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Closet Case Patterns Jenny Overalls

November 17, 2019

Over the past few years I have acquired a decent collection of dungarees: mostly dungaree dresses, and mostly made by me, with the odd shop bought pair to bulk out the collection.  The dungaree trousers/jumpsuit/overalls were all shop bought (except one pair of dungaree shorts I made) but one by one they’ve ended up in the reject pile.  The dungarees I bought that had a slim fit leg shrunk over time so they became too short and too tight, the dungarees I bought with a straight leg ended up feeling baggy and unflattering, the dungarees I bought that had the right legs had a bib that did not come up high enough – I don’t want a nipple-grazing top any more than I want ankle-grazing trousers – I’m too old for all that and I highly value warmth.

The Jenny overalls seemed worth a try if I was going to make my own.  The wide leg is unapologetically wide, and I like that.  It feels much more ‘me’, probably because in my teens (in ye olde 1990s) bootcut and flared trousers were the fashion.  They were comfortable, you could wear long boots and socks under them, they were flattering.  They were not glorified leggings like the jeans of today.  1997 – I left school, started my A levels, Tony Blair became the Prime Minister, we wore flared jeans.  OK Computer and The Colour and The Shape came out.  What a time to be alive!

I will, reluctantly, put my feelings of nostalgia aside now, and get to the sewing nitty gritty.  This project took time.  At first it seemed to me that it was going to be straightforward, and in a way, it was, but it was time consuming, and an exercise in precision (one of the things that I like about sewing).  I’ve been feeling low recently, and tired, and is if my brain has melted into a pool of treacle, so it seemed to take a lot of effort to read and make sense of the instructions, to execute them and to do it well.  Just to be clear, this is due to my current mood, and is not a reflection on the quality of the pattern.  It felt like every step was a problem, but I’m a methodical sewer, and I plodded on, and every successful seam or top-stitch became a tiny win.

Although denim seems to be the obvious choice for this pattern, to keep the cost down I chose a medium weight stretch cotton twill at £4.99/m, which handles very similarly to denim, but is a solid colour and has a smoother surface.  I’ve made a few dungaree dresses out of fabrics like this (gabardine, gaberchino, twill) and they wash and wear very well so I was confident in my choice, and I would recommend it if you’re looking for an alternative to denim.  The instructions for this pattern say that if you are choosing a lighter weight fabric, you may want to line the bib front and the straps with the main fabric for reinforcement.  I did not need to do this with this fabric, it is plenty sturdy enough – besides – the straps are interfaced for extra stability anyway.  The pattern does not call for stretch fabrics, but I wanted the extra bit of ease that a stretch fabric will provide.  I wanted to feel, when I put these dungarees on, like I could live in them.  I’m happy to report that is exactly how I feel about them.

So, pattern details: I went for the lazy option of a single zip at the right side, rather than a zip each side.  No regrets.  I love the metal zip, it feels very proper and substantial, I love the way the instructions have you do a lapped zipper that disappears into the pocket, and the fly guard was the best I’ve done.  It all looks so neat and it works well.  All my shop bought dungarees have been button fastenings only, which have a tendency to be bulky, so I’m very much enjoying the zip feature on these.  I didn’t bother with the faux fly, as from previous projects I’ve found it to be one hell of a faff for absolutely no practical gain.  There’s not much else to say, really.  When cutting I lengthened the legs by 1 inch, but needn’t have bothered because at 5’10” I still took the hem up by 3 ½”!

I absolutely love my new dungarees, and I might make more in the future if I can face it!  Thanks to Minerva for the fabric, thread and pattern.

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