Welcome to the Jane Sew-Along! If you still need your pattern, you can buy it here. (The code JANESEWALONG is still good to get 15% off for the next week!) And don’t forget to join the Facebook Group.
I know one of the trickiest parts of starting a sewing project is knowing what kind of fabric to use. The Jane Set requires very careful planning with fabric because of the fit of the pattern, and the type of fabric it was designed for. This pattern has negative ease, and is designed for stretch woven fabrics. That means that the garment is smaller than your body measurements, and the fabric stretches to provide a curve-hugging fit. Fun fact: we may think of spandex as a recent invention, but 50s jumpsuits and swimwear were often made from a fabric called Lastex, which was precursor to Spandex fabrics. Elastane was a very stretchy woven fabric with a slight ribbed texture to it, like a stretch faille. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for a good substitute for Lastex; see my recommendations below.
Fabric Types and the Stretch Test
The Jane Set pattern was designed for light to medium weight stretch woven fabrics, like stretch twill, denim, sateen, bengaline, and gabardine. Rayon/poly/lycra (RPL) blends are a good option, as are wool/spandex blends and suiting.
Shop specifically for fabrics blended with Lycra/spandex. I recommend fabrics with at least 25% stretch, meaning you can take a 4-inch piece of relaxed fabric and stretch it to 5 inches. Note that this is different from the composition of the fabric! A fabric may be labeled 3-4% lycra but still stretch 25%.
I know this can all be really overwhelming, and sometimes it’s nice to have specific, tried and true recommendations. So here are some great fabrics that I personally have used for the Jane Set:
Stretch bengaline is the closest thing, texture-wise, to a vintage Ceeb jumpsuit. It has little faille-like ribs in the fabric and lots of stretch. I made every single test version of the Jane in this particular fabric. It’s economical and a great option for your first version. Buy extra so you can test the pattern first! Also, the purple is a really pretty eggplant color. Note: the stretch in this fabric goes parallel to the selvage (which is unusual) so you will need to cut the pieces the opposite way to the layouts, so that the stretch goes around the body rather than lengthwise.
Another stretch bengaline option with lots of color options! I made the orange romper below with this fabric. I like this fabric as a super cheap option ($5.99 a yard!), but it does require some special handling to sew. It’s 70% polyester, so it will melt if your iron is too hot. Use a press cloth, as this fabric does look best when properly pressed.
This fabric has a lighter drape than the bengaline, and I ended up using it for the aqua playsuit shown below (color: Blue Sheer). It’s much thinner than bengaline, and I like how it looked for the fuller shorts option. It has a more “natural” feel to it than the bengaline.
I hesitate to mention this fabric, as it is shockingly expensive for the average fabric budget ($52.95-82.95 per yard). This is a wool/lycra blend with four-way stretch (lots of crosswise stretch and just a little lengthwise stretch), and it is truly a dream to sew and wear. The natural fiber content means it’s more breathable, the wool isn’t itchy, it’s overall very flattering on the body. If you’ve already tested the Jane in a cheaper fabric and want a spectacular special version, I can’t recommend this fabric enough. (If you need to justify it to yourself, remember that an original Ceeb jumpsuit can go for upwards of $1,000 and you only need a maximum of 2 yards to sew the jumpsuit.)
All three jumpsuits below were made with the Four-Way Wool and Viscose Blend Techno Stretch fabric:
If you’re looking for other types of fabric, head to the regular woven section of your fabric store and look for anything labeled “stretch” or lycra/spandex blends. Stretch sateens, denims, and twills are fairly common, are on the inexpensive side, and generally are made from primarily natural fibers. Just make sure to do the stretch test!
Fabrics to Avoid
- Knits, jerseys, swimwear fabrics, etc. Knits are made differently from stretch wovens, and usually have less structure and more stretch.
- Non-stretch wovens. You must use a fabric with stretch, otherwise the jumpsuit will not fit correctly. (The exception in this pattern is the bustier, which has elastic shirring in the back, so may be made with a non-stretch woven fabric.)
I hope this is helpful in choosing your fabric for the Jane Sew-Along! Check back in a couple days for the supplies post.