Woman standing in front of a white back ground in navy sailor pants and white shirt.

Our 229 Sailor Pants originate from those worn by WWII Navy seamen. The back-story behind this pattern is that a veteran of WWII came to Isabelle Lott (long-time pattern grader for Folkwear) because he wanted to wear his Sailor Pants to his squadron reunion.  However, he no longer fit in the pants.  Isabelle drafted a pattern from his original pants and graded them to fit.  Then, Folkwear was able to use her pattern to make these 229 Sailor Pants!

cover of pattern - black and white illustration of a woman and man meeting in front of a ship construction site wearing sailor pants
Cover illustration by Candii Kismet

This style and design have been worn as part of the Navy uniform, or "Crackerjack" uniform, for many decades; and the nautical style influenced fashion for more than half a century. These iconic high-waisted, bell bottom pants are loaded with all the elements and details of the original, such as the distinctive buttoned front flap closure, lace-up back eyelet gusset, back welt pocket, and inner leg godet. A small hidden coin pocket is tucked neatly in the front waistband seam. All the details of this pants design reflect the practical sensibilities of a uniform combined with a casual sophistication that remains timeless. 

Our pattern is intended to be worn by men or women.  Sizing is based on waist measurements, and we provide finished waist, hip, and upper thigh measurements.  Don't forget that the back gusset provides an extra couple of inches at the waist if needed.  And, the pattern can be graded between sizes.  For example, if you are a size 34 at the waist, but 38 at the hip, you can pencil a line from the waist to smoothly go to 38 at the hip.  You can keep the waistband pieces the same as for the waist size.  See the sizing and yardage chart here.

Some of the distinct features: 

  • Classic front buttoned flap closure. This is where you can really give these pants your personal touch.  Use 12 to 16 buttons of whatever fun types you want!  
close up of button flap front of navy sailor pants
  • Lace-up back eyelet gusset.  The main idea behind this feature, originally, was that men could just untie the back and slip the pants down as needed.  However, depending on how the pants fit and your body shape, you just loosen your ties and open one side - so that you don't have to unbutton all the buttons to get in and out.  And, you can make your own eyelets!
close up of back lace up eyelet gusset
  • Back welt pocket.  We use a different (and simpler) welt pocket technique for these pants - and you can see how to do it in our blog post about welt pockets.  (This pocket is also optional)
close up of back welt pocket on navy sailor pants
  • Inner leg godet. To get the full bell-bottom look, the inner leg godet adds a bit more flare to the leg.  You can also leave this off for a smaller flare and a more typical leg shape. 
close up of inner leg godet on navy sailor pants
  • Hidden front coin pocket.  There is a small pocket hidden below the waistband in the front, behind the button flap - perfect for stashing a key or some coins.  This is also optional, but a fun detail.
close up of front with hand in coin pocket on navy sailor pants
  • Topstitching.  There is extensive topstitching that you can do around the front flap, back gusset, and waistband.  We have it marked on the pattern and have a whole section in the instructions to help you with this.
If any of this sounds intimidating, don’t worry.  We have clear and concise instructions included in the pattern, and we’re going to be offering a sew along in a few weeks so we can help you navigate the process.  
We will also have blog posts coming soon with history, fabric suggestions, notion and tool suggestions/suppliers, as well as some ways to make these pants truly yours with fun details.  For some inspiration, check out our Pinterest board!