Let The Cloning Commence – Making Balloon Dungarees

I’m on a mission at the moment, it’s been brewing for a while. When I became more rotund, I found I felt particularly at home in dungarees and thinking back I’ve always had a soft spot for them. In my late teens I had a pair of paint splash print black balloon dungarees and used to get a lot of stick when I wore them for being too voluminously sacklike. I’ve never really cared what folk think of what I wear though. Two years ago I thought I’d found my ideal pair to fit my plus size frame from a seller on Etsy and saved up for them (yes, I save up money for things since they were quite expensive and I’m not a habitual buyer of clothes) When they arrived I was really happy with the style on me, there were a few niggles in my noggin though about the quality of the actually making – seam finishes and areas of pleating around the front weren’t even in placement therefore unflattering. But I liked them. They were made from heavy tweed wool and are great for winter wear.

I’ve always had it in mind to clone them and fix the issues of fit on me and do a sharper finishing. In fact over the past couple of years any fabric I have bought has been for the purpose of the dungaree collection because I know that this is the garment I’ll feel most happy living in and helps me feel more accepting of my new body shape. I think they’re a style particularly suited to a larger human.

Towards the end of last week, I got U.V’d which has triggered a disease flare so I’m not able to knit at the moment. Or grip anything overly. At times like these I seem to be at my most internally creative though so I bludgeon my way through some sort of project and live with the payback of pain, swelling and fatigue as the impact on my mental wellbeing at not making something or being productive has worse consequences. I’ve been posting a lot lately on Instagram, a sort of expression leaving a footprint somewhere that I’m still able to do something when in truth I can barely walk at times. I don’t write about that there. I’m sure people think I’m some crazy industrious maker freak who knocks out one thing after another for the sake of it. I’ve had comments actually saying how much I make. It feels like maker shaming really but I know no intent meant. I don’t have kids, or a family and a non-existent outdoor life because of my health so my making is a way of telling myself I do exist when in fact lots of choices that many take for granted have been taken away from me. Making gives me some semblance of control over what I can achieve despite the odds being stacked so with everything I do produce or get involved in I’ve battled through pain and discomfort to get there. It’s not about the end product. It’s all about the process to me. To keep fighting. I’m not going to go into the details of my medical issues, it gets enough attention as it is, too much. I’ve never been one for mentioning details of anything personal, it puts the onus on the listener then to respond and I don’t like to make others feel uncomfortable. So all you need to know if you’re reading this is I’ve got some heavy shit to deal with and have had for a few years now. If it wasn’t for my mister and my making I don’t know what I’d do. I’m extremely lucky. To be born a maker. My saving grace.

So back to the triviality of making dungarees then. My attempts at making through the odds this weekend have been to draft a pattern for these dream balloon affairs and make the first toile. I always give a lot of attention to a toile, I make it up proper with nice seam finishes which in this instance involves French and Hong Kong for the zipped side of the garment. I’ll use similar hardware on it to my future ones as it’ll be on trial for a few weeks before making in my intended fabrics.

The fabric I’ve used for my mock-up is a lovely beige country rainbow check wool/cotton twill with a weaving flaw in it at random intervals. I got it cheap because of this but like the irregularity. It’s very lightweight and will be perfect for the weather here currently but also wearable when normal service resumes.

I managed to make up a hanging pocket yesterday and I’m quite pleased at my guesswork for construction.

There’s a lot of metal elements to be included, many tabs and hooks and rings.

There’s a long way to go with it but I’m chipping away and it’s gradually taking shape. Will further update with another post when I’ve completed the toile.

I’m also going to try to post more here about my process because I’m aware I’m probably a terrible bore on Instagram so will use this blog as a making diary. This will serve two purposes as I think people in general prefer the parade on social media probably because of time factors so will only post finished articles there to spare the tedium. This will also mean I don’t visit quite so frequently to conserve energies and to avoid getting engulfed by the like and scroll life – have it serve me best rather than the other way round. There’s only so much in the tank.

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Update on dungarees 20/07/18

I’ve had a bit of a fettle at them today for an hour and managed to get the fixings in place, it did take a bit longer than the energy I had to expend but I feel good to have got a small something done.

I haven’t quite worked out my plan for the bottom of the legs, I know it’ll involve some straps with D-rings and possible some pleating so will think about it for a bit.

I’m really looking forward to getting the toile finished so that I can trial it in wear and make further tweaks to the pattern if needed when I make the future ones from the fabrics I’ve earmarked. I think the pairs I’m most excited about are the red woollen pinstripe pair which will be for winters and a 90s vintage patterned denim melange set, the design is woven in and not printed like modern denims usually are. It’s quite soft so will drape well. Another aim is for a navy blue linen pair for a plain utilitarian look, I used the wear workman’s dungarees in plain navy and wear them until they were disintegrating usually teamed with ex-army issue boots and t-shirts I’d hoodwinked from boy pals. I’ll try and find an old photo of some to share here.

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**Another update 23/07/18

I think they’re done! I’ve put some tie straps on the sides of the legs and done the facings:

When I’m happy with something I usually pop a label in it, mine always says Big Girl’s Blouse so in it goes. It’s backed on a snippet of leather from my Mum’s old settee which was dismantled earlier on in the year.

Will try and get some photographs of them on when able but I’m delighted with the fit, they’re everything I wanted them to be and well worth taking time over. I shall similarly go slowly with the others planned.

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27/07/18

And they’re finished, very pleased with the fit of them. I found out today the name of the weave pattern is Tattersall check.

Thanks for reading about my dungarees journey, I’m hoping to make my Autumn and Winter versions this year now I know the toile was a success