It was 2006. Everyone was talking about the latest summer trend: a single piece of garment with the top completely connected to the shorts. From casual tank tops to structured styles, ladies were rocking it everywhere! There were Youtube videos and blog posts on how to style the trend. There were even tutorials on how to make your own. The romper was making a comeback. I wondered how it would look like on my petite frame.
My association with the romper was limited to baby playsuits and reminded me of baby onesies. The inconvenience of going to the restroom in it made the thought of wearing one unappealing. Most rompers I tried on at the mall were also ill-fitting on my petite frame: the waistline was often too low and the bodice hung on me like a potato sack.
It would be a year before I found one that matched my petite proportions. Since then, I haven’t looked back. Here is one romper combined with another trending style, the off-the-shoulder trend, that you can easily make.
You’ll need the following:
- 3 Yards fabric
- 3 Yards decorative elastic
- 1 Yard elastic
- Basic pattern-making tools
- Basic sewing tools
Making the Pattern
There are five patterns.
Pattern A: Bodice
Pattern B: Sleeve
Pattern C: Shorts, front
Pattern D: Shorts, back
STEP 1. With the shirt on, mark the following points:
- Center front and sleeve where you want the neckline to sit
- Smallest part of your waist
STEP 2. With the shirt laid flat, draw a straight line from the center mark and extend it across the bodice. Connect it to the mark on the sleeve.
STEP 3. Trace out half of the shirt (Pattern A) with the new neckline. Add two inches to the length.
STEP 4. Trace out the sleeve (Pattern B). If needed, extend the length and taper it out towards the wrist. Don’t add any seam allowances yet because you may need to make some adjustments in the next few steps.
STEP 5. Trace out the front and back of a pair of shorts (Pattern C and D). Measure the length of the side seam.
STEP 6. Draw a vertical line from the bottom of the shorts that is the same length as the one you measured in Step 5. This will be the new side seam.
STEP 7. Connect the new side seam to the center. This horizontal line will be the new waistline. Don’t be alarmed if it sits lower than the original one. The position of the side seam has moved, but the final length of the side seam and waist remains the same.
Widen the Pattern
The hips naturally curve in towards the waist. Since we won’t be using any zippers or buttons, we need to make sure the romper is wide enough to fit over the hips.
STEP 8. Measure around the widest part of your hips and divide it by four. If the width of each pattern is less than this, the romper will not fit over your hips, so you will need to widen the pattern.
STEP 9. To do this, cut each of the four patterns in half lengthwise. Space out the halves so that the total width across each pattern is at least ¼ the measurement of your hip. A wider pattern will create a more gathered romper and vice versa. Increase or decrease the width of the pattern as needed.
STEP 10. Trace out the new patterns.
STEP 11. Add 1 inch seam allowance to the waist. This will be used to create the casing for the elastic. If using a wide elastic, increase the seam allowance accordingly.
STEP 12. Add ½ seam allowance to all remaining raw edges. Anything that will be cut on fold, such as the bodice and sleeve, will not require seam allowance.
Putting the Top Together
STEP 13. Sew the front and back bodice together at the sides.
STEP 14. Fold the sleeves and sew the underarm closed.
STEP 15. Attach the sleeves to the bodice.
STEP 16. Mark the following four points on the neckline of the bodice.
- Two sides
- Center front
- Center back.
STEP 17. Take a piece of decorative elastic that fits snugly around your shoulders and divide it into four equal parts. For a quick and easy way to do this, fold it in half twice and mark the location of the folds.
STEP 18. Match up the marks on the decorative elastic to the marks on the neckline. This will help to distribute the elastic evenly along the neckline.
STEP 19. With the decorative side facing away from the raw edge, pin the elastic in place. Fold the raw edge under. Make sure the decorative part of the elastic shows from underneath the finished edge. Secure the fold with a single zigzag stitch. The single stitch will help to maintain the elasticity of the elastic.
STEP 20. Finish the sleeves using the same decorative elastic. Since the elastic will only act as a visual feature here, either a straight stitch or a zigzag stitch can be used. Take care to not stretch the elastic while sewing because this will create a gathered wrist. Instead, it should be the same length as the wrist.
Putting it Together: The Bottom
STEP 21. Attach the front and back of the short legs together. Sew along the side and center seams.
STEP 22. Turn one of the legs right side out and insert it into the other leg. Sew along the crotch.
STEP 23. With right sides facing together, attach the shorts to the bodice. Make sure the seam allowance is wide enough to fit your elastic. Finish the raw edge either with a serger or a zigzag stitch.
STEP 24. Fold the seam towards the shorts and topstitch in place to creating the casing. Leave a two-inch opening in the casing.
STEP 25. Cut a piece of elastic that fits snugly around your waist, but can also stretch enough to fit over your hips. Thread it through the casing. Be careful not to lose the ends of the elastic inside the casing! The elastic will also sometimes flip over while you’re threading it through. So check that the elastic is flat all the way around.
STEP 26. Sew the ends of the elastic together, and insert it back into the casing. Close the two-inch opening.
STEP 27. Hem the bottom of the shorts either by using the decorative elastic or by folding the hem under twice and top stitching in place. My shorts were cut in such a way that the finished edge of the fabric made up the hem of the shorts. Since the fabric will not fray, I chose not to hem them.