Battle of the dungarees

Hi there! Hope all’s well with you?

It seems once again to have been some time since I blogged. I’d apologise for that, but I’ve recognised that this blog is a hobby just as much as sewing is and, actually, sometimes I just don’t feel like writing. So today, I do feel like writing and I will but if I don’t feel it tomorrow, no harm, no foul.

I apologise for my closed eyes; I got my husband to take about 30 photos and, I kid you not, this is the ONLY one not blurry!


What I wanted to share with you is the next step in my continuing trouser fitting adventures! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen some pictures of the two patterns I have today, but I felt that they deserved a slightly more detailed post.

It seems that I’ve developed quite the liking for dungarees; obviously the middle aged toddler look is just where it’s at these days.  They’re just that bit comfier than jeans and yet strangely feel like I’ve made more of an effort to wear something slightly different. And they are really satisfying to sew! I’ve been wearing two different pairs a lot over the last few weeks so I thought I’d compare the two.


The first pair are another pair of Closet Case Patterns Jenny overalls (see here and here for my shorts and cropped versions, together with details of the fit alterations I made).  This pair were actually made for the Sewing Weekender in August, but somehow haven’t made it this far before.

This time around I finally made a full length pair out of this amazing stretch coated denim from Sew Me Sunshine.  From memory it’s a wax coating but I bought it some time ago and just can’t remember. It’s a reasonably weighty denim, definitely autumn / winter weight, but the coating gives it an amazing almost two tone effect in real life which I love. The stretch also makes them even comfier!

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The only thing I did differently to this pair (AFTER I wore them for the day at the Weekender and they drove me mad) was to secure the end of the straps.  On my previous pairs, I’d just left the straps as a single length each, not folded them back on themselves, because the buckles or buttons I used stayed in place just fine.  These ones, however, are slightly smoother fabric and it’s enough for the buckle to just gently give as you’re sitting down and require fixing whenever you stand up. INFURIATING! It’s all fine now though.

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The second pair though took some coming around to.  I bought the pattern (Tilly’s Mila) as soon as it was released, but then got cold feet about the wisdom of encasing my rather substantial bum and legs in a pair of skinny dungarees. Possibly not the most flattering shape on me? Faint whiff of mutton dressed as lamb?

I let the fear get to me and shelved them, together with some purpose bought, glorious stretch denim from Like Sew Amazing.

And then I had a look on Bobbins and Bolts’ website when Gem offered sponsorship to Sew Up North and spotted some beautiful black stretch needlecord. I don’t know what it was, but I instantly wanted to be wearing a fab pair of slim fit, black dungarees and snapped it up.

No regrets on the fabric choice; it feels so smooth and soft and is so comfy to wear. It’s also washing pretty well, which is good, given the amount of wear these are getting!

I normally cut between a 4 and a 5 on Tilly’s patterns but for this one, given my misgivings, I went with a straight size 5.  I added my now-standard 2cm to the centre back seam and chose to do the bib facing and waistband facing in a plain cotton (black with gold metallic spots) because I didn’t want things getting too bulky with that needlecord.

The pattern includes lots of lovely topstitching (which I’m really enjoying at the moment; I seem to have sussed getting it pretty even and so it’s very satisfying) so I used a Gutermann topstitching thread in a warm mustard shade.  I chose to topstitch the waistband and even went with shades of mustard and yellow in my overlocker, which gives the effect of being metallic when paired with the metallic polka dots.

Everything came together fine until I got as far as trying the completed trousers on (AFTER I’d added the pockets, of course).  At that point, I realised that they basically went up and around my large bum but then stood straight up in the air from there, meaning that I’d be flashing my pants on a regular basis!

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At this point, a few months ago, I’d probably have got upset, thrown them in a corner and let them think about what they’d done for a while before giving in and moving on to another project, bemoaning the loss of my beautiful fabric. However this time, confidence won; I took a look at the waistband piece (which I’d already cut out AND sent the spare scraps to school for craft, so no recutting possible) and determined that it didn’t really matter if it were too long. I blithely pinned in a couple of darts at the top of the back legs, measured them to ensure they were even and sewed them in.

Almost invisible darts resulting in slightly baggy pockets because they were already in place

The end result of that is that my back pockets gape ever so slightly where the dart sits underneath them, but with an extra 2″ taken out of the back, the trousers themselves fit close to my body and do not run the risk of flashing anyone. Result!

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There’s a moral in there somewhere; it’s to do with having faith in yourself. I should try and remember that really.

Anyway, everything else worked a charm and they were a thoroughly enjoyable sew. And I have worn them so much!

So, what are the differences between the two patterns? There are a few to point out.

Firstly, and unsurprisingly, whilst both patterns have excellent instructions, Tilly’s construction methods and photos make things ever so slightly clearer so if you’re more of a beginner, I’d probably say start there.

Mila is designed for stretch and you will need it; these would not be comfy in a non stretch fabric, whereas Jenny works with either.

The big difference though is in cut.  Jenny is high waisted and wide legged; Mila’s slim legs finish in a waistband that sits below the waist.  Personally I think this makes them rather less flattering; in the dark colour I’ve used, you’re drawing the eye to a much wider part of your body than the Jennys.

There’s also more shaping on the bib of the Jenny pattern, with Mila bearing more resemblance to the shape of Cleo, so slightly less bust friendly.

The wide legs of Jenny though make them feel like more of a statement piece (that could be my choice of purple denim though); I feel like I need to be feeling more confident to reach for them in a morning, whereas I’ve found myself heading off to the office in Mila more than once. I don’t know why, they just feel more appropriate for our dress down work environment.

But, in all honesty, I love them both and highly recommend both patterns.  I’m finding it such an incredible revelation to have worked out which adjustments are likely to make trousers fit me properly; watch this space for more pants in the near future!

Have you tried making dungarees? Any favourite patterns I should add to my repertoire?

Becca x


Pattern  Closet Case Patterns Jenny / Tilly and the Buttons Mila

Fabric stretch coated denim / stretch baby needlecord

My Measurements: 

Bust 36, Waist 32, Hips 42

Size cut: 12 at waist: 14 at hips downwards / size 5

Adjustments made Added 2cm to the back rise on both patterns ; added a back dart into the Mila’s taking a total of 2″ out.

Future adjustments? None, both perfect as is (although possibly, if I can be bothered, remove a little of that extra rise on the centre back of the Jennys now I’ve seen these photos!)

Make again? There’s a fair chance, especially for Mila since I already have some stretch denim squirreled away..

8 thoughts on “Battle of the dungarees

Add yours

  1. Thank you for this post! It’s great to see the two patterns compared side by side! I’ve had the same misgivings about dungarees on my shape but my measurements are similar to yours (I’m slightly bigger in the hips) and I think they both look fab on you! The other Dungaree pattern I’ve been eyeing up is the Heyday Dungarees from Made By Jack’s Mum patterns. They are a lot like the Lucy and Yak ones which I quite fancy!

    Liked by 1 person

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