Making your own dungarees

Some time ago, I posted about making myself dungarees.  I got so many hits from people looking for dungarees patterns and instructions on how to make them, that I felt pretty bad all they’d get here was my ecstatic ramblings about how glad I was to have managed to make my own.  Therefore the next time I made myself a pair, I took loads and loads of photos so I could give what help I am able to.

Some things need to be noted here: if you are not already familiar with sewing your own clothes, I’m not sure how easy this will be for you to follow.  Also, these dungarees will be different from the standard denim ones.  I made a pattern to my own taste, which suits my personal needs.  If it suits yours as well, you might figure out from my notes how to make something similar for yourself.

This pattern might not be perfect first go.  It wasn’t for me.  I would suggest you make your first pair of dungarees from cheap fabric, try it on, and then make adjustments to the pattern where needed.  That’s what I did, and I now have a pattern which is perfect for me which I can use over and over again.

Lastly, there are A LOT of photos in this post.  On a dialup connection, you might well have huge trouble downloading it.  Sorry about that, but it’s just one of those things.

So, on to the pattern and instructions:

Firstly, you’ll need to measure yourself:

(a) Waist

(b) From waist level to top of shoulder

(c) From waist level to where you want the top of the bib to be, +2.5cm

(d) Distance from… er… well, for me it’s from one nipple to the other plus three centimetres, hahaha.  This distance is going to be the width you want the top of your dungarees bib to be, plus a hem allowance.

(e) From one side of your neck, around the back, to the other side

The pattern can be drawn on newspaper, stuck together with sticky tape if you need bigger pieces, or on pattern paper sheets, or whatever you have on hand which might work.

Drawing the pattern:

1.  Front leg

Take a pair of comfortable trousers, which are as wide in the leg and (more or less) at the waist as you’d like your dungarees to be.  Fold them in half at the zip and back seam, so that the crotch sticks out in a kind of point.  Now place the trousers on the paper, make sure they’re flat, and draw their outline.  You might find the line curves in a bit towards the waist, make this line straight instead.  Once you have the trace down, remove the trousers and draw another line, 1 – 1.5cm outside the original line, for seam allowances.  Jeans tend to be a bit tight-fitting, so if you’re using those, I’d suggest going for 1.5 rather than 1cm.  Finally, cut a corner off at the top, on the outside seam, from a point 12cm toward the centre, and 12cm down. Cut this front leg pattern out and lay it on another piece of paper.  It should look something like this:

Front leg pattern for dungarees

2. Copy the pattern, but leave the top open (in other words, don’t draw a line across to show where the waist will be).  Mark a line distance (c) above the top of the pattern.  Extend the lines above the pattern to that height.  You should now have something that looks like this:

Dungarees back leg step 1

3.  Mark the waist level on the outside edge (where you don’t have the ‘point’ of the crotch).  Mark a point (e) ÷ 2 from the inner seam edge (that’s the line that runs down to curve into a point at the crotch) at the top.  Mark a point 7cm towards the outer edge from that point. Mark a point 14cm down from the top, on the inner seam.

Dungarees pattern back leg step 2

4.  Now it gets tricky.  You need to draw a diagonal line from the first point you marked down to the 14cm point.  Not too bad… but now you need to draw a curved line from the 7cm point to waist level on the other side.  You can use a curve ruler for this if you’re not too sure of your artistic skills.  Your pattern piece should now look something like this:

Dungarees back leg pattern complete

5.  Next, draw a trapesium with the following measurements:

Dungarees bib pattern

6.  Now, the pockets.  Draw a rectangle measuring 17x25cm.  This is the side pocket pattern, and you’re going to cut two of these.  The bib pocket is more tricky.  You need to draw a rectangle that will fit in the bib, then chop off the bottom corners diagonally, like this:

Dungarees bib pocket

Now you should have all your pattern pieces, and they should look like this:

All the pattern pieces for dungarees

Cut out as shown, try to lay out the pieces so the warp of the fabric lies from top to bottom with your pieces.  I don’t know if that makes any sense to you – you need the pattern pieces to lie on the fabric so the edges where the shop cut the piece of cloth off are above and below the patterns, not on either side.  Here, I managed to lay it out the right way except for the bib.  Note that on these dungarees I didn’t add a bib pocket.

Pattern layout for dungarees

Cut out the pattern pieces, and take care if your cat is helping.

If there’s space for you to extend the shoulder straps a bit, that’s just grand and you might as well.

Lastly, you want to now cut two strips from the leftover fabric.  These are going to be the shoulder straps.  They must be 7cm wide, and roughly 30 – 40cm long (it’s 30cm for me, and I’m a UK size 12-14).  You can always cut them shorter later*.

Take note in this photo, you can see where I had to make the leg panels wider after I made the first pair of dungarees, you can see where I extended the pattern with some packaging tape.  Around this spot, which is roughly where your butt is, you might do well to just add a centimetre or so width for comfort.

Roll spare fabric up and pack it away, you might well need it later, either on this project or another one.

Take note there of the diagonal cut for the pockets.

Sewing your dungarees.

Note: if you’re using an ordinary sewing machine, remember to edge each seam after sewing so it doesn’t unravel.

1. Edge the diagonal cuts on the front leg panels, fold over 1cm and pin.

Iron it into place,

…then take out the pins (they can make sewing uncomfortable in this instance) and sew the hems.

Edge the pockets, then pin them behind the diagonal, hemmed slices as if you’re replacing the bits you cut off earlier. In other words, line up the short side of the rectangle with the top of the pattern piece…

…and the long side with the side seam edge.

In this rare instance, the right side of the pocket must face the wrong side of the leg panel.

The panel’s outline will now be as it was before you made the diagonal pocket cuts.

Edge the bib.

Fold the diagonal sides over 1cm, pin and iron into place. Sew the hem.

Fold the top edge over 2.5cm, pin and iron.  Sew the hem.

If you add a bib pocket, this is the time to do it.  Make sure you place it level with the top edge, and properly centred.

Lift the cat off the back panel pieces and smooth them out.

Mark a point 10cm, or 4in, from the top of the outer leg seam edge of the back panel with a pin.

Hem the edge from that point to the top.  Fold it over so the hem will be about 1cm at the top, but will get narrower going down.  Pin, iron and sew.

Now edge the… well, the edge that runs in a curve up from the outer seam.  Turn it over 1cm, pin, iron and hem.

The fabric should be stretchy enough here, as it’s cut on the bias, for the folded-over edge to stretch and make a neat hem.  However, at the point shown there, where the curve is at its steepest, you may need to make a few tiny clips in the bit you’re folding over if it won’t fold over smoothly.

Edge…

… and fold over the other side of what you should now be able to see will make the shoulder straps.  Pin, iron and sew.

Lay out your prepared back panel on a table or other flat surface.

Put the front panel on top of it as shown.  The inner leg edges must be aligned.

Because this is a home-made pattern, a little bit of misalignment is to be expected here and there.  If it’s something small as shown, don’t sweat it.  Much more than this and I’d start worrying a little bit.  The important thing is for the crotch ‘points’ to be aligned.

Pin, sew and edge the inner leg seam.  When you open it out, it should look like this:

Note that at the top, it makes a kind of U-shape.  That’s pretty important.

Lay the two pieces you now have on top of each other, right sides facing, U shapes aligned.  It’s important for the inner leg seams to align.

Your panels should now be pinned together as shown.  Sew and edge the seam.  Turn the half-finished trousers right side out.  Fold the bib in half from side to side, right side outward.  Place the fold on the top of the centre seam.  The smaller edge of the bib must point downwards, toward the bottom of the trousers.

Now fold the bib open and it should be nicely aligned.

There might be a sticky-out bit at the bottom edge of the bib corners, just cut it off.

Pin the bib to the front edge of the trousers only, sew and edge.  Importantly, you need to now fold over a hem on the pocket insert the same way you did for the back panel.

Note here that the bib isn’t quite as wide as the front of the trousers in this case.  You might not like that, personally I’m not going to tear my hair out and go to enormous lengths to make sure it’s precisely calculated.  What I did in this instance was to fold the bit over which was longer than the bib, and hem it.

Next you need to align the outer leg seams, pin and sew them.  At the top, there should now be a bit of a gap where you made the two fold-over hems at the tops of the outer leg seams on both front and back panels. Remember to reinforce the top of this seam by backstitching.

What you have made should look a bit like this now:

Fold over the bottom hems, pin, remove the cat and stitch.

Your shoulder straps should, after the edges have been done, be 5cm wide.  Now you can play around a bit.  With these dungarees, I cut two shoulder strap extensions of 6cm width each, and made them long enough to overlap the bib for buttons and buttonholes.

However, I’ve done different things on other dungarees.  These are the ones I was wearing when taking these photos, for instance:

If you decide to go with the 6cm plan, fold your two strips of fabric in half lengthwise (so the long sides are aligned).  Pin., remove the cat from the chair.

Sit down and sew the long sides.  There’s no need to edge the seam this time.  Iron the straps so that the seams are in the middle, as shown, and ironed open.

Sew across one open edge.

As shown, if you sew a few stitches, then lift the sewing machine foot and flatten the seam…

…before putting it back down, you can neatly sew the seam open at the top, and we want this.  Your straps should now look like this:

Turn them inside out.  This can be much easier said than done.  I used a knitting needle.  A knitting needle also comes in very handy for pushing out the corners and making them neat.  The strap on the left has been made neat with the knitting needle, the one on the right has not been done this way.

Fold the open side’s edge in as shown, and iron into place.

Insert the shoulder straps into these open sides just enough to be sewn together, pin and sew.  Try the dungarees on now, it might be good if someone can help you at this point.  Mark with pins where you should make buttonholes in the top corners of the bib and on the front panels of the trousers (just below the bottom edge of the bib where it’s sewn to the trousers).  Mark where you should sew on the buttons to go into these buttonholes.

As I mentioned, there’s much scope for playing around with the straps.  The buttonholes can go in the bib or in the straps.  You can add a loop to the bib, thread the straps through and button the strap to itself.  You can add a tie as I showed above with my pink dungarees.  This is where you can get really creative.

And voila!  Unless something went seriously wrong somewhere in my directions, I really hope you have a great pair of dungarees to wear now.  Have fun with them.

*This would give you straps that will be easier to do than the ones shown.  Simply edge the long edges, turn over 1cm, hem them, attach the short edge to the edge of the straps on the almost finished dungarees, turn over and hem the raw edge and your straps are done.

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17 thoughts on “Making your own dungarees

  1. First off yes I have had wine this evening – Don’t look at me that way, I see you had a glass of wine – while operating machinery none the less! :P
    Anyway so now the alphabet goes A B D C E… hmm how much have I been drinkin? Not that much…. but numbers now go 1 2 3 3 4 5… emm, nope I’M still sober….. not sure you were! :P

    Anyway, nice post… not going to be making Dungarees anytime soon – have done sewing I will have you know – but it is great that you have put this up for others. Lovin the cat! And that bracelet you have – all one piece? or is there a catch? / Did you get it in Ireland?

  2. Thanks a lot. I will save the info – and give it a go. I have one pair of dungarees – and I simply love them. They are basically orange with groovy black checks on them….Can you shop get any more can it heck.

    • I’m glad if this can help anyone; it’s not great and someone who knows a bit more about sewing could do it better, but it’s at least a guide. With a bit of trial and error I think most people who have sewed a bit before could manage this.

  3. Thank you I have been looking for a dungarees pattern to make my daughter a pair (she is only 8 months) and am too scrooge like to buy a pattern. I look forward to trying this out.

    • I really hope it works for you. It should, though, because the basic principle is to work off a pair of trousers which already fits the person you’re making them for. Best of luck! I’m nervous now!

  4. What a lot of time and effort you have put in for the benefit of others. I am using your instructions to make a pair for my 10 year old daughter, she is dressing up as a land girl from the second world war at school.
    Thank you

    sam

  5. Thanks for the instructions. I’ll make a paif for myself and another one for my husband. (with flies, of course) :-)

  6. Thank you for all the time and effort in posting this pattern. My son needs a pair of dungarees for an end of year show and having looked tirelessly for many weeks have decided to make them. I hope my sewing skills are up to it! Your instructions are clear so just need to put them into action. Thanks again! Kelly

  7. Hello Nadia Williams and Everybody,
    We feel immensely pleasure telling you this that we are the manufacturers of dungarees and we do have a factory of manufacturing containing variety of colors, styles and fabrics. Also we do also make custom dungarees with the brand logo of your company with delivery of less than two weeks. You can contact us at export@afnangear.com

  8. Ah ha! So it’s not just my cat that likes to sit annoying all on the pattern pieces when I’m sewing! :) Although my cat also likes to play with and bat and try to bite the scissors when I’m cutting stuff out…..

    And thank you very much for wonderful instructions on dungarees. I have been dying for a pair for about the 3 years but I have never been able to find a pair that fit. It didn’t occur to me till this morning that I could just make some… :)

    xxLissa

  9. Wow! Fantastic. I’ve been looking for a dungaree pattern everywhere. I can use the swing trouser pattern I have as a starting point.

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