“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair...”

Sailor pants and an upcoming sewing pattern...

Monday, December 18, 2017



Some of you who follow me on Instagram know I've been working on a pattern for wide leg sailor pants for over a year now. I thought the first pair was already pretty good, until I wore them more and discovered they were really very uncomfortable! Those pants were drafted using my measurements, but as I've learned through this exhausting process, things don't always fit as expected.  Even when pants fit, they may not look good or they have wrinkles in odd places. The fitting is especially difficult with non-stretch fabrics. I also wanted them to be very fitted in the waist and hips, with a high waist, where the waistband sits at the natural waistline.

Most people think a high waist is at or just below your belly button, because we're so used to wearing pants at the hip. But the natural waist usually hits a couple of inches above the belly button. I know this from all the years of sewing and studying historical clothing. In the mid-19th century, the waistline on a dress would sit at or just above the natural waistline. It's essentially the smallest part of your waist.

I really wanted these pants to have a very high fitted waist, without front darts or hip shaping. I love the sailor pants men wore in the early to mid 20th century. If you've ever looked at a pair of sailor pants from that era, they don't have side seams! So essentially, there is no hip shaping in these. Obviously those pants were designed for a man's body, but I wanted to see if I could borrow from that design while also making them flattering on a woman's more curvy shape. I'm sure you have seen the ever popular Kamm pants all over the internet and on instagram, and while I realize they aren't everyone's cup of tea, I really love the silhouette they give you. I've never seen the Kamm pants up close in person, but I've read that Jesse Kamm was inspired by men's 1940's sailor pants (On the Town comes to mind!) and wore them herself for years, which is what she used to design the Kamm pants. I wondered if there was a pattern for men's 1940's US sailor pants without the side seams, so I googled around and couldn't come up with anything. I decided to embark on the journey of drafting my own version. Countless muslins and several pants that are almost, but not quite good enough later and more drafting and MORE muslins and more fitting and... I think I finally have a pattern that I'm happy with! (Knock on wood...)

The pictures you see here are the pants I sewed up yesterday. I used a 10oz twill, which isn't actually what I want to use for the final pants. But I'm waiting on the fabric I ordered and this was all I had on hand. I also annoyingly forgot to cut the pants in a single layer (to help prevent "leg skew"). I still have the buttons to install, but so far they seem to fit quite well, despite possible leg skew.... I'm going to be making another pair in a 10oz cotton canvas which is what I plan to use for my final version. I also ordered a few other weights that I'm going to be experimenting with. We'll see how it goes and if it works as planned, I will start grading this pattern!

It has already been a huge challenge (which I never expected when I started), but on the plus side, bigger challenges generally produce the most rewarding results. At least that's what I keep telling myself!! I didn't want to rush this pattern and I still want to make sure it's just as I envision it before continuing to the next step. When I began this whole thing, it was simply so that I could have a pair of flattering wide leg pants for myself. But after posting pictures to my Instagram of my first draft over a year ago, I've had a lot of people ask me about a pattern. So you guys, that's the plan! I would love to say it will be ready in the spring or summer (or even earlier??) but I'm not going to push my luck. I'll take it one step at a time and maybe that means I'll work on another, more simple pattern if this one ends up taking more time. Maybe I'll be surprised and it will go smoothly from here on out!

If you're an intermediate to advanced sewer and are interested in testing my pattern, feel free to send me an email! I won't make the official call for pattern testers until I have the pattern graded and instructions written, but if you want to be notified when it's ready for testing, let me know and you'll be first in line!

If you've actually read this far, I applaud you! I wanted to just write what came naturally to mind, like I used to. I've been feeling more like blogging again and I'm going to try to find my voice, which I feel has been lost through the years. Instagram is lovely, but I don't feel like I can write very much in each picture and I find I need a place again to share more of my thoughts and ideas. I have so many ideas! Hopefully I will find time more often to write them down in this space. I hope to do lots more writing and creating in the new year. I hope whoever reads this will have a wonderful warm and happy holiday!