A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: dungarees

I finished sewing my fairytale Cleo dress just in time for my thirtieth birthday, which was yesterday. Hence a finished object being presented on a day other than a Friday. Gasp! Behold my now-haggard form.

My 30th was a mix of immaturity- cake for lunch and going to a ball pit (albeit an adult ball bit)- and age appropriate activity. The evening was spent at the Newport Street gallery.

There’s so much discussion when you’re a woman turning 30, and plenty to think about. When is it time to worry about settling down and having kids? Do I want to settle down and have kids? Am I happy in the life I have created for myself over the past three decades? Am I too old to wear a mini-dress with little mushrooms on it?

I have few comments on the Cleo dress pattern. Overall, I think it’s cute though I’m still not sure whether the style actually suits me. The dress was a quick make- two evenings in total, including plenty of mistakes and unpicking. I think the most time-consuming part was sewing all the patch pockets. I found Tilly’s tips on working with corduroy very helpful.

I made the size 2, but I probably should have just gone for the 3. I let the side seams out a bit as the dress looks nicer on me with a bit more room around the hip area. I made the dress quite short, the hem was over two inches.

I can see no reason not to add in-seam pockets to this dress. I may add afterthought pockets to this mushroom dress if I feel it’s going to get a lot of wear.

Pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: 2m needlecord in print, plus 0.5m in plain. I had leftovers of both


I’ve been seeing quite a few Cleo dungaree dresses (pattern by Tilly & the Buttons) on soc meeds since the pattern was released. At first, I wasn’t sure about the whole dungaree dress thing (despite the obsession I developed over the Lazy Oaf Catafore, which led me to create my Cateralls). But, as often happens, the more I saw, the more I liked and I have now jumped firmly onto the bandwagon.

I decided to make the patch pockets out of plain black needlecord to break up the pattern a bit. Even though I think the mushrooms are adorable, they are very bold. I ordered the plain black needlecord online, and was disappointed to find that it is less black than the background of the mushroom cord. However, I couldn’t find any needlecord IRL in west London, so I will be proceeding nonetheless.

This is how the two cords look together. I love the way the black creates an effect of negative space on the print.

I dithered for a while over whether to cut  a size 3 or 4. According to the measurements given, the 3 could potentially be on the small side. However, a lot of the Cleos I’ve seen online look like they err on the large side, and I mostly wear a 10 in RTW clothing. So I decided to go for the 3.

Due to the crazy fabric plus my laziness, I will not be doing the front and back seams on the dress pieces. You can just about see in the pic below that I marked off 1.5cm from the centre of the front and back pattern pieces to account for the seam allowance.

I was hoping to gain access to an overlocker for an hour or so to finish the edges of the pieces before I proceed. In the end, I used my trusty overcasting foot.

I also considered adding in-seam pockets to this dress, but no one else seems to have done this, and I  was  concerned there was a reason not to. In the end, I couldn’t be bothered but it may be something I consider if I make another version of this dress.

I finished my upcycle project! Check these bad boys out.

After my last post, I got some time with a sewing machine, so I re-did the stitching I undid before and made up my ears.

While I was playing around with ear placement, I thought it looked much cuter to have the ears on the pocket rather than the bib of the dungarees.

I liked it so much that I went ahead and stitched the ears in place.

Sewing through so many layers of denim was a big challenge for the machine. I found I had more control winding the stitches by hand rather than using the foot pedal on the thickest parts. My stitching is not totally straight but it’s the best I can do.

The next step was to dye the denim. I didn’t do it in this order for any particular reason, it was just when I got a chance to sew, or when the dye I ordered arrived.

I was a bit worried that the dye job wouldn’t go well because the things I dyed indigo didn’t come out how I imagined. I even dreamt that the colour had leached out of the denim overnight. However, I followed the instructions more closely this time and that made a big difference.

As I had suspected might happen, the stitching didn’t take any dye so now it really pops against the black, but I think I quite like it.

I was starting to sense the finish line of this project at last. I took some time to practise different cat faces on paper to decide what I thought was cutest. I think moustache cat was the most fun, but in the end eyelash cat won out in a tight race.

Actually painting the design on the pocket caused me a lot of apprehension. The cat face will be pretty noticeable, so any errors will really draw the eye.

The next step was to shape the curved patch pocket. I read a couple of tutorials that recommended using a cardboard template to press it in place. I did this while I ironed the cat face design to make it washable.

I then carefully pinned the pocket in place and checked it lined up before stitching. I checked the alignment in the mirror and added another line of stitching for strength.

Last week was half-term, which gave me a little extra mental space for creativity (even though I was still working, boo hiss). I was looking in a box of stuff I don’t use much for some rubber gloves and happened upon these dungarees that I bought years ago for a Halloween costume.


I’ve also been mourning not discovering this awesome pinafore before it sold out.

While desperately searching the interwebs for a site where it was still in stock, I happened upon a tutorial to make a lookalike.

I got the Mario dungarees cheap on eBay so I didn’t mind running the risk of ruining them with ham-fisted customisation attempts.

Here’s a before shot.

I decided to remove the front pocket as this would interfere with the cat face.

I also decided to dye them black. Since I was dyeing some clothes navy anyway (this is why I needed the rubber gloves), I tossed in the dungarees to give them an under-dye.

I made a hole in the front while removing a stud from the pocket, and I also noticed several other small holes in the dungarees while examining them, so I decided to do some patching before the second dyebath.

There’s a hole in  one of the back pockets that will be difficult to mend invisibly, so I think I will put a patch over that bit instead.

Denim clothing seems to be sewn using some kind of polyester thread- I’ve noticed when dyeing before that the thread doesn’t get dyed. So I’ve decided to make a new front pocket for my dungarees, on which I will either embroider or draw the cat face.

I also removed some of the original stitching on the bib and I will re-stitch in black, again so the stitching doesn’t interfere with the cat face.

The next step was cutting out the new patch pocket and ears from denim scraps I had left over from my Day Dress. I interfaced the pocket and ear pieces for strength as the denim isn’t very stiff. I’ve been having issues getting the trapezium piece symmetrical. It’s a work in progress. The grainline also looks wonky. Oh dear. I mean, work in progress!

The next steps will be re-doing the stitching on the bib, stitching down the top of the new pocket and dyeing the fabric.

I’ve bought some fabric paint pens ready for drawing my cat face. I think I’m going to go in a slightly different direction to Lazy Oaf rather than doing a straight copy.

Not sure which face to choose now. Any thoughts?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this project here and there over the past couple of weeks and I’ve got to say I’ve really been enjoying it. Even though the patching was a little dull, I like the fact that I am trying to breathe new life into this garment, which was clearly loved by the previous owner. I felt like I was giving some respect to the woman (or, let’s be real here, child) in China who spent time piecing my clothing together.

If you want to follow my progress I’m using #cateralls on Instagram.