To be honest, I was never that much into nautical fashion, nor that fond of wide-leg pants. I changed my mind, however, after browsing the 1934 issues of Allers Mönster-Tidning. Suddenly I felt compelled to make a pair of wide-leg sailor pants. I remembered seeing a pattern for sailor pants in one of my older Burda magazines. Although the rise is probably lower than on real vintage pants, overall they look pretty classic to me. And they have a real bip instead of merely decorative buttons! The bib comes with its own set of issues, though, but more about that later.
As my stash does not contain many fabrics suitable for pants, I was tempted to order some light-weight wool or other classic bottomwear fabric. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to go through my stash one more time and in one of the boxes in the basement I found 2m of plain dark blue denim. While I am quite good at memorizing the patterned fabrics in my stash, I had completely forgotten about this denim. If I remember correctly, I picked up for 1 or 2 EUR at one of the charity shops around where my parents live.
Constructing the pants was easier than expected. Beforehand I was a worried about the bib, but I just took it step by step and did not encounter any problems. The bib is fully functioning and hides a zipper in the center front. The zipper keeps the pants safely closed and makes sure not all the strain is on the buttons.
If I ever make these pants again, though, I might opt for a side zipper, because getting in and out of these pants is a bit of a hassle. Even though I do not need to unbutton the lowest two buttons, I still have to deal with a hook, six buttons and a zipper. No beer drinking recommended in these pants! Looking at the pictures, I also think it would have been nicer to have another button at the waistband instead of the hook. Oh well, not sure if I can be botherered to exchange it.
Sewing denim calls for contrasting top stitching and buttonholes, which was somewhat nerve-racking. I started out with some really nice Gütermann thread that my mum gave me, but as I went along I discovered that the thread was broken in several places. Not sure how that happened (old age, perhaps?), but I decided to use it anyway. Once I ran out, I continued with jeans thread from Stoff & Still, but even though it is the same colour, it lacks the luster and definition of the Gütermann thread.
As is often the case, the project stalled when most of the sewing was done, in this case because I had doubts about the fit. Unfortunately, I cut the fabric before I learnt that the distance from my waist to my hips is a bit longer than the average person’s, so they sit lower on the hip than I had intended. Every time I tried on the pants, I had the tendency to pull them up to my waist so it seemed like the bib was too short. It was difficult to assess the fit before the buttons were sewn on and the bib still has a dip in the center. The worst thing, however, are the crotch whiskers.
While the photograph in the magazine is not very clear, it does seem like there is some pulling at the crotch too, so it might be a drafting issue. I should also say that, as a person who does not usually wear wide-leg trousers, I had some trouble finding out how they are supposed to fit. As the legs felt very baggy to me, I took in both the inner and outer leg seams, which may have distorted the bib. Now, I have to say that I did not notice the whiskers before taking pictures and even got some compliments on the pants when wearing them in public, so hopefully they are not that conspicuous in real life.
Despite the fit issues, I am happy with how my first pair of sailor pants turned out. They are so comfortable and I really like the heavy duty look of the denim in combination with the metal buttons. Although the fabric is too heavy for the warmest summer weather, the pants are still quite breezy because of their wide legs. I am definitely interested in making more wide-leg pants in the future. And I might need a matching nautical top!
Heavy-weight denim: thrifted
Paisley viscose: thrifted and salvaged from an earlier project (see also the ruffle blouse I made for my daughter)
Metal buttons: from stash
Top stiching thread: Gütermann and Stoff & Stil