For a while I’ve been thinking about making a new, improved set of PA Turia dungarees. I decided my next pair would use stretch denim, and I was convinced I wanted them to be blue. Not black or indigo, just true blue, so when I finally found some blue (ding!) stretch (ding ding!) denim (ding ding ding!) at this Etsy shop, I happily ordered 3 yards. When it arrived (unbelievably quickly, props) I looked at the blue denim in front of me, this thing I wanted for so long. And I couldn’t remember why.
So: wrong side! It’s a highly acceptable blue-grey! It’s preferable to the blue, but I can’t say I would have picked it otherwise. This color situation was the first indication that my sewing caught the prevailing spirit of the times. These dungarees were ever-so-slightly doomed.
But because I didn’t know that yet I launched into these with a can-do spirit, making some changes I’d been hoping for to the pattern – I split the back horizontally at the waist, lengthened the legs 2” from the bottom, added a waistband, and planned a side-button closure. I decided also to change the pocket to a single-layer pocket instead of a patch pocket.
My ‘drafting’ was limited to the rectangles for the waistband pieces and the fly shields, and the fly extensions for the sides. The waistband was meant to serve three purposes: to allow more room for vertical girth (my original corduroy pair is a bit binding when I bend), to strengthen the connection between the bib and the pants, and to finish the waist neatly. All three purposes were satisfied, but me, not so much. I figured a waistband would add vertical space without having to edit the rise, and this is both true and sort of missing the point of adjustable straps. Surprising exactly one person – myself –everything sits correctly only when the straps are yanked way up. BY THE WAY: one of my straps is twisted in every photo, but this is called cinéma vérité.
Anyway, I gave myself more than enough height, but I was surprised by width. I knew that once the side button closures were sewn, it would be impossible to change the outseam seam allowances. This worried me a little because I remembered having to take in my first pair over and over, but Lia-from-the-past had already trimmed the paper pattern pieces (without noting having done so, LIA!!) so when I did a quick baste-fit they were actually a little snug. I ultimately used a 5/8” sa on the crotch and inseams, and 3/8” sa on the outseams.
I’m not singing praise songs about these overalls, but I am feeling pretty good about the way I sewed my side button closures! I read this CC post about adding hip buttons to Jenny overalls, and this True Bias Lander pants button fly tutorial, and mashed those up to find a technique that would work with my pattern pieces.
I’m proud of that. It’s not perfect, but it works. In a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’, though, don’t forget to interface the noted pieces. 😬
By the way, I finished my pocket edges by double-folding the fabric to the back; the extension was shaped like this.
It wasn’t until I took my front leg pattern pieces to the ironing board to press those edges in place that I noticed I had cut 2 the same instead of mirrored. Happily, I had just enough fabric to recut one front leg, but it obliterated my leftover yardage. Still! I’d rather use it if I’ve got it! I used the extra wrong leg to cut some smaller pieces, like the fly shields and bib pocket(s).
I actually made 3 bib pockets and selected none of the above. This stretch denim was too spongy-springy to press really nicely into shape, and my pockets looked bulky and uneven. Well, two of them did. The first one might have been perfect, but I trimmed the seam allowances way too aggressively and burst through a corner, so the bib has no pocket. It’s wide. It’s bland. It’s too late now!
My front and back bib edges were serged and folded once, then sewed down from the wrong side.
I didn’t clip the curves on the back, but the stretch compensated for that. I don’t love this denim, but credit where credit is due: the bobbin stitching looked just as nice against it as the topstitching, which is never guaranteed. Also, I ran out of tonal thread at the end of the project with just 2” left unsewn on one leg hem, but I shrugged and used the wrong color, and hey, who can tell!
Sewing overalls is a lot like sewing pants, plus extras; it’s not a very speedy process, and I kept setting myself back. Still, after my cutting and construction woes, I was eager to try on the finished pair. They feel terrific. I think they look awful.
The crotch is too long. The back is buckling. They’re snug in a band across my lower belly, but loose above and below. Also, I think these are just fighting my form. I tend towards the in-and-out-y, but these make me feel like a Minecraft person, boxes stacked on boxes. Part of me appreciates that blocky simplicity, but I also feel like a Wisconsin youngster with Bigs disease* (*okay so, a long time ago I mixed up the plots of the Robin Williams vehicle “Jack” and the Tom Hanks movie “Big”, neither of which I’ve actually seen, but I committed then and I’m not backing down now!!).
That said, I gave them a day’s grace and they’re almost too comfortable to believe – soft and stretchy, warm but not heavy. I marked the giveaway reason on my sewing spreadsheet as “fit” before I even strung the buckles, but now I’m not so sure. In the words of The Clash, “Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?”
And to paraphrase them further: should these stay or should they go?!
Pattern: PA Turia dungarees
Pattern cost: NA (repeat)
Size: 40 outseam, 48 crotch and inseam; extended legs 2″, split back and added front and back waistbands (finished width 1 1/2″), added side button fly extensions; used 3/8″ seam allowance on outseams
Supplies: 3 yards of 50″ wide 12 oz. true blue stretch denim, $42.00, etsy (AdFabric); thread, hardware from stash
Total time: 9.5 hours
Total cost: $42.00