Being relatively new to sewing, and even newer to blogging … and even newer to Instagram…! Last year was the first time I saw Portia Lawrie’s The Refashioners. I watched from the sidelines, and marvelled at all the #jeanius creations. Every day I read the inspirational blog posts from her crack team of makers, thinking, ‘this is intense! Maybe next year…?’ Until I got so swept up in it all I decided to enter my own offering…

I was planning on entering the #simplicitysewingchallenge that year, with the 70’s peplum top, and couldn’t decide on fabric. Then it hit me, I should use jeans and go for both challenges in one. (I blogged about it HERE if you’re interested…) I made the top for one of the girls at work and was so happy with how it came out. Even more pleased when I was awarded one of the runners up positions by simplicity and was in one of the ‘special mention ‘ posts from Portia too! Look, at the bottom left, you can’t quite see the top, but Maxine’s hair looks great!

So imagine my surprise when I got a message from Portia asking if I’d get involved in The Refashioners 2017! To be honest, the thought absolutely terrified me, but my fingers typed ‘Yes!’ And I was in!

MrA donated a couple of his old work suits to the cause, so my palette was decided… black. Now I just had to come up with an idea. I wanted to make menswear. Something fashionable and wearable; I didn’t want to put all this effort into a garment that wouldn’t be worn. Dare I say, I visualised something maybe a bit edgy or cool…

I decided on Dungarees…


Pleased with my design, there was only one obstacle… maybe I’m subconsciously more attuned to this as I’ve just turned 45, but they just look a bit too young for me! So I decided to make them for my young, fashionably edgy colleague Joe.

The suit was 3 sizes too big for Joe (sorry, MrA!) so I unpicked the trousers first and pressed the four pieces flat. Using Joe’s measurements I chalked straight onto the fabric trying to still keep the pockets functional. After basting them together it was time for the first fitting…

This took place in the client coat cupboard behind reception at work and took about three minutes! We didn’t have long so Joe whipped them on quick, felt comfy, they looked like they fit, and that was that, back to work again for the pair of us! So no photographic evidence I’m afraid! Now I ‘knew’ they ‘fit’ I could replace the basting with permanent stitching. I put in a new fly so that they would remain … functional.

The next stage was to draft the bibs, straps and waistband out of the jacket. First, I unpicked the collar and shoulders and then sleeves (I’m saving the shoulder pads to put into my Goldstream Peacoat). I separated the main fabric from the lining and straightened out the centre back seam on both.

I made templates for the front & back bibs (which I had to shorten due to fabric restrictions) and cut them with the foldline against the stitching line. Front and back in main fabric and in lining. I opted to keep the back higher like painters bibs, and took off a bit more at the front (for tie-showing-off potential!)

For the front bib pocket, I cut around one of the jacket pockets, folded in the edges, mitring the corners and stitched it onto the front bib piece. I put a bit of interfacing on the inside of the bib where the buttons will go and sewed the front pieces together, right sides facing, clipped the corners and turned it through.

I made the straps out of the sleeves & sleeve linings. I couldn’t resurrect the waistband so used the left over bits of sleeve for the waistband and facing. I sewed the front bib to the front waistband and stitched in the ditch to catch the waistband lining underneath.

For the back bib I pinned the straps in place, sandwiched with the lining, sewed it up and turned it through before attaching to the back waistband.

Then we got to try them on again… this time I got a photo…!

I needed button plackets on the sides. I based this on a shirt cuff placket… sort-of! I only had a few pieces of jacket left, so I found a couple of already interfaced pieces and cut them to size.

On the front of the openings I stitched on a slim piece of fabric, turned it to the inside and held it in place with the buttonholes.

For the back of the openings I stitched on a flap of fabric, pressed outwards, turned in the seams and stitched the folded edge on the inside along the seam line. Mark the button placement and sew the buttons on. I used the buttons from the jacket cuffs.

The front jacket buttons got sewn onto the front bib to hold the straps on.

I’ve been jokingly calling them ‘Men’s Executive Dungarees’ but when I went to collect them from the dry cleaners, the lady was gone for longer than normal looking for them. All sorts of mad thoughts came into my head… they’ve disintegrated… the bibs have fallen off… they’ve been lost…. then she came back empty handed and asked; ‘What type of garment is it?’ To which I confidently replied ‘Executive Dungarees!’ … thankfully, she didn’t bat an eyelid and fetched them right away. (They were so long, I think they were hanging with the wedding dresses!)

Big thanks to Joe for being such a great sport. And big thanks to Portia for giving me a chance to get involved.

It’s nearly the end of the month and I’ve been bowled over by all the amazing makes so far from The Refashioners 2017. I can’t wait to see what October brings.

To stay up to date with The Refashioners 2017, see all the other inspiring refashions AND find out how you could win an amazing prize go to:


Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Pace yourself: this project was done in short bursts and seemed much less overwhelming for it.
  • Time spent carefully unpicking is never time wasted!
  • Fittings are essential!!
  • Try them on yourself, you never know… you’re not that old!!