How to: make baby dungarees from adult jeans

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Wow, it's crazy how fast babies grow! It's something you learn or hear about from a young age, but when you see it happening before your eyes, it really is a marvel!

And with that comes clothes, tons of clothes! With my daughter crawling, I really wanted her to have a good sturdy pair of trousers so she could have protected knees. Tights just aren't substantial enough at the moment!

When my partner announced he was giving a pile of clothes away to charity and I saw the jeans sitting on the top, I couldn't help but put my crafty hat on and figure out how I could reuse them. The charity shop would probably throw them out as they have a torn waistband.

Then it hit me - aha! I've wanted my daughter to have dungarees for ages, and so I set about making the jeans into a pair of baby dungarees!

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If you are past the beginner's stage of sewing and want a meaty project, this may well be a good one to try.

If you are a beginner, there's no reason why you couldn't make these, but you may want a more experienced person to hand, or drop me a comment if you get stuck and I'll try and help!

The dungarees I made are for 12-18 months, for which I've added notes into the sizes I used (in italics), but you can make them for any age, you just need to have a t-shirt and pair of trousers in that size, so you can take measurements etc.

Right: Baby Button in her new dungarees.

Tools:

  • Sewing machine (this project could be sewn by hand but I wouldn't recommend it - it'll take ages!)
  • Scissors (or rotary cutter and mat + scissors)
  • 1 fabric marking pencil or chalk
  • 1 ruler
  • 1 baby t-shirt in the size you are making
  • 1 babies trousers in the size you are making
  • Optional: Overlocker (serger) for sewing over all the raw edges - but you can also turn the edges under twice and stitch or use a zig zag stitch to stop fraying.

Materials:

  • 1 pair of adult jeans - ideally not torn in the knees (although you could put a cute applique over the tear)
  • 1 pretty piece of fabric - about the size of one fat quarter (although I didn't use all of mine) (herein referred to as 'flower fabric')
  • Sewing thread to match the fabric and the jeans.
  • 2 buttons
  • 2.5 cm wide Elastic
  • Optional: 2 poppers (see option 2 at the bottom).

Directions:

The Bib 

Step One: 

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Above: Cut the pocket out of the back of the jeans.

Cut down the outside seam of the jeans, next to the back pockets. Measure the height of the baby t-shirt and cut half the height in the jeans plus 3 cm around the back pocket.  

My t-shirt was 32 cm high so, my measurement was 16 + 3 = 19 cm.

The back pocket on my jeans was 15 cm high so I cut a straight line 1.5cm above the pocket and 2.5 cm below the pocket = final measurement of 19 cm high (including seam allowance).

Cut off side seam 1.5 cm from the edge and fold the bib in half, mark the other side and cut so that it's symmetrical.

Check that it's equal and looks good and alter if necessary.

Step Two:

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Above: The two cut out bib shapes.

Cut another bib in the flower fabric by tracing with chalk around the jeans bib. 

Pin the two shapes together and sew around the top and side seams, leaving the bottom open.

Turn out the right way and press. 

Overlock (serge) along the bottom edge, 

The Trousers

Step Three:

Square up the bottom of the jeans by using the outside seam to measure against and cut the hem of the jeans off.

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Lay the baby trousers on the jeans with the hem of the trousers towards the waistband.  This way any fading on the jeans will look like they are at the knee section of the dungarees.

Pin the trousers to the jeans with the back of the trousers facing up and the outside seam of the trousers on the outside seam of the jeans.  

I also allowed an extra 4 cm at the hem of the dungarees to allow for the turn up and for growth.

Trace around the trousers using chalk.  Gently fold back the trousers along the centre back as you go to find where to mark and trace the centre back line onto the jeans.

Unpin the trousers and check the line you have drawn, if it's not neat, neaten it up using a ruler if needed.

Cut out the trousers along the line, adding a 1 cm seam allowance as you go.

Left: Lay the baby trousers on the jeans and trace around them.

Step Four:

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Turn the newly cut trousers over to the front, and cut the front inside seam 1cm in (cut off the seam allowance.)  This will make the front of the dungarees slimmer and allow more room for the nappy at the back. 

Right: Cut off 1cm from the front side of the trousers.

Repeat for the other leg, using the first leg cut as a template... but turn it over so you are doing a mirror image.  This is so that if there is fade differences in the front and the back of the jeans the dungaree legs will match each other.

Over lock (serge) around all the raw edges.  Sew up the Centre Front and Centre Back seams of the trousers and then sew up the inside seam. 

Step Five:

Cut a strip of the fabric 5 cm by the circumference of the trouser waistband plus 2 cm.

Sew the strip together along the short edges to form a circle.

Place around the top of the waistband, with the right sides of the fabrics together.  Pin and stitch to the dungarees.

Dungarees_waistband.jpgAbove: Pin the waistband to the top of the dungarees.

Step Six:

Find the middle of the bib and pin to the centre front of the top of the trousers, right sides together (the fabric will end up on the inside of the bib). You will be stitching over the top of the waistband on the inside, but this is fine.

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Above: Stitch the bib to the trousers.

To find the correct length of elastic to use for the waistband, use the baby trousers as a template.  

Place your new elastic against the baby trouser waistband and try to make the elastic the same length by stretching the baby trousers to gauge the amount of stretch.  Measure the bottom of the bib and take off this amount from the elastic you have just measured (make sure you do this while the elastic is unstretched).

Pin and stitch the elastic along the short edge to the dungarees, either side of the bib, under the flower fabric waistband using a zig zag stitch back and forth to make it really strong.  (This bit is fairly tricky!)

Step Seven: 

Press the flower fabric waistband under 5 mm along the bottom edge.  

Tuck the elastic as far under as you can so that its right up against the top seam and sew down the bottom edge of the waistband.  It's really important that you don't stitch over the elastic, so take it slowly!

Step Eight:

Fold the flower fabric you have left in half and place against the bottom of the dungarees, with the fold along the outside seam.  

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Above: Trace and cut out the turn up fabric.
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Measure up 13 cm and trace around the leg for the turn up pieces. (Or as high as you'd like the flower fabric to go). 

Cut this out adding a 1 cm seam allowance, reverse for the other side and cut out.

Overlock around all the edges of the turn up pieces and sew along the inside seams.

Turn the dungarees inside out and place the turn up pieces inside the bottom of the jeans with the right sides facing together.

Sew around the hem.

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Above: Sew around the turn up pieces to the bottom of the dungarees to create the hem.

Step Nine:

Turn the dungarees the right way out and press the seam flat.

Sew along the top edge of the cuff to secure it to the jeans.  (This is the another very tricky bit - you could also hand sew it if you are finding it tricky to get the trousers under the machine.. but be neat with your stitches as they will show on the outside!)

Step Ten:

Cut 2 strips of fabric for the straps.  I measured this on my baby so it would be best if you could also measure against your baby.  Cut them 7 cm wide.

I cut my straps to be 7 cm by 37.5 cm.

Fold each strip in half, with right sides together, pin and sew along the long edge and one short edge of each strip.  Turn the right side out and press.  Overlock the short raw edges.

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Pin and sew the straps about 5 cm apart (or judge for size) on the back of the dungarees, either side of the centre back seam.

Sew the straps into a cross about 7 cms up from the waistband of the dungarees by stitching the two together (or judge the height according to the size you are making).

Left: Sew the straps onto the back of the dungarees.

Step Eleven:

Option 1:
Sew the two buttons onto the bib.  

Make buttonholes in the straps according to the width of the buttons.

Option 2:
Sew the buttons to the end of the straps.

Sew the poppers to the underside of the straps and the front top corners of the bib.

Step Twelve:

Finally, do any appliqué you'd like to have on the pocket on the bib.

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Above: A close up of the appliqué on the bib of my baby dungarees.

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Go and try it on your baby and marvel at how cute they look (and how marvellous your sewing skills are!).

For more of my makes and some rather lovely handmade buttons check out Tofty Makes. ]

Fancy stitching up a pair of your own for your tiny one? If you do we'd love you to show us your creation!

[All images and pattern © Emma Toft. Sewing pattern not for commercial use.]

How to: make baby dungarees from adult jeans - Comments

  • Zoe

    Wow I love them think I might have ago at making some thanks for sharing xx

  • K Poulos

    What are poppers?

  • ellenlindna

    Poppers are just UK slang for snaps, K!  Very easy to find - don't worry. 

  • Thanks everyone! It was so much fun making them and really practical now that Baby Button is crawling so much.  It's pretty crazy having a mini me racing around - maybe I should make myself a matching pair!

  • Elizabeth Traub

    Great job!  Love the fabric you accented with.

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