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  • samanthadsherratt

So She Sews (Thelma Boiler Suit)

This is my Thelma Boiler Suit, which is from Merchant and Mills. I've never been tempted by many of their patterns before, but back in the early stages of the first lockdown last year I for some reason decided I wanted a boiler suit, and this was the pattern that came out as the top option. Part of the reason for wanting one came because my sister tagged me in a photo of a kids boiler suit, corduroy with contrast fabric for the collar and cuffs (sadly the post has been taken down now) despite not being a child, that is what I wanted.

I made the...interesting decision of not buying the printed pattern and downloading the pdf, it's big. I think it was about 72 pages of a4 in total, thankfully all recycled from old work pages my Dad no longer needed. I spent one long afternoon sticking it all together, and then cutting up. I could have rolled around on it in many directions and not fallen off it was that big.

I made a practice one first out of some old fabric of my Grans, I didn't want to spend loads of money on cord and have it go wrong, and also because it seemed like at any point it could very easily go wrong - there are 22 pieces in the pattern! I learnt a lot from doing that, mainly that if I don't like the fabric I am NOT inspired to make it at all. It sat cut up in a bag for months and I made many other things before I decided to actually put it together.

I didn't have enough for full sleeves on the practice, and in retrospect I wish I did. I made the size 8 exactly as it was and it is a great fit, however, it is ever so slightly too short in the bodice and I wish sometimes when I reach up for things that I had a little bit more wiggle room in the crotch!

The pattern is actually really straightforward to put together, I'm very good at rushing projects because I get so eager to wear them, but I took my time with this and made sure I followed every step really carefully - mainly because undoing seams is my least favourite thing ever, and also I made it during the second lockdown, so I really didn't have much else to do or anywhere to go! Every seam is zigzagged - which with this cord I'm really glad I did - I'm usually too eager to wear stuff to do things like that!

The fabric I managed to get from Rainbow Fabrics in Kilburn when I popped to London in September. It was their last 2.5m of it, I'd hesitated to buy it before (I have a very large stash), then continued to think about it over and over and decided I needed to make it and came to buy the fabric when this was all they had left...

Thankfully with my doing the bottom collar and pockets out of a contrasting fabric (also Rainbow Fabrics) I managed to have just enough fabric with the 2.5m I had.

I used poppers instead of buttons, mainly because I didn't fancy sewing buttonholes in such thick fabric. I waited until the end to add in the poppers though which was a mistake. At the stage you do the button holes on the body, should have been the stage I did the poppers, but I hadn't bought them yet so I waited until it was all sewn together to add them in. It took a bit of fanangling to get them in and it meant I had to undo some of the buttonhole separators you sew in at an earlier stage because I couldn't have done the poppers otherwise. The only thing I left off was the back pocket flaps because I thought they would end up looking a bit too bulky in the cord fabric and I haven't missed them.

I LOVE this boiler suit. I already have plans for making a more summery lighter fabric one, possibly with shorter sleeves, and also poppers again because who enjoys sewing button holes (not me). The instructions are really clear and the drawings made life a lot easier! I also like the hidden button placket too, a few other boiler suit patterns have zips and for some reason I'm not a fan of them.

PS. With this make there are big apologies to my old bosses and adopted big brothers Rob and Tony, who used to make me wear boiler suits when I worked for smallcarBIGCITY and I used to moan no end about how much I hated wearing them when we were pretending to be in the Italian Job, but those ones were a bit of a one size fits no one situation...turns out I just needed to make one that fitted me.

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