Saturday, 9 December 2017

Grey Stretch Denim McCalls 7547 Dungarees

I never thought dungarees would be a big hit in my wardrobe and even whilst making my teal linen Turias I was doubting whether I could pull them off or if I would just end up looking like an oversized toddler. However, I wore that pair at least once a week over the summer, got compliments on them every time and still have a couple of people constantly hounding me to make them a pair! I wore them as long as I could through Autumn but had to concede defeat to the plummeting temperatures about a month ago and have been really missing them as an outfit option ever since. A warmer pair was definitely needed!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I actually had plans to make a denim version before I even thought about the linen pair. I bought the McCalls 7547 pattern at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia way back in the spring. I'd been looking enviously at women rocking dungarees around London and totally fell for the grown up styling and slightly seventies vibe of the flared version pictured on the pattern envelope. Finally some dungarees I could get on board with! I bought the fabric there and then at the show and was super excited to get sewing but then of course work got in the way, summer arrived and dressing head to toe in layers and denim was the last thing on my mind so all the supplies sat under my sewing table waiting patiently until about a month ago. I'm now kicking myself for not making them sooner as I LOVE them!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I definitely wanted to use something with the weight and strength of a denim but wanted to keep them fairly fitted and feminine rather than heavy, oversized and retro! I thought I'd have a hard time picking a fabric but it practically chose me as I walked around the show with pattern in hand. Higgs & Higgs had a beautiful selection of soft, yet weighty stretch denims on their stall in a mixture of classic tones and more unusual muted colours. Lucky for you guys they still have them available on their website and at the very reasonable price of £11.99/m! The grey was the obvious dungaree choice for me but I'm also very taken with mink and old rose. It has washed and sewn beautifully and the stretch makes it super comfortable to wear. As there is a generous amount of stretch I probably could have done with getting my walking foot out, particularly when attaching the pockets as things got ever so slightly stretched out of shape as it moved through the machine. However, I find it much easier to topstitch with the clear regular machine foot (I think it might be called the embroidery foot?!) as I line certain ridges/edges of the foot up with the seam line as an easy way of keeping the topstitching even. The walking foot makes it harder to see this clearly so I think the stretching is a sacrifice I'm willing to make for that!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

One of the things delaying me from getting stuck in with these was the fact that I think they need a fairly good fit to look half as chic as the sample. I'm still very hesitant about fitting trousers and in fact I've had making a pair of Sew Over it Ultimate Trousers and working through their online trouser fitting course on my sewing queue for about as long as the dungarees! Perhaps becoming more confident about fitting should me my sewing resolution for the new year. I decided to cut a muslin of the trousers down to just above the knee out of the stretch denim I had left over from my Mia Jeans. This Higgs & Higgs denim would probably make a great pair of Mias come to think of it. I'm usually reluctant to do a muslin as my sewing time is so limited and precious but decided it was definitely worth it for these as I so wanted them to be a success. Even if the muslin just proved that they were fine out of the envelope the time taken would be worth it to ease my apprehension!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

Usually for big 4 patterns I cut a size or two down but the more recent McCalls releases seem to fit me a lot better so I followed my lead from making the McCalls 6696 shirtdress and cut the straight size 12. My measurements actually put me between the size 12 and 14 but the 12 was definitely the right choice. Out of the envelope the fit wasn't bad but I did make a couple of tiny tweaks. I had a bit of excess fabric around the crotch so by pinching and pinning the excess fabric out along seams until it looked better I established that I needed to skim 4/8" off the front inside leg seam at the top. I was really proud of myself for being able to figure this out! It seems despite not making and fitting many trousers I feel like I do have a much better understanding of trouser fitting and where to make adjustments from reading so many blog posts. I find them fascinating! Particularly useful is Heather Lou's Ginger Jeans sew-along so I'm really excited to dive into her pants fitting basics download which she created alongside the new Sasha Pants pattern.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I probably would have spent a bit more time tweaking the fit around the crotch and bum if I was making slim fitting jeans but as dungarees have a more relaxed vibe I decided the resulting fit would do me just fine! The stretch in the denim is pretty forgiving anyway. The only other adjustments I made were to take a little length off the hem and to adjust the rear pockets. I've never been entirely happy with the placement of these pockets on my Ginger Jeans (I think they are a bit large and low for the shape of my bum) so made sure to check these in the muslin and found I had similar problems. The long length of these was quite unflattering so I took 3/4" off the bottom edge and checked the placement against the pockets on my Mia Jeans as these I love those.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I had a hard time deciding what leg style to cut and in the end resorted to an Instagram poll! It was a tightly run race but in the end the skinny leg won and I think it was definitely the right choice as that leg is much more wearable and practical for my day to day life. I have fairly short legs and definitely think I need a heel to pull off a flared leg! Having said that, the glamorous allure of the flare is too much to resist and its more than likely that I'll be making a pair of those too now I've figured out the fit. Oh and although McCalls describe it as a skinny leg I'd definitely call it more of a slim or slightly tapered cut. I actually much prefer this to a proper full on skinny.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

Long time readers of this blog will probably remember that I'm a big fan of a bit of topstitching, so you can imagine how satisfying these were for me to make! I considered using a contrasting topstitching thread but then decided what I liked about the grey denim was the understated vibe, giving the completed dungarees more of a fashion feel than a practical heavy duty pair. So I used the standard grey thread I was using to sew them up and love how it looks. the grey is slightly paler so it shows up nicely up close without overwhelming the garment. The topstitching is the one thing I found a little strange about the instructions actually. You're asked to do a fair bit of topstitching around the pockets and edges of the bib but then topstitching is left out in other areas where I would expect it. I added in a row of stitching along the inside leg seam and also along the straps but think I could have done with adding in a bit more. I think it would look great along the waistband.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

As well as the satisfaction of topstitching I had an excuse to wield a hammer to set in those bib buttons and the snap on the side of the waist. A button is called for in the pattern instructions rather than a snap but I didn't have any metal buttons and thought a snap would suit this utility style garment. I always make some kind of mistake with each garment I make and this fastening is it on these! I managed to attach the waistband the wrong way round so the extra flap on the end of the waistband is at the front and sits on top of the back waistband to fasten when in fact it should come from the back and slot under the front. Ah well, it doesn't look wrong! There are quite a few markings to transfer on to the waistband and I got muddled. In future I think I'll use different colours of tailors tacks to indicate different marks!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I think this may well be only my second or third time doing a lapped zip (my addiction to invisible zips may explain how that's possible when I've sewn as many things as I have!) so despite having to unpick portions of it a couple of times I'm pretty pleased with how neatly that has turned out. I used a regular dress zip from my stash but if I made these again I quite like the idea of using a proper metal jeans zip and now I understand the construction I might play around with making it an exposed one.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I'm really pleased with the finishing of the bib; I particularly love the little triangular facing on the back! A lovely little classic utility detail. Inside the trousers I overlocked where possible but followed the instructions to trim down the centre portion of the crotch seam so this edge is left raw which I find a little annoying. I think if making these again I wouldn't trim down this area and I'd overlock the raw edges of all the pattern pieces before starting to make it a little easier. When deciding on the length of the straps I opted for nice and snug as the one thing that drives me a little bit crazy about my Cleo Dress is the straps shifting about and the bib feeling loose and floppy. However, after a couple of wears I think I could do with lengthening them just a fraction as I think the waist and crotch could do with sitting a tiny bit lower.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: McCalls 7547 Dungarees in Grey Stretch Denim from Higgs & Higgs

I've worn these a few times already and they've seen me nicely through a tough week at work but I'm still undecided on the best footwear to go with them for winter. None of my boots look quite right and I've tried sparkly socks to combat the chilly ankles I get with trainers but I'm not sure I'm a glitter sock type of woman. Any advice on boots which would look good with this leg shape?! I'm determined to find something I love as the dungarees suit my lifestyle so well. They work with multiple tops in my wardrobe so I can have a lot of fun with styling. Plus they are so so great for my work with all the pockets and practicality for running about town and crawling around in fittings. Comfort is the name of the game for my professional wardrobe and the stretch in the denim of these is an added bonus in this department!

Has the irresistible urge to sew something ever pushed you out of your style comfort zone? Was it a big success as with me and this dungarees, or a wardrobe disaster?!

18 comments:

  1. They look really good and practical too. Would a pair of DMs work with them?

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    1. Ooo I've never owned a pair of DMs! Maybe this is just the excuse I need to invest! I think you might have hit on something there thanks!

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  2. These are fantastic! One of the best dungarees I have seen :) I have no clue about the right footwear (the trainers look good!), but have found heels make anything look awesome so...

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    1. Thanks so much! I love the more fitted look of these!
      I actually this morning was eyeing up a pair of heeled ankle boots that I own and wondering if they would work...definitely worth a try!

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  3. I love your dungerees! That fabric is beautiful and I think I'm going to have to order some :) Nice that it comes in a variety of colours. I'm wondering about mules or clogs with your dungerees? I think they would look chic :) You could even made yourself a pair! There are clog soles you can buy then just pick out your own fabric/leather and attach it. That might be a fun project for you in 2018. Happy Holidays!

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    1. Thanks Kathleen! Its great denim. I highly recommend!
      Nice idea about the clogs...might have to save them for spring though as I think my feet need to be a bit cosier at the moment. I think the weight of those would be really good, it needs a bit of clump on the feet to balance out this look I think

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  4. These look great on you! I laughed out loud when I read your comment about not wanting to look like an oversized toddler! You definitely don't and these fit you so nicely. That is not a bad price at all for the denim.

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    1. Haha! I was worried because I'm quite petite that they'd swamp me! I think it's all about how you style them and the slimmer fit of these definitely helps

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  5. I wear desert boots with dungarees. I have two pairs and they literally match all of my clothes. One pair purple, and a pale sand colour. I find that my dm's are too clunky with dungarees. Yours look fab and I may just have to buy the old rose denim myself 😍

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    1. O desert boots are a nice idea...I've never owned a pair of those either! Nots sure how they'll hold up in the wet British winter though...Maybe I just need to wear my dungarees out shoe shopping and try all sorts of styles!

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  6. These look amazing. I totally agree about the suggestion for DMs.

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    1. Thank you! Definitely going to give DMs a try and see how they feel

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  7. These look amazing! I love the colour.

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    1. Thanks very much! I'm really pleased with the grey. Its my favourite neutral! This grey has a hint of lavender too which I love

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  8. Love your dungarees Fiona. I always wear ankle boots with wedge heels with my slim leg jeans. They are more comfortable for me than heels when I'm in them all day. I'm heading over to Higgs & Higgs website to check out the other shades although I do love the grey.

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    1. Thanks very much Ann! I am thinking that perhaps something with a slight heel would be a good option to make them feel more dressed up rather than purely practical
      The denim is great! Very much recommend for a project like this

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  9. These are great! I am in the same boat with pants fitting, it scares the crap out of me lol. But it is high time I took the leap and I plan to start with the Lander pants. I am so impressed with the fit you got on these. The big 4 are usually much harder to fit and part of why I have had a hard time in the past. Great job.

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    1. I have had my eye on the Lander pants too! But they seem quite close fitting around the hips which scares me!
      I think the stretch in this denim definitely helped me out a little but I am really proud of how they turned out as i foresaw all kinds of issues. Thanks very much! And good luck with your fitting quest!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!