Patternmaking & Sewing Notes
by Don McCunn
Jumpsuits, Onesies, Overalls, etc.
Garments hang from three areas of the body: the shoulders, the waist-to-hip region, and for women the difference between the above the bust and full bust.
The garments described here are bifrucated* garments that hang from the shoulders and extend down to include the legs. Marcus B. and I were discussing this issue in my Reddit group Bespoke Sewing Patterns. He had this to say:
"Generally speaking I think that an overweight man (and probably women with "non standard" figures too) nowadays often have to be content with bad fitting and often plainly uncomfortable clothes simply because the RTW industry doesn't account for them. It's a shame and a brief look in the times where custom made garnments were more common shows so many stunning solutions have totally disappeared."
I have had several occasions to create this type of garment which I will describe here.
One of the first garments I used this construction technique for back in the 70s was to create a body suit to change the shape of an actor. I was asked to design the costumes for a production on The Would Be Gentleman. The actor who was cast in the lead had a very slight build. So I created a body suit out of muslin that was close fitting, then used cotton batting to give the actor a more rotund appearance.
It was a fun experience for me because friends of the lead came to opening night. They accosted him after the show and said "Where were you? We came to see you but never saw you." He had actually been on stage almost the entire production. For those of you interested in costuming, I found a drawing of that garment in a history book. It is historically accurate. I should know, I played the role of the tailor in the show.
I used the same concept for a production of Stepping Out to change a young dancer into a more matronly appearance. The advantage of using a body suit for this is that padding can be added to the thighs as well as the stomach to keep the proportions more natural. Cotton batting is my go to material for padding because of the way it follows the movement of the body. And Stepping Out has some very serious tap dancing sequences which she executed beautifully.
When I wrote the first edition of my book in the early 70s, jumpsuits were the rage. I included instructions for how to make one in the style of the period. I have scanned the nine pages from the book into a PDF file which you can see by clicking the image below. These instructions use the basic bodice (aka upper torso) sloper and pants measurements described in my How to Make Sewing Patterns. In addition to jumpsuits these instructions also include how to make gussets for both the arm and crotch curve.
These pages are something I have left out of my subsequent editions of How to Make Sewing Patterns. But Jumpsuits, aka Onesies, seem to be back in vogue.
Recommended Reading: Fashion Archives: A Look at the History of the Jumpsuit
At the turn of this century I was introduced to fashion dolls. I was fascinated by the idea of developing fashions in quarter scale. I had done bespoke* patterns up until now which were never designed to be mass-produced. But each brand of fashion doll had a specific body sculpt that was reproduced faithfully thousands of times.
As you can see I wanted to have one pattern that could be used for both short and long versions. They are made out of t-shirt fabric which allows the front and back pants pattern to be merged at the side seam.
I was interested to see that I could use the same denim fabric as would be used for full size garments. I was fortunate to find doll size overall buckles.
Both the long johns and the overalls are roomey enough that they work on all three body sculpts. I like to refer to these garments and patterns as Ready-to-Wear (RTW) to distinguish it from Bespoke.
Copyright © 2015 by Donald H. McCunn