1943 Overalls for My Little Man

Our son is now old enough to really understand exactly what mommy does in front of those stitching machines, so with a vintage pattern on hand he now can also share in my handmade goodness.  The overalls were quite easy and fun to make and I think (so does he) that they turned out so well!  Besides, I’m quite pleased to make something out of the ordinary, yet vintage, and supremely useful, all at the same time.

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My best reward ever is how he is so proud and happy to wear them!  “Mommy made them!” he loves to announce of his own accord to anyone he meets while wearing them.  He even asks to wear them, which will not be all that much longer because he’s growing tall and fast – cuffs to the pants’ hem might be in order at some point to extend their wearing.  It looks like, at this rate, he will probably be receiving another pair for summer made in denim from me…I don’t think he’ll mind at all and neither will I 😉

THE FACTS:  butterick-2744-year-1943-envelope-front-comp-w

FABRIC:  small wale 100% cotton corduroy in a dark, dusty forest green color and a 100% cotton tan printed corduroy

NOTIONS:  All I needed was thread, snaps, buttons, and hook and eyes – all of which I had on hand.

PATTERN:  Butterick #2744, year 1943

TIME TO COMPLETE:  These only took me about 6 hours to make – easy peasy. They were finished on March 2, 2016.

dsc_0120-comp-wTHE INSIDES:  all bias bound

TOTAL COST:  Zero!  I’ll explain.

Different vintage corduroys went into our son’s overalls.  Firstly, my Grandmother as given me her generous stash of corduroy in many solid colors.  I am almost certain she said it was originally intended for my dad and his sister when they were little.  Now some of that corduroy has went towards making something for her great-grandson.  That is where the solid green of the overalls is from.  The plane print corduroy is something hubby and I bought at a vintage market.  Our son is a huge fan of anything that goes (planes, trains, and automobiles) so we knew this was perfect for him even though it was only a small remnant piece, not a whole cut.  Thus, I incorporated a definite “boy” touch to his overalls, adding vintage to vintage, and accommodated our little man’s likes at the same time.  Whew.

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I must admit I was dubious going into this project because 1.)  I was using an original Butterick pattern which tends to have an unusual fit (normally generous sizing), and 2.)  the smaller the scale of clothes, often the harder and more fiddly they become (think of doll clothes).  As it turned out, the overalls weren’t as awkwardly small to make as expected since there weren’t any too small spots save for the straps over the shoulders.  It’s hard (hell actually) turning corduroy tubes inside out…it naturally wants to stick to itself like glue.  I also did experiment with the legs of this pattern to make my little guy his Halloween costume (posted here) and found out the width and length of the size then, and what I needed to change.  Muslins (also known as mock-ups) are something I hardly ever do, but between the pattern and sewing for someone new, I glad I knew how to make good fitting overalls for my boy’s final garment.

The sizing went by chest and age, but I thought height would be more important.  As our son is rather tall and skinny for his age, and the pattern seems to run short and wide so I added several inches to the bottom hem of the pants legs and a bit extra on the ends of the shoulder straps.  For the next pair of overalls, I will also add a bit more to widen the bib front, too.

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Our son cannot live without pockets, so luckily there are two patch pockets over the behind, however they take some getting used to on his part.  He sort of naturally expects the side placket closures to be pockets because that’s where modern pants normally have them.  I can’t help but laugh when he takes a money coin or toy or whatever he intends for his pocket and slips it in the side placket thinking it’s a pocket…the item falls right down his pants leg right to the ground with him completely mystified!  He also does seem to find the fake front pocket flaps a bit annoying.  I had to stitch those flaps down to avoid frustration because he kept playing with them, pulling at them, and generally expecting to find a pocket under them.  Sorry, dude, next time I’ll leave them off or make them really working pockets.  He is such a perfectionist just like myself sometimes.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the saying goes.

dsc_0108-comp-wFor the closures, I don’t see how a potty trained child could deal with button closures all over as the pattern originally calls to make.  Buttons on the side, buttons on the bib/strap ends – really?!  I sewed large heavy duty snaps to attach the shoulder straps to the bib front with two fake non-working buttons sewn down for decoration.  Large sliding waistband-style hook-and-eyes close up the sides of the waist.  My little man completely understands how to work both hook-and-eyes and snaps on his own without assistance making life easier for me and giving him confidence in dressing himself.  I wonder how button closing worked for any mom who made this pattern and feel sorry for the mom and child who dealt with this…why buttons.  Would not hooks and snaps been used in the 40’s?  Anyway, a bit of hidden modern practicality is a great touch to updating some vintage garments.

All of us appreciate the fact that these overalls end the skinny man’s perennial problem of drooping drawers.  We as his parents like the absence of “plumber’s crack” our little guy sometimes has, and he himself likes not having to pull up his pants on a regular basis or hold up his drawers when he runs.  It’s not that we don’t buy him the right clothes…I’ve taken in the waist of many of his store bought pants.  When you’ve got no booty and no hips to hold your clothes on yourself…well, gravity takes its toll.  Overalls are the wonder solution.  Now I know why they are so widely seen in vintage, especially for children.  Overalls let them be free to do what they do best – run, move, play, and have a good time.

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Now that I’ve made these overalls, I feel like I have noticed a few thing about vintage 40’s children’s wear as a result of this project.  The pants are hilariously wide and baggy but they do make the overalls cute, not to mention easy to play in and so classic of the 1940’s.  I know crouch depths were low, waists were high, and leg widths were roomy for both men and women’s trousers of the 1940’s, but I guess a “mini-me” ideal carried the same trends into children’s wear, too.  I also find it interesting that the pattern is specifically co-ed – meant for both girls and boys.  I see this non-gender specific aim in clothing patterns primarily from both the 1940’s and early to mid-1950 era, mostly for designs which offer pants, jackets, shirts, hats, sleepwear, and overalls for those 5 and under.

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This raises questions I’d never thought of before.  Was this merely a result of rationing – on the pattern company’s end and for the purchaser?  Why not the patterns from the 20s, 30s, or late 60’s and on (in these eras I see mostly only housecoat patterns being co-ed)?  I think it may have to do with the outlook of society at the time.  From a purely practical standpoint, boys and girls really don’t have much shaping differences to take into account under 5 years old…no more different than one child from another.  Choosing different fabric can totally customize the pattern but then again a young mom of 1943 would probably like to make a garment that would give her the most bang for the buck and time spent to make, something more than one child (if that was the case) could wear equally.  Interesting stuff to figure out!

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Halloween 2015 – Me and My Cowboy

Halloween is a bigger deal than it used to be in my life now that our little one is actually old enough to realize what it is about and enjoy it.  I’ve also realized it does give me a very good reason to sew something for my half-pint and not just myself.  In 2015, I didn’t do that much sewing for Halloween, but enough to be proud of and count as projects to share.

My outfit wasn’t much, just something I put together at the last minute.  I dressed as some sort of punk, dark, vintage-style housewife, in an original 50’s blouse, a pencil skirt, platform heels, and a handmade apron with dachshund featured print.  Yes, that is purple hair I sported for the night.  However, my son’s outfit received most of my attention.  He went as a 1940’s cowboy, with part vintage, part handmade, and the rest being items from my childhood for a special kind of outfit.

THE FACTS:butterick-2744-year-1943-envelope-front-comp-w

FABRIC:  For the cowboy: ½ yard of super clearance polyester suede with a metallic printed wrong side; For my apron: a 100% cotton M’Liss print, exclusive to the now-defunct Hancock Fabrics store.

NOTIONS:  I had all I needed for the cowboy vest and chaps, and for my apron I bought skinny bright orange single fold bias tape.

PATTERN:  A vintage original Butterick 2744, year 1943, was used as the basis for the cowboy chaps, and the apron used the “Cosmopolitan” pattern from the book “A is for Apron” by Nathalie Mornu, published 2008.  (See this post to see my last apron from this book – I’m a big fan of it!)

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TIME TO COMPLETE:  The cowboy outfit parts only took me about 3 hours hours in one evening on October 29, 2015.  My apron was finished on Halloween, October 31, 2015, made in 3 hours, too.

100_6573aw-compTHE INSIDES:  The cowboy outfit is a costume so I didn’t do anything fancy inside, my apron is all clean finished bias bound.

TOTAL COST:  $2.00 for the suede fabric, and maybe $10.00 for my apron

His hat and six shooter set is mine from when I was his age, the sheriff’s badge on the vest is also mine from a visit to Silver Dollar City.  The shirt was given to us by a dear acquaintance – it a true 1940’s original with embroidery of swirls and hobby horses, fancy pockets, and special buttons.100_6460aw-comp

For the sewn part, I basically took a simple button front vest from my tykes’ wardrobe and traced it out and remade it into the faux suede.  This was easy as pie (which isn’t as easy as some sewing) – just two small side seams and even smaller shoulder seams.  Next the vest was cut and re-shaped slightly to be more open and curved so the front so his shirt can be seen.

My original plans were to only make him a vest, but my hubby said some passing comment sounding surprised as to the lack matching chaps.  I took this as a sort of challenge even though this was not at all what he meant – he just didn’t know what I had in mind.  There wasn’t much fabric to start with and even less after the vest was made…but chaps aren’t a full pants leg, anyway.  So I pulled out a vintage 1940’s children’s pattern from my stash as the basis to cut by – this way I also was testing out the fit of a pattern I wanted to make anyway.  I didn’t have a length of fabric long enough to go all the way up his leg so I merely made a large loop to add on for the top of the chaps’ legs.  The loop is perfect for the chaps100_6476w-comp to hang, or float, over his jeans.  A length of elastic is tied around his waist with the chaps’ top loops going through, and the rest hanging from that.

A rectangular strip of fabric was sewn all the way up into the side seams, then it was cut into little strips to turn it into fringe.  I love how the metallic “wrong side” makes the fringe look quite neat, bestowing just enough ‘bling’ for a little boy’s Halloween outfit.

Our little “cowboy” was so tickled by his outfit and so proud of himself.  “Mommy made it!” he would tell others on me, but that’s o.k.  Being a cowboy must run in the family.  My Grandma has a picture of her husband, my Grandpa, in a handmade cowboy outfit when he was little, so I’ve been told.  My dad loved playing cowboy himself – his room (when he was my son’s age) had a western theme to it, as I can still see in the cute printed paper lining of his old dresser set.  One of my dad’s favorite Christmases growing up was the one when he was given a western set, and he still remembers the bright red velvet hat that came with the set.  In the old pictures from then my 5 or 6 year old “cowboy” dad looks so much like my son did for Halloween – very cute to see.

100_6470aw-compMy apron is something I’ve been wanting to make for a long time.  The fabric had been bought a while back (maybe a year or two) and the apron pattern has also been on my radar of things to make ever since I bought the book in year 2011.  Now I could combine both into one!  Besides, how could I go wrong with something that combines my favorite things – a dachshund dog printed fabric (I own a dachsie, by the way), an apron, and a design named after one of my favorite mixed drinks, the Cosmopolitan.

This was super easy to make.  I like how the pockets are right over the hips – this way they can’t catch stray food like aprons with center front pockets often do.  I like the slightly vintage “café waitress” aura to it, as well, though this is not as strong with my version compared to the original in the book.  Look at how cute is that fashion themed fabric on the one in the book!  My fabric is pretty darling, nevertheless.  I mean there are cute wiener dogs dressed as a ladybug, police officer, witch, princess, and butterfly!100_6572-comp

This is not the best apron for coverage against spills and messy cooking, but it is mostly decorative anyway.  I did slightly change the pattern by both making the inner dip of the U-neckline smaller and having the center back neck closure be Velcro hook-and-look tape rather than a button and button hole.  I also had to shorten the neck straps so the waist ties would be where they should be rather than on my hips.

I went through just over 2 packs of bias tape to go around and around all the edges.  Honestly – that is the hardest and only step that takes up all my time spent to make this apron.  I thought the amount of edging I had to sew would never stop.  This sounds like a Halloween “Twilight Zone” nightmare… the “different sewing dimension where the edges to finish never stops and keeps going…with no end…you can’t take your foot off of the pedal, and the bias tape keeps coming, never lessening…”  Oh, I could have too much fun with this!  Happy Halloween everyone!

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