Overall this 2020 Nonsense

Hi there! As I mentioned recently, Heather and I planned to share overalls in February to mark being over 2020! Obviously flipping over a calendar page doesn’t create systematic change but 2021 does feel like an improvement so far, including some pretty cool executive orders, the re-opening of my local library branch for contactless pickup, and, well, these so-so overalls.

These were supposed to be a redemption make, ideally replacing my old pair of Turias before they split along the equator. I either wanted to repeat the pattern (What Katie Sews just posted a winter pair, very inspiring) or the fabric, 21 wale corduroy. I’m starting my transition to a corduroy-only blog (kidding, but also…I have been using it a lot lately) so I ordered 2.5 yards of Kaufman 21 wale cord in Olive Drab from The Confident Stitch and paired it with Kwik Sew 4138.

K4138 looked like the kind of pattern I could eyeball and copy but I got it on deep sale so why not use it? I was pleasantly surprised, when tracing, to see it wasn’t just rectangles – the bib and the straps are, but the pant legs have actual shaping and the waistband is curved. But the pattern support was lacking. This was my first time sewing a Kwik Sew pattern, is the back of the envelope always so coy? The only finished garment measurements given were the inseam length and width of leg at hem. It’s a beginner-facing pattern with a fitted waist, tell us the waist measurements! They weren’t printed on the pattern tissue, either.

Also, for the first time ever in my experience, the lay plan was wrong. I ordered the listed amount of fabric and far from being the usual way-too-much it was 4” too short! I could have shortened the legs from the hem to fit (and if I had actually looked at that spurned inseam measurement I probably would have) but after some experimenting I was able to come up with my own plan that fit the pieces as drafted. Surprise surprise, these legs are too long.

So yeah, cutting was unusually trying. The fabric is beautiful though – soft and light and a sheeny silvery green – and I expected sewing to be a snap. January brain disagreed.

You jump right in with a lapped zipper, using a simple fold-and-topstitch method. “Oh ho ho,” I thought to myself. “I’m sure there’s a better way. I remember pinning one!” and sure enough I had this video saved. It’s a nice clear video but I could not do it for some reason, even with the increased seam allowance! I sewed and unpicked my zipper six times. I had a shopping appointment at Gather Here that afternoon and I decided I would give up and grab an invisible zipper (so you know I was desperate) but then in the store I was in a complete flurry and walked out with some beautiful fabric and, as I realized when I got home, a traditional zipper.

I did the simple fold-over-and-topstitch method (the first one mentioned in the video, the one in the Kwik Sew directions booklet), and it came out pretty good. O_O Blurgh.

After that, sewing was ok. I cut a medium, except for the waistband. After some measuring I decided on a waistband halfway between a small and a medium (3/8” larger than small, 3/8” smaller than medium) but then when sewing I waffled a bit and sewed just the waistband side seam allowances with ½” sa instead of the called-for 5/8”. My only other pattern change was to cut the bib as a single piece with the fold on top. I also changed the sewing order very slightly, topstitching the waistband piece on the bib edge before adding it to the pants half.

I put all my interfacing on the outward-facing sides and used overalls buckles instead of buttons and buttonholes (partly because I had them, partly because I was worried about going too cute with these).    

I think the finished pair might be a swing and a miss. The proportions seem a little funny, and thanks to my fabric choice, I’m not quite sure what ‘character’ these are for – forget the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, these say Hobbit/Saboteur.

But they are sturdy, and tidy, and soft (as am I).  And who knows, maybe when I can get my ankle bones out I’ll like the proportions better. And in the meantime I can be sure that the bib won’t rip off the trousers, so I’ve definitely satisfied the minimum. Now off to enjoy my new library books!

Pattern: Kwik Sew 4138

Pattern cost: $5.49

Size: M, S/M waistband

Supplies: 2.5 yards of Robert Kaufman 21 wale corduroy in Olive, The Confident Stitch, $38.15; zipper, Gather Here, $2.10; thread, Michael’s, $2.39

Total time: 10

Total cost: $42.64

Ol’ Farmer Pants

My students have been known to comment on my outfits, never more so than when I wear overalls. I got a very suspicious “Why do you like those overalls so much?!” the first time I wore my Roberts dungarees. This pair of Pauline Alice Turia dungarees has been called my “weird old farmer pants”. One of my favorite so-called compliments, though I can’t remember which pair it applied to, was when a kiddo told me she liked my underalls. “You mean my overalls?” “No, I mean your shirt.”  (A lot of them are turning ten this year and every year they get more hilarious. I’m very fond of the hooligans.)

Anyway, despite the bad press, I’m still wearing these! I’m leaning into the farmer aesthetic, too, though anyone doing actual manual labor would laugh these right out of town – more on that later. I was hoping to wear this outfit to host a Late-November Gratefulness Eating Day for my parents (gratitude and stuffing are nice, Thanksgiving is iffy), but maybe next year, as we’re not doing any gathering. The smart money says I’m wearing jimjams right now but you never know!   

When I made this pattern in 2017 it was the only indie overalls pattern I found. Since then the options have exploded (outwards in two directions, towards loose wide bags and sexy little numbers) but this sits right about in the middle, a classic Osh Kosh B’Gosh shape. One benefit of that particular timing – 2017, not a lot of other options – is that it’s been blogged a lot. There are some truths universally acknowledged, like the included back pockets are comically small. I used the CC Ginger jeans back pockets instead, and I could have gone bigger; a non-fitted bottom means more fabric to cover.

They’re placed too far out and up, but that’s on me.

Another common change, it seems everyone agrees; two hip zippers is one too many! I’ve complained about invisible zippers in the past, but there’s not a lot of evidence of why we don’t get along, because I avoid using them. I used one here. Alright, deep breath. Here it is.

Come closer, my pretty. Closerrr.

It’s bad!! It’s bad at the top, where I couldn’t figure out how to neatly finish it! It’s bad at the bottom, where (I assume, this was years ago) my over-zealous unpicking ripped past the seam allowance and I bartacked a piece of scrap fabric to the wrong side! I admit fault at the bottom there, but I don’t feel totally responsible for the top, because the waist edge is finished with a single turn to the wrong side. There’s no waistband/facing/binding in which to hide that zipper end.

That edge is my biggest complaint about the pattern. The opening of the patch pocket is finished the same way, but that’s not carrying any weight. For the join between the bib and the pants, a seam that experiences a lot of stress, it’s a weak finish. It’s why I could never wear these to do physical work. And sewn in this lightweight corduroy, a single line of stitching with the seam allowance pressed down is basically a perforated line.

After several wears my bib started ripping right off at both ends! Originally I mended those edges with some discreet hand sewing, but that didn’t last long. So once again I popped a little piece of scrap fabric behind the rip and bartacked the crud out of it. Now that’s ripping too. I really like corduroy, but 21 wale might be for a good time, not for a long time; the pants I made Professor Boyfriend from this same fabric are nearly translucent on the seat. I guess 3 years of wear isn’t a terrible innings, but I might try to fix these one more time, if I can figure out how.    

I fit these on the fly! My 2017 spreadsheet doesn’t include the size I started from (weird thing to be coy about) but my best guess would be a 48, the largest available size, since I removed a lot of width from the legs. My fitting notes indicate that I narrowed the front leg 5/8” (cut the seam allowance off the outseam, basically), and reduced the back leg 1 5/8″ at the waist, blending to 1 1/4″ at the leg. Which is a lot. Nowadays I would start from a 44, and I’ve only gotten bigger & better, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Also in ‘mysterious choices from a  former life’ I extended the straps by a few inches, which was unnecessary, and then my extra strap ends were flapping around and bugging me, so I stitched them down (that line behind the rectangle slider dealie there), and now my straps are only pretending to be adjustable. The hardware is cute though!

Overall the pattern is pretty good, I think! That back seam is flat-felled, as are the inseams. My chest pocket is purely decorative since I stitched it shut, but I like it. I like the shape of the legs, too, though inevitably they bag at the knees. I’m wearing my Turias here with a Mélilot, which is a real get-along shirt pattern.

I still remember the nice woman at the fabric store helping me choose between these buttons and dark green ones, and eventually selling me on these by describing them as raisins! Which seemed appropriate for an Autumnal Food Party outfit. I hope you’re enjoying a meal, wherever you are, and having a safe, relaxing Thursday!    

Evenin’, all!  

Pattern: Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Pattern cost: $9.00

Size: unknown; let’s say the final size was about a 44

Supplies: 2 yards corduroy in Navy, $23.00, Gather Here; $1.50, zipper, Gather Here; $7.99, buckles, Etsy

Total time: 6.75 hours

Total cost: $41.49

Pattern: Deer and Doe Mélilot

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 42

Supplies: 2 meters mystery floral, $7.73, TMoS; $7.80, buttons, Gather Here

Total time: 6.5 hours

Total cost: $15.53

Black Dungarees

I used to prefer navy blue to black, but over the past few years I’ve learned to love the clean simplicity of true black. That said, it’s no friend to the blogger, is it? But if you peer into the shadows you might just see my new dungarees!

This is view B (modified) of the Marilla Walker Roberts collection, which you really can’t beat for value. Even ignoring the dress view (as I do, because dresses are not my preferred flavor of jam), that’s three hip, comfy patterns for under ten bucks American. I wish I did like dresses, because the lines of their Isca dress are just gorgeous. And look at this sweet collection! The directions aren’t the greatest in the biz, but I love the designs. Okay, that concludes Marilla Walker aesthetic appreciation hour, back to the dungas.

I reworked this pattern something fierce. Under the influence of tiny YouTube waifs who swan around in airy shapeless jumpsuits made in under fifteen minutes with 96 cm of linen and no pattern, I drafted out the tucks and the front waist seam. Directions below:

  1. First, remove all seam allowances.
  2. Treating the pocket and front leg as one piece, draft out the tuck. I like this Megan Nielsen tutorial.
  3. Butt the bottom of the front bib against the new waist seam, making sure to match the grainlines. Trace as a single piece.
  4. Add seam allowances.

I added an additional 5/8” seam allowance to the outseams, just in case, because I decided to omit the closure. The button tab directions were confusing, and a try-on of my existing jumpsuit from the collection made me think I wouldn’t need one. (The extra seam allowance turned out to be unnecessary, as I’ll discuss later.) The original front bib pattern piece was now just a front facing, so I cut 1 on the fold instead of 2. The back and back facing needed no changes, except the added SA.

I made the straps 8” longer because I wanted to use a knot-and-loop fastening for the bib. It turns out a single knot doesn’t require an extra 8 inches, but I kind of like the excess! The loops are a little wider than the straps, and I tucked them between the front pieces and the facing and sewed over the junction several times for security.

This pair of dungarees is heavy – I don’t mean warm, I mean physically heavy. I was worried having all that weight resting on relatively thin straps would be uncomfortable, but it hasn’t been a problem. The knot stays put in the loop, too, even though they’re load-bearing. The fabric is a thick, coarse linen/cotton blend, which helps everything hold!

I wish I had done something a little differently in the back – made the back bib either wider or narrower, or criss-crossed the straps, maybe. It just looks a little unconsidered back there. The facings are already stitched down at the side seams, so I won’t be editing this pair (unpicking black thread on black fabric? No thank you).

Also, I extended the legs by 2” from the bottom, but I shouldn’t have bothered.

Super wide cuffs to the rescue!

Since removing the waist seam meant removing the slash pockets, I added two patch pockets. They’re about 7” wide by 8” deep, finished. Initially I planned on having them both on the back – I measured placement by draping the back piece over myself and patting my butt, by the way – but after sewing the first I lost interest in matching them symmetrically. In my defense, 90°F/32°C heat gives me a serious case of the good-enoughs. So instead I popped the second one on the opposite front (now with the scientific technique of patting my thigh).

Why yes, they ARE functionally invisible, thank you.

Let’s talk fit for a minute. The Roberts collection has a dropped crotch, so there’s plenty of room to move. But I just read about girth measurements in the latest Threads, and I recommend the article if you find your jumpsuit/overall/dungarees patterns need more vertical space.

Vertical, check! I overdid the horizontal, though. Back to that extra seam allowance – I didn’t need it. In fact, probably because I didn’t staystitch the curves (it was VERY hot that day) I ended up removing 1.5” from the waist at each side, so a 6” total reduction in circumference. I reduced the thighs by stages, too, until I got a fit I liked. The magic numbers seemed to be: remove 1.5” from the waist, and 1.25” from the thighs, reducing to nothing 17” up from the hem (and I trimmed the facings to match). It was a lot of pants-on, pants-off, but I’m actually pretty thrilled with the final leg shape. And it was a quick sew even with the adjusting.

And in case you’re wondering, you’d really have to work at it to peer down the side and see my underwear (fair question).

I realized after the fact that I accidentally recreated this Workshop pattern. So, no points for creativity! I’m still happy with the result, though! Time will tell if I can wear the dungarees in the fall – I expect they’ll be okay with boots and a flannel. Don’t tell summer, but I miss fall, okay?

Oh and, a new friend is moving into a local mural – how snazzy is that shirt?

You inspire me, snazzy shirt man. See you next time, buds!

Pattern: Roberts Collection dungarees

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 4, with changes, above

Supplies: 2.5 yards of black linen/cotton blend, $12.48, Sewfisticated; thread, $1.99, Sewfisticated

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $14.47