All posts for the month August, 2012

It doesn’t sound too hard, does it, to buy a pair of coveralls that fit? Well, I am female….

Years ago, I purchased a pair of navy blue size 38 regular Dickies coveralls for use around the house and garage. They got about 10 minutes of use before they were ditched for old jeans and a ratty tshirt. Why? Remember what I said about coveralls that fit?

Admittedly, there aren’t quite as many women wearing coveralls as there are guys out there, so it’s no surprise that a decently-fitting pair is hard to come by. Add in that a fair number of the women out there who do wear coveralls aren’t built like Lauren Bacall, and you have a market that isn’t all that attractive to coveralls makers. Because it consists of about four total women.

The difference between coveralls for men and coveralls for women is easy to spot. Women’s coveralls have room for boobs and butts. They also have shorter back-waists – the distance from the collar to the waistline. Mine went into the bin-of-things-we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with because minus the boob and butt room and being too long on the top, I was spending more time adjusting them than a Major League Baseball player spends adjusting his you-know-whats.

Last summer, I was going through that bin and pulled out the coveralls. Hmm, project? Sure! I’d already re-sized and significantly altered a two-layer Nomex suit for racing cars, how hard could a pair of coveralls be? The good designers at Dickies were a lot more serious about these things staying together than peeps over at Speed Sport Racing! The coveralls took me over eight hours simply to dismantle to the point that alteration could begin. Adding to the mess was the most complex elastic waist I’ve ever seen, one that requires a special machine to properly install. I got the bulk of the fitting done over the next few weeks, but the elastic waist and its complexity beat me, and I put the project on hold for a while.

Until today.

Alterations are typically bread and butter work for a seamstress. Relatively simply even when complex, and rarely requiring more than a few pins here or there to set up seams. Occasionally, you get something over the top, and you have to resort to machine basting. At the very tip-top of annoying and difficult seams come the ones you have to hand baste – sew by hand before you sew them properly with a machine. I had set aside the annoying elastic waist when exuberant pinning did not solve the problem. Sometime in the winter, I took a stab at it with machine basting. Today, I sucked in a lot of air and got out the pin cushion and thread: I would hand baste this thing and finish it off. Four hours later, three spent out in my garden in the sunshine, and I was rewarded for my effort with a pair of very stock-looking, properly fitting coveralls.

They look completely off-the-shelf. I like that. I just wish they had been off-the-shelf to begin with!