Tutorial: Turn your trousers into overalls

I've noticed the growing trend for wearing overalls, dungarees and pinafore dresses and I wanted in on it! Rather than committing to a shop bought pair, I decided to make a simple detachable bib and braces to transform my GBSB casual trousers. I took some photos along the way and wrote a step-by-step tutorial - the bib and braces button to the inside of the waistband, so if you'd like to make your own, this should work for almost any trousers or skirts.

I had an idea of how I wanted my overalls to look, but here are some of my favourites from an inspiration hunt on Pinterest:

You will need:
  • A pair of trousers or a skirt
  • Leftover fabric (it doesn't have to match!)
  • Medium weight interfacing
  • 5 buttons
  • Matching thread

1. Take measurements

Try on the trousers (or skirt) that you're making the bib for, so you can see exactly where they sit on your waist. Take a measurement along the front of your waist for the width of your bib, and then take a measurement for the length of the bib - it should sit just above your bust.

2. Do some working out and cut your fabric

If you're brave, you can get straight to cutting your fabric, but I drew out this plan of my measurements, adding seam allowances on each side and an extra 3.5" on the bottom. The extra 3.5" gets folded and sits underneath the waistband of the trousers, so you may want to adjust this measurement depending on the depth of your waistband.

Cut out your bib.

3. Apply interfacing

Apply a strip of interfacing to bottom 3.5" of your bib. This will provide stability when you sew in button holes later. 

4. Finish the edges

Turn the sides of your bib in by about 0.7cm and press. Turn them in on themselves again, pin and stitch. Do the same with the top edge of your bib. 

5. Finish the bottom of your bib

Press the bottom seam allowance to the wrong side of the bib.
Fold along the fold line - wrong sides together - and pin in place and stitch. The bottom of your bib should be quite sturdy, with your interfacing encased inside.

6. Make your braces

Cut two long lengths of fabric, twice the width that you intend them to be, (remembering to add a seam allowance). I based mine on the laces from the Kielo Wrap Dress which are 3.25cm wide when finished. My finished braces are 66cm long, but I found it easier to cut them quite a bit longer so there's a bit of wiggle room for adjustments later.

Fold each lace, right sides facing, pin and stitch one end and side. Trim your seams, turn out and press.

7. Attach your braces to the bib

Pin the finished ends of the braces - one at each corner of your bib - and machine stitch them in place.

8. Sew button holes on your bib

Following your machine's instructions, sew button holes on the bottom interfaced panel of your bib. I chose to do 3, but you might want to do more depending on the width of the bib and the fabric you use - no matter how many you do, I'd recommend always having a button hole at the centre front.

9. Sew your buttons

Sew buttons to the inside of your trouser waistband to correspond with the button holes on your bib. If your waistband is elasticated like mine, you'll need to try the trousers on to work out where your buttons should be positioned once the elastic is stretched during wear.

10. Finish your braces

Try on your trousers with the bib attached and find a comfortable length for your braces.

Cut them to length (plus a little bit extra for seam allowance) and sew a button hole close to the end of each one.

Turn the raw edges inside, pin and top stitch closed.

11. Sew the buttons for your braces

To attach your braces, sew 2 buttons to the inside of the waistband of your trousers. I measured mine so each sits 6cm from the centre back.

12. You have overalls!

Button your bib and braces in and out for a multi-functional garment. My boyfriend kindly waited till we left the house to tell me that I look like a minion when I wear mine with this yellow blouse - minion colour combo is optional.

I hope this tutorial is helpful if you're planning to sew your own overalls - please let me know, and I'd love to see pictures too! You can catch me on social media on the links below, and if you have any questions, just let me know in the comments :)

GBSB casual trousers: a pair of pairs

A strange thing is happening - I'm currently sewing at a MUCH faster pace than I can blog. I've had the sewing bug for a long time, but it's like since I caught an actual bug (glandular fever eurghh) my sewing output has massively increased. It's been good to get on with some sewing in the moments when I've had some energy. And this was such an easy sew that I managed to make two pairs...

...the Great British Sewing Bee Casual Trousers.
This pattern is from the 3rd GBSB book Fashion with Fabric and it's one of the many 'pattern hack' options - it's the bottom half hack of the jumpsuit. The casual trousers are made up of just 3 pattern pieces - front leg, back leg and waistband. 
The 'look-I-made-trousers' selfie isn't an easy one to capture!
Both fabrics are Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market wonders from my stash. I made pair one up in an evening using a paisley print brushed cotton. Pair two were just as quick, and I think they really suit the blue drapey viscose - from the same batch I used for my Kielo Wrap Dress (yep I had that much!).

True to their name, they are super casual; nice and roomy and have an elasticated waist. I cut a straight size 12. You don't really have to worry about the fit as it's all determined by how tight you cut your elastic for the waist. I found that they sit on my natural waist, which is great for me, though they look like they might sit a little lower on the model in the book.
On my way out for pizza - loving the elasticated waistband
I been avoiding button holes for life, particularly after a difficult session trying to add them to my slippy polyester Mimi, but I managed the 2 on the waistband pretty well! I think the fabric must make all the difference. Also I did them manually rather than using the automatic buttonhole function on my machine. The first pair are a bit wonky, but I think I improved on the blue ones (yay!).

I bought a longer length of cord for my second pair. The recommended 1 metre fits perfectly in the paisley pair, but the ends try to escape back inside the waistband every time they're taken on and off, which is a bit of a pain. I took a few inches off the leg length of both pairs, so they're a bit cropped. Judging by the pictures, I'm thinking I might have took an inch too many off, but oh well.

At first I thought they'd just be comfy pants to wear around the house, but they're also pretty smart depending on what you pair them with. I've never made trousers before, and I'd say this is a great introduction to making a garment that can be quite daunting. I'm spurred on to tackle a more tailored pair of trousers next and luckily I managed to grab the Sewing Indie Month Pattern Bundle 1, which contains the Sew Over It Ultimate Trouser pattern! Watch this space.

P.S. speaking of Sew Over It, I love the new Anderson Blouse pattern! I'm wearing the same Topshop blouse in 2 different colours in these snaps and it's quite similar in style, so might have to whip up my own version! Has anyone else bought/made the Anderson Blouse yet?

Doing a Dye Job

Lovely dyed fabric keeps popping up all over my various social media feeds. Dresses and skirts in dip dyes, stripes, tie-dyes - and the latter has totally been playing on my mind, particularly whilst trawling ALL THE HOMEWARE SHOPS for some acceptable new bed sheets. 

Maybe I'm just fussy, but really, REALLY, who wants their bedding to look like a romp in Pat Butcher's wardrobe? Ok, maybe some people do, but animal print, neon and too many trims, all for the not so bargainous price of £60 - no thanks! So it might be a bit off topic from dressmaking, but I took it upon myself to dye my way to better bedding! Here's my kit:

- Some £12 sheets from Wilko 52% poly, 48% cotton was the best I could get (the colour of the dye comes out stronger the higher your cotton content)
- Dylon Intense Violet fabric dye
- Rubber bands
- ...and not pictured, salt.

I found the centre of my bedding and pillows, banded it all up and stuck it in the sink with the dye and salt (salt is the fixing agent). WARNING: Use rubber gloves as directed to on the pack! I didn't and my hands have been Ribena coloured for days.

And et voilá! New sheets. Not to everyone's liking I'm sure, but to me, they're certainly better than any I've seen in the shops.

The point is, it was SO easy that I feel inspired to experiment. When I was doing my research before making my Vogue 1395, I came across Lauren from Llladybird's version in this amazing hand-dyed silk - oh how I love that fabric. So next on the dyeing agenda is trying to replicate that striped-dye effect for a dress!

Meanwhile, I'm going to light some incense to help my new bedding try and feel at home.

Completed: Vogue 1395

I've been house bound with glandular fever for over a week now, but luckily my sewing machine is only a metre from my bed, so in the moments where I've had a bit of energy, it's been pretty easy to get sewing. And here's what I've managed: the Vogue 1395, worn by a pasty looking me on my first outing in a while.

I'd seen some fab versions of the V1395 out in the blogosphere (shout outs to What Katie Sews, The Telltale TashaLladybird, Clever Tinker) and after making the Kielo Wrap Dress, I couldn't resist another tie-front dress. I bought this lovely drapey viscose especially for the project, and it was very nice to work with. It was quite slow in the making, but a fun sew with some really interesting methods of construction. It seems really straightforward now I've made it, but I put a lot of faith in the instructions at certain points, as my ill/tired brain couldn't quite envisage how it would work.

As a word of warning, the finished garment measurements on the back of the envelope are pretty unhelpful (only the back length of the dress and lower edge width are stated), so double check your measurements against those on each of the pattern pieces. I was ready to trace a UK16, but after checking the finished bust measurement on the bodice, I found that the 14 would be a much better fit.
Adjustments: I added 3 inches to the skirt and I'm really happy with the finished length!

The dress itself is quite a simple pullover, with an elasticated waist and short kimono-style sleeves. It's the back overlay that's really interesting. There's a slash line near the top of the centre back that you gather your fabric into. It's a bit hard to pick out on the picture with the pattern on my fabric, but it's a cool technique that I've never really seen before, and dead easy to do. 

I was totally confused by the instructions for attaching the overlay at the shoulder seams, and felt like I was matching everything up wrong. After doing one shoulder and turning it out to check, everything was fine, BUT then I got completely lost turning the garment round and round on itself just trying to work out how I had it before so I could do the other shoulder! Of course, I ended up stitching it with a big twist in the bodice, so out came the unpicker, and I had to concentrate pretty hard to get it right the second time.

I quite like how the dress looks at the back. You catch the overlay into the waist of the dress at the back, but I'd probably leave it free in future. It 'bags out' a bit and creates a bit too much volume in the back for my liking, particularly as there's already quite a lot of weight in that slash and gather line that feels like it's dragging the neckline downwards at the back. The weight of the fabric I used was perfect for the rest of the dress, but I'd be tempted to use something slightly lighter if I made it again to try and prevent the pulling/slipping feeling in the back.

A few more things... similar to many others who've blogged about this dress, I opted for french seams rather than double stitched seams as the pattern instructs - I think the finish is a bit neater. My fabric was thick enough that I could avoid lining the skirt too. A few reviews have noted how low the armholes gape, and although I agree, I think the overlay covers most of the bra flashage on mine when it's tied.

I feel like I've complained about this make a bit more that it deserves. I quite like the finished dress - it was the right amount of challenging to make and it's nice to wear - I just might do a few things a bit differently if I made it again. Here's to recovering from the ills fully and soon so I'll have more occasions to go out and wear it!

8 Questions: Style and Sewing

It's exactly 2 years today since I finished my first (wearable) garment, the Miette Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons. A lot's changed in the past couple of years, particularly in the way I approach dressmaking. With this in mind, I've given my blog a bit of a makeover, and thought I'd reintroduce myself and The Magnificent Thread through 8 questions.

1. How did you learn to sew?

My Dad is very practical and good at designing and making things, and my Mum has always knitted, sewn and made things, as has her Mum, so I must have inherited a bit of a creative flair. My Mum taught me how to sew as a child, but other than having a toy sewing machine, I can't remember doing much machine work. I did Textiles all the way through school where I picked up more skills, but a lot of the dressmaking stuff came afterwards and is self taught.

I used books like Love at First Stitch and The Great British Sewing Bee - Sew your own wardrobe and blogs as go-to reference points if I got stuck, and then it all started coming quite naturally with a bit of practice.

2. Why do you sew?

I've been sewing, drawing and making things since I was small. I stopped enjoying the creative subjects at school when it felt like I was doing it because I had to rather than wanting to. So I chose to study History it uni, and making became fun again. I think I started dressmaking seriously because I needed a focus - I had so many unfinished bits of knitting, patchwork, etc - I just wanted to finish something I could get use out of. I was quite anxious in day-to-day life too, so it helped to come home and concentrate on the next bit of the garment. Of course, once I'd caught the bug, I had to carry on!

The Miette Skirt - my first finished garment
3. How does your style influence your dressmaking?

Clothes shopping was always my biggest 'hobby', and I still love it, but today I'm more interested in browsing what styles are being stocked to see if I can make them myself. I like the edgier styles that Whistles and COS put out, but they're a bit too 'minimalist' for me - I'm a lover of all things patterned! I take inspiration from elements of vintage fashion, from the forties to the nineties (if you can really call the nineties 'vintage'). I also struggle to find tops and dresses that fit right as I have quite a big bust for my size. So really, my approach to dressmaking is about creating affordable garments that suit me, in style and shape, and making them just a little bit different so they stand out from the 'norm'.

Pattern! - Stokholm street style from Carolines Mode
Style - COS
Style - 60s (source: Pinterest)
Style - Whistles
I still like buying RTW though, often mixing it in with handmade. My absolute weaknesses are &otherstories - I'd happily buy out all of their collections if money permitted - and shoes (more specifically Doc Martens) because you can never have too many right?

4. Where do you sew?

I live in Leeds and have my sewing station set up in the corner of my room. I bought the Ikea Raskog trolley to keep things in  one place, but sewing paraphernalia is gradually taking over the flat.
Most of my fabric is tucked away, but I keep the best in my stash out on display so I can admire it and plan my next makes!

5. Favourite project?

My favourite project is usually changes every time I make something new, but I'd probably say the Megan dress was one of my best early makes. It was my first time adjusting a pattern, inserting an invisible zip and I made my first attempt at pattern drafting to add the collar.

Megan dress
My other favourite is any of the dresses made with a pattern I drafted in evening classes at Leeds College of Art. If you like dressmaking and have some ideas of your own, I'd definitely recommend a pattern drafting course!

Self-drafted dress

6. What's your approach to blogging?

I was always in two minds about blogging. I never thought I had enough direction to blog, and I always thought I could make better use of my time by actually making things, rather than writing about it. Then I realised that I was using blogs all the time; seeing if anyone had made a pattern before or reviewed a book, or had any tips, and I wanted to join in the conversation! So I started The Magnificent Thread to record my dressmaking progress. It's great for me to sum up the construction of a garment, and think over what I liked about it or what I'd do differently, and if other people read it and find it helpful, that's great!

7. What's on your 'to-make' list?

At the minute, I'm making the Vogue 1395 - I liked the Kielo Wrap Dress so much, I thought I'd try another tie-front dress. After that, the list is fairly lengthy, some of which I'll never get round to making!

Sneak peak of progress on the V1395
In short, I'll hopefully be making a final teal version of my self-drafted pattern to wear to a wedding, many pairs of the 'Casual Trouser' from the latest GBSB book - I already have a pair that are currently unblogged, but they're amazing! - and the Lily Sage & Co 'Wonderland Skirt'.

8. Other than sewing...

I used to work in museums, and now work at a University, trying to engage young people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects - a world away from sewing. When I'm not working or making, I like spending time with my friends and boyfriend, going out for food, watching bands, shopping (usually for shoes) and a good gin and tonic.

Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting!