229 Sailor Pant Sew Along: Day One

Folkwear's newest pattern! Cover illustration by the talented, Candii Kismet.

Folkwear is excited to start the sew along for our new pattern, 229 Sailor Pants - just in time for fall sewing.  Read about the pattern and history of the sailor pants to get a feel for the pattern and learn about its history.  In the 229 Sailor Pants sew along, all the unique details, elements, and construction will be broken down into eleven detailed and manageable sessions.  We will learn and have fun making these uniquely constructed and flattering pant. I hope you will join me for this sew along and create a bit of nautical sewing history of your own!

Back & Front Illustration of Folkwear229 Sailor Pant


Below is an outline schedule to help you prepare for what you will be making each day of the sew along.  

Sew Along Schedule

Day 1: (today) Preparation- select size, selecting and preparing fabric, getting to know the pattern, prepare the pattern

Day 2: Cutting and assembly of the front and back of the pant

Day 3: Adding a welt pocket to the back waistband

Day 4: Waistband and waistband curtain.

Day 5: The front buttonhole facing and attaching it to the pant

Day 6: The front dart gusset and attaching it to the pant

Day 7: Front coin pocket option and adding waistbands to pants

Day 8: The center back gusset and back eyelet facing

Day 9: Pant assembly and leg godet

Day 10: Topstitching

Day 11: Finishing the details (button placement, making eyelets, and hemming)

Materials you will need.

Folkwear 229 Sailor Pant Sizing Fabric and Supplies

  • Fabric
  • Lining if not using your main fabric (optional)
  • Thread for sewing
  • Thread for top stitching, if adding top stitching (optional)
  • Buttons (12-16 depending on size and personal preference)
  • Button twist for sewing on buttons (optional)
  • A small scrap of fusible interfacing (6"x 5" (15cm x 13cm) is needed)
  • Seam binding (bias tape) for finishing seam edges (optional)
  • Embroidery thread for making eyelets
  • An embroidery needle
  • 36" (91cm) of laces, rat tail, or ribbon for lacing back gusset 

... and all the usual tools and notions: pins, scissors, pattern weights, pencil for tracing, measuring tape or ruler, iron and ironing board. And a sewing machine in good working order. A serger is always nice for finishing seams and edges, but not essential to this project - you can zigzag any seam edges to finish on a regular machine.

First, get your Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants Pattern, and think about any sizing and lengthening considerations you may want to implement.  The coin and welt pockets are optional. The leg godets are optional, too. Read the pattern instructions to familiarize yourself with the pattern, and have a close look at all the possible considerations before we start.

Fabric & Design Details

Our pattern comes from an original WWII Navy sailor pant, made of Melton wool. Originally, sailor pants were made as work-wear from fabrics such as denim and cotton canvas. These fabrics were common and are still good choices. For the purpose of this sew along, woven fabric is recommended. Due to the slashes we will be making, a fairly tightly woven fabric would be best. A fabric that wants to spread once cut will not be the best choice for the first time you try this project. There are also areas in this project where the layers of fabric can get thick, making a mid-weight fabric easier to work with.  Check out our fabric suggestions for this pattern for some good ideas.

Note: Whenever I am on the fence about a fabric weight choice, I consider the areas where the garment will gain thickness due to layering or turning. Fold the fabric the number of layers that will occur, hold the layers between your finger to help you gauge the thickness. Decide if this thickness is too bulky or ok? You can always use a hammer to help with the matter (reduce bulk), which is actually a legitimate tailoring technique.

To ensure a fabric will be easy to work with, look for mid-weight cotton twill, cotton canvas, denim, broadcloth, flannel, etc. Linen and wool are good choices too.  For this sew along, I am using a Cotton Sanded Twill in Gray, which has a 60" (154cm) width. We have stocked this fabric because it is ideal for making this pant. This Sanded Twill also comes in Navy. Have a look at the Fabric Suggestions for the 229 Sailor pant on our blog.

When picking out your fabric remember that this pattern is loaded with details and elements just waiting for your creative inspiration. Have fun with the lining and welt pocket pieces … add a bit of unexpected whimsy to be discovered in your design. The buttons, buttonhole stitching, eyelets, and top stitching can be subtle or a feature that stands out. Try your hand at some fine finishing techniques too. I will be adding a bound seam to the back gusset, to finish it off. There are so many details in this pants design just waiting for an special added touch.

Once you have decided on a fabric, consult the size and yardage requirement chart on the back of the pattern.

Sizing, Yardage, and Adjustment Considerations

The 229 Sailor Pant pattern is intended for both women and men. Sizing is is based on waist measurements (sizes 30-42), and the sizing chart provided includes the finished measurements for waist, hip, and upper thigh measurements. Start with the waist measurement you require, and then consider the hip and upper thigh measurements next. This pattern can also be graded between sizes. For example, if your waist measurement is 34" (86cm) at the waist, but you measure 38" (97cm) at the hip, you can pencil in a line from the waist to smoothly go to the 38" (97cm) measurement at the hip. This will allow you to keep the waistband pieces the same as for the waist size. See the sizing and yardage chart (also below) and on the back of the pattern, to help you decide your size and the amount of yardage needed.

Folkwear 229 Sailor pant Sizing chart

The leg of the 229 Sailor Pant is a bit different in construction from most pants designs. This design has no side seam. The inner lower leg seam also incorporates a godet to achieve the classic bell-bottom look. Because of the godet feature, most leg length adjustments should happen at the designated "Shorten or Lengthen Here" line printed on the leg portion of the pattern.

If you need to shorten the leg length, fold the pattern up into a pleat along the adjustment line equal to 1/2 the measurement you wish to shorten. Pin or tape your pattern into place. You do not need to cut your pattern, just take up the extra length by folding up a pleat.

To lengthen, slash along the adjustment line; place extra paper underneath and spread the split pattern pieces to equal the measurement required; pin or tape the extra paper to the pattern pieces to secure.

Note: You can eliminate the godet for a smaller leg flare and a more typical leg silhouette.  This also allows for more adjustment in length at the hem.

The crotch length can easily be adjusted in the same manner, using the adjustment lines labeled "Lengthen or Shorten Here" printed on the pattern. Follow the same instructions outlined above to adjust (lengthen or shorten) your pattern piece at the crotch.  These pants are high-waisted, and a quick muslin can help you decided if you need adjustments.

Note: If making any sizing adjustments to the pattern pieces, yardage requirements may change.

Have a look at the instructions as to how the pattern pieces layout, as well as the width of the fabric. Purchase enough fabric, depending on the yardage width, for the size you require.

Note: Making a muslin is recommended when trying a new pattern for the first time, especially when making adjustments. Feel free to Sew Along using an inexpensive fabric first.

Prepare Your Fabric

Once you have your fabric, it is a good idea to test for washability and shrinkage. Cut a small swatch 3"x4" (8cm x 10cm)  of fabric from the corner of your yardage. Place the swatch on a piece of paper and trace around it. Keep the tracing for a reference. Wash and dry your swatch the way you intend on laundering your finished garment. Now, lay the swatch back down on the tracing and compare. Did the swatch shrink? Did the fabric change in an unacceptable way?  If your yardage shrank in a substantial way, you may need more yardage or a different fabric. This little test helps to eliminate any unfortunate surprises resulting in disappointment.

If you are fine with your swatch test, go ahead and prepare to wash and dry your yardage according to how you intend to launder the final garment, or according to any care instructions that the fabric requires.

Before you wash, you can serge the raw edges, or sew a straight stitch or long basting stitch, to the raw edges of your fabric yardage. This will prevent your fabric from unraveling and getting tangled, when being put through the rigors of washing and drying.

After you launder your fabric, determine the right side of the fabric.  If it is not apparent, you can choose which will be the right side. Thread a needle with a bit of contrasting thread and catch a few threads of the right side of the fabric, in the selvage.  Tie the marking thread off with a few tiny knots to secure. This step can save a lot of time second guessing yourself on which is the right side.

Give your fabric a good pressing, not only to smooth it out so the pattern will lay down well, but to force yourself to give the fabric one last inspection before you lay out your pattern.

Trace off your pattern

In order to preserve your pattern and keep it intact, consider tracing off the pattern size you require and make any adjustments needed on the traced pattern and not on the original. News print or a roll of paper will work. However, Swedish tracing paper is really fabulous for this. Swedish tracing paper behaves like a cross between paper and fabric. It is durable (will take endless pinning and folding) and, is transparent enough to make tracing your pattern easy. It takes both pencil and ink well. It irons well too. 

Trace and cut your pattern out accurately. Be sure to add all notches, dots, and instructional markings too.

Join me for Day 2 of the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pant Sew Along!