First Dungies

1 Hammer Loop added to Kwik Sew 3897

Scissors at the ready!

1 Kwik Sew 3897 DungariesA couple of months ago as shop windows changed their displays for the spring, denim garments of every description exploded onto the scene.  It seemed the right time to address an old injustice of my never having owned a pair of dungarees!

A voice of reason told me to go into any of the shops, like H&M or M&S, and try on a pair to see if they suit me.  But I didn’t.  It would have put me off.  Changing rooms offer such a dispiriting experience.  I often try jeans on and despair at how awful they look, but soon as I change back into the pair I came in – the jeans I wear all the time – I invariably find that they look bad too!

1 Kwik Sew 3897 Pattern envelopeSo instead I bought a dungarees sewing pattern, Kwik Sew 3897, some jean buttons (online) and buckles at £1.60 pence a pair from the haberdasher’s at the market in Bromley (an excellent resource for zips, thread, even boning: Thursdays and Saturdays only).  The buttons which come with matching spikes are extremely easy to apply though I  had a little practice on a scrap, just in case.  I would have liked to have used rivets too but the ones in my stash didn’t match the buttons.  I find this is often the problem with making stuff out of denim: the studs, buttons and rivets available to sewists are never on a par with RTW and your garment inevitably gives off an air of the Eastern Bloc.

1 rivets and buttons

Buttons and rivets for jean wear

The other problem with making denim look rugged and cowgirl (which is how I like it) is that it’s hard to achieve that topstitching perfection on our genteel home-sewing machines.  Perfect bar-tacking?!  Forget it.  Equally spaces double rows? Nah.

Trying to get equal tension on both sides of the fabric was particularly frustrating.  Some of you offered advice when in previous post I showed an example of wonky bobbin thread on topstitched seams.  I learnt how to fiddle with bobbin tension (thanks Kim).  But a reader (thanks, Sue C!) suggested it was impossible to achieve the same effect at home as with an industrial machine designed to take denim.  1 uneven stitchingSo I finished the dungarees as I started, with the usual polyester thread in the bobbin area.  Only on the hammer loop, where both sides show, did I use topstitching thread in both.

So, here I am in my finished dungarees, made using an IKEA curtain (I warned you I had an inexhaustible supply!).

1 Dungees

Likes: simple, clever construction that results in a fairly genuine-looking article.

Dislikes: it’s hard to fit these in a way that would flatter a shaped figure so a muslin is a good idea if your denim is expensive or if you’re fussy about how you present yourself.  I think they’re too big and I could possibly go down a size or two.

And their cut is wide and blokey.  A bit… ‘Bob the Builder’.

1 bob

Changes made:

  • Narrowed the legs a good 4cm (it’s not possible to narrow the hip width without remaking the bib too, as top and bottom are joined in the first stages of construction)
  • Added an extra button at each side
  • Cinched in the waist by adding buttons at an angle, so the top button is closer to the centre than the hip button
  • Added a hammer loop so as to hang me scissors instead of losing them all the time!  🙄
  • Added some extra topstitching, e.g. on the back pockets

1 betty blueVerdict: Soon as I put them on, I realised how comfortable and practical they are.  Shame they’re not more flattering too, like those worn by Betty Blue.  I can wear them when I want to impress with an attitude of capability. 

But why oh why did you people who claim to have lived in dungarees during the 1980s not warn me: if you’re rushing to the toilet, don’t fling the straps behind you when you sit down.  You’ll hear a disheartening ‘chink’ as those buckles hit the porcelain!

1 Back View KS 3897

1 Kwik Sew 3897 Back of Pattern envelope1t rosie the riveter in dungaress

12 thoughts on “First Dungies

  1. That clinking sound has at least once been the sound of breaking glass, so there’s no flinging of straps anymore.
    I did have a pattern that suggested elasticating the straps, but it had additional ‘handmade at home’ features (the wiiiiiiiidest backside of them all) that relegated it to the scrap tissue pile.

    I should make myself another pair, but from the endless supply of IKEA linen curtains I have. A quick IKEA check shows they may have discontinued that line. Noooo! What will my sister wear?

  2. Very fun post, M. Enjoy them! You look pretty in these and I like them with the white shirt, but I suspect you look good in anything. You also look very capable!

  3. I lived in my dungarees in the late 70s/ early 80s. Loved them. The Management didn’t, and it was early days so the dungies went. Yes, watch the straps ?

  4. In the 1970s I saw a very cool, very slim, tanned American girl in some with nothing underneath once. I can’t do dungarees myself as I associate them with pregnancy (in the 1980s). I never wore them when I wasn’t so why would I when I was?

    However as they are fashionable I have been tempted to try on a pair in the shops just to see what they look like. But not you – brave Marianna – just go ahead and spend weeks making them on a whim. Luckily as Stephanie say you look good in everything.

  5. I’m sorry, hammer loop? Well we have you to thank for our education Marijana! These look fabulous on you and not a touch of Sound of Music curtain in sight. I notice Closet Case Files is now selling matching jeans notions so you wouldn’t have to trawl the markets for your matching rivets!
    I like them all, but unforch no jeans on my horizon just yet, I have some jackets to nail!! Boom boom!

  6. Even though you look very cool and capable and I admire your determination to make a pair that fit you well – you will never convince me that dungarees are a good look. Unless you wear them with nothing underneath and that might not go down well at home. Or it might 😉

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