TL; DR – I may actually love jumpsuits, I just may have been too ready to judge drawstring waists harshly, testing patterns in FUN!
Now that the Farris Jumpsuit pattern from Jennifer Lauren Handmade has officially been released, I can share my review of the pattern and my adventures in being a PATTERN TESTER.
I feel like I’ve just leveled-up as a sewist, not going to lie.
Way back in…IDK, before we decided to move, so maybe in the spring, or maybe even during the winter, I started seeing calls for plus-sized pattern testers. More and more independent pattern companies are starting to expand their size range and need sewists to test their patterns in the new, larger sizes. I, for one, want to support these companies (ok, most of them are individuals and a small, small team) in their quest to meet the demands of plus-sized sewists to include a more inclusive size-range. And, I figured I was now at the perfect level to be able to give feedback the pattern-maker could use: no longer a beginner, I was advanced enough (ok, confident enough) to be able to do the most common things but not so advanced that I could easily fill any gaps in the instructions or just make alterations “on the fly”.
Plus, you know, free patterns.
There is a debate on whether or not pattern testers should be compensated, beyond receiving the free pattern, for their work. As an academic, I am way more likely to give away this kind of work for free because that’s how we’ve been conditioned (see: academic publishing). Heck, we’re conditioned to PAY to do our work (see: academic conferences, some kinds of academic publishing), so a free pattern and a chance to contribute to the larger, plus-sized sewing community seemed to me like a good trade-off. I do understand that there is a real cost involved and that work, ALL WORK, even if it is a hobby, is valuable and deserves to be fairly compensated. I don’t know how to square that circle, and it’s an argument I’ve been having about freelance writing (YOU CAN’T PAY RENT WITH EXPOSURE) for a while now.
So I acknowledge my privilege of being able to get by on just receiving a free pattern as compensation, and an already abundant stash of fabric and notions from which to choose from, and that being compensated with the free pattern in no way influenced my review of this pattern.
I was skeptical when I first got word that I had been selected to test this particular pattern. This pattern checked all of the boxes for me of patterns I would not have bought/made had I not agreed to test it: wide leg, drawstring waist…ok just those two things, but they were pretty big things for this thicker-waisted, shorter-torso sewist. But I figured, eh, it’s a tester, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, I give the feedback and reuse the fabric for something else.
I did, however, finally find a pattern for this striped rayon fabric I had in my stash. It’s really, really light and flowy, so while I thought I would make something sharp and tailored out of it, I had bought it back when I had just started sewing and didn’t understand anything about fabric weight. Could this fabric had been make into something sharp and tailored? Sure. But I would have probably given up in frustration before finishing because the fabric would have been too hard to manipulate.
Plus, I thought the vertical stripes would help even out the wide leg on me. Which, I wasn’t wrong.
The pattern itself was easy to follow. I did struggle with the pocket instructions, but that was probably just me, and they are the same style pockets at the Zadie jumpsuit, so I just got those instructions out and followed them instead. I also struggled with getting the f’ing drawstring through due to certain points where you had to maneuver the string between layers and I didn’t quite understand which layers I needed to go through. That was probably the hardest part of the whole damn thing.
I did grade between sizes at the waist (graded out one size) easily enough, and I decided to make a wide cuff at the bottom, which I just guessed at how to do, rather than look it up. I just used pre-made black bias tape for the waist-tie, and I might switch it out eventually to something more durable and/or nice, but for now, it works.
And, folks, THE WHOLE DAMN THING WORKS.
The picture is more recent than when I first made the pattern, and while I was skeptical when I first made it, some pressing and some wear have made it into a favorite of mine. So much of a favorite, I wore it for my birthday party we had at our new home. The pattern is a little different from when I tested it, as it is now easier to get in and out of, there is no false fly, and there is a playsuit option, which was another direction I was going to go in once I gave my feedback – chopping off the legs and making the bottoms shorts instead of pants. I’m glad I stuck with the wide-leg, giant cuffs because I feel like I’m really rocking it.
Also, look at how long my hair is getting! And, a glimpse of my cute little backyard patio!
Now, back to testing these other patterns…