Well, call me Biggles and strap me in a cockpit! I do, as you know, enjoy a good pattern test, and was excited to see that Closet Case Patterns were looking for sewists to test their new extended range a couple of months ago. I duly stuck my name in the hat, figuring probably a zillion people volunteered, and was then delighted to be asked to test their brand new pattern – the Blanca Flight Suit, as it’s called, although you may well call this garment coveralls, a jumpsuit or, most likely where I come from, a boiler suit.
Ah, but it’s not any old boiler suit. As one of my fellow testers told me during the process – “I wasn’t expecting it to be so… sexy?!” and I had to agree. As you can see, my fabric and thread choices have a definite air of the mechanic about them (as my husband was only too keen to point out). Nevertheless, the Blanca is drafted to be semi-fitted, with a lovely curve, that keeps it on the feminine side of car repair, at least to my eyes. I made it in this beautiful lightweight and very soft canvas, which I bought from Drygoods Design at Sew Expo. It totally photographs as a navy/dark blue, but in reality is more of a dark teal/blue – a really lovely hue. I knew as soon as I felt it that it was the one – it’s so soft and pliable, it’s a pleasure to wear.
The Pattern and Sizing
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Blanca Flight Suit is that it’s packed with details, which made picking which version to test a toughie. There are three different views, with a whole variety of legs, sleeves, pockets and belts to think about.
The pattern features a centre front zipper for all views, as well as back patch pockets and a classic collar. However, you can choose between short and long sleeves, a cropped leg, straight leg and the option to use snaps to form a tapered leg. Pockets can be plain or zippered, and there are a number of belt options. The front patch pockets are cleverly designed to form your belt loops as well as pockets, which I thought was a nice touch. There’s also a fun back pleat detail, which adds a little more aviator to the design. As you can see, I decided on the straight leg, with the tapered option, the short sleeves and a tie belt.
I tested the extended size 16, which is drafted for a D cup bust (which I am, wahey!) and the measurements were a very close fit to my own. The bust and waist were spot on (44 – 37) but the hips were slightly larger at 47 inches as it’s drafted for a slightly pear-shaped figure, so I knew I’d need to reduce them slightly. The extended range goes from 14-30 and the original range from 0-20, but the overlapping sizes are different in shape, so it’s worth checking them out separately if you fall in the straddle zone (as I like to call it).
For this pattern, I did, of course, make a toile and I would highly recommend that everyone do so. I think a woven jumpsuit is one of the hardest garments to fit, because it’s like fitting a shirt and trousers separately and then making sure they work together! My assumptions before fitting were that I would need to lengthen the bodice and shorten the legs as I’m proportioned that way. I would also usually lower a bust dart and I would expect to have to scoop out the front crotch and increase the rise, which making a flat bum adjustment too. Phew!
I am showing you this highly flattering toile picture on the condition that you don’t tell anyone! Okay?? Just kidding, but you can see immediately that the hips are indeed too wide on me and there is quite a bit of strain above and below my boobs and in the stomach/crotch area. This is not because I need a full bust adjustment (and this is where fitting can be tricky), but because the front length is too short for me, as suspected. The bust area in the final garment is perfect, and I didn’t touch it.
Adjustments after muslin
Now, this is the tester garment and Closet Case Patterns have made some tweaks to the final garment, which may be similar to some of my changes. I will list those below, but I will say that many of these tweaks are standard for me, so I think they’re probably still valid on the whole. For reference, I am 5’6″ and 44-37-46.
Overall, I effectively added an inch to the body, removed the same from the legs, gave myself more room at the crotch and low bum, and narrowed the shoulders slightly. I am fairly proportional so they were all small increments apart from the hip, which was a little larger than my hip measurement anyway. Here they are in detail if you’re interested. If not, skip on past.
I made a 3/8″ narrow shoulder adjustment on front and back bodice pieces
Lowered bust dart by 1″
Added 1/4″ to side seams on back and front pieces, between underbust and waist
Added 1/2″ to length of front bodice
I also made swayback adjustment on back bodice by straightening out the hem shape as it seemed to correspond pretty closely with the excess shape I had. This wasn’t the traditional way, but I thought I’d give it a go.
Added 1/4″ to each edge to match side seam increase.
Added 1/4″ to the outseam of back and front leg, tapering to nothing quite rapidly
Removed 1’2″ (tapered to nothing at both ends) from the hip area side seam on the front and back leg – roughly from 6″ to 13″ from the waistband vertically
Scooped out 1/2″ from the back crotch curve to accommodate my low bum
Extended the front crotch seamline to add length as it was too short for me. Very slight scoop (maybe 1/8″)
Removed 1″ from the length halfway down the calf
Added length to the zipper facing as the zipper was now 1″ longer
I know this seems like a lot of adjustments, but it’s not really for such a complex garment. They’re really just tweaks, but tweaks make a difference.
I’m really happy with the fit on the final garment! For a first go, I think it worked out well. There are a few little changes I would have made and they are to narrow the shoulder quite a bit more as it’s still a bit wide on me. The armscye is also a little low and I need a little more off below the bum as there are a few wrinkles. However, Closet Case Patterns usefully made some of these changes to the final pattern: they took in the hips a little, added length to the bodice at the front and slightly shortened at the back. They tweaked the pocket grading and moved the armscye and shoulder up, while flattening the sleeve cap. I would start from my already-adjusted pattern next time, but it’s good to know if you plan on checking out the tester pictures.
I’ve made a few Closet Case patterns since I started sewing and they are always a joy to sew. The instructions are extremely thorough and the patterns are usually (with a few exceptions such as the Rome collection) aimed at slightly more experienced sewists, so they tend to be patterns I can get my teeth stuck into. The Blanca coveralls are no exception. I’m definitely not going to go through the whole construction process, but I really think they are well laid out and I’m sure Heather and the team are planning plenty of support. Here are some notes:
I thought the decision to have an adaptable leg shape was really interesting, so of course I went for that. You can see the difference in my pics below.
At first I thought the second snap might be a bit awkward, but it actually does the job nicely. I originally intended using brass snaps, but in the end thought a contrast snap to match the topstitching would be cool, so that’s what I went with. Here is the back view:
The zipper and collar are both fairly hefty, with a nod to their working man inspiration and I really like the substantial feel of them. The construction method was great here and the zipper guard is a great touch. There is no stand to the collar, so it’s a fast attachment and would be ideal for someone tackling a big project like this for the first time.
The back has a lovely little flat waistband under the belt and the back pleat is a fun idea. It’s worth noting that the back is intentionally quite long to make sure there is enough ease for moving around (and presumably, getting the thing off!) As above, I made a swayback adjustment already and I still feel the back is a little long on me, but I also don’t want to get stuck in the boiler suit, ha. The belt does a good job of cinching the back in, so overall I think it’s a good balance and it certainly feels comfortable on.
Jumpsuits have been hot stuff the last couple of years and I’ve made a few myself – the Zadie and the Sirocco spring to mind. I’ve noticed a definite focus on the boiler suit style this year though so, as usual, Closet Case Patterns are bang on the money, trend-wise. I imagine this will be a popular pattern – it’s a thoughtfully drafted version of the workwear staple, comes in a great range of sizes and, of course, has the accuracy and online support one has come to expect of this indie. The pattern launched today and I’ve just seen some of the other tester versions. Check them out under the #blancaflightsuit hashtag, because there’s really quite a variety of looks and feels. I enjoyed this test and I’m interested to see how often it rotates into my wardrobe – I’ll let you know!