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  • Writer's picturegeriberman

Otis Overalls by Sew Liberated & Nola Dungarees by Fibre Mood

These 2 overalls - the Otis (Sew Liberated) and the Nola (Fibre Mood) - are projects that I have been eyeing for a while in order to create a mommy-and-me look. This was something that I had promised my daughter a while ago, and I couldn’t delay it any longer. When the perfect fabric - an Art Gallery cotton canvas called “Pandalicious” - arrived from Minerva, I took it from the sewing gods that it was high time to start.

This cotton canvas is so delicious! Visually, it is playful with a thousand pandas to gawk at, and texturally, it is also the perfect fabric. It provided enough structure for the 2 sets of overalls, but wasn’t so thick that it was difficult to work with. Because it was a canvas, I was a little scared that it might be too heavy for my Otis Overalls since it looked like the gathering created with drawstrings in the back might require something softer. However, this canvas was pliable enough that the gathering didn’t bunch up in an unwieldy way. It’s here that I should probably mention that I used a lighter weight black and white checked cotton poplin, also from Art Gallery Fabrics, and also gifted from Minerva for the lining for both overalls. This ensured that any extra bulk would be reduced wherever there’s any gathering.

The first set of overalls that I made was for my daughter. The Nola Dungarees is in Fibre Mood Magazine Issue 12, and you can click on the image below to see what other patterns there are in this issue:

What I like about this pair of dungarees for my daughter is that they are easy to wear: just pull up on the pants and hook the straps over the shoulders. There is an elasticated back band which allows for this to happen. 2 buttons and the corresponding buttonholes must be installed where the straps meet at the back band, but they don’t have to be undone when a bathroom trip is needed.

Sizes for this pattern go from size 2-14, and I made a size 10 according to the hip measurements of my daughter (72cm), and added 5cm to the length of the pants because my daughter is tall. There is an optional shoulder strap frill that can be added, but my tom-boyish girl preferred not to include that in her dungarees. Other mods I did was to completely line the bib instead of using the facing that was provided. I did this by cutting out the same pattern of the bib in a lining fabric and shaved off 2mm from the sides so that when it was turned right side out, it would sit nicely hidden behind the bib.

Another mod is that I used a bias binding to close the bottom edge of the bank and front facing of the trousers. This band also provides the channeling for the elastic that goes in the back of the pants. There is this baffling part in the sewing instructions when securing the inner facing of the front trousers. If I had followed the instructions and sewed it down completely all the way around, then it would reduce the size of the side pockets by a third. What I did instead was to skip sewing down the inner facing in the front where the pockets are. The inner band facing is basically secured by a line of sewing in the centre front that extends to just where the pockets start. This means that from the inside, the inner band was left unconnected to the pants from the side seam to the where the pocket starts. You can see what I mean from this picture here of the right side pocket looking from the inside:

I guess the band could be attached with some hand-sewing, just catching the inner pocket layer. But I was too lazy. Anyway, this little manoeuvre solved the baffling front inner band construction problem.

My Otis Overalls are so cool, and I mainly like it because the shaping around the waist and hip areas are accomplished by the drawstring ties in the back. It gives a very flattering shape to a traditionally baggy piece of clothing. In addition, I really enjoyed the sewing instructions from Sew Liberated. This is the first time that I’ve sewn up something from this company, and from this experience, I can attest that the guidance from this company is top-notch. The instructions are very clear and thorough, and I love looking at the illustrations which look hand-drawn.

Sizes for the Otis go from size 0-34, with the largest size catering to a 61” hip, which puts this pattern in a size inclusive category. I made up a size 4 based on my 35.5” hip measurement, and the only modification I made was shortening the length by 2”. Oh, and I also removed the front pocket which is positioned between the bib and the pants. There are 4 very generous pockets: 2 in the side seams and 2 in the back pants, and I didn’t need another pocket. I also wanted a more streamlined look because the panda print might look extra busy with a patch pocket in the front of the garment.

The best thing about these overalls are the unusual lantern hems at the bottom of the pants, which elevate a piece of utilitarian workwear into something ultra stylish. Together with the Nola Dungarees, these Otis Overalls are fulfilling our mommy-and-me goals, and we love twinning in our new me-made outfits.

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