How to make overalls

Written by patti perry
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How to make overalls
Overalls may be fashioned from many recycled materials (cowgirl undressing image by Leticia Wilson from

Overalls are traditionally used as work apparel. In recent years, however, they have evolved to reflect the personal style of the wearer. Shoulder straps and a bib are the distinguishing characteristics of overalls. The metal fastening hardware of many overalls is not necessary if buttons are used instead. Overalls can be fashioned economically from recycled materials.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 2 pairs of recycled jeans
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Sewing needle
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • 2 buttons or overall hardware

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  1. 1

    Measure and cut 12 inches from the bottom of one pant leg. Be certain that you are comfortable with the appearance of the bottom edge of the trousers as this will become the top edge of the bib and pocket.

  2. 2

    Cut one seam off of this 12-inch piece. Open to lay flat. This will be your bib.

  3. 3

    Turn under the two vertical edges twice to create a finished edge. Pin and stitch.

  4. 4

    Cut 8 inches off the bottom of the other pant leg.

  5. 5

    Cut off one seam and trim 1 1/2 inch off each side. Open, to lay flat.

  6. 6

    Turn the vertical edges under once and pin in a centred position on top of the bib section, lining up the bottom raw lines directly on top of each other. This establishes the pocket section.

  7. 7

    Sew the vertical edges to create a strong seam. Use two lines of stitching, each 1/4 inch apart. Sew a double seam directly in the middle of this pocket piece to create two pockets.

  8. 8

    Pin the bib to the waistband of the other pair of jeans. Place it centred behind the waistband with 1/2 inch extending below the waistband on the inside.

  9. 9

    Sew in place with three lines of stitching.

  10. 10

    Cut open a 6 inch-slit on both hip seams of the full pair of jeans. Slip the jeans onto the wearer to make certain that the jeans will fit without opening the now blocked front zipper. Also measure the distance from the back of the base jeans, over the shoulder, to the point on the bib where the button or fastener will be attached. Make note of this measurement.

  11. 11

    Stitch the 6-inch hip slits to create a finished seam, when a proper fit is ascertained.

  12. 12

    Use the shoulder-strap measurement, plus an additional 1 inch seam allowance, and mark a section of the salvaged jeans to this length. Draw a parallel line 5 inches next to this measurement. Cut two of these long rectangular shapes--they will become the shoulder straps.

  13. 13

    Turn under the short sides of the strap pieces 1/2 inch and stitch.

  14. 14

    Fold in the edges of the strap pieces 1/2 inch on each long side. Overlap these seam areas. Press flat. Pin and stitch.

  15. 15

    Attach the straps at two points that are an equal distance from the middle of the back waistband. Use three lines of stitching, for strength.

  16. 16

    Make a button hole in the other end of the straps.

  17. 17

    Adjust the button position by placing the overalls onto the wearer and making a mark at a comfortable location.

  18. 18

    Sew the buttons, using heavy-duty thread, at these positions.

Tips and warnings

  • All proportions will need to be adjusted for the exact size overalls that you are constructing.
  • The bib portion of these overalls can be tapered at the sides, if desired.
  • Overall hardware may be used in place of the buttons. These are the metal pieces that sometimes are used to fasten the shoulder straps to the bib; they are available in sewing stores and websites under this descriptive title.
  • Overalls can be made from any two pairs of trousers; versions will vary depending on fabrics, colours or patterns.
  • All sewing may be done by hand.

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