The “Much Wenlock” Onesie

The Facts

Fabric: 4.5 yds grey ‘tie-dyed’ cuddle flannel with Jo-Ann’s 50% off voucher $15.73 (£10.02), one official London 2012 tea towel that was a birthday present.
Pattern: Elaborated and adapted from McCall’s 6475, 6252 and 4139 and googled pics of kigurumi.
Year: contemporary.
Notions: Steam 2 Seam pack with 40% off Hobby Lobby voucher $2 (£1.28), 22″ zip with 40% off Jo-Ann’s voucher $0.92 (£0.59), thread
Time to complete: 23 hours
First worn: To watch Tom Daley and Peter Waterfield for Team GB in the sychronised diving, Monday 30th July 2012.
Wear again? Ohhh yes, sooooo comfy (though a bit warm in July).

Total Cost: $18.65 (£11.89)

The challenge: “Olympic Fever: this week, we’ve got Olympic Fever and are drawing inspiration from the Olympic games and sports”.

This is Wenlock.

Who is Wenlock and why is he/she/it called that, I hear you ask.

Well, let me tell you a little story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

(Jacques Rogge managed to tell this to the world in his speech at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony WITHOUT actually mentioning any of the important names, so here’s the full story).

Once upon a time, a French Baron visited a little English village and was blown away by a series of sporting events the local doctor had organised there to promote physical fitness to combat illness (and get the working classes away from the pubs).

The doctor was William Penny Brookes. Since 1850 he’d organised an annual event in Much Wenlock, Shropshire which became known as the Wenlock Olympian Games. The games included athletics as well as a 3 mile pennyfarthing race, (real) football, cricket, quoits, blindfolded wheelbarrow races and the interestingly named “old woman’s race for a pound of tea”…..I’d sooo win that one.

In 1866, Dr Brookes co-founded the first national modern Olympic Games at Crystal Palace, London. Unfortunately, it was still only a national event, not international.

If you know anything about the modern Olympics, you’ll have guessed the Frenchman who witnessed and was impressed by Dr Brookes’ Games was Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin.

He was so inspired by the ‘proper’ first modern Olympic Games ;) that he went on to use his considerable wealth and influence to create an International Olympic Association in 1890 and with others organised the first modern truly-international Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens.

The Wenlock Olympian Games still happen every year, organised by the Wenlock Olympian Society. My eldest has actually competed in them…..because before I moved to Phoenix, Arizona,  I used to live 3 miles down the hill from the loveliest village on the planet, Much Wenlock. And my daughter used to go to the appropriately named William Brookes School.

I love Much Wenlock and miss it desperately. I know, I’m completely biased, but check it out, it’s blooming gorgeous, so quaint and perfectly English.

And so, because of Dr William Penny Brookes’s contribution to the Olympic Games, the London 2012 one-eyed mascot is called Wenlock. He’s quite a character. There are some lovely videos about him, based on stories written by the award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo….he has his own website with fun activities (along with his mate, the Paralympic mascot Mandeville, named after the British town where the first Paralympics took place), and he’s even on Twitter.

I suppose I’d better say some stuff about the sewing hadn’t I? ;)

OK, I’d a quick poll on my twitter about what would be the perfect watching-the-Olympics-wear and the resounding response was “ONESIE!” Combining this with my love for Much Wenlock and therefore Wenlock the mascot, it seemed the perfect thing for me to make. Especially as I’d read a fashion column a few weeks earlier saying no grown adults should be be seen in onesies. You know what I’m like when someone tells me I shouldn’t be wearing something…..

I knew that I wanted to make something super-sized to be more comical/comfy/Wenlock-like, but I used two patterns I had McCalls 6475 and 6252 as a starting point and just added a couple of inches onto the largest size (men’s XL) and an extra big side curve at the hips and bum…..oh and I dropped the crotch considerably. If I make anything similar in the future (and I have a certain teenager who’s into kigurumi or Japanese disguise pyjamas who’s very interested in having a dinosaur or Godzilla one) I will adapt the pattern so the dropped crotch has more of a horizontal arch rather than joining inverted V shape, if that makes any sense.

I knew looking at kigurumi that I wanted a HUGE hood as well, so I could wear it normally so you can see the Union Flag lining….and when I wanted to be extra silly/retreat from the world, I could pull it forward over my face so you could see the Wenlock eye (which supposedly is also a camera, well on Wenlock, not on my onesie…..making one that was also a camera would have made this post even more late). I used the hood from McCalls 4139, a cloak pattern…..and then made it even bigger.

I didn’t want to reproduce the Olympic rings or London 2012 logo in case I got in trouble with the trade-mark police…..so I’ve simply repurposed an OFFICIAL London 2012 tea-towel BOUGHT WITH MONEY THAT WENT TO LOCOG OR THE IOC or wherever it goes. Can I also say I only made this onesie for my use, for no financial gain, I haven’t messed with the design of the official logo and won’t be making other Olympic ones. Does that get me in the clear, or should I get the might of the knitters behind me just in case?

I cut the logo out from the tea-towel with a Fiskar rotary cutter, chopped it in half so it could sit either side of my front zip and used the wonderful Steam 2 Seam to iron/fuse it onto my onesie as I did the balloons on my Up Skirt. I did the same with the eye – it’s bits of a white sweatshirt and black felt, both from my stash. The cotton tea-towel logo didn’t seem to fray badly so I’ve left the edges fused alone by the power of Steam 2 Seam…..but the white sweatshirt started looking a bit tatty around the edges so I used a 0.5 length/4.0 width zigzag stitch all around its edge.

And the other adaptation I made was I fancied having extra long sleeves and a fingerless-mitten-like thumb holes in each sleeve…..so I made an extra wide/large buttonhole in each sleeve.

I think that’s it. Anyway, must dash…..popcorn in front of this afternoon’s swimming finals won’t eat itself…..and I’m going for the gold medal in Olympic slobbing-about this year. I think I’m seriously in with a chance now I have the perfect kit ;)

Author

tempestdevyne

Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.

24 Comments

  1. You impress me with everything you do, but this onesie surpasses all expectations!!! I simply adore it!!!! Congratulations!

  2. Holy cow, you are amazing!

  3. Ohhhhhh yes! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this unveiling since I saw your Instagram of the giant hood pieces. I’ve always thought Olympic mascots were weird gimmicks, but you have seriously changed my mind with Wenlock! I had NO idea about all the Olympic connections to Britain. So awesome! Is that what they referenced in the opening ceremonies with the shire? NBC’s coverage was SO BAD! I wish I had access to the BBC coverage.
    Seriously fantastic job!!!

  4. How cool the history, I learned a great deal. Britain has done an amazing host job and it seems so fitting for the cutest Brit to round out the week with laughter. Truly, you just have to smile when you see his outfit. It’s just fun, fun, fun! I can’t wait to go home and watch some more competition.

  5. You actually did it! I’m so pleased and entertained! This is so cool!

  6. I absolutely love everything about this Onesie! I love how it’s so Britished out. If you had made them to sell to promote the Olympics, no joke I would have bought one and sat around on my tush with you watching the Men’s swim team – cause that’s my favorite for obvious reasons. Well done Tempest!

  7. I’m in love with your onesie. So awesome. Very clever and creative.

  8. As one Brit to another, I ADORE YOU! you always make me smile, thank you for brightening up my days x ps Great onesie

  9. Oh man, this just made my day! I laughed so hard I nearly had to change my underwear. THANK YOU for the history lesson, your fabulous take on current symbols and having the guts to make this : ) I hope you enjoy your Olympic-watching in comfort and style and that you get years of wear from this flagalicious creation.

  10. Might be a bit warm right now, but it will work a right treat for shoveling snow in a few months, or if you need to pop down to the market in sub-zero weather…on your bike…in a blizzard. Brilliant!

  11. So funny! Loved reading about your little English town and the inspiration for your outfit. It’s so clever and cool all at the same time.

  12. I don’t even know what to say. This is so amazing. It totally blows me away. Seriously. This is one of the coolest things I have seen in a long long long time. It is so seriously phenomenal I am sitting here with my jaw just sort of hanging there all speechless like while my hands type this nonsense. I so want to be seen in public with you.

  13. Hilarious and awesome! I love that it is so off-the-wall, and useful!

  14. OH MY STARS! I absolutely love it! I would wear it night and day!

  15. Genius! Love the rebellious aspect of the choice to make a onesie. Love the cover-your-a$$ aspect of using the tea-towel. And, love the spirit of the whole thing. So playful!

  16. Also, learned so much about the history of the modern olympics from your post. And, Much Wenlock is super pretty. I think I must visit it!

  17. Just super! Really. Love the back-story, and the onesie you have concocted here!

  18. I have said it before but again- I LOVE YOUR STYLE!!! Brilliant onesie- it is now on my must make one day list :)

  19. I love this. And thanks for the story about Wenlock and the links to Much Wenlock. I used to study at Keele University and I visited Shrewsbury once. I wish I could have made it to Much Wenlock. What a quaint little village. I love those black timberframe houses. Feeling very “homesick” right now although I actually have no right to feel homesick for England.

  20. Oh wow, this made me laugh so hard. DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL for full-on commitment to the theme. It truly is amazing. I love your creativity!

  21. Thanks so much everyone, your kind comments blow me away.

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