Posted on Thursday the 24th January 2019 by Sew Mama Bear
Dungarees are a relatively new revelation to me, I was always of the view that they were only for the tall and slim people of the world so had just ruled them out as something that would just emphasise my fabulously large bottom… I was so very wrong!
I first found a love of dungarees with this very pattern… the Tilly and the Buttons Mila Dungarees. The first pair I made in a cotton jersey to create as an alternative to wearing a dress to an event (aiming to join the jumpsuit evening wear trend). Doing them in jersey however gave them a very different feel to your traditional dungaree, it really was more of a jumpsuit result, so I wanted to try the pattern in a more stable fabric to create that traditional dungaree style.
The pattern recommends stretch denim, needlecord or woven cotton specifically stating that it needs at least 2% lycra or spandex. The reason for this is they are a slim fit on the leg, and it would be a lot less comfortable sitting in them without that give. Cotton Sateen Fabric is a wonderful fabric when this is needed as it has all the stability of a woven cotton but with an added stretch across the width. It’s great for making any fitted garment as the added stretch makes it a lot easier to wear. Compared to a jersey it is much more stable and has a nice thickness that means it hangs beautifully which makes it perfect for trousers, and therefore amazing for dungarees too.
This print basically just chose itself, mind blowingly cool. It’s described as being a floral print but it’s not your traditional interpretation. It’s an abstract style print that to me looks a little like paint splatters. The bright colours on the dark background really pop which has led to a really standout piece. One of the best bits of a print like this is pattern matching isn’t necessary. Its abstract design lends to the mismatch, and would frankly make trying to pattern match it a bit of a nightmare.
The most important part of making a garment that is meant to be fitted… is making sure it actually fits (Easier said than done I know). For this pattern I already knew I needed to use a smaller size on the waist band than I did for my hips (something I find very common for me). It’s something I know a lot of sewists struggle with but for this pattern it’s a simple alteration. The trick is to find the right size for the waistband and then taper the trouser pieces. A simple and accurate way to do this would be to cut out the waistband pieces in a scrap of fabric and sew/pin it together and then put it on. Pin how much smaller it needs to be and use that to establish which size you therefore need. Once you’ve established this size use the size chart to find out what pattern size your hip measurement is and those are the only 2 pieces of information you need. (The size you pick for the top of the dungarees is sort of irrelevant as it doesn’t have to go around you but generally, I would go for the size suggested by the pattern for your bust).
For me, I needed a size 4 on the waistband and a size 6 on the hips. So, on the back and front trouser pieces at the side seams I created a smooth gentle curved line going from the 4 line at the top to the 6 at the hip. (This is officially referred to as “grading between sizes”, or as I call it “working between the lines”). If you make sure that the lines you draw are gentle curves and don’t suddenly jut out, you’ll get a finish that sits flat against your body. And that’s it… you can now proceed with making the garment knowing it should now fit your body nicely.
The other change I made with this pattern was to omit the button openings at the sides and replace with a side zip. The reason I do this is, I don’t feel like my hips need to be emphasised with any extra width… it’s a personal choice but in case you want to do it here’s how.
When cutting out ignore the pieces marked “button tab” as you won’t need them. When the pattern gets to the stage of adding the waistband to the trousers, sew up the right side seam on both the trousers and the waist band (a side zip is traditionally inserted in the left side seam so that you can use your right hand to zip it up, of course if you’re left handed there is no reason you can’t put it in the other side) The waistband then gets sewn on in one seam rather than in the pattern instructions as they are accounting for an opening on both sides. I then inserted a concealed zip approx. 30cm/12” in length before sewing up the rest of that side seam. (When inserting make sure that the bottom edge of the waist band lines up when the zip is closed).
One tip that I find ridiculously helpful with this pattern is to use the ¼” foot when topstitching. By placing the blade in the seamline, it makes it easy to remain a consistent distance from the seam and creates a really professional finish. Don’t shy away from the topstitching as it really does add a lovely finish to the dungarees. (I use the same technique when sewing on the pockets, favouring sewing 2 lines of stitching manually rather than using a twin needle to get a more secure pocket attachment).
One thing I haven’t mentioned (quite shockingly) is pockets… I think that’s because I don’t think its really a debate. Everything is better with pockets… and here you have the option for 3 included with the pattern (and actually an additional 2 if you go on the website as Tilly has released a hip pocket addition). So, my advice is… add the pockets…
I am in love with the finished look of these dungarees, the print just looks so amazing on them. They’re so easy to wear too, with a selection of long sleeve tops underneath I can keep it simple of go jazzy with a bold colour underneath if I fancy too. So if you haven’t ventured into dungarees yet, I thoroughly recommend it!