Hey y’all! Coming to you today with a fun pattern hack for our Amy Jumpsuit – a strapless romper using elastic shirring!
I can’t believe how long this pattern hack has taken me to finally realize. I’ve had this idea since LAST SPRING (even ordered the fabric for it!) and only got around to making it this summer. The idea came from a similar strapless jumpsuit I acquired in a clothing swap a few years ago. It was a swingy rayon strapless number, miraculously held up with oodles of elastic shirring. It was a bit too small and falling apart, but It was also SO comfy that I wore it into the ground during the truly humid and hard to bear summer days of 2019 (our conception of “hard to bear” obviously being much different this year, sigh). It occurred to me that I could create pretty much the same garment by making some simple modifications to our Amy Jumpsuit pattern, so that’s just what I did.
The finished result is the perfect jumpsuit for days that are so hot you can’t even – loose and flowy on the bottom, strapless up top. I used a rayon from Stonemountain & Daughter, and I love how the print looks compressed into shirring vs free and flowy.
To accomplish this hack, I used the front and back pattern pieces only – no need for straps or a facing! To figure out the length of the bodice, I held the front piece up to my body and decided where I wanted the crotch seam to fall, and where I wanted the top of the strapless part to end. In my case, it ended up being a few inches above the V point on the original jumpsuit, but this will be a bit different for everyone.
The key is to make sure the crotch hits a comfy spot (minimum 1-2″ below your actual crotch) while still maintaining length through the bodice. I wanted the top seam to hit right below the fold of my armpit, so I drew a line perpendicular to center front around where I wanted it to end. Creating a right angle here ensures the bodice will be straight across the top once the two pieces are sewn together. This line should be about as wide as the hip on the jumpsuit so you can easily get it on and off (or at least your hip width + 2 inches of ease, divided in two for front and back). Once I had my new bodice line, I connected it to the existing hipline on the jumpsuit as smoothly as possible, trying to create a right angle on the side seam like I did at center front. You should now have what is essentially a rectangle a bit wider than your hips added to the front jumpsuit piece. You’ll repeat the same process for the back; make sure your notches line up and the overall length is the same in front and back.
Once I modified my pattern piece, I held it up to my body and figured out roughly where I wanted the shirring to end. Mine ends at my natural waist, but you could make it a bit higher if you wanted an empire look. I also changed the direction of the grainline so it was parallel to center front and side seam – it means it won’t be perfectly centered on the leg, but I think it’s more important that the grainline be square on the shirring part.
Here are the changes you’ll make to the pattern piece:
It looks strange, but remember you’ll be adding shirring which will shrink everything down into a nice, stretchy package.
Construction wise, you’ll assemble the front and back pieces together along the center seams, finish, and press to one side. Next up you want to finish the top edge of the jumpsuit before sewing the shirring. You could do a very narrow hem if you’re using a fine fabric, but I opted for rolled hem using my serger. I tinkered with the settings until I got it right, which was a dense, narrow, non-puckering seam completely wrapped in thread.
Once the front and back were assembled it’s time to start shirring! I think even rows about a 1/2″ apart gives a nice effect, so I drew in guidelines on the front and back bodice down to the waist area with chalk. We’ll be sharing a general “how to” post for shirring next week, but here’s a visual of what my bodice looked like after I was done.
One thing I noticed while wearing it: with just the shirring it has a tendency to slide down, not exactly ideal if you’re braless. My advice would be to zig-zag a narrow piece of 3/8″ elastic along the top edge. The RTW jumpsuit I based this off of has that detail and it stays up much better. If you are feeling a bit apprehensive about the strapless situation, you could also add some cute rouleau straps (maybe tying at the shoulder?) for added security.
We’ll be sharing a shirring DIY post next week in case you’d like to try this technique on your own. It’s adaptable to many garments, and it’s surprisingly easy to sew.
I’m super happy with how this hack turned out – it’s so great when an experiment works! Unfortunately, fall is well underway here in Montreal, so I suspect I won’t get much of a chance to wear it for the rest of the year. I’ll be very excited to pull it out for out hottest days next summer! In the meantime, do you have any questions about this project?