Make it slightly less simple: Tilly’s Safiya dungarees

Tilly Walnes’ third book ‘Make It Simple’ has been, unsurprisingly, a huge success. The premise of the book is to make sewing less complicated with its six ‘easy, speedy sewing projects to stitch up in an afternoon.’

I love a good bargain, and this book is a brilliant investment. For £25 you get the six patterns mentioned, but each one has a number of variations included on the pattern sheets, and there are more suggestions for you to create yourself too. The designs are really varied including pyjamas, day dresses and a more tailored pinafore dress, but here I’m going to talk about a pattern I’ve fallen hard for: the Safiya.

Safiya is originally in the book as a pair of loose-fitting trousers, but it’s the two variations that have got me! There’s a cross-front jumpsuit that has a partially elasticated waist like the trousers, and loose-fitting dungarees that you cinch with a belt.

True to the aim of the book, the construction is so straightforward. This is such an easy sew and you can really zone out and just enjoy the process. The shape is nice and loose, so fitting isn’t an issue, although this is where I took some of the ease out of the process. The dungarees have no fastenings (which is partly what makes it such an easy sew), but I wanted the top part to be closer fitting than the trousers, so I cut the top a size 2 and the trousers a size 3. This means it can’t slip on, so for my toile I added a little invisible zip to the side seam. Although it added in an extra step (and one that isn’t explained in the instructions so you have to work it out yourself), I’m glad I went for the more fitted top; it’s still a relaxed fit without being overly baggy, and I’ve been living in these recently!

The current situation has changed a lot of our approaches to our daily wardrobe, and although I’m all for comfortable clothes for working from home, I’m not a loungewear/pyjamas person. I feel better wearing comfortable but smart clothes, and the Safiya ticks this box perfectly, so I decided another pair was on the cards…but with a twist.

The zip on my toile doesn’t go past the waistline seam, so I realised I could give the top a button-up front to add a nice detail, and I also gave it a slight ‘v’ shape rather than the straight horizontal shape of the original design. I took a gamble and tried it with some amazing Lady McElroy cotton I got from Sew Me Sunshine about 18 months ago. I’d been too afraid to cut it until now, and I’m so glad I took a punt on this! The fabric and pattern work perfectly together, and it means I get to wear this really special fabric as part of my everyday wardrobe; why save the good stuff for occasion wear, eh?

Tilly and the Buttons Safiya dungarees with buttons

Tilly and the Buttons Safiya dungarees close up of buttons

4 thoughts on “Make it slightly less simple: Tilly’s Safiya dungarees

  1. Hi Alice! I love this button up hack on the Safiya dungarees! I am in the midst of doing a button up hack to the Ogden cami as per your very helpful tutorial — would you use the same basic technique to hack the dungas? Love all your stuff!
    – Katie (Ottawa, Canada)

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  2. Love these versions! I just bought the make it simple book and can’t wait to have a crack at the Safiya Dungers! Thanks for the inspo 😍

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  3. Hi. These look great. I am also planning to make my top a size smaller than the bottom for my safiya. Can you confirm how you did this. Did you grade the top out so at the top it was a 2 but then it got bigger as it went so that where the top and bottom meet are the same size? (I hope my explanation makes sense). Or if not how did you join the top and bottom together when the top is smaller.

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