Another baby gift… dungarees!

Now that I’ve hit my mid-30s, more and more of my friends are either getting married or having kids. I think we’re pretty much through most of the weddings now, but that means we’re onto kids. I quite like sewing baby clothes – they’re teeny tiny, so they’re a quick sew, and they don’t take up much fabric. I’ve been known to make them with the scraps of previous makes, which pleases me no end as it’s less to landfill.


Anyway, It’s been a bit of a fluke, but so far most of my pregnant friends have had girls. Gift-giving for them is really easy – they pretty much always get the Little Geranium Dress from Made by Rae and the Swing Set Cardigan from Little Crochet by Linda Perman (check out my versions of both here). But I’ve been stuck for a go-to pattern for boys. So when my friend Joanna had a little boy last month I had to have a go at something new. I found Puperita Patterns on Etsy and thought that their Little Birds dungarees looked like a winner.

I didn’t know whether Joanna was having a girl or a boy, and when little Alfie arrived I hadn’t yet made a start on the gift. It can take a couple of weeks for parcels to cross the Atlantic, so I cut out the 3-month size, reasoning that he might be that big by the time it got there, or he could grow into it. I had this mint green needlecord in my stash for the main body and used some matching zig zag quilting cotton for the lining.


The pattern and instructions were pretty easy to follow, and come nicely illustrated with a bunch of helpful photos. My only gripe would be the pattern markings, which aren’t quite standard. There’s a legend to tell you what’s what, but I was a little confused here and there. (Side moan: I don’t like it when pattern designers use straight lines instead of triangles for their notches. They’re so easy to miss.)

One of the features I really like is the lined patch pockets on the chest and rear (cos every baby needs somewhere to put their wallet). Needlecord needs to be finished as it frays really annoyingly, and I’m not the best at overlocking round tight curves, so doing a lined version and turning it through is a nice compromise. I also like that you get the pop of the lining – it’s a nice detail that you wouldn’t normally see from a casual glance, so it’s a little secret for the maker.


My only issue in making these dungarees was the buttonholes. The ones on the shoulder straps went in without any bother, but the ones at the side stuffed up (probably a bit too much bulk), meaning that I had to unpick. What a ball ache! Rather than struggle on with trying to get the buttonhole to work, I decided just to go with a couple of poppers instead. Far easier for me, and probably easier for Alfie’s mum and dad to get on and off.

I do think these dungarees are really quite cute, but with hindsight I am not sure about their practicality. If you want to change your baby you’re going to have to take the whole thing off and then get them dressed again. Having some poppers in the crotch area is going to be far more practical for nappy operations. Perhaps with my new-found love of knits, I can attempt a babygro next time?

Turn ups





Does anyone else think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they think of dungarees? I haven’t worn a pair myself since the mid-90s when I had some short dungarees for the summer. [Un]fortunately I have no photos, but I loved those things – they were so comfortable and I thought I was so cool wearing them. I’m not sure I could carry off proper dungarees anymore but a dress version is a happy compromise.

Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress came along just at the right time. It’s an easy-fitting dress with two length options and instructions for buckles or buttonholes. I’ve seen loads of lovely versions over the internet, and not just in traditional denim. When Tilly released a new batch of kits, I snapped one up in aubergine needlecord.


The kit came with everything you need to make your Cleo – pattern, thread, interfacing, shiny silver buckles and enough fabric to make one dress. The fabric is seriously nice too. So very soft. Before cutting it out I must have spent a good 15 minutes just stroking it… Don’t judge me. I was… ermmm… testing for the nap…

Anyway, the pattern comes with Tilly’s trademark clear and detailed instructions. I went for the longer version and had no problems sewing it up – it’s a great pattern for a beginner, but a nice quick sew for someone with more projects under their belt. Proving every day’s a school day, I did pick up a new skill! I’d never done a bar tack before and never really realised that it’s just a row of really tight zigzags. Mine’s at the top of the front split for reinforcement.

As dungarees have a relaxed fit, I was confident that my standard adjustments to TATB patterns would be ok. I’m a 4 on top, but according to my measurements I should be a 7 on the bottom. I graded it out as normal but the finished article made me look like I was wearing jodhpurs, so I unpicked and resewed. I’ll try grading to a 6 next time instead.


Difficult to see in this pic, but I can assure you there is a painstakingly stitched pocket on this dress.

This was a really satisfying sew and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments about this one (apart from my dad, who asked me why I was wearing overalls *sigh*). From tracing the pattern (normally the part that takes me ages, mainly because I find it so very tedious) to trying on the finished article, this took me about four hours. I can see more on the horizon too. It doesn’t take up much fabric – less than 1.25m for the longer length dress – so it’s good for stash busting. I’ve already bought some dark blue denim and the buckles for my next version, though this time I think I’ll give contrasting top stitching a go.

That’ll have to wait though, cos I’m about two weeks away from the big move and I am mainly spending time sorting out my life right now. That and my machine and overlocker went into storage last week. I am itching to do some more making but I’ll have to restrain myself until I get to the other side of the pond.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?