If you’re looking for directions on how to draw a dungarees pattern and sew your own, go here.
Back in South Africa, I lived my life in denim dungarees. I had long ones for winter, and short ones for summer. I wore them so regularly that I remember how weird it would feel to have pressure on my waist when I wore normal trousers. Dungarees are obviously held up by the shoulder straps, and I wore them so much that anything else was strange.
They were too heavy to pack for Ireland, so I gave them all away. “New country,” I thought, “new dress style.” That was five years ago, and I’ve been struggling with clothes ever since.
Nothing felt right. I kept buying this, and trying that, and not feeling really comfortable and natural in anything. Recently I’ve started wearing the odd skirt and a few dresses again. Yes, it’s been nice, it feels feminine and flirty to don a shortish skirt and stockings. However, it still felt as if I was wearing someone else’s clothes.
I realised at a stage that I missed my dungarees, realised what a big mistake I’d made to leave them behind. I started looking for dungarees here, but no luck. I could have ordered them online, but with me sometimes wearing a 12, sometimes a 14, I was wary of doing so. The other thing is that I believe fashion has veered toward tighter fitting clothes. Even if I checked exact measurements for hips, chest etc. and ordered accordingly, my idea of a comfortable fit might be nothing like someone else’s.
Yesterday, all my problems were solved. I got a sewing machine. His name is Harold, and he’s gay*.
I went to the local fabric shop and bought some fabric. Now I faced one more obstacle: a pattern. I’d been searching for a sewing pattern for dungarees for months now, and I’ve been unable to find one. There was no other choice: I would have to create a pattern myself.
So I took a pair of jeans that were comfortable for me, worked from that and careful measurements, and made a pattern for dungarees, drawing it on old newspaper. With my heart in my throat, I laid out the fabric on our dining table, pinned the pattern to it, and started to cut. Then I started to sew.
I’m wearing gorgeous dungarees today. They’re unique, there’s only one precisely like this pair in the world. No, it’s not plain denim, it’s vertical stripes.
What am I going to make next? Dungarees, dark blue denim (I already have the fabric at home). After that? Dungarees, patchwork. After that? Dungarees. I’m not sure what kind yet.
I’ll let you know when I decide.
*The reason Harold is what he is, is because I knew he had to be a boy because he’s blue. Yet he’s mostly white, with only the baby blue insets. He loves doing girl kind of stuff with me which most guys would not be into, and helps me with my clothes. While this is not a given for a gay guy, he gently broke the news to me last night when we’d been together a few hours and he felt comfortable trusting me with the information.
Though I did not plan this at all – my toys tell me what they are, I don’t get to decide – my oldest son has come out with some homophobic comments picked up at school recently. Harold coming into our household gave me an unexpected opportunity to demystify gayness.
My hybrid bicycle is a boy, and quite a rugged one at that. He taught the kids that Mommy can have valued friendships with other men without being unfaithful to Daddy, and vice versa (I so don’t want my kids to be joined at the hip with their partners one day, I want them to be trustworthy and to trust their partners in turn). My car is a girl, though she is quite scruffy she’s self-conscious about it. She taught the kids to be sensitive to others’ feelings (they upset her if they say stuff about her less than perfect appearance when they’re sitting in her tummy). My sewing machine is gay and has already given me an opportunity this morning to teach the kids about the different orientation, thinking and particular fun unique to people who are homosexual (no, get your mind out of the gutter, I mean the great kind of friendship you can have with a gay guy which you’ll never be able to forge with someone who’s straight).
Jonathan suggested I buy another gay sewing machine so Harold won’t be lonely.
I hope I’m doing this parenting thing the right way.
I suspect probably not.
I also suspect they’ll turn out grand anyway. My kids are too wonderful for even me to be able to mess them up.