Petrova’s Dungarees



Julia Young

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

For the theme ‘Once Upon A Time’ I used the book "Ballet Shoes" by Noel Streatfeild as inspiration. Clothes were a big deal to the Fossil sisters since they always seemed to need new ones and they were doing their best on a shoestring to make them. Since I’ve never sewn anything before I very much identified with the doing-your-best-with-what-you-have feel of the book!

Petrova Fossil is the sister least into ballet and performance and just wants to fix cars with Mr Simpson. I saw a reference to her putting on jeans and really liked the idea of vintage denim wear. I wondered what an adult Petrova would wear once she was free to be a pilot, and I found a pattern for some late-1930s dungarees which seemed very much of her character. In the photos I made the dungarees but the shirt is shop-bought.

I found this pattern with a straight neckline, which is late-30s to early-40s, instead of a sweetheart neckline, which is more solidly 30s. Petrova would have hated a sweetheart neckline! In the construction section I explain that I needed to add a lining, and I think Petrova would have liked the final result. I can imagine her working with machinery by day and having fun with her sisters with nice fabric by night!

Outline the construction…

My main hurdle to overcome in this project was the material I ordered was a lot thinner than what I expected - a light cotton - not the denim I imagined. I ordered it online, and the shop did not accept returns so I had to go with it. Thankfully I had some different light cotton, as well as iron-on-interfacing from a skirt project that I chickened-out of in the autumn. The interfacing added structure to the bodice pieces and the lining gave the garment a more weighty feel like proper denim.

I’ve been enjoying Cathy’s, Bernadette’s and Morgan’s YouTube channels and found a lot of help there. Morgan had a tip about gathers - using two parallel threads to gather evenly - which worked really well in the front of the bodice, and her pattern sizing video was most helpful! Bernadette taught me about basting and how to finish seams neatly, which really helped with the lining. For most pattern pieces I basted the lining to the denim and treated them as a single piece. For the back-bodice I wanted to put the facing between the denim and the lining so it was super-neat, and this involved felling the lining down afterwards. Cathy’s short, gentle videos kept me calm throughout!

The instructions that came with the pattern were made for someone with more experience, so I found the facing, finishing and adding closures most complex, but this where the instructions were the least descriptive, and youtube most helpful!




  1. Avatar Retro Claude on March 11, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    Well done for overcoming the challenges you faced with the fabric, the finished result is great!

  2. Avatar Cassandra on March 11, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    those are so cool. they look comfy, i’d wear them everyday.

  3. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 12, 2021 at 12:39 am

    The shape of these is just so lovely, the bodice is delightful. The fabric lining is playful. And it sounds like your fabric gave you trouble, but you doubled down to overcome the issues, and got this brilliant result. Fab! Good luck x

  4. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 12, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    I like your interpretation of the characters desires for her clothing. Your finished dungarees are such a great classic item and I think the floral lining is an excellent contrast to the utilitarian nature of the garment.

  5. Avatar Charlotte C on March 12, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    I think this is a perfect interpretation of what Petrova would have worn. I love the style lines on the top and your finishing details on the inside of the dungarees is great. I can’t remember the lodger who owned the garage’s name but I can imagine his wife having chosen these for Petrova.

  6. Avatar Anne on March 12, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    Oh, I love Ballet Shoes!! One of my favourite stories. And I think the dungarees came out fantastic! I love the lining material <3

  7. Avatar Sarah Bent on March 14, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    These are amazing for a first garment! (I love Ballett Shoes too. 😉 )

  8. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 1:33 am

    I was so charmed by that secret floral lining before reading your narrative, so your solution was an effective one indeed! And the challenge of the fabric not being what you hoped for is so perfect for your “make do” theme. Plus they fit you so well!

  9. Avatar Suzi Smart on March 17, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    I love the shape of the bodice. Very practical yet feminine without being fussy. Great job.

  10. Avatar Kaity Bower on March 22, 2021 at 1:54 am

    So cute!!! I love the lining fabric. It’s very fun. You tailored them to fit you very well.

  11. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 12:23 am

    I love these! The fabric might be more in tune with the weight that some female (US) factory workers wore at the time. The factory floors, depending upon the job were very hot and the women complained the coveralls were very hot. Where possible, the women won the right to wear a lighter fabric. As long as it passed safety standards. Most did! I know this because my grandmother was a factory floor Supervisor during the second World War.
    Anyway, this is an awesome entry. Thank you so much!

    • Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 23, 2021 at 8:50 pm

      Just read your comment, that’s a very interesting nugget of information, thanks for sharing!

  12. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 23, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    I love the way you interpreted the character and created a garment which would suit her lifestyle and ambitions, I think these might be the first dungarees which I’ve seen in the competition, and they definitely stand out!

  13. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 26, 2021 at 6:20 am

    These overalls are really cute, good job!

  14. Avatar Vanessa Isobel on March 26, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    These are gorgeous! Love the fit around the back too, they look so comfy. Also, your interpretation of the character and how’d she’d dress as an adult doing what she loved. Congrats on jumping all those hurdles too!

  15. Avatar Bianca on March 29, 2021 at 4:31 am

    These turned out great! (and look comfy af)

  16. Avatar Lowana O'Shea on March 29, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    What a fun character to design for. You achieved a great fit and your stitching looks really neat. Well done 🙂

  17. Avatar Gabrielle Post on March 29, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    These overalls look so good on you. You should be proud of this work, it looks so good and for the fact you made trousers as a first project I take my hat of to you 🙂

  18. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    This is such a great look! I absolutely love the lining fabric that you chose

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