All-in-One: Embracing the Jumpsuit

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


Jumpsuits (and their form-fitting cousin, the catsuit) are one of those garments that seem to bring about strong feelings: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em.

Jumpsuits certainly have a lot going for them, since it’s a complete outfit all by itself (much like a dress, but certainly more difficult to go to the bathroom in!) and the long lines can be extremely flattering on some body types. (I’ve never tried a jumpsuit, but I’m certain it’s not something I’m capable of pulling off).

Photo via Craftsy instructor and member Sarah Wilson (aka The Sexy Knitter)

Whatever your personal feelings are, jumpsuits are currently enjoying time in the fashion spotlight. Let’s take a closer look!

History of the jumpsuit

Jumpsuits originated from humble beginnings. The name originally referred to the one-piece garment worn by parachuters and skydivers, but the garment style has been adopted by many different industries, from pilots and race car drivers to astronauts and motorcyclists. Auto mechanics and plumbers also like the practicality of a jumpsuit, and jumpsuits are favored as prison garb throughout the United States and Canada.

Jumpsuits in pop culture

Rosie the Riveter famously donned a jumpsuit while urging women to work in factories during World War II. From there, jumpsuits appeared on the runway in the 1960s (with looks from designers like Yves Saint-Laurent and Norma Kamali), and then enjoyed a well-received return in the 1980s.

Jumpsuits have been popular stage attire for a variety of musicians throughout the decades, from Elvis Presley to the Spice Girls to Britney Spears.

They’ve also graced the big and small screen: Bruce Lee wore a yellow and black number in Game of Death, and the character April O’Neil from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was always seen wearing a yellow jumpsuit.

My favorite appearance by a jumpsuit, however, was on the short-lived (but brilliant) television show Freaks and Geeks. In the episode “Looks and Books,” Sam Weir’s character purchases a baby blue “Parisian night suit,” which he gamely wears to school (hoping for “super-stud” status).

Pop Culture Jumpsuits

Jumpsuits today

Jumpsuits intrinsically evoke futuristic connotations, so you can be sure they’ll never completely fade away from the fashion world. This year, jumpsuits showed up on the runways Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Reem Acra and Emilio Pucci, among others.

You can jump on the jumpsuit trend by sewing a jumpsuit. (I think it would look great in a soft, drapey fabric.)

When fitting your jumpsuit, make sure it defines your waist, and don’t be afraid to accessorize with a belt. Vary your look by rolling up the legs to capri-length, and choose your footwear wisely (you’ll probably want a heel or a wedge) so you don’t end up looking like a plumber.

Photo via Craftsy member Rhonda Flemming

Check out this great jumpsuit from Craftsy member Ronda Fleming. Ronda used the bodice from Sew Retro Perfect Bombshell Dress class to make her gorgeous 1940s-inspired jumpsuit. I think Rosie the Riveter would approve!

Would you wear a jumpsuit? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    Yes! I would wear a jumpsuit and have a couple of them. My problem is that I am very long waisted and have to make or buy them accordingly. Stretchy fabrics work best for me.

  2. gillian Sutherland says:

    I’ve worn and made jumpsuits for years – they are comfortable, practical and can be dressed up or down according to your whim! Currently, I’m making one from Butterick B5652, with a couple of customisations – I’ve embroidered alongside(either side) the side seams from leg hem to sleeve hem; I’m going to be adding a lace insert at the neck V (modesty insert), and shall be binding the V with a satin bias binding. I’m considering a lace (same as modesty insert) overlay on satin extension as a border on each leg, with a tiny satin binding (maybe as piping) at the sleeve hems. Fabric chosen is black linen, with all additions and embellishment also in black. I bought a blingy elasticated belt – it has 3 neutrals coloured sequins and a 3 prong clip-together clasp, which cost me €1 in a second hand shop. The whole thing will have cost me about €10 – €12.

    I’ve also made jumpsuits in needlecord – medium trams – with buttoned bodice and deep pockets in-seam, also in cotton with snap fasteners, and plan to make another in a silky/silk lookalike polyester/charmeuse for a floaty party-feel. I’m lucky to have an hourglass figure, albeit a plus sized one, so the opportunity to emphasise a good point is very encouraging!!

    Ladies – invest in one and wonder why you haven’t done so all those years ago! They are very easy to make and cheap too.

  3. Starr Black says:

    I made a Vogue pattern jumpsuit in the early 80′s; I think I wore it out as I loved it. Not sure it’s really age appropriate now though!

  4. Rosemary says:

    I have several jumpsuits in my wardrobe and a collection of old(vintage!) jumpsuit patterns. My favorite is the one I made from seersucker that has buttons down the front, zippers on the side, belted in the front, and a drop seat. While jumpsuits are very comfortable, they’re inconvenient when having to use the restroom so this pattern was a “winner.”