Can you believe I made overalls? No? Neither can I, but when Janet from Decades of Style reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to test this pattern, I just couldn’t say no! I’d been planning to make pair of linen overalls for this coming summer but hadn’t really found a pattern I loved yet. I had my eye on the pair from Sew House Seven, but my hips are a couple of inches out of their size range and the minimal straps seemed like they would be a bit fussy, especially if I wanted to wear them to work where even on an “office” day, I sometimes end up doing an unexpected bit of manual labor. I wanted something a little more practical, but that would still allow me to achieve that “art teacher chic” vibe I’ve been really drawn to recently. Enter: the Ophelia Overalls!
Honestly, these are just what I was looking for in a pattern. The bib is minimal, which is nice for my short-waisted, small-busted figure. I like that they have the classic overall back but still have some more feminine details like the waist ties and those awesome bucket pockets. Plus, I love the possibility for fun buttons! Sneaky tip here: I skipped the buttonholes, the buttons are just sewn on and there is a snap on the back. I tried to put buttonholes in, but my machine kept getting caught up on the facing edge, so I cut my losses and resorted to the seam ripper.
I initially sewed these as designed since I was testing the pattern, though I did make one major fit change near the end which I’ll get to in a minute. I cut the bib as an 18 at the top, but graded to the width of a 22 at the waist and used the size 22 for the waist and below. This was one size too big for my waist, but it was going to be really complicated to grade between sizes here and I definitely needed the 22 width for my hips. Do note that if you typically grade between sizes, you will need to use a little creativity here because there is a lot happening around the waist in terms of the amount of pattern pieces. Now that I’ve sewn them once, I think I could figure it out, but I was a little overwhelmed by all the pieces when I was initially cutting the pattern. I’m happy with how this size worked out, though!
I also cut the 26 at the crotch length/curve, grading back down to a 22 at the leg notches. I normally need more room through the crotch curve and I figured I could take it back out later if needed, but I’m really glad I did it. I did this on both the front and back pattern pieces to make sure I kept the inseam lengths the same.
After sewing the majority of the overalls, I tried them on for fit. They looked pretty good everywhere but the back, where I had these major drag lines. I’ve had these types of drag lines to varying degrees on all loose fitting pants patterns I’ve tried so far, so I wasn’t surprised, but I was sad. And it seemed to be exacerbated by the fact that these are overalls, I’ve never had drag lines this bad before.
After a fitting deep dive and talking to some folks on instagram, I came to a solution that I am excited to try on all my other pants pattern. Honestly, I can’t believe I was able to fix this fit issue, it has been plaguing me for years! This photo doesn’t really do it justice because the wind was blowing fiercely from camera right, but I can assure you they are now hanging straight down from my high hip and it really does feel like a miracle. So what was the solution?
See that seam through the center back panel? That is not part of the pattern design. I took a 2″ wedge out of the center back, grading to nothing at the princess seam line. It was essentially a swayback adjustment, but I think the root of the issue is a bit more complicated than that. The idea was sparked by this thread on Pattern Review; I really haven’t fully digested it yet and I need to do some further experimentation with a more simple pants pattern. I’m not a fitting expert, but I do know my back is much shorter than my front (see below) and a swayback adjustment often helps me on dress patterns.
When it comes to pants, I often need more room through the crotch curve, which I think confounds the swayback issue. What I am understanding from that post on Pattern Review is that I may need a “tilted pelvis” adjustment, which would essentially mean adding to the crotch curve at the crotch point and then removing some length at the center back, which will readjust the balance of the pants (and which is coincidentally what I did to this pattern while trying to fix my fit issues). I also know that the fullest part of my hips is my high hips, which is not what a typical pants pattern is drafted for and is probably also confounding the fit. Like I said… lots to think about and experiment with.
Anyways, I am SUPER happy with how these overalls turned out. Other minor changes I made to the pattern are to take a 3″ hem so that they would be slightly cropped and alter how the waist cinching ties work. I made them adjustable from both sides so that I would have a bit more room to adjust (and make sure they fit over my hips while still cinching at the waist).
These are made out of the “sew classic” linen/rayon blend from Joann’s, its one they’ve had in stock for the last couple of years and I think its a great basic. It has a very different hand than the Brussels Washer Linen, which is also a linen/rayon blend, its a bit more hefty and less scratchy. I bought the vest buckles from Pacific Trimming and the buttons were a lucky local find.
One more thing, Janet has let me know that there is a discount code for 20% off your entire purchase, coinciding with the release of this pattern. The code is “OVER20” and you should definitely add these to your sewing list for this summer (or winter if you are in the southern hemisphere, this pattern also looks AMAZING in corduroy).
Just the Facts:
Pattern: Decades of Style Ophelia Overalls (tester version)
Current Measurements: Bust: 45″, Waist 41″, Hip 52″
Size: 18 at the top of the bib, graded to the width of a 22 at the waist and hips. Extra length though the crotch curve and a 2″ swayback adjustment.
This pattern was provided to me in exchange for my pattern testing services.