Introduction: Tall Guy Mods: Overall Extender
"How's the weather up there?" "Did you play basketball?" "I wish I had some of your height", "It must be nice to be that tall"...just a few of the questions and comments I get almost daily. Being tall definitely has it's perks, but it's also got it's downsides - like when you smack your head on the ceiling fan/light fixture or try to fit in any vehicle other than a full size SUV (with the seat moved all the way back) or when you try to find clothes that fit...
I'm 6'6" and am currently at my heaviest, tipping the scale at 190 lbs. For the past 15 years, I've been this height and for the majority of those years I was lucky to weigh in at 170 soaking wet. Needless to say I'm on the slender side of the scale. Finding clothes that fit properly is nearly impossible without breaking the bank. I currently wear a 34" waist, and I can find 36" inseam jeans online, but even those are too short at times. So, since high school I have resorted to wearing my pants much lower than my true waistline, just to avoid having all my pants look like capris. But enough about regular clothes, this instructable is about some work wear. I've owned these insulated bib overalls for around 10 years now. They are a size Medium Tall. When I first got them, I wore them all day at work, because I was doing a lot of stuff outside at the motorcycle shop. By the end of the day, my shoulders were so sore. It felt like I had been carrying a backpack loaded with bricks all day long. I unhooked the shoulder straps and got instant relief. I knew that the straps were too short, so I put on my MacGyver thinking hat and came up with a solution. ZIPTIES!! I looped a ziptie through each buckle and hooked it under the button. It was better, but it still needed a bit more and the strap was twisted a bit because of how the zip tie went through the buckle. I added another small ziptie to add a bit of length and straighten the strap out. I used them like this for the next several years, but it still wasn't right. I haven't needed these for the past couple years, but I plan to do some wood cutting this winter, so I figured I'd do this right and get some adjustability back in the straps.
Step 1: Gather Materials
These overall shoulder straps are made from a small piece of elastic and duck cloth sewn to a buckle. My solution is to remove the short section of elastic and sew in a longer piece of elastic.
- heavy duty elastic
- thread color of choice
- sewing machine (or needle and thread)
- seam ripper or razor blade
- 30-45 minutes
The original elastic was just over 1-3/4" inches wide. The fabric store was sold out of 2" black elastic, so I opted to go with 1-1/2" elastic. I could have purchased a thread that matched, but I already had black and black goes with everything.
Step 2: Rip It Apart
The elastic was originally sewn on before the garment was turned right side out. Therefore, you can't see any of the stitching that is holding it together. If you pull the elastic over, you can see the stitches. It's just a matter of cutting these with a seam ripper. If you don't have a seam ripper, you can use a razor blade, just be careful not to cut yourself or into the fabric. Rip any of the stitching that is holding the elastic and remove the elastic. Pull out any of the small thread remnants of the old stitching.
Step 3: Sew It Together
To figure out how long the new elastic needs to be, put the overalls on and buckle the strap section to the front of the bibs. Adjust the buckle/strap to the middle so that you'll have some adjustablity after everything is sewn together. If you have a helper have them pinch the elastic between the fabric on the back panel where the old elastic once was. If you don't have a helper, attach the elastic to the back panel first by either pinning it or sewing it on. Lay the elastic over your shoulder. While holding the buckled strap up to your chest, mark the length needed to give you a comfortable fit and cut two pieces of elastic.
The sewing could be done by hand. If you choose that route, I'd recommend a two needle saddle stitch, as the two needle method tends to be a bit quicker (at least for me). Measure out enough thread to cover 5-6 times the width of the strap. Thread two needles, pulling the thread so that both ends are the same length. Tie the two ends of the thread together. You should now have a "loop" of thread with two needles on it. Pull the needles away from each other, positioning the knot in the middle. Insert the elastic between the layers of fabric. Pierce one needle from the inside to the outside of the fabric near the edge. Pull the needle until the knot is against the inside of the strap/back panel. With the same needle, make a 1/8"-1/4" long stitch, only pushing the needle halfway through the fabric. Now, take the other needle and push it the opposite direction through the same hole. Pull both needles until the thread is tight. Repeat this process the entire length of the stitch. Tie a knot after the last stitch and pull both needles back through the fabric. Trim the thread close to the fabric to trap the ends of the thread in the fabric. Repeat for the remaining ends of elastic that need to be attached.
Machine sewing is much faster if you have a machine. Make sure your thread tension is correct. I also had to loosen the presser foot tension a bit because of the thickness of the multiple layers of fabric. Remember to position things so that your top stitch is the one that will be visible when you are wearing the overalls. The bottom stitch doesn't always look as good as the top stitch.
Enjoy your manly (or womanly) modified, ultra roomy, non weight-of-the-world-on-your-shoulders overalls. Now get back to work!!!
I've got a few other 'Tall Guy Mod' ideas and will add to that series of instructables when I get around to those projects. Thanks for reading through and feel free to ask any questions. Also, I've entered this into the Winter Wearables contest. I'd appreciate your vote.