The Refashioners Challenge

I have a love/hate relationship with jeans. I love to wear them and probably wear them more than anything else. But I find shopping for them to be one of the most stressful experiences.

This is mostly due to being a girl and having girly curves. I have chunky thighs, big hips and a little waist. Guys, why are all the jeans found in highstreet stores a variation on the skinny jean? You got skinny, super skinny, slim fit, super-duper-can't-even-get-my-ankles-in-slim-fit!

Hooray for stretch denim - which is a sentence my 16 year old self is probably hanging her head in shame at, I have become my mother! Love you mum, sorry I didn't listen to you about stretch denim.

Anyway, when I do find a pair of jeans I like I wear them to absolute death. And then I feel really sad when I can't wear them anymore - usually because of holes in the fabric on the inner thigh area. There is so much good fabric that goes to waste, so they always end up in a box that I call "stuff I will make into new stuff one day, although I probably won't get around to it".

Which is why I was so excited when I heard about The Refashioners challenge hosted by Portia at Makery. Every year she hosts this challenge and this years theme was Jeans. Upcycling old pairs of jeans into something new and usable. There have been some absolutely amazing makes taking place, it's been really inspiring.

Last year I bought a pair of denim trousers. I don't think they count as jeans because they didn't have any fastenings or zips. They were pull on with a stretchy waist band. I thought they'd be super comfy but the elastic in the waistband warped creating a weird bulge around my waist. So they got put in that box and forgotten about.

I love dungarees, but don't like any of the styles that are currently fashionable - due to them all being skinny fit! So I set to turning these and another two pairs of jeans into dungarees. Because they were pull on I knew I'd be able to get them on easily without having to add button fastenings at the side.

I started by sitting myself down with a cup of tea, a movie and my seam ripper and removed the waist band. I measured around the top of the trousers and used that measurement to create a new waistband. I wasn't going to be able to cut the waistband in one continuous piece, so instead cut 4 strips of fabric measuring 25inches long and 2.5inches wide plus seam allowances. Two of those strips became the waistband facing as I wanted all the edges to be concealed.

I sewed the short edge seams of the waistband pieces together to make one continuous loop, then did the same for the waistband facing pieces. I then sandwiched the top edge of the trousers between the bottom edges of the waistband and waistband facing pieces, right sides together. Making sense?

After sewing that seam, I trimmed down the seam allowance, and pressed the waistband pieces up and away from the trousers.

I measured and cut out the front and back bib pieces from two jean legs - keeping a seam in the middle. Turned under and stitched a hem along the top and side edges.

I positioned and pinned the bottom edge of each piece along the top edge of the waistband piece, right sides together, sewed and pressed the seam allowance down towards the inside of the waistband. I turned under and pressed the top edge of the waistband facing piece, pinned it to the bib pieces and waistband pieces at the side and top stitched it all down in place. My sewing machine did not enjoy this process, but it soldiered on!

A couple of days later I did have to alter the waistband so that it curved in at the sides, as I was left with a huge gap that made the dungarees slightly indecent!

All that was left to do was create the straps by cutting out four rectangles, sewing two pairs together along the long side edges and one short edge (right sides together) turning them out and stitching the open edge to the wrong side of the back bib piece. Buttonholes made and buttons sewed on and all finished. The buttons were bought from a an antique/collectables shop called Chesapeake Mill in Wykeham, Hampshire.

The final part of the process was putting my vacuum cleaner through a tough workout, denim frays... a lot!!

I think these kind of have a 1940s land girl vibe to them and to be honest they probably will get most wear when I'm gardening or doing housework. I think if I'm going to wear them out and about I can't be shy about it - they need styling up with headbands and statement jewellery.

I can't decide whether or not to dye them so that they are all the same colour, as currently the trousers are a much lighter denim than the top. What do you think? Leave as they are or get them dyed?

Have you taken part in the Refashioners Challenge? I'd love to see what you've made if you have, leave a link to wherever you've posted pictures below.

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