February 13, 2021

Overalls Everyday: This April Sew Our Favorite Wardrobe Workhorse

If you haven't had a pair of overalls in your wardrobe, can I tell you, you have been missing out. They may not be thought of as a wardrobe staple - they're definitely not on most lists of the 10-20 items every woman should have - but I'm here today to make the case about why should be. A wardrobe staple, especially if you're going to invest the time of sewing it from scratch, should be one that you're going to wear. And overalls are eminently wearable. They are practically a Swiss army knife of wearability, doing double (or triple?) duty as loungewear, casual wear, and workwear all at the same time. 

That sort of versatility is especially perfect as we still work from home in many cases and still need clothes that can be worn both around the house and to the grocery store or the playground or on a walk around the neighborhood. Layer them with a graphic tee for a lounge ready look or dress it up with a bateau top or turtleneck for a great errand-running outfit, They can even be a great pair with last month's statement sleeve blouses for your zoom meetings. Simply drop the bib down, and you're zoom ready in a matter of seconds! Plus, the loose waist, easy fit through the hips, and wide legs make overalls oh so comfortable to wear. Secret pajamas for the win!

When I first started Needle Sharp, there were very few overalls patterns out there, which is partly why it's taken so long to use them as a theme, but recently, different versions have been popping up everywhere to the point where it was a little difficult to decide which ones to use. I tried to get looks that offer different takes on the dungaree look, so you can pick which style you want to sew from a soft, feminine interpretation to a classic, workers' style. But, no matter which you choose, you'll discover the beauty of one of my favorite wardrobe staples! 

As for fabrics, I've been trying to make more thematic choices across our boxes, and with this being our April Box, that meant Spring ready colors and transitional fabrics. Focusing on greens, tans, and some choice pastels, you'll find our fabric options perfect for a month where the world is beginning to bloom again and we are ready to back out into it. 

So, with all that in mind, let's look at the boxes!

Sew Fearless Box: Burnside Bibs from Sew House Seven

When I first started dreaming up monthly themes, the Burnside Bibs from Sew House Seven was always on my list to use in some capacity. Like most Sew House Seven patterns, it has a unique take on the common garment. By softening the style lines and simplifying the closures, they have created a look that is both familiar and all together new and all together gorgeous.

These bibs are comfortable and easy to wear, with stylish and feminine touches. The straps that transition to narrower ties offer many options for how they can be tied, and the variations of bib, either scooped or traditionally straight, allow you to find a look that you really love. Plus, an option to eliminate a zipper and have a loose, slip-on style, is a great way for confident beginners to level up their sewing without worrying about difficult, technical steps. All in all, it's an amazing pattern that I couldn't wait to use in our Sew Fearless Box.

With the softer styling of this pattern, I was able to choose fabrics that are a bit lighter and less sturdy than your traditional overalls fabric. And since we'll be entering Spring when these are shipped, they are a great transitional weight so you can be comfortable no matter what the weather may be, from April showers to an early Spring snowstorm, to a glorious, sunny warm day.

And now, the fabrics!

  • Moss Green Crinkle Cotton - I am absolutely obsessed with this crinkle cotton. We've used it before, for our Free Range Slacks back in August to be exact, and I think it's the perfect weight for a pair of loose fitting pants. Completely opaque yet thin and supple, it will match the soft lines of the pattern perfectly, and gather nicely at the waist without any extra bulk. Plus, the crinkle texture gives a lived in look, like you've loved these bibs for years, even when it is fresh off the sewing machine. And the color! The yellow-green hue is springtime incarnate and will add instant brightness to your day whenever you wear your Burnside Bibs.
  • Midcentury Abstract Tan Barkcloth - If you're unfamiliar with barkcloth, you're not alone. It's not the most common wardrobe fabric. With a texture similar to (but far less pronounce than) the bark of a tree - hence the name - the fabric has a fuller body drape, similar to linen, and nubbly hand that will soften with each washing. This midcentury inspired print where thin lines form trapezoidal shapes of white, blue, and yellow, on a rich tan background, makes for a bold choice for these bibs, one that is both vaguely retro and absolutely stunning
  • Denim Blue Essex Cotton/Linen - There is little more classic than a blue chambray. It's part of the American psyche; I swear we have genes for jeans. So it was a no-brainer to use such a fabric in our boxes. This lighter wash chambray is a linen-cotton blend, giving it structure and lightness, breathability and softness. And the color is so serene. I can feel myself grow calmer just looking at this fabric, so I can only imagine what wearing a pair of bibs in it will do! 

Sew Confident Box: Harlene Overalls from Merchant & Mills

The Harlene Overalls are the newest pattern on the block of the ones we've chosen, only being released this past fall by Merchant & Mills. Like most patterns from this company, these overalls are very traditional, from the front bib shaping to the very loose fit through the hips to the side button closures. These are your classic, workers' overalls through and through.

And honestly, that's what I love about them. Back in the 90s (so long ago, I know), Gap had a period where they always had overalls like these on sale, and I practically lived in them. It got to the point that every time my grandpa came over, he would poke fun at my overalls and ask me to fix things around the house. But there was a reason I wore them constantly. They were just so incredibly comfortable! It was like being able to wear a children's romper all day - no restrictions, all comfort - basically the definition of secret pajamas, but in a style that looked cool and adult. I couldn't get enough of them, and I hope, with the Harlene Overalls, neither will you.

Just because this pattern is classic, however, doesn't mean we have to choose traditional fabrics. Part of the fun of sewing your own clothes is that you get to pick fabrics that aren't what often get chosen but end up looking amazing all the same. And that's why I thought I'd offer fabrics that are just a little outside the ordinary, but that will fit this pattern perfectly. 

So here they are!

  • Dark Lilac Cotton Twill - This twill is the perfect chino twill. Soft, flexible, medium weight, and 100% cotton, it's an ideal fabric for any pair of overalls. What sold me on this fabric in particular is the color. Dark and slightly muted, this lilac color reminds me of the twilight sky and oil slicked water. It is completely unexpected for a pair of overalls, and yet I can't out of my mind how lovely it will look as a finished pair of overalls. A simply gorgeous choice!
  • Pink Mountains Cotton Duck - There's a temptation to use only solid colors when it comes to pants and overalls, but what fun is that? The whole point of sewing your own clothes is that you can embrace color and pattern in a way that ready to wear doesn't allow. And this fabric is a perfect example of that.  The medium weight cotton duck is an ideal fabric for the overalls, and, with a pink, orange, white and black pattern of mountains and clouds, this pattern is fun and geometric. The pattern is large scale, meaning it will match the proportions of the pattern well, and it will bring completely unexpected joy to your wardrobe!
  • Cream Speckled Essex Linen Cotton - When I think of overalls, I often think of painters and artists, brush in their teeth, stepping back to look at their work. In this image, they are always wearing white overalls, covered with splatters of paint. If you're not a painter, this cream speckled cotton linen will give you the same look, minus the cleanup. Slub thread with multi-colored speckles give the fabric texture and color, and the medium weight and softly crisp drape will match the pattern perfectly. Live your artist dreams with this lovely pair of overalls!

Sew Curvy Box: Yanta Overalls from Helen's Closet

Helen's Closet's interpretation of overalls is all about simplicity. Paired down to its basics, this version does away with the waistband, the buckles, and the faux fly front. But that is sort of the beauty of it. The simple lines are clean and effortless, and create a pair of overalls that modern, comfortable, and fun.

Mimicking the cocoon shape that has made the York Pinafore a favorite of the sewing community, this pair of overalls is shaped with darts long the front and back bib, making it easy to adjust the fit. And with two versions, one for long pants, the other for shorts, you can customize the pattern to reflect your style. No matter which style you choose, you'll have a pair of overalls that is loose-fitting, stylish, and oh so comfy.

Because of its cocoon shape, the fabric can change the look a lot. Drapier fabrics create a slouchy, effortless look while sturdier fabrics, like denim, give more of a traditional dungaree effect. For the fabric choices, I tried to pick options that split the difference, one that are on the lighter side for spring, but that still have enough body to show off the shape of the overalls. 

So, without further ado, let's take a look!

  • Olive Green Waffle Cotton Double Cloth - This fabric is all about subtlety. The olive green hue is muted and earthy, an ideal choice for Spring. And the cotton is woven with a waffle weave that adds amazing texture and visual interest to what seems like a solid fabric. The medium weight fabric has a healthy dose of nylon too, giving it a supple drape and soft hand, and some extra durability for your overalls. A great choice for a versatile pair of overalls
  • Roasted Pecan Line-Drawn Canvas - What first caught my eye about this fabric, a medium weight linen cotton canvas, was the color. The nutty hue is right is somewhere in between an orange, a brown and a yellow, and it makes me feel warm just by looking at it. The pattern itself, a simple black line-drawn print of leaves and stems, is modern and understated. The non-directional print will shine especially well on this pair of overalls since they don't have a waist seam. If you're looking for a fun print, this is the choice for you!
  • Railroad Stripe 5oz Denim - For a classic denim look, I chose this medium weight railroad stripe for just a little hint of pattern. The stripe itself runs vertically and is quite thin, 1/8" wide, so from afar, these overalls will look like solid blue denim, but up close, you'll have a gorgeous print to make them one of a kind. Play with the direction of the print on the pockets for some extra special design details. Oh the possibilities!

Sew Indulgent Box: Jenny Overalls from Closet Core Patterns

The Jenny Overalls from Closet Core Patterns are modern interpretation of classic overalls. The bib is sculpted around the bust; the legs are wide and roomy; and the waist is fitted and high, opening with a zipper instead of a the traditional buttons. All this adds up to a sophisticated and chic pair of dungarees that will look just as gorgeous with flats and a t-shirt as they will with a blouse and heels.

In addition, because this is our luxurious box, we will also be including notions for a button front option that is available for free on Closet Core Patterns website. This version combines the button front from the Fiona Sundress and transplants it on to the overalls for a truly unique pair of overalls.

To play up the modern take on the traditional in this pattern, I've chosen fabrics that are a twist on what you would expect for classic overalls. Printed denim and canvas as well as unexpected colors make for a pair of overalls that are completely beyond anything you can get in stores. Because you're worth it!

And now, the fabrics!

  • Black on Black Floral Print Denim - I knew I wanted a classic denim in this box - the Jenny Overalls have wonderful topstitching details that really shines on denim - and I was really thrilled to find this printed floral denim. It's hard to see in the swatch, but the fabric is actually a black denim printed with a black floral. The tone on tone pattern is subtle and beautiful, and will look amazing on these overalls. Add some topstitching and silver buttons and buckles and you have the makings for a truly unique pair of overalls!
  • Metallic Menagerie Cotton Canvas - The pattern of this fabric comes from Rifle Paper Co, and without fail, their patterns are complex, vibrant and always one of a kind. Printed on cotton linen canvas that is surprisingly thin and supple, this fabric combines a wallpaper-like print with muted yellows, turquoises, and navys for a stunning look. A pair of overalls with his fabric will be an absolute knockout and truly one of a kind!
  • Old Rose Hemp Cotton 7oz Chambray - Ok, I may have taken inspiration for this color from the pattern's model, but that's because it is such a good look. This pink is slightly duller, veering toward the mauve side, and because of that, it will transform into a pair of overalls that is bold but not overly bright. The chambray itself is bottom weight, with a flexible drape and soft hand. The hemp adds durability while the cotton keeps the fabric light and thin. If you've ever thought of making a pair of pink overalls - and honestly, who hasn't? ;) - now is your chance!

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I hope by this point you're as excited about overalls as I am. But if not, we have our woven jumpsuits from last year in our Classic series. Another take on the all in one outfit maker, the jumpsuits are perfect for the Spring weather, that, as I write this in snowy February, seems so far away. . .

Here's to looking forward to a brighter and warmer future. I know we could all use it.

Until next time. . . 

Happy sewing!

-Mary

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