Thursday, October 23, 2014


The jumpsuit is one of those trends that appeared discretely on the catwalks about a year ago. Slowly we're seeing more and more of them as a younger fashionista discovers them for the first time. I'm old enough to have worn them before and can verify that nothing is easier or faster than leaping into high style with this one piece garment. When styled in tailored lines, it goes to work. In a cheerful cotton, it takes off to play. Cut it short for a summertime "romper" or from a bit of fancy fabric for a formal affair.

This season, my eye was immediately drawn to the sleek, simple lines of Haider Ackermann's silk jumpsuit. Cut close to the body, it glides over the body in an unbroken line with just a hint of a slight drape over the collarbone. I admit I was pleasantly surprised to see how this translated to the doll so beautifully. And though that pattern is most illogical when compared to that for a full scaled woman, I decided to include it in this post along with a range of other options to show the versatility of this garment.

Your jumpsuit can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. It's as simple as making a bodice, making a pair of pants then joining them together along the waistline. Be careful when choosing the fabric or the doll you dress. The  2-part  jumpsuit  will add bulk to the doll's waistline unless you use a thin or soft fabric. Needless to say, press, press, press!

Dolls with the older Barbies or FR bodies (hourglass, swivel waists) like Anna pictured here in a grey wool outfit easily wear this type of jumpsuit. (It helps to balance their exaggerated proportions.)

But if you want a jumpsuit without the waistline detail, it is a simple matter of combining the foundation or bodice sloper with that of the pant sloper into a single pattern piece as shown below.
Take the 2-dart foundation garment  (see video) you created from an early tutorial. (Click on the highlighted words throughout this post to bring up the proper tutorial for slopers you have not already made.) Lay it over the (2-piece) pant sloper (see video), lining them up at the waist. Trace complete foundation and add the rest of the pants to arrive at your basic jumpsuit sloper. If you sew this as is, stitching up the darts, you will end up with a fitted jumpsuit with a narrow pant leg. You may have to adjust the shoulders a bit depending on the doll. Since I wanted a bit more volume, I put a dot 1/4 inch (6mm) to either side of each pant leg at the hem. From the hip point to the hem, draw a line down to that point. Add seam allowance.

For this jumpsuit, inspired by the one shown at Haider Ackermann, I left the darts open and redesigned the neckline by shaving off 1/4 inch down from the Center Front. I pinched the fabric at both shoulders to create a bit of a drape and hand stitched. But I discovered the overall fit was looser than I wanted, so I added tucks where the original waist darts were. These are simple tacks at the waist which line up with the pant creases. You simply pinch the fabric and tack down on the inside.
For my fashion report, I had made another pattern. However, it is not logical in terms of standard drafting techniques, but guess what. It worked! It was slim and gave me the same proportions as the one in Ackermann's show. And it worked better than the basic jumpsuit because I had cut away much of the dart fullness.
I began with the 1-piece pants sloper over which I laid the front and back bodice slopers (1). Note how they overlap at the sides. Make sure the Center Fronts and Center Backs line up. Again, I added 1/4-inch (6mm) to each side of the side edge at the hem. I draw my line from the inseam point to the hem.(2). At the top, I trimmed away 1/4-inch (6mm) from the collar and around the armhole. Now, trace off the silhouette then add seam allowance. Stitch the shoulder seams together then the inseams. Press those seams, turn one side right side out and slip it inside the other half, matching right side to right side, center front to the center back. The wrong side will face you. Stitch down the CF to the CB, leaving enough space for the doll to get in and out. I closed this one with snaps in the back. But you can also sew in a tiny zipper (which I did for the black jumpsuit).
I used a China silk and it came our perfect! Around the neckline and armholes, I rolled the edges and used tiny stitches to hold in place. I pinched the fabric at the shoulders and hand-stitched in place.
And then there was this gorgeous Ralph Lauren jersey pantsuit. For this I combined the pant sloper with the dartless knit bodice sloper.
Trace off the pants sloper onto paper. (1) Draw a vertical line down from the apex of the dart. Cut along that line (but don't cut out the dart). Fold the dart closed. The pattern will open at the bottom. Tape down. (2) Repeat for the back pant sloper. (3) Trace this along the outer lines. The back will be wider than the front at the hem. For this reason, you will need to balance them out. Note the difference in width between the two (see green line). Add half the width left over to the front (between green line and red line). Subtract the same amount from the back. Both pattern pieces will now be the same width at the hemline.
Trace the new front and back pattern. (4) Lay the dartless jersey dress sloper (see video) under this pattern, lining it up at the waist. Redraw the armhole and smooth out the sides near the waist. I have extended my armhole from the edge of the shoulder to half way into the shoulder line. The original photo called for a standup collar, but I have not had much success with this type of collar for my dolls, so I chose to do a "funnel collar" instead. (5) This is done by curving my line from the neck/shoulder point up by 1/4 inch (6mm). Make a horizontal line across to the center front. It will be perpendicular to the CF. (6) Now trace all external lines for your pattern and add seam allowance. I used a 4 inch(skirt) zipper down the back. HOWEVER, it is better to order a dedicated 4 inch doll zipper because the zipper pulls on the regular human zippers are out of scale. The neckline is held in place with a hook and eye. Also....the success of this jumpsuit lies in the choice of fabric. In this case, I have used a rayon jersey which has lots of drape!

Here, I've restyled this jumpsuit by pairing it with our Dolly Givenchy "embroidered" jacket and a 1970's style chain-link belt.
Without the collar, cut from a fancy material, you have an entirely different look!
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  1. I love these. I think my favorite one is the wool jumpsuit. Thanks for showing how to make these. I may have to try one for my dolls and see how it turns out. BTW, I too am old enough to have worn these in my past!

    1. Thank you Phyllis. I'm a hard core fashionista who's lived long enough to say....I've worn it ALL!!!!!

  2. Hi, I was so looking forward to this post :-). I love all the jumpsuits you made. The Ralph Lauren one is very suitable for an evening party, and the grey one is so chic! But they are all gorgeous. I remember having a white jumpsuit in the eighties and a black one in the early nineties, I loved those looks! Thank you so much for sharing the patterns!!!

    1. Hi Night Owl. Thank you for your kind words. At first I was only going to feature the one in the Haider Ackermann catwalk show. But when Billa said she was looking for new ideas in jumpsuits, I decided to do more options so that, no matter the skill set, everyone could find something they like or could make. I too, have had many many jumpsuits. I think we tend to like them because you don't have to stop and think about matching a top with the bottom. You slip them on, belt them (or not) and go!

  3. Hi April, these jumpsuits are wonderful.....and thanks thanks thanks for the patterns, for a copycat like me your posts are treasures!
    I was amazed by the versatility of the jumpsuit outfit, in fact I never thought about it as an everyday garment....soon I'm going to start to work on a safari jumpsuit!
    Kisses Billa

    1. Thank you Billa. I look forward to see what you come up with!!!

  4. There will certainly be some jumpsuits in my dolls futures. TFS.

  5. Hello from Spain: very trendy outfits. Great jumsuits. Nice pictures. Keep in touch


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