(Boiler)Suit Up: the Lennox from Homer and Howells

A not-necessary-to-fill but still gleaming hole in my wardrobe was the boiler suit; utilitarian and a bit androgynous, they’re very very cool. There have been a few that have caught my eye, namely the Intrepid Boiler Suit from Alice & Co and Thelma from Merchant and Mills, but Lennox from Homer and Howells ticked all the boxes for me:

Button up

Waistband

Fly fastening

Semi-fitted

 

The pattern comes with three variations: two boiler suits, one loose and one elasticated at the back to make it more fitted, and a cropped shirt. I generally avoid very loose shapes as, rather than the effortless nonchalant vibe they give others, they give off more of a sack effect on me. Not the most desirable of looks.

So it was the fitted version for me, and based on my measurements I cut a size 8. I have a long body so I added 2cm to the bodice (a standard for me across all patterns) and to the rise in the legs – no hungry bum here, thank you very much. It was only when I came to cut the fabric – all pinned and scissors in hand – that it occurred to me how long the bodice pieces looked; bearing in mind this pattern has a waistband to attach, it just looked far too long. Thankfully, I trusted my gut, and I unpinned the lower section of the bodice, folded it back up to its original length and cut there. I’m so relieved I did this, because if I’d cut it with the additional 2cm, this wouldn’t have been wearable. This bodice is loooong. As you can see in the photos, the bodice is very very slouchy, but I can just about get away with it.

(I look a bit stoned here, but I assure you I haven’t taken up a new pastime in lockdown, the glazed-over look is because I’ve been having problems with my eyes!)

This is quite an in-depth project, and a truly lovely one to sew. There are a lot of pieces to cut, including cutting the front legs separately, lots of interfacing, and a proper fly to insert. If quick projects are your go-to, this may not be one for you! However, the instructions are clear and even the fly went in first time. There are some brilliantly nifty parts that have clearly been well thought-through by the designer, such as sewing the collar with a 6mm seam allowance so you don’t need to trim. The only part I did have to re-cut was the pocket pieces – there isn’t a lengthen/shorten line on them, so I cut away, then realised these needed to include the 2cm that I added to the rise. They’re not like a loose in-seam pocket you tend to find on dresses and skirts, but fitted to the side seams, so they really do need to be the same proportions – something to bear in mind if you add or take away any length. On this note, it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t add 2cm to the zip guard and fly, that was all fine to stay as it was!

I used a lightweight denim-look chambray from Like Sew Amazing. It’s the perfect weight for this and sewed beautifully! It’s listed as ‘indigo cotton chambray’, so grab some if you can!

As mentioned, the pattern has a shirt variation, so while the Lennox-love was burning bright, I decided to make a shirt version, too.

I used some polka dot cotton from All Stitched Up and some buttons from my stash. As making the boiler suit was so fresh in my mind, this was a lovely easy make. The pattern pieces are the same as for the boiler suit, so one step was already taken care of! The boiler suit version has notches on the lower seam to create tucks to add definition, so all you do is leave them off, and you have your shirt! The sleeves went in beautifully, I don’t think I’ve ever had sleeves go in this well, and that’s without any easing stitches. The collar was clear and straight forward to assemble, as was the button placket. A truly enjoyable shirt to make.

The only downside for me is how cropped it is. Somehow the length on the boiler suit was too long, and the shirt is too short! It’s fine when my arms are down, but there’s high risk of flashing the flesh with any movement:

It’s still totally wearable, and I’ll no doubt be glad for the breathability in the warmer months, but I think I’ll add that 2cm to my next version!

Homer and Howells Lennox boiler suit

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