Thursday, 18 June 2015

Dungarees and Rompers for Girls and Boys

I've titled this 'for boys and girls', because most types of dungarees, romper suits and trousers work just as well for either. So though my pictures in these posts will nearly all be little girls, most of the trouser-shaped clothes will suit boys as well. In any case, dresses and skirts are not so practical for crawlers or bottom-shufflers, male or female.

In this post, I've featured one particular design, but below that, I've also reviewed some other patterns, mostly free on the internet.

Most of the time my little grand-daughters like nothing better than to wear shorts or trousers or dungarees. And actually, their mothers were just the same. I could make or buy little dresses for them, but most of the time, they went for the dungarees. Corduroy or denim perhaps in winter, cotton or polycotton in summer. Yup, here's one of them in just such, a good few years ago.

I can remember taking my daughters to a party at a friend's house (she had sons about the same ages). My friend suggested they might like to go upstairs and sit and watch a video with the other little girls. My two daughters had only to take one look into the room, where a host of little girls in frilly dresses and lacy socks sat on cushions, watching a princess-y film, and they were off at the speed of light to go jumping over the back fence into the woods behind, with all the little boys. So perhaps it's hardly surprising that their offspring will wear only dresses when it's a special occasion. For every day wear, the choice is generally something with legs. 

(Latest update: one of the three older grand-daughters has now decided the complete opposite - she will only wear dresses! So you never can tell.)

So I'm always on the trawl for nice dungarees patterns so I can make clothes they enjoy wearing more often. 

A friend loaned me this pattern. It's Burda 9463, which comes in 5 sizes from 1 month to 12 months. However, I did find one problem with it, and that was that the measurement from shoulder to crutch was too short. It doesn't actually seem much longer from the smaller sizes to the larger. I wondered if the designers forgot that babies up to 12 months are still in nappies!  So I extended the shoulders by an inch (2.5 cm) back and front. This is the long leg version, which I prefer. I made it with just shoulder snaps, but you can also make it with opening legs for quick nappy changing. 


This dungarees pattern is deliberately wide, to allow for a crawling / squatting baby or toddler. Baby I never did crawl, in fact she was almost walking, by the time of this photo, though she still liked to hold onto our hands. But the loose fit allows for bending. The design is such that the child can almost squat down inside them. I think it's very cute though.


I made the top of these dungarees, and the trouser turn-ups, with the lovely giraffe pattern in orange, lime green, turquoise and a violet-y blue. The stripes of the main body are in the same shades.

The Burda pattern actually doesn't have turn-ups at all, let alone contrasting ones. The bottoms of the legs are gathered into a band in the pattern. However, I wanted to allow for growth. Not gathering them, and making contrasting turn-ups, seemed a good way of giving a decorative feature, and they could then be turned down as she grew taller. (That's the other reason I didn't want the neck to crutch measurement too short - her body will grow as well as her legs.)

I don't often use commercial patterns such as this Burda one (more about that later), but if I do, I find it useful to make myself a summary list of how to proceed. Here are the notes I made about how to construct the dungarees, before I did any cutting out:
  1. Interface outer layers of yoke
  2. Do side seams of trouser part, and inner seams if not doing leg openings
  3. Gather top of trouser parts
  4. Attach trouser parts to yoke front and back, right sides together.
  5. Fold bias strips for armholes in half wrong side facing in, and press lower edge of inner yoke pieces to wrong side
  6.  Stitch crutch seam/s, matching inner leg seams (or do the leg openings)
  7.  Pin and baste inner yoke pieces to outer at neck and top of armholes, right sides facing (5 on pictures in Burda instructions)
  8.  Baste the bias strips to bottom of armholes with ends of bias strips lying on lower edges of yoke pieces. Stitch along bias edges, rest of armholes, neck and shoulders. (6 on Burda pictures)
  9. Trim and turn yoke right way out.
  10. Top stitch 1/4 “ all round including armhole edges
  11.  Sew button holes (if doing) on front yokes and buttons on back yokes. (I'll do snaps.)
  12. With the very wide leg version the legs are gathered into a band, but you could do elastic, or as in my version, add cuffs / turn-ups.
  13. There are also skirted versions. I think the armholes are too tight, and the straps to go over the shoulders need to be longer. (So I added an inch to each of front and back.)
I've borrowed other patterns for dungarees from my friend, as well. It's not that I'm too mean to buy commercial patterns (well, I suppose I am, given the prices that are now charged). It just seems that the commercial pattern web sites have given up on having decent patterns for toddlers. Most of them don't even have a separate category for toddlers, the patterns are all lumped together with patterns for older children, so you have to trawl through hundreds to find anything. And guess how many patterns came up on Simplicity when I did a search on 'toddler dungarees'? Zilch! That's right, not one! Same for 'baby dungarees'. Loads of little frilly dresses. No wonder people look for other sources.  There used to be very nice ones. For example, Simplicity 7790 and 5533 were identical dungarees patterns, just one was sized for ages up to 12 months and the other for age 2 years. Those numbers have now been re-used for other designs, so you can't get them any more. My originals have long ago fallen apart, but I keep them going with new tracing paper.

So it's mostly down to the internet search.

First, patterns for babies. Some are also suitable for toddlers. Please bear in mind that most of these are provided as free patterns, and are for personal use only.

I love this tutorial from Make it Love it for a bubble romper
Make Love It picture

She doesn't give a pattern template, but explains how to make your own from an existing pants pattern. If you don't have one, she suggests cutting one from an existing pair of pants, and has a 'how to' link for this. I would not in fact do it the way she shows in the 'how to' link, as you'd end up with the back crotch seam being the same as the front. As she says in the Bubble Romper post, you do need to allow more room at the back for the butt. In the picture in her post to convert a trouser pattern to the Bubble Romper, she does in fact appear to be using a pants pattern with a different shape for front and back. Better to use a proper pants pattern, or make your own using a method that will give you the proper shaping.

As designed, this is probably more suitable for a girl, though if you left the bows off, I don't see why it wouldn't work for a boy as well. Since you make your own pattern, it would work for any age.

If you think the bubble rompers are too girly, here's some 'baby boy rompers' by Melly Sews.

Melly Sews picture

But I would happily also make these for my grand-daughters. The size that comes free is 0-3 months, though you can buy larger sizes. You need to subscribe but subscribing is free.

These baby dungarees from Shwin and Shwin would be equally suitable for boys or girls. 
Shwin and Shwin picture

One of my all-time favourite patterns, but again, sadly, one I didn't get round to making as it comes only in size 0-3 months. They do give some ideas as to how to adjust the size.*

Here's a little Sunsuit from Made by Rae, with a shirred top. Very cute! It's a DIY pattern so you could make any size. You'd also have to be prepared to do shirring. Last time I tried (and I have done it successfully before) it ended up really tight and would stretch enough to go round the chest. You could, instead, put in some rows of casing and thread elastic through.
Make by Rae picture

I didn't try this in the end. Instead, I used Dana's Perfect Diaper Cover pattern to make a sunsuit, by just extending the top upwards about 5" and adding tie straps. 

You can read about how I did this here.

This Baby Sunsuit uses a similar approach to mine, but using a different starting pattern. I've used an 'in progress' image from her site as I try to avoid using other people's pictures which show their children's faces.
Clever Tinker picture

This Smocked Romper from Delia Creates is lovely. I would say this one is definitely more on the girly side.
Delia Creates picture

It also requires me to remaster smocking. I used to be able to do it.

Next, the adorable kimono-style onesie from MakeSewBaby. Sadly, I never did make it, and now the girls are all past the ages this would fit (up to 12 months). But it does look so cute. I think you could also make it in a stretch knit fabric so it would fit for a little longer. 
Make Sew Baby picture

I haven't made these jersey dungarees from Ribbons and Bibbons, as it has taken me quite a while to pluck up courage to sew with knits. I think I could now do it, but again the pattern is only up to 6 months.
Ribbons and Bibbons picture

Now for some that will work for toddlers.

Obviously there is the Make it Love it  bubble romper above, which is a make it yourself pattern. Check it out above.

Another pattern from Made by Rae on Ikatbag's site is this for these Boy Shortalls. They are for approximately aged 2 1/2 to 3 years old . And pleasingly, although they are described as boy shortalls, they are modelled by a fetching little girl. So they would suit either! They look very professional because they are very well finished. I'm not sure I could make mine look as good, but they could be made with fewer pockets and trims.
Made by Rae / Ikatbag picture

Another I've yet to make is the pattern for toddlers dungarees by Made by Toya. But as that comes in an 18 month to 2 year size, I hope I can get with it in time! I have got as far as printing it off!
Made by Toya picture

 * It's one thing adjusting a size slightly, and quite another to try and cast it in a much bigger size. You'll see suggestions on web sites about just drawing all round a pattern with a margin to make it bigger. It doesn't take much reflection to see that this doesn't work. Drawing round the outside of concave curves will make them bigger, but drawing round the outside of convex curves will make them smaller. Besides which, adding half an inch to each side of 4 pattern pieces will give you a chest measurement 4 inches bigger, whereas adding an inch to the top and bottom of each piece will only add one inch to the length. Oops! 

So I hope my round up of dungarees and rompers has been some use. I'n sure I'll find more to add as time goes on.

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