|About The Jumpsuitman
I love Elvis' jumpsuits. I love to study every minute detail of the suits.
As some of you know, I am a performer as well as a jumpsuit maker. I
began in 2000 when I purchased my first suit from someone on ebay.
When it arrived, I was struck at how cheaply it was made. The thought
that entered into my head was "I can make a suit better than that, and I
can't even sew!" Indeed I got fired up.
I was determined for my mother and I to collaborate on making me a
"real" suit. A suit that was based on accurate stud and stone placement.
There was a problem, though. Actually there were a couple problems.
First, I couldn't sew. Secondly, my Mom hadn't sewn in 30+ years. We
dug up her 1960's Kenmore sewing machine and plugged it up. The
problem was neither of us could figure out how to thread it. Being the
sport that she is, she did do some hand-sewing to tack pieces of the
suit together for a fitting. I could tell, though, that this wasn't going to
do. I would not be satisfied with a commercial costume pattern.
The next problem was that I hadn't the slightest idea where to find studs
or stones to decorate a suit with. My stud designs were done by eye,
and glue was my friend. What a mess! That first suit found its way to
file 13 and I started over with some Wal Mart polyester crepe (bad
idea). While I was there, I bought a new sewing machine with threading
instructions and I was ready to go.
For the next month, I disassembled pants and jackets trying to figure out
how clothes were made. I learned a lot. All my friends thought I was
nuts, my family just laughed, but I was determined. I cut, measured and
pinned my way to a custom full cut jumpsuit pattern made from pieces
of blue jeans and a sport jacket. I based my sewing technique on what I
observed from the dissected clothing, and through weeks of trial and
error, I had come up with something that almost resembled a jumpsuit.
It looked funny and it fit funny. It was supposed to be the Powder Blue
suit, but could be better described as the "Powder Lavender" suit. The
studs, what I could find of them were bought at Michaels Crafts and they
cost me dearly by the dozen. When I was through with it, I was bold
enough to wear the suit to go sing karaoke with some friends, and
although they may have all been embarrassed, we had a blast! It was a
strange feeling to think that the only thing between me and nakedness
was something I made!
After that experience, I couldn't wait to make another suit. In fact, I
didn't even get done studding the first one because I had already seen
several things I was not happy with such as the collar, the crazy
grommets I had found at Lowes Home Improvement, and those
miserable kick pleats! Not to mention the funny fit, the unconstructed
shoulders and lack of a liner. I kept that first suit as a humorous
reminder of how bad I was and that tenacity will take you farther than
talent. Here is a picture of that first suit. (It looks funnier in person)
As I got better in that first year, people started asking me to make them
suits. An amusing story is that the managers of the two local Cadillac
dealerships had me make them each jumpsuits. Who would have
thought during the day, that these gray suit-wearing middle-aged
professionals secretly wanted to be Elvis!
I learned very quickly what didn't look right and over the next 2 years
fixed those issues one by one. For a year, I hunted sources. It took me
throwing away countless yards of material along the way. I learned how
to measure, draft patterns, construct shoulders, install liners. I learned
what tricot was and how to pronounce it (it's NOT pronounced tree-kot).
I learned that polyester melts when ironig it too long, I learned what a
serger was and that it will eat a suit if you're not paying attention. I
learned that paint spilled on a suit ruins it, and that it really hurts to
smash your finger in a kick press with a metal pronged stud loaded in it.
Small prices to pay.
And I did receive some good advice along the way. I would like to
mention Will Reeb who answered a few questions for me, Katherine Lee
in Chicago, Kay Murphy in Missouri, and Janet Tegles in Tennessee.
And I thank them all. They are all very talented.
I am thankful to God that I can do what I love to do for a living.