Thursday, May 24, 2018

Burda 6599 Overalls

If we've been living in the year of the romper (for what, three years? ha!) then I think we're finally entering into its newest incarnation: the year of the overall. Pour a cup of coffee because this post is a long one!

Back in March, I became totally obsessed with finding the "right" overall pattern for me (Pinterest board here). I had some specific details I wanted: button-up side opening, pockets on the back, bib not too high, available in a printed pattern, and more than one view in the envelope. I read every review I could find and was just about to pull the trigger on the Ronja Dungarees from Named, but I was quite hung up on the price tag. At $25, it would have been the most expensive pattern I've ever bought, and it only had one view. I couldn't imagine making it more than once, putting my cost per use pretty high. Perhaps that's too analytical, but when your resources are limited, it's better to be selective. I ended up with Burda 6599, which I bought at Jo-Ann's for $2.50. Win! Even better, I had a small cut of denim in my stash (from Mood, a million years ago) that was just barely enough (okay, not quite enough). Win win!

The notions list was quite long, so I placed an order with Wawak. I planned this short version and also the long view in black, so it made sense to order everything at once. I also got a buttonhole/circular punch cutting set. It was tricky, because everything labeled as Antique Brass did not actually match. There were also various sizes of overall buckles, but no notes on the pattern about what size I needed. As drafted, the pattern has straps that are 1 1/2" wide. My buckles are for straps that are 1 1/4" wide. There was no way to know that until I got the package. And no way to know the strap width unless I got out the pattern piece and measured. Just be aware!

The size chart and cutting diagram are on the tissue, which I found to be rather annoying. My bust put me at a 10, my waist a 16, and my hips between 12 and 14. Kind of all over the place. My denim did have some stretch, and my waist is only a 16 because of my mama pooch. I settled on a straight size 10. Don't ask me why. I'm probably extremely lucky this fits so well. I did check the finished measurements for the hips (I wrote it down, 37 3/4" but I'm fairly positive I had to measure the pattern piece to arrive at that number, which was also annoying).

Besides changing the strap width, the only other alteration I made was to the front bib pocket. I looked at a ton of photos on Pinterest and decided I wanted something more traditional than the boring rectangle included in the pattern. I played around a bit with the shape and size as I was sewing.

I added rivets on the back pockets, and chose a topstitching design based off one I found on Pinterest. All topstitching was done with my vintage Singer 15-91. It's quite a lot to handle, three machines all set up at once (regular machine for seaming, serger for finishing, vintage machine for topstitching). I'm lucky I have the space (just barely!) to keep them all on my tabletop. I can't wait until we move to our new house, I should be able to have all my machines spread out in permanent arrangements.

I did have some trouble with the buttonholes. My vintage machine makes beautiful ones, typically, but they cannot be custom-sized. You have to use a buttonhole attachment which comes with interchangeable cams/templates. I didn't have any that were exact to the size of my jean tacks. Additionally, the waistband portion of the overalls is incredibly thick, and the seam allowances prevented easy movement. I ended up putting some buttonholes in with my regular machine and zig-zag stitches. They aren't super pretty and it was quite a fight. I recommend Fray Check and lots of patience! The buttonholer also seemed to mess up my thread tension so all the topstitching after that looks bad on the reverse side (most noticeable on the straps).

Another thing I would recommend is the buttonhole cutter I mentioned. How have I gone so long without one!? WAY better than the old hold-your-breath-and-use-the-seam-ripper method. I was surprised to find myself using the hole punch as well, it worked fifty times better than an awl when I was installing the jean tacks. As always, I used my anvil and rivet setter that I purchased when I made my Kelly Anorak (it's no longer available on Amazon, sorry!). If you're going to take on a project like this, the right tools really do make all the difference.

A few notes about the instructions:
1. You must interface the top of piece 1 and piece 2. Instructions omit piece 1.
2. Pockets are sewn on the back and THEN darts are sewn beneath. This method leads to gaping pockets. It looks dumb and seems to serve no purpose.
3. There is no under stitching on the hip pockets, but there should be.
4. On the diagram of the fly stitching there are lines denoting the fly, but it's easy to confuse them as stitching lines.
5. Directions to finish seam allowances are random and there is little direction on when seam allowance grading would be helpful.

In short, the instructions aren't great at hand-holding. They are sufficient for someone who knows what she's doing but I found them aggravating at times. These overalls took a LOT of work (two rows of topstitching and SO MUCH topstitching) and I was very nervous about making an irreparable mistake. As I mentioned, I didn't have enough fabric, and I cut the button facings from scrap denim. If I had made any errors, I wouldn't have had fabric to recut. Lucky for me, I didn't! So how about a giant photo dump?

Thread tension was off on the underside of straps

Here you can see the dart and pocket gape

And just a quick note about my tank top, it's a Love Notions Laundry Day Tee (tank). The fabric is leftover from my striped Union St. Tee, I didn't have enough so I color-blocked the back with solid black rayon. I also made a mistake and started to cut the back in two (instead of the fold). To cover it up, I sewed lace hem tape vertically up the back (you can't see it in these photos, sorry!). Design element for the win!

I've tried these overalls with lots of tops and I think they look best with a tank top, or a fitted tee (of which I have none lol). It does get pretty hot, this is a medium weight denim. I also like the look of cuffed short overalls, but the way the pattern is drafted they'd be way too short if I cuffed them. Oh, and bathroom breaks...I figured out I only have to undo three buttons to get them off, but that can take longer than you'd think.

Like I said before, I have another version planned, in full length, in black. I've made some alterations to my flat pattern already (I did that as soon as I was done with this version, because I knew I'd forget!). Primarily I want to shorten the height of the bib, and probably do something different with the bib pocket. The long pant version does have a slightly different cut to the leg that I think will keep it narrow and flattering (the shorts could be narrowed at the hem for a more youthful look, I think). I just got the fabric in that I'm using (dreamy stretch denim from The Fabric Store) but now that we're in the midst of summer (and moving in a month) it will probably be stuck on the back burner as a fall project.

Are you into the overall trend? There are lots of patterns out there to choose from right now! I keep waiting for Style Arc to launch one, because I have a feeling it would be awesome. Which one would you choose?


  1. These turned out beautifully, well done! Great review and tips.

  2. These are great! I tried to make an overall-type outfit once but I'm so long-waisted that it was ridiculously short on me (to the point that I had to hunch over just to get my shoulders in). I've considered this pattern before but never actually bought it...maybe next sale!


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