I started 2017’s sewing strong on Jan 5th and 6th with three Evelyn rompers from OhhhLuluSews. I’ve admired her custom lingerie for a while now. I really liked her wrap-front crane romper, so I bought myself a similar pattern for Christmas. This was my first return to garment sewing since sometime in the spring/summer of 2016, and it was a great experience.
I got burned out of sewing last year by a disastrous experience with a self-drafted pattern and the Seamwork Mesa dress. I’d ordered a bunch of performance knit from Spoonflower in three gorgeous prints, intending to make a series of easy-to-sew and easy-to-wear dresses for work and casual wear.
Predictably, the performance knit was really difficult to work with and the patterns were frustrating garbage. I never figured out what was going with the fabric, but I’m pretty sure it was my problem. I didn’t hit the right combination of tension and needle type. I intended to use a self-drafted fit & flare dress pattern for all three dresses. I cut the terrariums and the space prints, but the bodice became too small when I lined it. There wasn’t enough ease in the pattern or stretch in the fabric, I think. I made a new bodice out of thinner yellow knit to complement the yellow in the terrarium print, but I ended up hating the dress. I just didn’t like the yellow on me, even if it was a good fit for the fabric. So I stomped around and cried a bunch and balled the skirts up in a corner.
My back-up pattern was the Seamwork Mesa. I cut that pattern in the gray teardrop print in my size and found it to be the least flattering thing I’d ever worn. Two or three sizes too big in the chest, a size too small at the hips, tons of awful pooling in the back. I tried taking it in 2-3″ at both side seams and darting the living hell out of the back, but I couldn’t get it to look remotely flattering. I was gratified to learn later that lots of more talented seamstresses (I guess we’re saying “sewists” now? ew) had endless problems with Seamwork patterns. So in retrospect I know that my mistakes were a) trusting Seamwork, and b) not knowing what a swayback adjustment was.
Anyway, the point of all this is to say that this January I had a lot of emotional baggage and possibly salvageable knit, so I thought I’d make it all into loungewear. And it worked!
OhhhLuluSews recommends wovens cut on the bias for Evelyn. I didn’t do either because I was working with a very limited amount of salvaged fabric. I figured if I cut the knit on the grain, it’d have plenty of stretch and be fine…and if I didn’t, I was using fabric I had already “ruined” once and it was no big loss. I had to actually clip the shoulders and the crotch short in a few places (which I later regretted) to get all the pieces cut, but it worked.
I ended up grateful for the knit’s stretch because the pattern’s largest size (I think 14?) only just fit. I sewed the first version with the recommended seam allowance, self-bias binding on the top, and a turned under hem on the shorts. It was just small enough that adding elastic to the waist tugged the crotch up uncomfortably, and the shorts hit super high on my hips & butt. The wrap front also gaped a lot more than I’d imagined, though now that I look at the product listing again, I’d imagined wrong. But I was happy enough that I figured I’d keep going and try to correct those issues in version 2.
Later, I went back and added a few inches of elastic to version 1’s waist and a panel of 2″ extra length to the crotch, and now it fits fine. When I’m wearing the romper you don’t see the panel unless you are staring up at my crotch, which makes you the weird asshole in this situation.
For the second version, I used about a 1/8″ seam allowance. When I attached the shorts to the top, I sewed the full 3/4″ allowance on the top and 1/8″ on the shorts. This gave me plenty of room for the waistband, more length in the shorts, and less work trimming the seam before sewing the waistband. It worked like a dream.
Unfortunately, the added seam allowance exaggerated some under-arm and back-gape that I hadn’t noticed in the first version, so I darted about 1″ off both side seams. This snugged up the back fit but inadvertently created a little neck-gape. Whoops. Tacking down the neckline fixed it just fine.
I didn’t make bias tape for versions 2 or 3 because I didn’t have enough fabric, so I picked out pink bias tapes to match the pink in the prints. This could have been another print-matching disaster. I’m not a pink person and I didn’t want the romper to read super junior. It turns out it does only a little, and I don’t care!
Using store-bought woven bias tape on a knit that I didn’t stay stitch probably added to the gaping issues. But the gaping was easy to fix, the pink bias tape is cute as hell, and not making my own bias tape made the whole project faster. I made versions 2 and 3 in about 4-5 hours total.
By the time I finished version 2 I was feeling pretty confident about my alterations. Version 3 went together quickly, but because I had literally cut corners when cutting the pieces, the fit was a little more snug than version 2. It’s still comfortable and I love it most of all because it is like adult Steven Universe pajamas. And who doesn’t want to fall asleep thinking about gay space gems?
In the end they’ve all got weird seams and none of the prints match anywhere, but I love them. Version 1 has the added crotch length panel. For version 2, I couldn’t fit the whole back shorts piece onto the fabric I had. I ended up piecing together the crotch and the main back shorts body to create a seam across the lower butt, about where a panty gusset would hit. It was tricky to figure out how to piece them together, but it’s mostly invisible and I hid all the uneven edges under bias tape. For version 3, I had to cut the front shorts upside down, which is actually kind of cute with the space print. The upper back panel also has a seam down the center.
I’m sure they all look hella amateur if you are a professional, but I love my cute as hell, impractical, gapey rompers that I rescued from the trash can. I have been wearing them nonstop. They’re the perfect thing to throw on post-yoga (& post-shower) on days when I have nothing to do but look at patterns on the internet. I usually wear them with a kimono robe I made using McCall’s 6552, a sheer polkadot poly-something from the clearance bin at JoAnn years ago, velvet and sheer ribbon, and homemade binding from leftover silk velvet.1 It all clashes like hell and I feel like the queen of lingerie.
THINGS I LEARNED
- I really like OhhhLuluSews patterns! But I’ll probably want to grade them up a size in the future.
- I don’t remember if I’ve bothered to make bias binding before. I hated making it and loved the end result. Sounds about right.
- Rompers are every bit as cute and impractical as I imagined. I like wearing them for sewing and general puttering around the house, but I do not like stripping to pee or how they ride up when I sleep in them. This will not stop me wearing them.
- I should probably find a better neutral background for pictures.
WOULD I MAKE THIS AGAIN?
- It’s a super quick, simple pattern that would be fun to use to test some more advanced techniques.
- “Any” amount of hand sewing
- Learning to work with more delicate fabrics
- It would be fun to try an FBA on it, now that I know what that is, and see if that addresses my neck gape issues
- I thought three rompers was enough, but I could probably do with one for every day of the week.
- I would love to make an outdoor-wearable version in this black silk jersey I’ve been hoarding. I think I know how to fix the neck gape and lengthen the shorts, but I’m going to wait until I’m sure I know.
1. Which I won’t blog because I think I finished it in 2016, and started it in…2014? It sat around half finished for years because I wanted to finish the edges with velvet but I didn’t want to actually work with velvet. It took like an hour once I bothered to try. It’s already fraying a bit at a shitty seam and the button holes look like garbage, but it’s done, god damnit.↩
PS: ok but seriously, I really love clashing prints a lot.