Dungarees seem to be making a comeback and with summer (finally) on the way I thought it would be a fun garment to attempt on the sewing machine. I opted for this light blue Denim Fabric for a classic look, with contrasting orange topstitch thread (more on this later!)
The pattern is a reissue of an old simplicity dungarees/jumpsuit combo and there is a sew-along video provided by sewing blogger Norris Danta Ford. I actually found the video really helpful and it was a good way to mark my progress.
As suggested in the video, I slimmed down the leg pieces because the originals are a super-flared, 70s style silhouette which doesn't really suit my build. In the sew-along video, Norris uses a pair of jeans for the resizing but I used pattern pieces from a Burda jeans pattern that I know fits well, which gave a much more accurate sizing. There are plenty of hand pockets on the dungarees—two patch pockets on the front and back, plus a button down bib pocket on the chest.
Most of the make was surprisingly straight forward. I always love working with denim—it cuts and sews beautifully—but make sure to use heavy denim needles to avoid bent or broken needles. The instructions and pattern pieces all made sense and the fly zip insertion was the quickest I’ve ever done.
However, one element of this project was a constant headache—the topstitch thread, which is basically the devil in thread form, sent to earth to drive home sewers loopy. I nearly lost my s**t many times over this thread. It looks so pretty when all goes well and it definitely gives denim garments that professional look but if it goes wrong and you have to unpick more than once, it leaves some nasty holes. I’d say a third of the time, it got tangled and chewed up, jamming the machine. At one point I had to unscrew my plate to pull out the tangled mess. The main culprit is backstitching so I would advise against that if possible. I did a little venting on Instagram during the make and a few people recommended that I instead use two ‘normal’ weight threads at once. I actually did this for some of the button holes as that was where it REALLY went wrong once or twice.
Keep in mind that topstitch thread usually comes in much shorter reels. I needed two and a bit reels—the “bit” being a different shade of orange to the others. (We’re calling it a design feature people!)
Now that it’s done, I do love the garment and the top-stitch thread gives the professional, durable finish that we associate with denim. It was a fairly quick sew given the size of the pieces and there’s a bit of wiggle room for fitting at the end, depending on where you put the side buttons.
So what is everyone making for the summer? Have you made dungarees before? They definitely put me in a DIY mood…pass me the toolbox! Until next time, happy sewing. (And watch out for the evils of topstitch thread...it’s out there to get you!)
Duncan