Making the Mary Jumper

created by Regina Schmiedicke and Catherine Fournier

Lady with jumper

This is the Mary Jumper made even more versatile! It's wonderful for nursing mothers or for a simple wardrobe with a modicum of versatility. As with the Mary Jumper, it can be worn through all nine months of pregnancy as well. Basically, the steps are the same, with a few puzzling differences. The Mary Jumper is basically the Mary Jumper with the sleeves lopped off. But on 45" wide fabric, you may find it more pleasing to "trim your wings" to avoid appearing wider than you need to. I'll explain how.


The comfortable and flattering effect of this jumper relies on using a soft, draping material. I have made my jumpers out of rayon, 100% cotton knit, and most recently, linen. (I also made some out of chiffon for angel costumes, too). I am the most familiar with using cotton knit, having made about six of this material. This jumper works well as either an everyday or a formal jumper, depending on what you wear beneath it. I would guess that linen or cotton knit are the most versatile materials. A rayon jumper would be more formal, of course.

I recommend using material that is 60" wide as opposed to 45" wide. Most calicos are 45" wide. Formal materials like velvet are often 60" wide. You may often find knit materials and rayon in both widths. The wider fabric makes a more pleasingly full garment. Even if you are concerned about more material enhancing a not-too-thin figure, I would still recommend the 60" material. Remember, since the fabric will be draped, not gathered and ruffled, it won't necessarily make you look "fatter." You can make a Mary Jumper in 45" wide material, but the wings won't be as long and the skirt won't be as full. Having done both, I still like the wider material for comfort (less danger of ripping seams) and drama (it's more fun to do swing or folk dancing when your skirt is fuller).

As a last note: the Mary Jumper is designed to be a long jumper, ankle or mid-calf length. Your own height will determine how long the jumper should be - shorter people look even shorter in a floor length jumper, while taller people are better proportioned with a longer jumper. The Jumper really won't work as a knee length or shorter, it's too full and draping to be cut off that short.

How much Fabric?

For the Mary Jumper: You will need enough material to fall from your shoulders (overlap your shoulder slightly for seam allowance) to the floor twice. That is, your entire body length (not counting your head) twice. This is your Jumper Length.

This should allow for shrinkage and still allow enough material for a narrow matching sash. Then add a generous ten inches for pockets, neck facings, and any extra bias strips. This is your Finishing Material. If you want a wider sash (or a longer one, since cutting out the neckline facing will shorten your sash), get a few more inches of material.

For a Mary Jumper with a matching shirt, you will need some additional material. For the shirt, measure from your shoulder to your hips (or however long you like to wear your shirts twice. This is your Shirt Length. If you are narrow, you may be able to make a shirt from one length of fabric (60" folded in half) but usually you will need twice the length. The sleeves of the shirt will be cut from the jumper length of material. You won't be able to make a sleeve with a generous puff (might look strange with the jumper anyhow), but you can make gathered sleeves if you like.

For a shirt with a Nursing Panel, you might be able to get by without any more material. This requires some measuring beforehand. If you are slim enough so that you need nursing shirt 21" inches wide (measure a comfortable shirt you already wear to find out) or less, you can garner a nursing panel 18" wide or narrower from the shirt material (I will show you how). However, if you need a nursing shirt over 21" wide (think post-partum body size), get an additional length (overlapping shoulder to bottom of torso) of material to make the panel. You will have a good bit of material left over, but you can always use it to make a matching infant outfit, if you're ambitious. Pattern:

For basic sewing terms, instructions on designing the jumper in inches, and more information about the history of this style of dressing, please read The Mary Dress.

Procedure for a Basic Mary Jumper:

I will give the instructions for the jumper first in short form, to give a general idea of the sequence of events, then in more detail. Read these instructions all the way through the first time before doing anything else.

Short Form
  1. 1. Prepare the material.
  2. 2. Measure and cut the Jumper Length.
  3. 3. Mark the centre point for the neck.
  4. 4. Construct and insert the neckline.
  5. 5. Draw and baste the side seams.
  6. 6. Construct and insert the pockets.
  7. 7. Sew the arm and side seams.
  8. 8. Finish the Jumper.

Making the Mary Jumper In Detail

After struggling for literally WEEKS! with HTML programming to make the pattern instructions and images look good on screen and paper in various resolutions, various monitor sizes and different browsers with no success, I've given up and created PDF files for the rest of the directions for the Mary Dress. (I'm sure there's someone out there who has a simply and easy solution to this problem, but I couldn't figure it out. Yes, I tried tables.)

Small dress image Adobe Acrobat Icon

Click on the Mary Dress to reach the pattern instructions. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat (necessary to view and print PDF files) click the icon for a free download of the application. It will ask you a few questions about the computer you're using, and then the download only takes a few minutes. (Enough time to go make lunch.)

Wearing the Jumper

I've used these jumpers for about two years as my everyday and semi-formal wardrobe. My jumpers were 100% cotton in dark colours like forest green and in bright colours like turquoise blue. I could 'jumper' them up or down, depending on the shirt I wore and the sash or tie. I've worn them to a formal restaurant with a white lace blouse and lacy petticoat, tied with a matching sash. I've worn them to weddings with silk blouses and high heels. I wear them around the house with t-shirts and turtlenecks. Once I wore a black velour turtleneck with my forest green one, tied with a linked metal belt in a professional situation.

The standard way of wearing the jumper is to have a sash or a belt around the middle. Large triangular shawls also make interesting sashes. So do linked metal belts or macramé ropes (can give a semi-Grecian look).

You can wear them with almost any kind of blouse, so long as it's not too fitted and formal. I've matched these jumpers successfully with:

  • Turtlenecks
  • Ballet-necked tops
  • Peasant blouses
  • Collar-less button-downs
  • T-shirts
  • Shawl collar blouses
  • Shell tops
  • Denim blouses
  • Satin blouses
  • Long-john tops

Sometimes the Mary Jumper is comfortable worn without a sash ­ when you're lounging around the house or are nine months pregnant. When I am obviously pregnant, I've found one appealing way to wear this jumper is to cinch the back jumper panel with a sash. Simply thread the sash behind your back through the armholes while wearing the jumper and tie the sash in the back as tightly as will allow you to still move your arms easily. This will gather in the back panel so that the jumper front smoothly falls over your pregnant tummy in a very minimising way. Note: This does make it difficult to nurse in the jumper easily.

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