Of course for my first garment I chose one of the most complex of the bunch! The Ailakki Cross Front Jumpsuit was released as part of Named's second collection and was probably the pattern which piqued my interest in the company and had me eagerly anticipating every future release. I actually chose the pattern as part of my #2016makenine on Instagram (you pick nine patterns/projects to make over the coming year) and it is the third one I've completed so I really need to pick up the pace. Anyway, despite this jumpsuit being released a good couple of years ago I think it's actually even more on trend in 2016! The pegged trouser, cut out front and shoulder exposing neckline are all over the shops this season.
The fabric for this project was every so kindly provided for me by Remnant Kings. I had a hard time trying to choose from the vast variety of fabrics on their site especially as they have a rather lovely array of prints which I consistently find myself succumbing to when shopping for fabric online. However, knowing that I desperately wanted to sew this pattern in particular really helped me to focus my choice and I settled on this beautiful maroon colour of their triple crepe. It's a lovely quality, pretty heavy weight crepe which is nice and opaque and spongy. I love the texture of crepe and the scrummy matte finish that gives to the vivid colours it is available in. It does fray like crazy as it's made up of so many short fibres which go EVERYWHERE and also can be difficult to get a nice press in because of it's polyester content and bouncy nature. Despite it's handling issues I'm really pleased I chose it for this project as the lovely drape means the trousers hang nicely but it's also got enough body to give them a bit of shape and add emphasis to the pleats at the front waistline.
The only thing I was a little concerned about regarding the fabric was how well it would hold the shape of the bodice. You want nice clean, angular lines along that cross over neckline for it to look good. To give it a bit more structure I used a piece of reasonably weighty purple cotton sateen from my stash to line it. It's more tightly woven than the crepe and has a crisper drape so combining it with the crepe has kept things looking sharp. The pattern has you under stitch as much as possible along the top edges of the bodice but I've still found that my lining wants to creep out to the right side a little. Next time I might cut my lining pieces just a little smaller to make the seam line roll to the inside.
To line the pockets I had a rummage in my stash of quilting cotton scraps to find something nice and sturdy with a fun print. (O yeah this pattern has pockets! Could it be any more perfect for a night on the dance floor?!) I love the firework style print I found! The red tones tie it in with the colours of the fashion fabric and the metallic gold flecks make it perfect for a party outfit! I originally used this cotton to replace the back of a dinner shirt for my Stepdad to wear to my Stepbrother's evening wedding reception. It was entirely my Stepdad's idea and fabric choice and so perfect to reveal when it was time for dancing!
I used a lightweight fusible interfacing on the waistband and pocket facings which was a good match for the soft crepe. I opted to change the exposed zip the pattern recommends to an invisible, purely because I don't really like the look of exposed ones, never really got that trend. I prefer the sleek, clean look of an invisible. Another thing I did differently to the instructions was to cut away the fabric taken into the bodice darts and press them open. Although the darts in the lining are pressed in the opposite direction to those in the fashion fabric to reduce bulk, in this dense triple crepe I still felt there was too much bulk around the waistline for this style.
The deep v back is one of my favourite features of the design. It's super flattering and just the right amount of sexy. It's also just the right depth to still be able to get away with a strapless bra, however the front cut out unfortunately scuppers that plan! You kind of only get a glimpse of bra as I love around though so I feel like if I make that cut out just slightly smaller next time it would be fine. I was worried I'd feel a bit exposed without a bra in this but actually the coverage is pretty great and the bodice fits so neatly that you don't feel like things are going to shift around or reveal anything.
I am pretty much totally in love with the final garment, with the exception of a few minor fitting tweaks which I'll get onto in a minute. I did love making it too but the process wasn't without it's fair share of frustration! There was a lot of unpicking involved in the bodice as it's very easy to get confused about which bits are being sewn to what and I got a bit twisted! There are also quite a few steps which involve sewing a seam and leaving a certain length open at one end. If you've got a brain like a sieve like mine I'd very much recommend adopting the technique of putting two pins in at the point where you need to stop sewing. The amount of times I went on autopilot and just kept chugging along, removing pins then had to go back and unpick!
The instructions are generally pretty thorough but there are a few tricky/unusual parts to the construction that I felt were skimmed over or not described in enough detail. To sew the corners where the straps meet the neckline at the back you need to pivot at the right point to get a crisp shape and under stitching is fiddly. In the instructions there is no mention of this aspect and it's illustrated as a curve. I found the pocket construction method to be unusual (compared to what I am used to) and will stick to my usual method of attaching the pocket bags to the trouser pieces before sewing the side seam next time. I do love that there is a pocket facing piece though!
I cut the size 38 and made no changes with the exception of taking 2" off the length of the trousers when I hemmed them which is not an unusual alteration for me. I'm really happy with how the trousers fit, which is actually the aspect I thought I'd have most trouble with! I think there's quite a bit of ease built into the style but my hip measurement is slightly larger than the Named size 38 and I'm happy with the slightly less roomy fit around the bum. The one change I would make next time is to shorten the bodice a little, probably from the shoulder now I've had a fiddle with this one on. I'm quite short in the shoulder so this is a common adjustment for me to stop straps slipping down but I'm actually mainly doing it with this to lift the position of the waistband. It hits me right where the waistband hits the model in the sample on the Named website, a little below the natural waist. But I think I'd feel more comfortable with it sitting at my narrowest point. I have quite a pronounced high hip so a waistband that should sit there always tends to want to ride up to the waist and that in turn make the bodice shift around.
All in all I'm delighted with the project. I don't know if I need another in my wardrobe but I'd definitely like to make the bodice and trousers again as a dress/separate garment. This is a fairly bold style for me so I'm really pleased that I went for a dense solid colour and matte finish. Thank you to Remnant Kings for providing me with such an ideal fabric. Definitely a garment to be accessorised with a cocktail, who's going to join me?!