The perfect jumpsuit

McCalls 5265, 1976, could this be love?

Sometimes you’re looking through a bunch of patterns at a thrift store and suddenly, like magic, you find that perfect jumpsuit pattern. Or at least I did. I’ve been buying jumpsuit patterns for a while, but none is as streamlined and unfussy as this one. It even declares this aspect of its nature on the envelope: “Carefree Patterns from McCalls.” Curiously, the original pattern cost $1.50 in 1976, and I paid the exact same amount for it 36 years later.

I already had a large amount of denim that I was saving to make the perfect jumpsuit, so I set to work cutting out the pieces and sewing them together. When I look at this kind of clothing, I’m reminded of a certain, fairly unpopular, art movement: minimalism. In particular, I’m thinking of the work of the two artists at the forefront of this movement, Robert Morris and Donald Judd.

Donald Judd, untitled plywood, 1976

They used industrial materials — plain things like steel, bricks, plywood, and they created minimal forms scaled to the human body. Although these forms seem like impersonal ordinary objects, that some people consider boring and un-artlike, they are really pointing back to the viewer and asking important questions like: where are you? And, how do you feel right now?

Here’s an image from Robert Morris’s Felt series of 1976, the same year my McCall’s 5265 pattern was issued:

Robert Morris, “Felt” series, 1976

Morris was by this time creating post-minimalist works that invoked tactile urges and responded to indeterminate actions of the curators and gallery staff that hung and displayed them. I think my jumpsuit is quite a bit like this art.

And, I’m not just referring to the collar. It’s made from ordinary, one could even say working class, material: denim (nothing special about that).And it has a minimal, simplified,  “carefree” form that responds to my indeterminate and chance actions.

Although I really loved the full-length flared trousers,  I decided I could not make them work for everyday wear and ended up shortening them to the knee.

I also had a few problems constructing it in the first place. The biggest issue was that the torso was too short creating a “cramming” situation whenever I raised my arms. After much internet research, I decided to add a gusset, which solved the problem perfectly.

Where are you and how do you feel right now?

Jumpsuit, 2012 and Robert Morris, Felt, 1976

One response to “The perfect jumpsuit

  • 70s Jumpsuit

    […] The second problem was my own fault. I used a second hand zipper because I wanted an authentic 70s feel when I zipped it up. Unfortunately the zipper I chose was more worn through than I thought and the fabric began to tear away from the garment. I reconciled to replacing it with a new one. I also decided to shorten the trousers to knee length (those wide legs were so heavy!). You can see more pictures on my blog. […]

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