Hello Sewists,

I hope you are all doing well out there, staying positive and motivated. Here in the UK, lockdown restrictions are slowly easing, and I’ll be back in the salon in less than two weeks! A month later and I could even be teaching tap dancing again. So it’s time to shake the dust off and tie up those loose ends before the real work begins! If you read my last post you’ll know that I’ve been wanting to tell you about these dungarees for some time. In this post I’ll explain how I hacked the pattern; I’ve got another pair cut out and ready to go, so I’ll focus more on the construction when I make those.

In a wise attempt to save money (and a foolish attempt to save time!) I decided to draft my own pattern – using my (adapted) Kwiksew 3389 boiler suit pattern as the base. You could probably use any boiler suit pattern or cobble something together out of a roomy trouser pattern (maybe just leave the back darts out of your usual pattern…?) and the top of any pattern that fits you smoothly over the front & shoulder (shirt, T-shirt…?)

Note to self: trim those straps down!

Drafting the pattern…

If you’re morphing two patterns together, put a sample of each garment on. Tuck the top in comfortably and raise your arms up and out: mark how much has untucked. Try pinning the trousers to the top at the ‘untucked’ line, if you’re using a shirt you can try lining the button placket up to the fly on the trousers to create a realistic opening. (I just put one of my boiler suits on to check these markings…)

While you’ve got it on, mark the dimensions of the bibs, where they feel comfortable. Take your chalked garments back to the paper patterns, from there you can judge where the patterns should meet, add a little ease and a waistband. Use each top half of the pattern to draft front and back bibs and measure the length and angle needed for the straps.

Laying fresh paper over the original pattern, I was able to measure out and draw the shape for my bibs. I used a french curve and was mindful to follow the shape from front to back. Using the original pattern I could see where I wanted the straps to sit on my shoulders and could shape them accordingly.

Drafting the front and back bibs.

I had to think about the side openings for a while before I realised I was just going to need some plackets; exactly the same as a fly, shirt or henley placket – I needed two flaps, one that folded out (on the back) and one that folded back on itself (at the front) so that turned out to be a simple draft; I added 3cm to the front pocket piece and 6cm to the back leg and back waistband – the extentions are 15cm deep.

Side placket plans

The bibs are lined, with the seams tucked into the waistband facing. As with many denim projects, it all took a little longer than anticipated; it’s all the topstitching I guess – almost every seam gets sewn twice more than usual… but that’s one of my favourite bits, so I never mind the extra time.

Side openings and lined bibs
Side plackets ‘in action’

The Details…

For any fact-fans out there, here’s the nitty-gritty – I used a size 70 titanium universal needle with beige thread on top and black in the bobbin. Everything was stitched together with a 2.5mm stitch length. The topstitching was 3.5mm long and 1cm spaced – except on the straps where I decided on 1/2cm spacing (& wished I’d stuck with 1cm!). The top bibs are lined into the waistband facing and the rest of the seams have rainbow overlock stitching. The straps, pocket openings and fly facing are interfaced with a light fusible interfacing.

Back bib and straps

I bought the fabric about 4 years ago at a shop in Ventnoor, Isle of Wight – it looks like black denim, but I think it’s really really dark indigo… it’s been washed a few times and the colour is still coming off on my hands! For the hardware I used a mixture of jeans buttons and large snaps, both in old bronze colour. I mixed it up as I only had a few of each and I think it worked out.

In the stairwell

Along with my boiler suits, they’ve had a lot of wear during the current lockdown. They’ll be so easy to wear at work too. As I said earlier, I’ve got my next pair cut out already so I will make a concerted effort to document the fiddly bits to share with you!

In other (still sewing related!) news, I’ve done another sewalong for Fibremood, the Calvin sweater this time. The video is up on their IGTV if you missed it and I’ll be doing another one in April (… 30th, I think) so be sure to tune in. And I took part in the PfaffWithUs online event. I did a video on decorative stitches (here on my YouTube – or here on Pfaffs IGTV where you’ll also find all the other posts from the event. I really enjoyed putting the video together, I learnt so much along the way… you start out thinking it’ll take a couple of hours, next thing it’s three days later & you’re still shooting linking-scenes! Hopefully I can use what I’ve learnt and run a bit more smoothly with the next one!

Of course the non-sewing related news is I’ll be back to work in the salon in two weeks! This life of leisure has been ‘fun’, but not sustainable without an income! And I can’t wait to see my clients and colleagues again.

Happy sewing!


Notes to self:

  • Try the straps slimmer so that I can use traditional fasteners (or the belt clips I’ve got knocking around…)
  • Maybe take the waist in a bit on the next one – they’ll still be pretty roomy.
  • Possibly narrow the front bib a little?
  • Curve the bottom edges of the front bib pattern piece up slightly to help stop the next one gaping at the sides.