Yes, I’ve made another boiler/ jump/ flight suit! I’ve made three already and get loads of wear out of them (especially the tan cotton and the chambray ones which I wear to work on heavy rotation!). As the weather is getting cooler here in the UK, the chambray is looking less and less of an option and an alternative was needed.
I’d like to tell you that this make was part of my ‘torrent’ of Lockdown 2.0 sewing, but I made it a couple of weeks before this second lockdown. I’ve been wearing it constantly ever since. (The torrent has somewhat abated already… I’m accepting that productivity will ebb and flow!)
I’m planning on an ‘Executive Boiler Suit‘ (inspired by my ‘Executive dungarees‘ refashion from 2017!) but before I splash out on some fine wool I thought I’d tweak the pattern a bit. You see, the original pattern (Kwiksew 3389) is good, but the arm openings are pretty wide. This works fine with a short sleeve (although I have already tapered the sleeves a bit) but I know that the long sleeves would be too big for me – in it’s defence, the pattern is designed to be worn over clothes, so is particularly roomy – I want mine more fitted so I’ve Frankenstien-ed the top of the boiler suit pattern with the top of my favourite shirt pattern.
I thought it was going to be a nightmare, but in the end it was pretty easy to do, luckily the width of the pattern pieces at the waist was very close.
To start, I laid the two pattern pieces over the top of each other. I lined up the centre fronts and the shoulder line (at it’s highest point). With a new piece of paper over the top (I use spiderweb floral paper) I trace the bottom, front and neckline from the boiler suit pattern, then follow the shirt pattern along the shoulder and around the arm opening. From the under-arm, I grade back to the boiler suits’ side seam to meet the bottom edge.
For the back, I taped the yokes together first, then laid the patterns out as before. To make sure I could add seam allowance I traced the new yoke first, shifted my paper, then traced the back.
I omitted the side openings by taping the two pocket pieces together at the seam line.
I had some medium weight khaki cotton ready, washed and ironed – so I jumped straight in!
I couldn’t decide whether to embellish the back pockets or not, so by bedtime I had completed the top, waistband, fly and front legs; leaving the decision until the morning.
Waking up fresh, I could see no reason why I wouldn’t embellish my back pocket, and decided on a big ‘A’ (… for Andrew! 😉). So here’s how I did it…
(Note: The Creative 1.5 machine is on loan from Pfaff in return for an honest review and a few posts on IG. The content of this blog would be the same if I had purchased the machine myself! If you’d like to read more of my adventures with this machine check out my Bucket Hats and T-shirts – Christmas sewing ideas and, of course, read on…!)
Preparing the fabric.
I’d already cut out my pocket pieces, so to prepare it for the hoop, I cut a piece of heavyweight interfacing to fit and basted the pocket piece to it. Measuring that my A could be up to 10cm wide and 12cm tall, I marked the centre (ish) of the pocket and clipped the fabric into the hoop.
Using the software.
Next, on my laptop, I opened the embroidery software and a new project page. Click the ‘A’ (1 in the screenshot below) to go to the font menu and click on the big font box on the right (2) to open the font list. Only a few are available through this package, the ones you can pick are highlighted. I went for ‘Athletic Block’ from the ‘Fun’ range.
Type your text in the box (3) and press enter, it appears in the on-screen hoop. Each square on the hoop is 1cm so it is easy to resize your design.
Next, you’ve got to get it on the memory stick, so that goes in the laptop. Click ‘actions’ (4) and select ‘export’ from the drop down list. This is the important bit (that I missed on my initial attempts!) – Select what type of file you need it to be (5). This software works with a few different machines so it is essential to choose the right format. The Creative 1.5 uses VP3 format. There are a few other options here, but I’ve yet to look at them, the defaults seem fine for now.
On the next screen you choose where to save the file – put it straight on the USB, no sub-files or folders, just right there on the main list. Then the laptop can go away, making space for the sewing machine!
Setting up the machine.
As I mentioned in my previous post, for me this machine is big. It has taken up permanent residence on my dining table. The embroidery unit lives safely stored in it’s box down the side of my sofa. It is very tempting to use it as a coffee table… but I don’t want to start that bad habit.
It’s not a bother getting the unit out, but it is a process – especially in a small apartment – so before I do that, I get the machine ready by attaching the embroidery foot and an embroidery needle, and checking that the IDT is disengaged. At this point, I also fill a bobbin with a suitable colour.
It’s interesting to note that while the built in IDT makes switching to walking-foot-capabilities a breeze – it’s another story when you have to get the screwdriver out! Maybe it’s just me, but I find those shiny little screws an absolute nightmare to use. I would prefer a wider head, making the slot bigger. And ridged edges for loosening and tightening by hand. The screw has already slipped out of my fingers a few times. Once it bounces to the floor, it’s anyone’s guess where (and when) it might turn up!
Loading a design.
With all the prep done, it’s time to clear the decks and get the embroidery unit out. Take out the accessory tray and switch the machine off before attaching the unit (although it’s not necessary, I take this opportunity to insert the USB too). When you turn it on again, the first thing it will ask you to do is disengage the IDT and attach the embroidery foot… well, we’re already one step ahead!
Click the hoop into place. On the main screen, press the ‘heart’ to access the USB… (the plain heart, not the one with an arrow… I’m not sure what that one does yet…)
Scroll to your design and press ok….
Check you’ve got the right hoop size selected…
Then you’re ready to sew! It may seem like a lot of prep, but it just sounds like that! From opening my laptop, I got to this stage in only about half an hour.
With everything in place it’s time to hit the start button and get ready to be hypnotised!
There’s not an awful lot to do while the design is stitching out. The machine will beep and ask you to change colours and snip threads when it’s time, otherwise your time is your own… so far, I prefer to spend it staring at the machine, mesmerised by the path it takes and the way it slows down and speeds up over certain areas.
If I ever tire of that, I can watch the stitch count rolling down, equally pleasurable!
It was while the machine dutifully soldiered through its 9.6k stitches that MrA dreamed up our plans for the Christmas sewing in my last post. The hypnotic effect fills the room!
With the embroidery done, it’s time to switch off the machine & disengage the unit. Safely back in it’s coffee-table-disguise, I could get on with sewing up the rest of this boiler suit.
So the back pockets get stitched on and I can finish the assembly. I used a 2.5mm stitch length for the main construction and 3.5mm for the topstitching. I sewed the crotch and seat twice for good measure and finished all the seams on my overlocker (with my favourite rainbow thread!) before topstitching down.
Now I’ve made four of these suits I can honestly say that my least favourite part is threading the elastic through the waistband casing (another hack to the pattern). Over the years I’ve picked up some really nice pieces of elastic. Most are far too nice to be hidden in a waistband, but it’s what I have, and I convince myself that it’s a hidden luxury. Well, forget that! – The plush, soft elastic is a nightmare to pull through, too much grip, like pulling Velcro through candy-floss!
The scope of my elastic foraging will now expand to include smooth elastics with no nap.
MrA bought me this cool belt from our local charity shop, so I added some oversized belt loops. The bottle-opening element of the belt is pretty useless as it opens inwards, towards the crotch. Less than ideal! But I love the look!
As I said, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, I’m wearing it constantly! Here’s a shot of me in it at work….
… Out for a bike ride…
And don’t forget that back pocket….
I think a denim one will be next, then maybe my formal version… yes, I’m definitely committing to this as a look!
Until next time,
Notes to self:
- Find some nice suiting fabric for a winter version.
- Buy some cheaper feeling elastic that will thread more smoothly!
- Keep the Christmas sewing up!