Spotted Shelby Romper

I LOVE THIS MAKE, I LOVE THIS MAKE, I LOVE THIS MAKE!!!

This is one of those garments that worked for me right from the very start- directly out the envelope and every step of the way. Such garments can be pretty few and far between for me, I usually need to make some sort of adjustment along the way, even if it’s just taking length out of the body or the sleeves, but nope, this one was solid the whole way through. What a joy to make!

I have been a fan of True Bias patterns for a while now, but for some strange reason it took me a long time to appreciate the full beauty and simplicity of this design. The Shelby Romper/Dress pattern came out a couple years ago I think, and…I dunno- it just didn’t jump out at me at the time. But that’s ok- better late than never, right? This design has a firmly 90’s vibe and I think that might have been one of the reasons I didn’t connect to it initially- I was in middle and high school in the 90’s and that decade isn’t cemented in my head as a particularly wonderful time in my life.

It was typical teenage angst stuff- hormones, crushes on all the wrong boys, managing the pros and cons of newfound independence- but with the addition of recognizing a sexuality I thought I needed to repress, dealing with racism every day while not always knowing how to defend myself against it, and confronting blatant misogyny and patriarchal standards of beauty. Although I probably fared better than a lot of people, I still connect those years with massive feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and confusion. Today when I see 90’s styles, I don’t always have a positive association with them- I only remember the feelings of inadequacy, the urge to pretend to be the confident, carefree girl that I so desperately wished I was.

But this is the beauty of adulthood, right? If we are lucky, we get to struggle through the tumultuous years of wanting to fit in and be liked by everyone and eventually settle down in the land of I’m Proud Of Who I Am, If You Don’t Like It, Feel Free To Get Lost. I’ve been living in this place for quite a while now, and wow, it’s so freeing! And it gives me the opportunity to reaquaint myself with pieces of my past in a new way. Like Doc Martens! I never wore them when I was a teenager because the fear of being seen as a “poser” was so terrifying to me- I wasn’t brave enough to explore my identity outside of what was expected of me, and I didn’t know of any black or brown cheerleaders who did show choir, excelled in English class, and wore Doc Martens.

While so many of my peers were trying to experiment with how they presented themselves to the rest of the world, I was exactly the opposite. So many things about my identity were ambiguous to others, so all I wanted was to be stuck in a box, to have a category, to feel known. Thankfully I don’t give myself those kinds of limitations anymore- I feel much more comfortable asserting my identity to others instead of trying to meet their expectations, and as a result, me and my Doc Martens have been living a pretty beautiful life together, trying out different styles, exploring our connection to fashion and queerness and identity on our own terms.

Enter: The Shelby Romper. My high school was mostly preppy, but I did see this style occasionally when I was out and about, usually as a dress (the romper option provided with this design has absolutely elevated the whole look for me). They were often made with Liberty-style floral prints on a black background, polyester or a rayon blend, and only the cool girls with really good taste in music wore them. They paired them with chokers and shit-kicking boots and fishnets tights, and while I feel pretty solid that I am *never* gonna be on the black velvet choker train again, I love the idea of taking such a defining style from the past and framing it with my own sensibilities. Black is one of my least favorite colors to wear (I appreciate it on others but it makes me feel invisible!), so marrying it with this bright, polka dot rayon from Emma One Sock in a shade smack in the middle of my Deep Autumn palette feels like a match made in Jasika heaven. The fabric is really light and flowy which matches the movement of the garment perfectly- although it’s a romper, it’s got the ease of a loose-fitting dress, so lightweight, floaty fabrics show it off so nicely.

Because there is so much ease in the romper, I didn’t grade between the waist and hips like I normally do and I made a straight size 2- there are like, 17 inches or so of extra ease in the hips so I knew that it would be plenty for me to still feel swishy in. There is no waistline seam in this pattern, as this style is traditionally made with princess seams that flow easily over the body, but there is a waist tie at the back to cinch in some of that volume. I think I forgot to mark the tie position on my back pattern pieces so I just kind of eyeballed it when it was time to attach them, and I think I made them a tiny bit too low- I would prefer they be maybe two inches higher, which is a quick and easy thing to fix on this garment, but alas I haven’t actually done it yet, lol.

I used french seams on the side and back seams of the garment but used regular ones with a serged finish for the front seams so that I could clip the curves and have them lay properly over the bust. Other than that, construction was an absolute cinch- very straight forward with smart techniques and clear illustrations, as I have come to expect from True Bias patterns. I really cannot rave about this make enough. I love every single thing about it- the sleeves are comfortable and proportionate to the rest of the garment. With the right textile, all that ease around the body lays down around my figure beautifully and doesn’t make me feel frumpy or like I am laden with extra fabric. The fabric itself is an absolute dream- cool to the touch and breezy, and striking with it’s simple, irregularly spotted print. It almost looks like animal print to me, but much more subtle. And the dynamic orange color gives me the perfect opportunity to play around with the color combos in my curated palette, essentially setting the stage for me to get away with the cool-toned robin’s egg blue of my boots, which is not in my palette, but successful because it is not worn right next to my face and plays off the heavy warmth of the orange romper.

I LOVE the length of this romper, too- I didn’t have to shorten it at all, and it gives me lots of coverage while still feeling very flirty and cute. I didn’t think when I first bought this pattern that I would ever make the long version, but seeing how in love I am with the short one, I would be remiss to not give it a try. I just saw someone’s version of the longer length Shelby on IG in a cotton double gauze and OH MY LORD it looks absolutely perfect! If I can get my hands on a richly-colored cotton gauze in my palette, you better believe this pattern is gonna make it to my sewing queue again, and I will 100% be wearing it with my Docs. Circle complete 🙂

3 replies
  1. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    I was just going through a box of worn-out or outgrown garments I made, and found a romper very much like that. I think it was probably made in the late 80s. You’re not the only person I’ve seen comment on the 90s vibe of the Shelby! I was not cool enough to wear with boots, and never a choker! It amused me when you mentioned small florals on black…mine was a tiny floral on BLUE-black! I still have the thread, labeled blue-black so I won’t use it on black fabric and have it show. Your spotty print is much more interesting and YOU.

    Reply
  2. Monika
    Monika says:

    it’s beautiful and fits so well! I’ve been wanting to make it for ages and this is giving me the push I needed…and you’ve been through some tough times

    Reply

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