The curious remains of my husband’s Lee jeans

But how did they end up like this?

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and Ted

  1. Did I seek revenge because I caught him using my dressmaking scissors to cut his toe nails?
  2. Was he attacked by a gang of middle aged women all wanting his body?
  3. Did we leave our 3 year old unattended for an hour with access all areas?

Sorry to disappoint, it’s none of the above, nothing that exciting happens around here.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and Ted

What really happened was I cut them up to make my daughter some jeans. Upcycling, to make a positive impact on the environment, reduce my carbon footprint and all that, and because you just can’t get the worn in, beaten up, slightly faded, uneven colouring denim in the fabric shops, so my husband’s jeans were perfect in a non perfect way. But that reason comes secondary – of course.

My thing

I made these dungarees before, during and after I made the Jagger Jeans. I had the idea in my head that jeans were going to be ‘my thing’. Everything I made was going to be denim. Indigo was going to be my new favourite colour. Yeah, ok, that didn’t happen, but I am still in love with denim and making jeans is a thing that I would like to do a lot more of.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and Ted

Sometime later

It took me 5 months to complete the dungarees you see before you, there was more stopping and starting than a defective train on the London Underground. All sorts of things went wrong. And I spent far too long trying to rectify all those things that went wrong.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and TedSo why did they take so long?

It was my intention to make some Small Fry Skinny Jeans for my then 7 year old. But clearly you can see this little gorgeous girl (with attitude) is not a 7 year old and she is not wearing skinny jeans.

Unfortunately, the Small Fry Skinny Jeans did not fit my 7 year old. ‘Skinny’ being the operative word.


  • It could have been that after 5 months my 7 year old had grown somewhat. (I’m sure her legs grow at least 5cm every night in her sleep.)
  • It could have been that I completely cut out the wrong size. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)
  • It could have been that I didn’t use stretch denim (as recommended in the pattern). But ‘If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun’.

It could have been all of the above, I don’t actually know what went wrong, but I do know that I needed a solution, because the jeans were looking too good to be left and forgotten in a pile of unfinished projects.

Before I fully assembled the jeans I could see that they were looking too slim, when I tried them on my 7 year old they were far too narrow around the hips – FAIL!!!

I was not satisfied with the obvious panel down the side solution because I was going for more of a classic look. The rise would be too long if I wanted them to now fit my 3 year old. So after 2 months of trying to come up with a satisfactory solution, I decided upon a pair of dungarees. Where the long rise would enhance the design and I could still go for the classic look that I was desperate to maintain.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and Ted

The only problem being I had limited fabric left to play with so I had to be clever with the design. I used the original pocket for the front pocket but had to make it smaller and change the shape so it didn’t look out of proportion. I added a triangle flap for a bit of quirkiness and lined the whole top panel with a solid mustard yellow fabric, a fancy print would have been out of the question for the classic look I was going for.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and Ted

I also used the original waistband but removed the belt loops and used the extra length to wrap around and fasten at the back with hammer on buttons.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and TedI spent over a week trying to shorten a metal zip, that I will never ever, not ever attempt again. (Just look at that dog-eared zip edge, how on earth was a zip stop going to clamp back on that?). In the end I didn’t need a zip for the dungarees and had to remove it. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and TedI’m not entirely satisfied with how I finished off the side opening because it gapes too much and reveals the mustard fabric, but at least it doesn’t show underwear.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and Ted

All in all I think the dungarees look pretty cool but for 2 months Scout point blank refused to wear them. I persevered and she eventually came round to loving nearly as much as I do.

Small fry Dungarees ♥ Needle and TedI find it immensely satisfying sewing jeans. It’s hard to explain how it feels to make your first pair. The hard wearing quality of denim fabric, how it gets better with age. The top stitching thread that gives it lift and depending on the colour can give it a modern, classic or vintage feel. The accessories that are perfect for denim; brass dungaree clips, hammer on buttons (hammering is obligatory), rivets, metal zips. You feel a great sense of achievement when you have finished and you are filled with an urge to make more and more.

I also love that even people who know you sew don’t ever expect that you have/could/would make a pair of jeans.

I have more denim projects in the pipeline, and if you follow me on Instagram you will already know what’s coming next.

Have you ever made a pair of jeans? Did you get the same sense of satisfaction as I got?


21 thoughts on “The curious remains of my husband’s Lee jeans

  1. You did a wonderful job upcycling your hubby’s jeans into dungarees for your daughter. All your topstitching looks wonderful. I did attempt to make jeans and dungarees for my kids and nieces and nephews when they were little. One pair of bib overalls (what we call your dungarees) was made from a brown canvas very similar to what men’s Carhartt brand coats and jackets are made from. I did lots of topstitching with the same golden brown jean topstitching thread. It turned out great. I was so proud of that finish. Of course the child they were originally intended for outgrew them before really wearing them. I saved them and passed them on to a friend’s young daughter who loved them as they reminded her of her daddy’s coats and pants. Thanks for sharing your finished project.


  2. I love any item of clothing wear you need to reduce the amount of clothing decision. Onesies, dresses and dungarees. The dungarees are fab I can’t believe you made them from a pair of jeans. She looks super cute in them. Up-cycling is the way 😀


  3. I really love dungarees, and these ones don’t disappoint. I actually like that gape of mustard fabric, but if you don’t could you add some hidden snaps? Or just sew them up – I bet they’d still fit on?


  4. I always love to read your post! I like your idea for the dungarees. Every detail is great. i think my favorite is the front pocket.I made a pair of skinny jeans for my daughter and they weren’t made in denim! but the satisfaction and the feeling “I can do anything” was very loud. Well done!


    • Thank you Maria, I particularly like the pocket too (and the topstitching of course). Glad you felt the same sense of satisfaction from sewing jeans. Don’t tell anyone but I even hung the dungarees on the wardrobe door for ages just to admire them and look at them ever day (seeing as my daughter wouldn’t wear them at first). 😉


  5. Oh Olu, you always make me laugh 🙂 And admire what you make. I think you have come up with a wonderful solution to your conundrum. I too would have hung them somewhere to admire 😉 Yes sewing jeans is very satisfying. I have only attempted it once but will definitely sew jeans again. Sewing swimmers left me feeling the same way, too.


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