Jeans Refashion Tutorial: Patchwork Dungarees

My little girl has recently become rather obsessed with Bob the Builder. So, sewing mum that I am, I naturally thought I’d make her some “Bob the Builder” dungarees. AKA denim dungarees, that she can wear as normal dungarees, not just for dress up!
I won’t keep you in suspense; here’s the outcome:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Pretty cool, eh?! I won’t lie: I LOVE them.

I’ve written a quick tutorial for you in case you want to do something similar. The same principal (patchwork denim) can be used for any clothing, too – not just toddler dungarees. Skirts, dresses; adults or kids. The possibilities are endless.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Those of you who have been following me for a while will likely know that I’m keen on refashioning and upcycling. In fact I’m starting 5-week-long refashioning courses in November (alongside my dressmaking). So partly spurred on by that and the need for more examples, I decided to upcycle some old jeans that have been hanging around. Who needs to buy new denim?
So I used these two pairs; one was in fact my mum’s, and one was mine. Both much loved and a little worse for wear.

jeans>dungarees refashionI used all I could of these two pairs, plus a little bit of denim I had in my scrap bag (that would’ve been from another pair of jeans). With the addition of just a couple of buttons (and thread) that of course I already had, this was a really frugal make.

Now on to the tutorial… 🙂

refashion jeans to dungarees

Begin by cutting up the jeans; cut along the seams, discarding the bulky seams. Incorporate the back pockets if you like, and save the tops of the jeans for another project!

jeans>dungarees refashion

For these dungarees I used a pattern which I highly recommend: Vintie Overalls by Tadah Patterns. But you can use any pattern you already have, or create your own. You will need to use the pattern piece to help you with the placement of your denim pieces. This pattern has four large pieces (2 x back, 2 x front) and some top yoke pieces. I patched the large pieces.

So lay out a pattern piece, and (ideally using a rotary cutter, ruler and mat) chop up your long legs of denim into squares and rectangles, creating a patchwork. Ensure you overlap each piece by the seam allowance you wish to use. Take your time and thought to try to lay the colours out in a way that’s pleasing to the eye. It’s interesting how many different shades of blue are in a single pair of jeans!

jeans>dungarees refashion

It’s fine to have some fabric sticking off the edges; in fact, that’ll be helpful just in case you need a bit more allowance than you initially think.

Once your pattern piece is entirely covered up, it’s time to sew.

jeans>dungarees refashion

Sorry, I forgot to take photos of the sewing stage! But you will basically sew all the pieces together as if making a patchwork quilt. I sewed then overlocked the seams as I went along.

Once you’ve done all your pieces, you’ll end up with something like this:

jeans>dungarees refashion

Nice!

Now, place the pattern pieces on top, and neatly cut – as you would if that was just regular non-patchy fabric underneath!

jeans>dungarees refashion

There we go; nice and neat.

And then just take the extra bits for the yokes and straps (if you’re making kid’s clothing there’s probably no need to patch these unless you really want to; they’ll be big enough). And sew together the dungarees according to the pattern instructions. Sorry, I’m not going to tell you how to do that – you’ll have to buy the pattern!

jeans>dungarees refashion

If you do make something like this, I’d LOVE to see it. Any questions, do ask in the comments below!

And if not – I hope you enjoyed the post regardless.

Beth x

 

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Jeans to Girl’s Dungarees Refashion

I’m sooo excited about this make. I have to say that I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.

I made my 5 1/2 year old some dungarees; she’s been pestering me for some ever since I made her little sister some last year.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

If you have been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I made my last dungarees with the help of Made by Toya’s fantastic free pattern. Well the pattern is for a 2 year old, and I wanted one for a 5 year old. So, I had to use my noodle this time round. I didn’t even bother looking for another ready-made pattern, which in hindsight was rather odd.

My motivation to get them made this month was my recent joining of The Monthly Stitch. If you’re not aware of this, it’s basically a collective of sewists who can join in with monthly challenges related to sewing. And you can dip in and out as you wish so I joined in December and will partake in any challenges that I fancy! Hopefully it will keep me sewing and push me further into experienced-seamstress-land.

January’s challenge was ‘Denim Never Dies.’ I imagine the name was borne from the fact that denim never goes out of fashion, but I took another approach to the ‘never dies’ part of the name in that I used recycled denim.

I started with this:

jeans to upcycle

And had a lot of fun chopping them up into this:

chopped up jeans

[In case you’re curious, here’s the tutorial that I used for cutting them up so that I got as much fabric as possible out of them. I was only left with a few scraps.]

So next I thought about how to go about creating dungarees to fit my daughter. Luckily my daughter has a dungaree-dress that fits so I basically copied the bodice, adding on a seam allowance. I drew quite a generous seam allowance so that I could make it smaller if I needed too! I took a risk here because I went straight ahead and cut out the denim. I guess because it was free I didn’t panic about wasting it. Or maybe I have a lot of faith in myself?!

making dungarees

I took out Made by Toya’s dungarees pattern and measured the clothes up against it. As you can see below, my daughter’s jeans are not much bigger than the pattern for a 2-year-old(!) so that helped a lot.

RTW jeans

First, I made the bodice. I had to cut the pieces in two halves rather than a whole because of the small amount of fabric I had. But I think the seam running down the centre isn’t too noticeable.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

The first thing I did was to decorate the bodice pocket. You may have seen the sneak peek I showed on my Sunday Sevens post last week! I embroidered a Hello Kitty face using a simple chain stitch. And it’s not perfect – her face should be more squashed than circular – but I’m pretty darn proud of it!

Hello Kitty Embroidery

So that went on the front pocket of the bodice. That pocket was one of the most irritating parts of the whole project because I attempted the topstitching along the top edge three times to get it accurate! And then found that the denim had stretched so the pocket is not as square as it should be… I hope it’s not too noticeable.

I’m happy with the back bodice, which all lined up pretty damn perfectly even if I do say so myself. You can’t really see but the centre seam is spot on running into the ‘v’!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I used a hot pink thread instead of a blue that would have been more forgiving for wonky stitching for two reasons: 1) There was a bonus ‘pink’ challenge on The Monthly Stitch so I thought I would incorporate some pink (hence also the pink linings), and 2) it makes it that bit more unique!

I had a moment of sheer genius-ness when I thought I could use the belt loops on the jeans to create the loops for the straps to go through (I wanted to copy the dress’s straps that I was using for reference/measuring).

Girls dungarees

I love how that part turned out. The straps slip through the loops, fold over and fasten with a purple heart button. The buttons don’t match, but hey-ho, I was using what I already have.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I then sewed up the bodice as per Toya’s dungaree pattern. All went swimmingly, I am very proud to report!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

Finally I got started on the trousers section. I totally made this up as I went along because I made them differently to how you usually make basic trousers. I had to cut up another pair of jeans (incidentally although they’re too short for me they’re one of my favourite pairs; this was the ultimate sacrifice!)

Jeans to refashion into dungarees

Yes, I did only start the trousers once the bodice was finished; a risky move because I wasn’t sure if I could even find some matching denim… but I was getting excited!! Luckily the denim is a pretty good match.

I literally chopped off the legs and kept them as they were – I just cut curves into the crotch to make that, and unpicked some of the seam on each side to fit the pockets in. The jeans were bootcut so rather flared on a five-year-old, so I narrowed one of the seams on each leg; but I kept the thick seam and the hems!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I flipped the legs around so that the part that’s more faded and worn from my knees is at the back – and it doesn’t look bad at all.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

My daughter loves the front pockets as they are apparently bigger than normal ones! I cut them (and also the lining for the bodice front pocket) in a Hello Kitty fabric I had lying around. I love that I could make an item of clothing so uniquely tailored to my daughter’s taste! I don’t know what happened to the length of the pocket, by the way, but it was all OK in the end!

Little girls Hello Kitty dungarees

The lining for the front pockets, back pockets and bodice is a pink spotty “fabric” that was a duvet cover. So this really is an upcycled garment!

Because I made the trousers a funny way (keeping that seam and hems) it did take me quite some time to get them sewn up… the main annoyance was the back pockets. They’re still not straight now, which bugs me – it really shows up in the photo below – but to be honest I’d had enough of the stretchy denim!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

As you can see, I also did some embroidery on these pockets – Hello Kitty’s bow and initials. I am aware that the K is a bit wonky; I should have taken more time over it to be honest. I was impressed with my youngest daughter who said ‘Hello Kitty’ when I was halfway through the bow! Bless her, she has excellent observation skills. She’s only 2; she clearly has an older sister with Hello Kitty everything!

All that was left to do once I’d got the trousers stitched right(ish) was to attach it to the bodice. I have to say I’m pretty impressed with my seam matching considering the denim is stretchy!

I slipstitched the bodice lining in place to cover the messy seam – this is probably my favourite part of the whole garment!!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I literally finished these at 10:30 last night – with today, the last day of January and the Denim Never Dies Challenge deadline, left to take photos and put up this post!

Sorry that was loooong but there was a lot to say!! Well done for getting to the end – and thanks! 🙂

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

Bring on the next challenge, I say – which is ‘solid colours’ if you’re curious…

Beth x

Adorable Toddler Dungarees

I finally got round to making a pair of dungarees for my toddler (who I may add is a REAL toddler now she’s walking – hooray!) – these have been on my to-sew list for a couple of months!

Dungarees Collage 2

I’m not going to do a tutorial for two reasons: 1) I’m no expert, and 2) You can download the (free!) pattern and follow the instructions here on Made By Toya’s blog if you’re interested!

I’m so happy with how they turned out. In the past I have made bad fabric choices, but I chose this cute baby cord fabric and it turned out to be perfect for the job. They’re not the hardest wearing dungarees ever, but I didn’t want to sew with a chunky, heavy fabric. I wanted them to be nice and light for summer; and they are 🙂

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The cutting out process took aaaaages. There were so many little pieces! I think there were twenty altogether. I don’t enjoy cutting out. I want to get stuck in with the construction! I did take a photo of all the pieces when I’d finally cut them all out, but I think I deleted it – whoops.

Anyway, that evening I managed to get stuck into sewing. Most of the construction was straightforward and went well, so I was happy.

This may surprise you (because they’re pretty basic, right?) – it was my first time doing pockets! I don’t know why they turned out so small compared to those on the instructions but I think they’re cute! They were easy (not that I feared them before; I’m just new to making clothes), and I will be looking out for patterns with pockets now! I’m pleased with how they all turned out. I will admit though, at first I wasn’t concentrating and starting sewing the top of the pocket closed, haha… out came my trusty unpicker!!

dungarees - pockets

The bodice is lined, which is something I love because you can hide all your seams inside; no need for zigzagging (I don’t have an overlocker). 🙂

I used buttons to fasten the straps, as I know how to do it so didn’t have to learn the skill of snaps – plus I didn’t have to purchase any! And I had these two red heart ones in my button tin so it was meant to be.

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The pattern suggests it’ll fit a 2 year old, and I would say that’s about right. My little one is coming up to 16 months, and it fits her well with a little growing room I think – and I did chop a few inches off the hems. I was thankful that we had a little fitting session before I hemmed the legs and added the buttons. I was impressed that the little wriggler stayed still long enough for me to mark the button placement and hems!

dungarees - side view

The fiddliest bit was the hems. They were very narrow; I think because I chopped those few inches off it made it difficult because the legs taper in slightly. It wouldn’t fit round my machine so it was fiddly trying to sew in a straight line without catching any other fabric underneath. I ended up with two puckers; probably because they were narrower at the top than at the bottom. Instead of trying to unpick and rectify this I thought I’d disguise them by adding in some elastic and creating elasticated hems. I actually like this style more; it looks cute. So those little puckers were a happy mistake!

Elasticated hems on dungarees

The only thing on the whole garment I’m not happy with is the back, at the top. It’s not symmetrical. I noticed this after pressing it in place, but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered to make it more even. I’m really happy with the rest of it so it’ll be OK.

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I tried hard to make sure the hearts were all in straight lines. Usually I play it safe and opt for busy prints, but this whole project was a learning curve for me.

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I’m also proud of my topstitching. I enjoy topstitching. As long as everything’s lined up, it tends to go smoothly. I also like the end result; for some reason an item looks a lot neater with a little line of stitching round it.

Although there were lots of little pieces, they all came together really well, and it wasn’t as confusing as it seemed at first. I may even make another pair!

Many thanks to Toya for the pattern, it was great! 🙂

Beth x