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Megan Nielsen Durban Jumpsuit & Marble Dyeing with Shaving Foam

The Durban Jumpsuit is one of Megan Nielsen’s latest pattern offerings. I was asked to be part of a project where they feature various makers and their versions of the Durban, and I jumped at the chance because I love me a jumpsuit pattern. Needless to say, it’s also super cool to work on a MN pattern. From previous experience, I knew that the drafting and instructions will be top-notch, so this was a real treat. It's also worth checking the Megan Nielsen blog because they are going to be posting a series of helpful sewing tips and tricks in the construction of the jumpsuit.

This pattern didn’t disappoint at all. It is a lovely pattern mainly because of the simplicity of the silhouette combined with many options to customise it to your liking. There are 4 main views to choose from, but the basic pattern is a V-neck or round neck bodice with a button-down front. After you decide which bodice to make, then there are options for full-length tapered or wide-legged pants. Or you can also choose pant legs that are romper-length. There are also different pant leg lengths conveniently marked to accommodate for regular height or tall. For sleeves, the options are sleeveless, short sleeves, or long sleeves. Pocket options include inseam pockets, and patch pockets for the front and back pant legs. To top it off, there are pattern pieces for making a tie-belt and belt loops to cinch in the jumpsuit at the waist. You will be spoiled for choice with so many different options to mix and match, which means that for the price of one pattern, there’s quite a bit of bang for your buckeroos.

I chose to make the sleeveless V-neck bodice with wide-legged pants and patch pockets in the front and back. There are 2 size ranges for this pattern. The first range is Size 0-20, and the curvy range is 14-34. I made a size 4 with no modifications, and the pant legs cut at regular length. The instructions are very clear and it was basically a relaxed, stress-free and enjoyable sew. And that’s how it feels when I wear it as well. It’s a jumpsuit for easy living and effortless style. It’s great to throw on for a quick brunch, or a grocery stop or a walk at the beach. It can even be worn to the office because it looks really smart (even elegant) when made in the right fabric. This is a very versatile design and is worthy of multiple versions for your closet collection.

For my first version, I wanted to make a rainbow-coloured linen jumpsuit that I can wear for a leisurely picnic in the park on a clear sunny day. In the midst of planning my make and looking at the design and line drawings, I had the sudden lightning-bolt-inspiration to create a shaving foam marble-dyed jumpsuit. Whenever this feeling hits, I always get some kind of electric current goosebumps, followed by intense excitement, then extreme dread. Excitement because it is a kind of eureka moment; and dread because I can’t ever ignore this project no matter how gargantuan it's going to be. While figuring out how to proceed with this marble dye, the feeling of dread got stronger because I realised the execution wasn’t going to be easy.

Well at first glance, marble-dyeing with shaving foam didn’t seem like such a difficult thing to do when working with smaller pieces of fabric or a reasonably-sized garment to dye. I looked at many YouTube videos which showed how to do it with T-shirts and pillow cases, and part of me looked forward to it. It looks incredibly fun to do. But how am I going to manage this with a full-length jumpsuit? This would mean that I would require enough shaving foam to fill up a baby pool, and a large work surface to manage these numerous larger pieces of fabric. I ended up marble dyeing this entire project crawling on my kitchen floor which was protected by a dollar-store shower curtain. I managed to problem-solve it, but I won’t lie - this required some elbow grease and patience and some stamina. So was the whole project worth the time and effort? Well, you tell me. What do you think?

There’s also the extra cost incurred for creating this rainbow marbled fabric, because multiple cans of shaving foam doesn’t come cheap. Try to get the foam when it’s on sale or at some kind of deal. The jumpsuit would eventually require about 6 cans of shaving foam/cream, but I didn’t know that at the start, so I bought about a dozen just in case I would run out. I was prepared to fill up a baby pool, remember? When I bought these cans at the pharmacy, I got strange looks at the cash register. The cashier taking my money was probably thinking that I had uncontrollable amounts of werewolf body hair to get rid of. I was thinking that it’s better to have extra cans leftover for future projects rather than to run out in the middle of a creative frenzy.

Besides the above-mentioned challenging logistics, the marble dyeing is very easy and very fun to do. The best part is scraping off the excess foam to reveal the marbling patterns created. It’s also very entertaining to form the marble patterns with a stylus (which BTW is a glamourous name for a satay stick), and experiment with different ways of sliding the stylus through the foam to produce different patterns. I made a YouTube video documenting this marbling process with some tips and tricks to inspire you to jump in on this magical marbling experience.

I’ll end off by answering my own question: do I think this marbling experience was worth the time and effort and lumbering logistics? Yes! A big fat YAHHHSSSS! And I’ll shout it out from my third-storey apartment window. My daughter was hooked as well when she saw me working on this and she ended up marble dyeing a T-shirt that she is very proud to wear. In addition, I also dyed a Serpentine Hat by Elbe Textiles. This was made in a cotton canvas and I love how it completes the look of the jumpsuit. Now I am working on marble dyeing a pair of canvas Vans slip-ons, and I can’t wait to wear all 3 of these rainbow items for a full-on marbled-dyed look. There are 4 more cans of shaving foam left for me to use - what else should I marble-dye?

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