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.
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:
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.
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?