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

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Party Dress No. 2

I finally got round to making another party dress (by Cottage Mama) to match the one I made my eldest daughter a good couple of months ago!!

My motivation was my taking part in Sew Selfless September. This is my third and final piece of selfless sewing. (Not ever! Just for the challenge!)

*By the way, sorry for bombarding you with photos… I can’t choose the best ones!!*

party dress no. 2

I often make one thing using a pattern, and don’t use it again. This dress taught me that using a pattern again is great – I whizzed through it because of course I knew what I was doing.

If you read my post about my first party dress, you will know that I had some trouble with the alignment of the fairies. I was fussy; I wanted them all to line up. So I had some pieces cut from last time that I could use this time; just trimming the sides a little. That definitely sped up the cutting stage!

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If I’m honest, I think it’s a tad tight around the bust – well, it’s OK for now, but there’s little or no growing room there.

This is probably because I decided to put in normal buttons, after having problems making that blessed rouleau loop that should have been made to make the loop style buttonholes. I even have the fancy turner tool, but it just wasn’t working.

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So of course the bodice back pieces overlap slightly, which is included in the pattern. By this point, I’d already cut the pieces, so I wasn’t going to go back and make it bigger!

Little one needs to stop growing now anyway. She’s supposed to be my baby!

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I really need to learn how to tie a proper, neat bow. Having said that, even if I did have that knowledge, I’m not too sure that she’d stay still for me to do it neatly. I can just about manage a scruffy bow before she wriggles away!

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I just love this pattern. It’s so simple yet so rewarding. It’s such a classic party dress style. I was shopping earlier today and saw dresses similar to this (albeit not in such a cute print!) and thought to myself – do you know what, Beth? You don’t need to waste £15 on one of those, you can make one yourself. As long as you can find the right fabric, you can sew such pretty little girls’ dresses. And it’s such fun too – bonus!

It’s a shame that I’ve used almost all the fairies side of the duvet cover up now, though… I suppose it’s a good job I only have two girls to clothe in matching dresses!

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I will definitely be using this pattern again. I love that it spans all the way up to Age 10. I can see many more party dresses in my girls’ wardrobe in the future… and they’re all handmade 🙂 (Besides gifted ones, of course! We have a lovely family member who often gives the girls beautiful Monsoon dresses – now they’re something to compete with!)

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Oh goodness, if either girl turns out to be a tomboy, I WILL NOT BE HAPPY!!P1080309

Anyway… I’m rather impressed with my topstitching. I don’t know if you can even see it but I’ll tell you – it’s neat! It’s all in the details 🙂

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Well, that’s all I have to say about this dress really. There were many more highs than lows – no disasters, and I can’t even remember unpicking anything!! The phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ is proven correct once again. Must make more garments with the same pattern!

Beth x

 

I Can Sew a Rainbow

My five-year-old recently put an order in for a rainbow dress. I didn’t disappoint her.

Rainbow dress

The idea came from the blog of ‘A Jennuine Life’, which I stumbled upon on Pinterest. From the photo it looked amazing. I read the blog post and – wow – she’d made it perfectly, and it looked a bit difficult. It involves lots of piecing and lining up. Plus she mentioned that she switched threads for every colour. Could I really be bothered to do that? The bigger question, though, was could I actually make the dress at all? See, there was no pattern, or even tutorial. Unfortunately by the time I had realised that, I had my heart set on making a curvy rainbow dress. So… I had one hell of a challenge on my hands. But I did it!!

Rainbow dress

Of course, I cut a few corners. I didn’t totally copy the other blogger’s dress. I admit I stole the curvy design – but I simplified things by keeping the back plain.

Rainbow dress - back

I am quite impressed with how this dress turned out, because I drafted the pattern and construction all by myself! Having only started making clothes a couple of months ago, that’s quite an achievement in my eyes.

Rainbow dress

Seeing as there is no pattern or tutorial for a dress like this, I thought I would type up what I did here – a) to help myself remember how to make this fab dress, so I can whip it up much more quickly, and b) to provide it for any of you lovely readers, so you don’t have to think too much!

So, here it is – my first little tutorial. Now, I totally made it up as I was going along, from start to finish, so there were errors. This is not a professional tutorial! But it WILL result in a beautiful rainbow dress.

First, take a well-fitting A-line dress from your model’s wardrobe, and lay it on some paper (in my case a roll of kids’ paper).

Rainbow dress - draw pattern

Draw around it, adding a 5/8″ seam allowance. If your dress has sleeves, fold them out the way and draw along where the seam line is, creating a sleeveless dress template.

Rainbow dress - pattern making

Cut this out, fold it in half, and correct yourself if your sides aren’t symmetrical.

Next, with this piece still folded, trace around it to make your dress front (lining) piece. You will cut this on the fold. Now, use this piece to draft your dress back piece. Simply line it up on more paper, spacing it 5/8″ from the long edge, as shown below:

Rainbow dress - making back pattern piece

Draw around the whole thing, along all the edges – just making that gap down the long side so that you have an added seam allowance for your zip. And cut it out!

So, you will now have your dress back piece, and your dress front piece – which is just for the lining – both half-dress sizes. I made mistakes on writing on the pieces – of course you do not cut the back pieces on the fold!

Rainbow dress - pattern pieces

Put these to one side. You’re now going to work on the front of the dress. Take your large dress front piece, and draw sweeping lines across it to create seven blocks. This took me a couple of attempts – you want the blocks to be fairly consistent in width – but don’t stress over the measurements; just use your eye.

Rainbow dress - pieces drawn

And cut out your pieces. Write the corresponding colour on each piece so that you don’t get confused later on.

Rainbow dress - pieces cut

Now this is the time-consuming bit. You can’t use those pieces because they have no seam allowance. Having said that, I guess you could use them and just cut your fabric wider than the pieces – but I would probably forget. So if you’d like to do it like I did, trace the pieces onto more paper, adding a 5/8″ seam allowance. It was only when I got to the cutting out stage that I realised I needn’t make the seam allowance all the way around – only between the colours (i.e. the long sides of the pieces). However, bare with me, because cutting a seam allowance all the way round worked in my favour. It meant that I didn’t have to be 100% precise with sewing. And somehow, I didn’t end up with a dress that was 5/8″ larger all the way around – the edges were jagged. You will get what I mean when you see the photo further down; for now, just redraw and cut your pieces with a 5/8″ seam allowance all the way around.

Rainbow dress - making pieces

Now, you will have seven pieces cut. They won’t all fit together because of the seam allowances, but don’t worry – it’s fine. You may wish to mark where the grainline will be. Excuse my random paperweights! You won’t have cut out the red piece at the top yet – I only realised I should think about grainlines after I’d cut that piece!

Rainbow dress - pieces

Hooray – you have all your pieces ready! Now to start cutting.

Grab your fabrics in an array of colours. I bought 1/2m in all, but 1m in lilac for the lining, and it was plenty (for an age 5 dress):

Rainbow dress - fabrics

Now cut:
> Lining pieces – 1 x dress front piece on the fold, and 2 x dress back pieces.
> 2 x dress back pieces in any colour – I used red because I had more of it due to the red piece being the smallest – and I think it looks good.
> Your rainbow pieces.

Rainbow dress - red pattern piece

Phew. Now you have all your pieces cut, you can finally start sewing 🙂

Get your first two pieces (in my case red and orange – but you may like to put your colours in reverse order – or not even use all the actual rainbow colours). Pin them together along their long sides. You will have bits poking out. Now, this is where I found that added seam allowance useful, because it means you don’t have to be 100% precise. Stitch along the edge, and it doesn’t matter if the start and finish aren’t equal (but of course try to make them as equal as possible, or you will cause yourself problems!)

Rainbow dress - piecing together

Continue this way, stitching all the pieces together (with a 5/8″ seam allowance), until you have something that looks like this:

Rainbow dress - piecing done

Notice how the edges are uneven? It’s absolutely fine. Now press all the seams open.

Rainbow dress - piecing done

Now, you can grab your dress front lining piece and place it on top. You will probably see that the edges are uneven, like in the left-hand-side photo below. That’s fine – you can simply trim around the edges to make it all neat!

Rainbow dress - tidy up

Next, put your lining and main dress together. You will then be left with a lining consisting of a dress front piece and back pieces, and a main dress consisting of your rainbow front piece and back pieces. So, with right sides together, pin and stich down the long edges of the lining, and then do the same with the main dress.

Rainbow dress - stitch backs to fronts

Rainbow dress - back to front

Press the seams open. It’s coming along nicely!

Now to put the lining and main dress together. I followed the same technique as I used for the Cottage Mama Party Dress. It looks a bit confusing, but it works.

First, put right sides together, and stitch along only where I have indicated below. This is along the neckline (front and back), and the armholes. You leave a couple of inches up to the shoulders, and the tops of the shoulders free.

Rainbow dress - stitch neckline

Clip the corners (or use pinking shears – a great tip), trim, turn right side out, and press. Now, I got carried away and pinked around the whole edge. DON’T do this! It makes it very difficult to know where the seam allowance will be for your shoulders. Trim only where you have actually just sewn. You can see in the photo below that the shoulders are zigzagged – they shouldn’t be!

Rainbow dress - neckline stitched

Now for the fiddly part. I will try to describe it the best I can. You are going to stich the front shoulder piece to the back shoulder piece. So, take a shoulder from the front of the dress and a shoulder from the back of the dress, and hold them right sides together; pin. You will have the rainbow piece lying against the back piece (in my case red), and the front lining lying against the back lining). If you are doing this now, it should make sense!

Rainbow dress - shoulders

You are going to stitch along this edge:

Rainbow dress - shoulders

And you will end up with something like this (although not so scruffy if you didn’t trim those edges!) The arrow shows where you have stitched.

Rainbow dress - shoulders

You should see it really come into shape now, it’s a great technique. Now you just need to press the edges under…

Rainbow dress - shoulders

… and either slipstitch the gap, or topstitch around the armhole. (I slipstitched.)

Rainbow dress - sleeves

Repeat the process for the other shoulder!

Now it’s time to add the zip. Mine was 9″ concealed (I think!) – it won’t really matter exactly how long it is (and of course it will depend on the size of your dress!) – just have it going down about halfway.

I’m not going to bother explaining how to insert a zip because there are some great tutorials out there. I learnt with Thread Carefully’s tutorial – it means you can insert it with your ordinary zipper foot.

Rainbow dress - zip

Once the zip is in place, finish stitching the back seam. Then measure how far up your zip ends, and use this measurement to stitch the back seam of the lining, up to this point. Press the rest of the seam allowance open.

Rainbow dress - lining

Slipstitch the lining in place down the zip – being sure not to go through to the main back piece. Keep the lining away from the zip or it will get stuck! Mine is not very straight and neat, but I didn’t really care. It won’t get seen. Tuck the top of the zip to the sides so that the zip is right at the top of the dress.

Rainbow dress - lining

Now all you need to do is hem it – and give it a good press. Now, you could hem the main dress and lining separately; but I decided to hem it all together because I didn’t finish any seams inside. Therefore the hem is thicker, but it isn’t actually too chunky. I debated with myself over the colour of thread. It would be nice to match the thread to the colours of the fabric, to hide it. But to be honest, at this point I didn’t really care and just went for a red thread to match the back. I think it looks fine. Fold and press the hem under twice, and stitch close to the fold.

Rainbow dress - hem

And that’s ‘it’!!

Rainbow dress

It definitely fits the brief of a ‘rainbow dress,’ doesn’t it?

Rainbow dress

It would be fabulous with a rainbow back, too. It wouldn’t be much more difficult to make – it’s making those paper pieces that is the irritating stage! Especially when your paper is all curly, haha.

Rainbow dress - back

I think the end result looks pretty neat.

Rainbow dress - back

Thankfully the dress fits my little girl – it’s always a bit of a worry that it won’t fit after you’ve put so much effort into it. I do always have the back-up of a younger girl to grow into it, though! The armholes do look a bit tight, but she assured me that they’re not, so I won’t worry about it!

Rainbow dress

I hope you find this useful… if you do make a dress like this, please comment below as I would love to see it. I also welcome any other comments or questions!

The Rainbow Dress - Tutorial

Beth x