The neckline is widened by extending the front neck opening, and adding a keyhole opening to the back bodice.
The addition of the back keyhole opening is created by the same sewing technique applied to constructing the front neck opening.
The front ties and button-loop are inserted into the front and back neckline respectively via instructions for View C of the pattern.
The amount of added length of the front neck opening and length of the back keyhole will depend on how much ease is required to comfortably move the neckline past the hips. For example, I extended the front neck opening by 5” (12.5cm); and the back keyhole is 7” (18cm) long. This provided extra ease of 10” (25cm) in the front neckline and 14” (36cm) in the back neckline, and which was more than sufficient ease for me to step in and out of my jumpsuit comfortably.
To calculate how much to add on for you, keep in mind that the entire neckline, including the curves of the front and back and both openings should add up to at least your hip measurement plus 2-3” (5-7.5cm).
We will now begin widening the neckline while following along with the March Top and Dress pattern instructions. For the jumpsuit hack, the steps listed below are add-ons to the original instructions.
According to the tip offered by Helen, extend the length of the fusible interfacing to the length required for the extension of the front neckline (plus 1” or 2.5cm) and apply it to the RIGHT SIDE of the Top Front (Pattern #1). Mark the end point of the extension.
I also find it helpful to draw in the centre front line of the Top Front to the right and wrong sides after the interfacing has been fused to the fabric. This helps to align the Front Panel to the Top Front when attaching one to the other in the later steps.
For the keyhole opening to be created in the back bodice, a similar strip of fusible interfacing will also be fused at the center back line for the Top Back (Pattern #2). Cut a strip of fusible interfacing to the desired length plus 1” (2.5cm) of the keyhole opening, and fuse it to the RIGHT SIDE of the Top Back.
Pin the Front Panel to the Top Front as instructed. In addition, pin the Back Panel to the Top Back at the center back and the hem, matching notches. Please note that BOTH panels and tops are facing WRONG SIDE UP.
When drawing in the center front line onto the Front Panel, remember to draw in the extension of the center front line for the lengthened opening at the front neckline. Mark a new dot to indicate the bottom of the extension. Pin around the extended line as well to secure the Front Panel to the Top Front.
Also draw in the center back line for the keyhole opening for the Back Panel, and mark a dot to indicate the bottom of the opening. Pin around the line to secure the Back Panel to the Top Back.
Tip: After I pin around the center front and back lines, I hand-baste the front and back panels to the top bodices at the center front and back lines. I can then remove the pins around the center openings, and I find this helps with accurate sewing at the machine. For more accuracy, I include drawing in the ¼” (0.6cm) seam line for the openings with an erasable marker.
And since we are using the View C instructions, go ahead and pin the panels to the tops around the neckline.
To attach the panels to the top, start sewing at one of the side seams instead of starting from the back of the top neckline. Continue with the rest of Step 10, but pivot also at the center back to sew ¼” (0.6cm) away from the marked line and taper your stitch line to meet the dot marking at the bottom. Shorten the stitch length when you get to about ½” (1.3cm) away front the marking, sew to the end of the line, pivot, sew for about ½” (1.3cm) again. Lengthen the stitches to sew back towards the neckline and out to a ¼” (0.6cm) seam allowance at the top.
Pivot and finish sewing around the neck opening, arriving back at the side seam where you started.
After cutting into the marked lines of the centre front and back, the neckline will look like this:
Before grading the neckline seam, the front ties have to be inserted into the front opening and the button-loop has to be inserted into the back keyhole.
Inserting the Front Ties:
The first pair of front ties are inserted into the top edge of the front opening. With a seam ripper, carefully undo a few stitches at the top edges of the seams that are ¼” (0.6cm) away from the center front. Make openings just large enough to insert the raw end of each front tie between the front panel and the top front layers.
I recommend positioning the second pair of front ties at around 1” (2.5cm) above the level of the bust apex. Mark this spot at the center front line, then carefully undo a few stitches of the sewing lines on both sides level to the mark made on the center front line.
Sandwiching the raw ends of the front ties between the Front Panel and the Top Front, carefully insert the front ties through the openings created by the undone stitches.
Pin and sew at the same ¼”(0.6cm) seam line, starting and ending with backstitching. For the top front ties, pivot at the corner of the neckline and sew over a couple inches of the neckline seam to strengthen the stitching there.
Inserting the Button-Loop:
Make a loop with the rouleau strap for the button-loop by folding it in half.
On the right back panel, carefully undo a few stitches at the top edge of the seam ¼”(0.6cm) away from the center back line. Make an opening just large enough to insert the 2 raw ends of the button-loop between the front panel and the top front layers. Sandwich the 2 raw ends of the button-loop by inserting them through the opening created between these 2 layers.
Pin and sew at the same ¼”(0.6cm) seam line; and pivot at the corner of the neckline to sew over a couple inches at the neckline seam to strengthen the stitching there. Start and end with backstitching.
After inserting both front ties and the button-loop, then the neckline seam can be graded. Clip into the neck curve seam allowance and trim the corners at the top of the center front opening. Any excess strap ends from the button-loop and the front ties can also be trimmed off to match up with the ¼”(0.6cm) seam.
Complete all instructions for Step 13, then edgestitch ⅛” (0.3cm) away from the edge of the neckline.
Starting at one of the side seams, edgestitch the curves of the neckline, the front neckline opening and the back neckline opening. You will end back at the side seam where you started. Back stitch.
This edge stitching will strengthen the connection of the front-ties and button-loop at the openings, and keep the reverse side of the bodices from rolling to the front.
At this point, the button for the button-loop closure can be hand-sewn onto the left back corner of the back panel.
Inserting the Optional Waist Ties:
Before joining the front and back top at the side seams, attach the raw edge of each waist tie to the bottom ends of the side seams.
The wrong side of the waist tie should be facing the right side of the Top Back. Line up the raw edge of each waist tie with the raw edge of each side seam. Position them ¾” (1.9cm) up from the waist line in order to accommodate room for the waistline seam to be sewn later. Baste at the side seams within the seam allowances.
Then continue with the rest of the instructions for Step 23. The waist ties will be sandwiched between the Top Front and the Top Back at the side seams.
After sewing up the side seams, finish them with your preferred method, and press them towards the back. Position the waist ties on the side of the Top Back and sew another line ⅛” (0.3cm) away from the side seams to sew down the waist ties to the Top Back and seam allowances.
Pre-press the hems ⅜” (1cm) to the wrong side for both front and back legs of the jumpsuit. Turn the hems another ¾” (1.9cm) to the wrong side and press again. Unfold the press lines.
These steps which outline attaching the pockets to the side seams of the March Dress are the same for attaching the pockets to the side seams of the jumpsuit pant legs, except that one pocket is attached to the right front pant leg and its corresponding right back pant leg. The other pocket will be attached to the left front pant leg and its corresponding left back pant leg.
Sew the Front and Back Crotch Seams:
After finishing Step 40, attach the right pant leg to the left pant leg at the front and back crotch seams.
Pin the crotch seams together with right sides facing, matching up the notches, then sew with a ⅝” (1.6cm) seam allowance. Finish the seams and press them toward the left leg.
Sew the Inseam:
With the right sides together, match up the crotch seams and pin. Sew a ⅝” (1.6cm) seam allowance for the inseam. Finish the seam and press toward the back legs.
To gather up the waistline of the pant legs, follow the instructions for gathering the waistline of the gathered skirt.
With right sides together, pin the pants to the bodice at the side seams. Also, match up the center front line of the Top Front to the crotch seam of the front legs; and match up the center back line of the Top Back to the crotch seam of the back legs. Distribute the gathers evenly. Pin the rest of the pants to the bodice. Then pin the pocket to the front bodice at the same time as you pin the pants.
Attach the gathered pants to the bodice. Remove basting stitches and finish the seam using your preferred method. Press the seam towards the bodice.
Using the pre-pressed lines from Step 31, fold the hem of the pants ⅜” (1cm) to the wrong side and then another ¾” (1.9cm). Press again if necessary. Pin in place and topstitch.
Give your jumpsuit a final press and it’s done! I hope you give this jumpsuit hack a go. It’s fast becoming a wardrobe staple for me during this time of year because it’s so comfortable to wear. Gathers and volume seem to be the trend this season, and this jumpsuit fits the bill with its oversized style. Big thanks to Helen for giving me this opportunity to share this with you. Tag me on Instagram @geri_in_stitches if you do make your version so that I may celebrate your jumpsuit with you. Happy sewing!
The Winslow Culottes are on sale for 20% off through the month of June, no coupon code requires. Grab your copy here.