Jeans and Overalls with Simplicity 8447

Having completed two versions of this glorious, glorious pattern; I can now understand both the love for Simplicity 8447 and the love for sewing with denim. I had been fortunate enough to find a rather kind person who was willing to part with several meters of this glorious, dark denim – along with several other pieces from their stash, which I thought would be perfect for attempting to embark on a new adventure. It also meant that I could in fact get my hands on an otherwise prohibitively expensive fabric! I had no denim overalls, a piece I very much wanted to add to my winter and autumn wardrobe, and I was keen to learn how to sew with denim so that I could produce my own jeans. I had seen and heard very positive reviews of this pattern and so hunted out a secondhand copy for myself to try.

The first thing I have to say is that this is a rather straightforward pattern in terms of construction. The instructions were quite detailed for all Views, which I find isn’t often the case with patterns for trousers in particular. But it did make it relatively easy for me to understand each step and how to get the various pieces connected. The one complaint I do have is the order for construction of the legs, which makes things rather difficult when attempting to flat fell the side seams if working in denim. I didn’t in fact do this on the first pair in View A, as I was sure I was going to need to do some unpicking (spoilers, I didn’t!), but I did on the second pair for View B and it was not easy. So it is definitely worth keeping in mind what seam finishes you are planning on doing, and perhaps looking at flat-felling the side seams as the first step if you are looking to do that kind of seam finish.

I also made my first pair, in View A, grading between sizes 12 to 14. This is because I was looking at the finished pattern measurements on the pattern pieces, which is always a handy feature, and saw that there was a lot of ease in the hip area. However, waist-wise I tend to need to size down in that area to avoid gaping. My muslins of the pattern also suggested that starting with a 12 in the waist and then grading to a 14 in the hips would produce the best fit. Likewise, the leg length of the 14 also looked to be quite good, and would allow me to do quite a nice cuff on the bottom of each leg. However, something went quite awry in the final version! My waist ended up being too large, and despite going over it again and comparing it to the pattern, I couldn’t quite be sure what I had done. But I did end up needing to add an extension to the waistband, and then to design and add belt loops in order to compensate for how the fit became once the denim had relaxed. Nevertheless, I was shocked at how comfortable these were!

This was also my first experience with hand-sewn buttonholes, which – I can assure you, was not all that fun to do the first time around and which I think it’s important to flag for anyone considering the pattern. I have certain limitations physically when it comes to hand-sewing, so this was quite an arduous and uncomfortable process. So this might perhaps be a bit off-putting for others who aren’t all that comfortable with hand-sewing buttonholes either. However, I muddled through thanks to the glorious wisdom of Bernadette Banner’s how-to video on the topic, which I highly recommend, and the discovery that denim quite likes doubled-over thread rather than a single thread when it comes to the buttonholes. Even better was the fact that I was able to secure a little buttonhole chisel which made my work in opening the buttonholes much easier. I also realised after some wear, that the pattern would work much better with shank buttons for ease.

However, despite this, I had most definitely caught the bug for this pattern and was oh-so eager to work on some denim again. I decided to take all I had learned from the initial make and traced, and cut out, a straight size twelve in View B – the overalls! It’s not overstating to say that I am wild about overalls, and that I would fill my pants drawer with them if I could! I was so nervous as I puttered along, applying flat felled seams, and this time skipping the interfacing of pretty much all the pieces (scandalous, I know). I made the decision to opt out of interfacing except where the buttonholes would sit, simply because my denim was very thick and rigid. It really didn’t need the additional firmness around the waist or at the top of the bodice pieces, as I found the thickness and stiffness of the denim was good as it was. However, others may prefer to keep the interfacing in if their fabric isn’t quite so sturdy.

The truly shocking thing for me was how well the straight size 12 fit. I had seen a lot of feedback online about people feeling their backsides were too saggy – something which I noticed when I accidentally made the first View a size too large, but which didn’t at all feature for me in the size 12. This might be because I have a short torso and require a longer than average crotch-rise in order to be comfortable. As a result this pattern ticked all the boxes for me. I didn’t have to shorten the bodice at all, where my usual alteration is to remove an inch or two from the length, and I didn’t have to extend the crotch-rise in the slightest or even alter the crotch curve! I was simply comfortable from the moment I wiggled them on! But of course it wasn’t until I had attached the facing to the bodice section and trimmed back the seam allowance that I realised how much it gaped around the top of my bust, potentially because I am bottom-heavy in that area. And being the technical sewist that I am, I unpicked and sneakily took in the darts of the bodice by two-thumbs, or rather four-thumbs in total, and stitched it all back up. Lo and behold this perfectly fixed the gaping. So next time I will be altering the pattern to account for wider darts.

The next question I suspect people will wonder is whether it’s difficult to get in and out of these. The short answer is – it’s not the same as if you have a zipper. In fact I have seen versions where people have replaced the button placket with a zipper, because the button placket uses a standard 5/8″ seam allowance and therefore isn’t all that hard to add a zipper to instead. However, despite my limitations, I find that so long as I undo the strap that fixes over my shoulder on the side of the button placket, I can shimmy in and out of these fairly easily. Although in future version I will definitely be looking at moving the straps to button at the front, as I had to wait for my mother to come and visit in order to be able to pin the straps in place on my back, and front buttons will be a lot easier.

Final Thoughts

Pattern Made: Simplicity 8447

Materials Used: I’d say it was a medium to heavyweight denim, which I secured secondhand, as well as largely secondhand buttons and medium weight fusible interfacing from my stash. I did not use topstitching thread as I wanted a cleaner look.

Views Made: Views A and B, pants and overalls, and they came out looking very much like the illustrations!

Sizes Made: Originally tried a 12 waist, to 14 hips, then settled on straight size 12 for View B.

Alterations Made: For View A, I originally tried grading between sizes but this proved not to be necessary. For View B, I took in the bust darts of the bodice section by a noticeable amount (four thumbs!) This pattern has fairly noticeable ease. For both Views I added two of the pockets to the back, rather than having one on the front.

Ease of Construction: This pattern is fairly straightforward to put together, and the instructions are nicely detailed for all Views.

Recommended Level: I’d probably say this is still a pattern for sewists who have some experience with trousers, as a minimum. It doesn’t require any particularly advanced techniques, save for the potential need to hand sew the buttonholes, but in terms of getting the fit right it may be tricky. Noting that I have very deep hips and a short torso and this fit me very well, which isn’t usually the case.

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