Hot! The “Little Lumberjack” Outfit

image from

Simplicity 3536 The Facts

Fabric:  Crisp cotton plaid fabric found antiquing $7 for 3 yards; denim ~$1, thrifted
Patterns: Simplicity 3536, ~$1
Year: c. 1941
Notions: buttons for shirt, two bakelite buttons for skirt, invisible zipper, lace – ~$3
Time to complete: 8 hours
First worn: April 2011
Wear again? Yes and Yes!

Total Cost: ~$12


image from

The moment that this challenge was born, I knew I'd be using this photo as my inspiration. I believe this overall/shirt outfit was a gift from my Aunt and Uncle (though I don't know how I would remember this considering I'm only two and a half when this photograph was taken in March 1980).  This outfit appears in many of my childhood photos, so it was certainly well-loved and well-worn. 

While I wanted to be true to the original ensemble, I was pretty confident that I wouldn't be making overall pants. I have a great 1940s overalls pattern that I briefly considered, but ultimately I went with Simplicity 3536, a 1940s jumper that would be a little more wearable and a little more derriere friendly. I like overalls and I actually would wear them, but really, how often do you hear someone say "wow, those overalls really make her butt look small."

I made two modifications to the pattern. The first, and most obvious, is that I changed the jumper bib to suspenders. I do like the bibbed jumper but for this challenge I wanted to stay true to the original inspiration. The second, less obvious, change is that I didn't add cuffs to the blouse sleeves. There wasn't anything but pure laziness behind that decision.

The skirt. I'm so proud of the skirt! Usually I have no patience for details and will omit seemingly useless things like pockets. The pockets on this pattern, however, were just too cute to skip. So I took the time to cut out the pieces, follow the instructions (even pleat them like the instructions called for!) and not rush through their construction. I think the pockets make the skirt and I love them! I even used two bakelite buttons that I've had in my stash for quite some time. You know when the bakelite buttons come out, it's quality time.

I'm quite happy with the results. I absolutely love it when I can make something from a seventy year-old pattern that doesn't end up looking costumey or incredibly out of style. And, just like the original little outfit from 1980, I can imagine that this outfit will be well-worn as well. 

image from

image from

image from


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


Comments are closed.

  1. this is so cute and fun Mena! I was some what worried about this weeks challenge I coildn’t really get my head around it but seeing your outfit this morning has made it all clear!

  2. Oh, this is simply adorable! (Both the original outfit and your new take on it!) Lovely!

  3. OMG, is that you or is that your daughter???

  4. I think this is so brilliant, cheerful and rocking vintage, I love everything about it.

  5. This is so cute – it is great how you have recreated a childhood favourite – love it, love it!

  6. I love it and agree it’s not costumey. I’d wear it…to kick up a notch, I’d do red top-stitching maybe even use the golden jeans thread….

  7. oh my!! I love this Mena. Too too cute… and too too wearable. How is that possible! I think I’ve hit a rut this week. arrgh! But now that I’ve seen this… I must dig myself out of it and get sewing! Thanks for the kick up the backside!

  8. really really cute! I had a jean jumper in college and I wore that thing to death!! You are so inspiring.

  9. That really does look like Penelope and not you! But I digress…great choice for a challenge AND yours came out so awesome! Those pockets are to die for. And suspender skirts are the cutest.

  10. Love, Love, Love this! those pockets are SO LOVELY and the blouse looks fabulous too (and is that a bit more of the lace on the collar?) Fantastic! I absolutely ADORE the photo of you with victory rolls and 40’s sunglasses!!!

  11. So cute and fun!!! Love it!

  12. Your post title inspired a completely involuntary outburst of “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay!”
    Very cute outfit! I love that you recreated an outfit from your youth; it reminded me a lot of Irina Werning’s “Back To The Future” sets!

  13. What a great outfit, I love it. The pockets do make the skirt because it would have been plain but it is so eye catching because of the pockets. And, I too, thought that was your daughter at first. She is a “Mini Me” of you.

  14. I love everything about this outfit!!
    That pattern! *swoon* added to my wish list!

    oh. can’t breathe.
    and, ha: “but really, how often do you hear someone say “wow, those overalls really make her butt look small.” absolutely perfect new take on this!

  16. I love this ..cute, cute, cute… and you really took the inspiration well.. Goes so well with the minnie you look..great idea.. love the plaid shirt too.. You did a great job..

  17. Adorable! Now I really want to go and look for my pictures, and see if I can’t come up with a good outfit to make.

  18. lol @ Oonaballoona!
    Cute! I love the pockets!

  19. I love this so much! It’s so perfect!

  20. Thanks, Charlotte! I could imagine that the challenge would seem a little weird without an example. I’m glad this outfit has made it clear!

  21. Thanks, Kat! I hope you have fun with this one!

  22. Yeah, we look a lot alike. That’s what genes will do!

  23. Thanks, Kazz! It really feels vintage without being over-the-top.

  24. Thanks, Debbie! I’m so glad it worked — it could have been quite bad.

  25. Thanks! That would be a nice touch.

  26. Thanks, Casey! I’m glad to give you a bit of a kick. I think we should all just have fun with this challenge and not worry about being too literal. You’ll do great!

  27. Thanks, Jessie! I hope this gets much use.

  28. Thanks, Lisette! The pockets are really quite great. And they were pretty easy to make. They’re just pleated and stitched directly onto the skirt. I want to make this skirt again for next week! :)

  29. Very cute. You look so much like your daughter in that old photo.

  30. Thanks, Debi! That’s a different lace I have — it’s more of a crocheted lace. I actually did two photo shoots on the same day and couldn’t resist putting a shot in with the victory rolls. I’m glad you liked them :) Your photo from last week inspired me to take some time to do my hair.

  31. Thanks, Rachelle! I actually took a shot where I was in front of a red car and holding a yellow balloon but it didn’t make the cut. :)

  32. Thanks, Sue! Yeah, and there are photos where she even looks more like me. We get a kick out of making her guess whether its her or me in pictures.

  33. Thanks, Lauren! This pattern has you written all over it! :)

  34. Thanks, Oona! I’m glad you appreciated the overalls butt joke. I try. :)

  35. Thanks, Judy! It was really fun to create.

  36. Thanks, seeks! I hope people have a blast with this one!

  37. Thanks, Catherine!

  38. Thanks Erin! By the way, you never sent me your address for the pattern giveaway from last month! (Or at least I didn’t receive it!)

  39. This is so cute! Perfect for summer!

  40. Adorable and I love those pockets!

  41. Yay! I’d wear this in a heartbeat! Love the pockets, so worthwhile! I’m a little like you, why bother with pockets or other little details if you don’t need them? Seriously they just add to the whole outfit, I’m not going to overlook them in any future patterns!

  42. love love love! This looks fantastic. If you ever get tired of that skirt, I will totally take it off your hands – hehe! Great work!

  43. Wonderful! I love this one on you. I love the victory rolls they look great on you.