*This post was kindly sponsored by Folkwear Patterns, but all of the opinions/experiences herein are my own.*
When Folkwear Patterns asked me if I wanted to try my hand at their new sewing pattern, my immediate reaction to the design was a hard, “YES!”
Shortly thereafter, several important thoughts came to mind:
- I have never sewn pants more complex than basic pajama bottoms.
- This pattern has a lot of details I have never attempted before.
- This pattern has no side seams, I am inexperienced with sewing pants, and have no idea how I am going to fit these properly.
I’m really glad I didn’t let those feelings stop me and decided to challenge and push my sewing skills. Despite a muslin gone horribly and hilariously wrong (more on that later…), the results were worth the efforts!
About the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants Pattern
Drafted from an original pair of Melton wool WWII Navy sailor pants (part of the iconic “crackerjack” uniform), the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants sewing pattern is a unisex pattern featuring a, “…distinctive buttoned front flap closure, lace-up back eyelet gusset, back welt pocket, and inner leg godet”, plus a little hidden coin pocket at the front.
The pattern instructions include a brief history of the sailor uniform, or “rig”, that I really enjoyed reading. It gave me insight into why there are approximately two-thousand buttons on the front and the reason behind the distinctive bell-bottomed pant leg.
Plus, as a complete history nerd, I just really enjoyed learning something new about something I was about to make with my own two hands.
A Closer Look at the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants Pattern
The Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants sewing pattern is sized for both men and women, with waist sizes between 30-42 inches (about 76-107cm). Folkwear recommends you base your selected size by keeping the hip, waist, and upper-thigh measurements in mind. They have included both a sizing chart and a finished measurement chart to make the fitting process a little easier.
To sew, you’ll need medium to heavy weight woven fabric (I used a medium weight denim with a slight stretch that was in my stash), a lighter weight fabric for lining, 12-16 buttons (I ended up with 13 buttons total, 3/4″ (19mm) size, and a shoelace or cord. The pattern does have eyelets at the back, which you can stitch, but I actually suspect using small grommets might be nice as well. You’ll also need thread for topstitching, so if you’d prefer a contrasting topstitch detail, keep this in mind. The pattern suggests optional interfacing, but I didn’t use any.
The PDF pattern, which Folkwear kindly provided, has 21 pages for instructions and 50 pages for the pattern pieces. I did print this pattern at home because I live a bit of a ways from any print shops, but I do think it would be easier to have the pattern printed with the larger format.
Helpful tip: For sizes 30, 34, 38, and 42, you only need to print pages 5, 10-11, 15-16, 20-21, 25-50 (32 pages). For sizes 32, 36, and 40, you only need to print pages 1-25, 29-30-36, 40-41, 45-46, and 50 (33 pages). This can save you some ink and paper, and you can use the printed pattern layout page to make sure everything is aligned properly.
My Sewing Experience
Since I felt a slight disadvantage due to my lack of pants-sewing knowledge, I read the whole pattern before starting my muslin. I knew that these were meant to fit in a more straight up-and-down, boxy manner, but my waist to hip ratio (30-inch waist, 42-inch hips) means that I would end up with some pretty serious gaping at the waist if I didn’t grade in.
What I didn’t really consider, is that by omitting the lace-up gusset in the back from my muslin and grading between sizes 30 and 34 for the waist to hips, I was creating a mess for myself. Omitting the lace-up back was a perceived time-saver for the muslin, but in reality, it removed a lot of give in the waist, making the finished dimensions MUCH smaller.
So small, that I couldn’t even bring the waist together properly. Also, I forgot all about the note where they mention keeping the hip and thigh measurements in mind, so imagine my chagrin when I pulled up my muslin and the whole bib front basically wanted to tear off from how tight they were.
Take this as a warning, my friends: if you’d like to sew this pattern and you want to omit the back lace-up gusset, you will be removing at least an inch or two from the waistline. Especially when you consider that the lace-up back actually allows a 1-3 inch adjustment depending on how tightly you decide to pull the laces.
While this mistake worried me greatly, I sat on it for a few days and thought over how I would bring the waistline in if I went for a straight 34 size. I finally decided that there was a key area I could pull in the waist with a dart if I needed to, and cut into my final fabric.
I sewed the pattern pretty much as stated in the directions, and only omitted the inner leg godet because I was nervous about such a potentially wide bell bottom. This worked out well, and all I had to do was just sew the inseam all the way down.
The Welt Pocket
On the Folkwear website, the product page for the 229 Sailor Pants sewing pattern does have a note on it that I didn’t see, but ended up just fine in the end. That note is:
NOTE: To clarify the instructions and cutting layouts, the Welt Pocket (Piece I) should be cut from the main fabric if you want the welts to match the main fabric. Piece I will show on the outside of the pants.
Being inexperienced with welt pockets, I thought I would reduce bulk by cutting the welt pocket piece from my lining fabric (I used a quilting cotton scrap I had from a previous project). The result was that the welt pocket becomes a sort of design feature on the back, and I ended up really liking it. Take a look:
The Bib Front (and alllll those buttons!)
I found the bib front to be really easy in the end. Yes, it took a bit of time to to hand-sew 13 buttons on, but since I have a computerized sewing machine, buttonholes are very no-fuss.
The way the two flaps meet at the center and the front pulls up actually creates a nice flat front while wearing the garment, which I really liked.
Where I Added Darts to the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants
After I sewed up the straight size 34 and tried them on, I did have a lot of gaping at the waist. There isn’t a lot of real estate for putting in darts after the fact due to the flaps for the front bib, the coin pocket, and the welt pocket, so placement had to be strategic.
After pinning, I marked where I needed to insert the darts and unpicked just enough of the waistline to sew in the dart. The finished result actually created a sort of natural side seam:
After that, they fit like a dream.
Difficulty of Instructions
Overall, I think the instructions were easy to follow and guided me, a pants-beginner, smoothly through the process.
That said, I do think there were a few things that could be improved:
- The pattern instructions say “the pattern can be graded between sizes if you fit between sizes.” This pattern doesn’t have a side seam at all, so as a pants-beginner this caused me a bit of confusion. From what I understand about fitting pants, if you get the crotchlines messed up, you can have all sorts of weird bunching and whiskering issues. I was concerned that the only “seams” I could “grade” would be these inner seams. That’s what I did in my muslin and it ended up a total mess. Since I’m not familiar with pattern slicing to grade, it just wasn’t my first thought. My dart solution ended up working well for me though so it’s not a difficult hurdle to overcome!
- The welt pocket piece doesn’t say “main fabric” so I ended up being unsure which one I should choose, and ended up choosing the facing. For someone who didn’t fully understand the process, the welt pocket how-to post on the Folkwear website was super helpful and I did realize, before starting the pocket, that my lining fabric would be showing. I decided to go with it because I liked the look.
Other than that, I found it to be a great project that challenged my sewing skills, taught me some fun new techniques and garment closures (hello, lace-up gusset!), and ended up being a weekend sew.
And as an added bonus, Folkwear is currently hosting a sew-along for the 229 Sailor Pants pattern on their blog, with Day 1 just posted! They’ve also written up an entire post about the history of the pattern, plus a post about choosing the best fabric.
Verdict: Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants Are a Fun Pair of Comfortable Pants You Should Add to Your Wardrobe
I ended up liking the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants so much that I’m planning a pair of these in black. After transitioning to working from home, standard blue jeans (I prefered high-waisted) just became too uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve worn any of my jeans in nearly a year. The sailor pants are really comfortable for movement, even for sitting and crouching.
And maybe also goofy dancing.
I think if you’re wavering between beginner and intermediate sewing skills, this would be a great pattern to push you a little in your techniques and skills.
(I mean check out this cute little coin pocket at the front!)
Thank you again to Folkwear Patterns for sponsoring this post and for the free copy of the Folkwear 229 Sailor Pants sewing pattern!