Republique du Chiffon Danielle Dungarees
I’m going to start the year (…okay it’s late Feb, who can keep track?) with a bold declaration, and it’s this: Everyone should own a pair of dungarees. All of us. Young, old, men, women, non-binary gender identifying persons, children….and where possible, dogs. A good pair of overalls should be a standard issue, government-gifted, non-negotiable staple in everyone’s wardrobe. It’s not that they look so incredibly flattering (on anyone really) that they’re a must… (though I challenge you not to love Jack Black in his). And though they’re easy to throw on, they’re not altogether practical – a few years down the onesie/dungaree path who isn’t slightly sick of undressing every time they need a quick toilet stop? But put on a pair of dungarees and you instantly feel relaxed. No tight waistband digging in at your sides. No need to coordinate top and bottom. SOOOO forgiving of beer guts and large lunches. They’re the ultimate clothing equivalent of comfort food, and you feel instantly happy when you put a pair on. For this reason, I truly believe everyone should go out and get themselves a pair. Or, for lucky crafty types like us – make some.
If you choose to make, there’s no shortage of bib ‘n’ brace options out there in patternland – so many in fact that I got quite overwhelmed choosing. Last year alone Tilly and the Buttons released the Mila Dungarees and Sew House 7 dropped the Burnside Bibs. Not so long before that, Named came up with the Ronja Dungarees. Add these to long-time favourites the Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees, the Marilla Walker Roberts Collection overalls and the Republique du Chiffon Danielle Dungarees and it was almost impossible to decide. Finally, my choice came down to finding the closest match to these Birgitta Helmersson dungarees I have been coveting – and the RDC option won. Between the two of us Klarissa and I have made a few RDC pants and jumpsuits (here and here), and I really like the drafting and Frenchie slim fit trousers. Luckily the Danielle pattern came in English, which was my final tipping point. Danielle it was.
Like so many new sewing challenges, I had convinced myself that overalls would be really difficult. They’re really not. Without having to fuss with a proper waistband and fly, the pieces all come together in pretty simple order. The challenge with this pair ended up being around issues of fit – and I don’t think I altogether nailed it. The pattern is drafted for mid-height ladies of 165cm – I’m a good 13cm taller so I added some length to the legs and 2cm to the bib front and back. I wonder now if I’ve lengthened the bib too much, as I think it’s a bit gapey…? I also fussed with the crotch of the pants as my first attempt gave me a horrendous wedgie (yes friends – I made a toile, 2018 me is taking on better sewing habits), but I’m worried they still don’t flatter my flat bum (as Klarissa pointed out while she was taking photos, I clearly have no Kardashian in my family tree….). And despite matching my measurements very closely to the size chart when I decided on a size (I made a size 40), they came up quite wide. I missed this at toile stage as I was so fixated on length, and I subsequently spent hours shaving a centimetre off the sides of the legs, waistband and side plackets (resentful hand-sewing was involved).
Luckily making these wasn’t a total time blow-out as I saved hours by choosing a top-stitch thread to match my fabric (which is super-cheap mid-weight dark denim from Clear It) as I didn’t want a ‘jeansy’ looking pair of overalls. I slammed my way through metres of very wonky top-stitching without a care in the world – you just can’t really see it. I also went low-fuss on the hardware, rather than hunt for the perfect dungaree buckles I kept it simple with dark blue buttons.
So my opening paragraph may have spoiled the surprise, but the verdict on these dungarees is this: It’s true love. I have literally lived in them since the second they came off my machine. I’ve worn them on dinner dates. On dog walks. To school events and supermarkets. I’ve worn them all weekend, almost every weekend – I’ve even had an earnest conversation with my partner about whether they could pass for workwear (he says not). They really are the lazy person’s answer to getting dressed for almost any occasion. And as I said, they’re comfortable and comforting. Dungarees are for everyone and I urge you to find/make/steal a pair today – your life will be happier. x