Simplicity 5247: pants, dot dot dot


The pattern is Simplicity 5247 from 1972. Unlined “shirt-jacket” and pants. 

Please zoom in on the photo and observe the finest example of pattern-art humor I have ever seen in my entire life: 

The girl all in white? Who looks like she’s going on safari? Check out her belt buckle. SP. Simplicity Patterns! Hahhahahaha! Isn’t that amazing?! 

I made the pants, which are double darted at both front and back, a natural-height waist and a straight waistband, with a shaped bell-bottom leg, out of this fabric:


Really big dots, really uneven. 

I couldn’t find a repeat in the dot pattern. Usually I squint at the fabric and the repeat will jump out, but this one, just, not jumping out. Each dot is irregular in shape, and irregularly spaced. I tried folding, flipping, all kinds of realignments, no repeat. 

This fabric is actually a set of curtains, and it finally occurred to me that they must’ve been printed from one big screen-print. Like, there is no repeat, the pattern of dots was created, in a large format, and that’s the entire print. Each dot its own, no yardage, no repeat. I guess the fabric was printed with a break between each curtain-sized dot-array, where the factory would cut and hem? More convenient for a large order this way? Kind of funny to think about. I’m so used to endless, continuously printed yardage, designed in scale for a human, not a window. 

So, I knew I wanted this big dot stuff to be pants, and that the center front seam had to match. Or else. No mirroring or butterfly or open-book effect at the center front. That would be embarrassing. Other than that, I had to give up on any of the other seams pattern-matching. And they sure don’t. I considered running a solid stripe down the side seam to make the chopped up dots less crashing-into-each other, but decided not to: that would only make a crazy pair of pants look crazier. 


I was able to get the front to match by using the second curtain, which is identical, and having the pattern continue across the front. Which is a little weird in that the pattern appears to continue across my legs too, but hey, at least no butterflies.

These pants took 9 hours to make, three or four of that was messing around with pattern placement and then flatlining the pieces for better weight and opacity. 

I really like this picture above, with my boy at edge of frame. I like how both of us are completely into our own projects. Also, I made everything he’s wearing. 

Part of the reason I made these pants is beacause I actually need pants. I got through the winter last year with three pairs of pants. Which got me thinking about how many is enough, what’s the optimal number. 

I recognize that I am fortunate, in that I could theoretically have as many pairs of pants as I want. But how many is that?

Three is not enough, because they end up being worn on such a constant rotation that they wear out at the same rate and suddenly I go from having three pants to zero. So what is ideal. Seven? Is one pair of pants for every day of the week excessive? In addition to skirts and dresses and gym leggings etc etc? 

Maybe five is more reasonable? But if one of them is a little crazy looking, like with giant dots, does that pair become more of a second-tier pant? Less of a basic? 

I think this is why people live in jeans: they’re such a neutral, they blend from one day to the next, no one’s ever going to notice if you wear one pair several days in a row, you’re free to not think or to enjoy the comfort of a broken-in pair. 

After thinking over this for a while I remembered how I have a friend who owns seven tuxedos —like not just suits, tuxedos— and how in light of that, seven pairs of pants seems totally reasonable.


This fabric, by the way, is from the most annoying yard sale I have ever been to. Nothing had a price tag, which is the worst, so I had to ask the lady of the house how much everything cost, and each time I asked she would launch into the entire story of the thing in question, including how much she paid for it when it was brand new and how rare it was and all other details she could recall. Then she would name the price, which was high. For this set of two curtain, from IKEA, “These are designer! They don’t make them anymore! We barely even used them!”, she wanted ten dollars, which is completely against my belief that nothing at a yardsale should be more than a dollar, since I consider yardsales to be the last stop before donating to the thrift shop. 

Later my husband and I came up with the perfect yard sale pricing scheme: X is twenty dollars, but if you listen to my entire story, it’s free. 

But I totally bought the curtains. They provide a lot of yardage. And I felt a little sorry for her and maybe recognized myself in her, her belief in the worth of her possessions was a little heartbreaking, and apparently no one’s ever told her about eBay or Craigslist. Which is where you sell old things when you want real money for them. 

Anyway. 

This pattern is a Sew It

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29 thoughts on “Simplicity 5247: pants, dot dot dot

  1. Well you know I am going to totally love and support the making of outrageous, printed pants. Well done!
    And I personally find garage sales (as we call yard sales here in NZ) to be the worst as people are always adding the sentimental value of the item to the price. It’s just downright awkward.
    Except once when it was a friend’s maiden aunt who had died, left everything to her nephews, and after they had sorted the items that were of value to the family our friend and his brothers had the sale. We bought garden tools, furniture, about 100 old covered coat hangers, fabric, notions, and a whole bunch of other items and we had to fight to give them $50 NZ (about $30 US). And then every time I made something from the fabric, he was just sooooo happy!! He would take a photo to send to his brothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree with Naomi: Full support for outrageous pants! I especially love the lines. I get the most compliments on my YSL 1970s trousers, which I have made in Prince of Wales check and in plum-coloured wool. It’s about time that I make another pair but in a cooler fabric! Thanks for the inspiration.

    I used to have a thing against yard sales when I was a kid. My mom would always stop at them and I thought it was embarrassing to buy other people’s junk. I really did think it was déclassé!!! `) I kind of see myself in that lady though… always too ready to share stories..

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    1. Agreed re: urge to tell stories. If it weren’t for blogs, I might be that lady buttonholing people at yard sales.
      The seventies made great pants! I remember that excellent plum wool pair of yours.
      The natural waistline is such a nice surprise in this style: I thought it would be a little uncomfortable, a little unflattering, maybe a little dorky, but it’s turning out to be very wearable. Hooray!

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  3. I like these pants! I’m very impressed by how you tamed this truly crazy fabric.

    Thanks also for sharing the yard sale story. I almost never go to those unless I’m with a more experienced (and more determined) shopper. My source of second-hand fabric and vintage patterns is a store that specializes in those. Alas, since I moved I have only been able to shop there a couple of times. Time to get more serious about eBay?…

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    1. I love yardsales! And honestly, sometimes I love the stories.
      A little more story from this yard sale: I bought the curtains, and a pair of shoes for my little boy (also at a high price for a yard sale, but cute and unworn), and then my son found this funny little coat-hook shaped like a rooster, and really wanted it, and I asked the lady and she said five dollars, and I had to tell her in the nicest possible way, ‘lady, you have cleaned me out. I have like a dollar left,’ and told my son to go put the rooster back and then she kind of threw up her hands and was like ‘Fine! Just take it!’
      I know it’s hard to be the seller at a yardsale too, you get crazy bargain hunters, strangers judging your stuff, just talking to strangers all day in general sounds rough.
      My favorites are the estate sales, which in Los Angeles means you get to go inside the house and wander from room to room looking at stuff, which is so interesting to me, to see the architecture and the lay out of a house and how it relates to the backyard and stuff like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That sounds really cool. I honestly should check out the local yard sale scene finally, but the problem is I almost never have cash. And the lovely store with second hand sewing and knitting goods takes cards, so I’m spoiled. But I think I’m not too old to change my ways ;-)

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  4. love them! they look great (that yard sale sounds like a charity shop I no longer frequent, there was one lady in there who kept trying to up the price of whatever I picked up, even after I was told another price by her colleague….. by telling me, such good quality, you dont get this cotton anymore…… they should not have told you that price….in the end I just said its okay, I will leave it back…..I was getting rather bored. )

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    1. Oh that’s not fair! That’s the thing about yardsales where nothing is labeled with a price, I always feel like I’m being sized up and charged accordingly. I’m glad you’re taking your business elsewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great shape, great print. Have as many pairs of trousers as you manage to find fabric for. I’m one of those who lives in jeans and black trousers. Bright prints on the legs in Scotland seems to look too hopeful considering the often all year round grey skies!? Are you going to try a safari jacket? I thought I didn’t like them, then made one as part of a print collection for someone and was oh so pleasantly surprised!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bright prints too hopeful! That’s funny. I miss grey, here in Southern California, land of the bleached-out sky.
      I might go for a safari jacket at some point, but not this particular one. There’s another pattern kicking around here that has a more obvious safari look, more pockets and a funny belt detail. I think the belt goes through the pockets in a funny way, if I’m remembering it correctly. I’d probably go for that pattern if/when I go safari jacket.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I know the type of pocket you mean! Sometimes I make something just to see how it looks? My current favourite colour is definitely grey, followed closely by khaki and wine (not maroon – don’t like that word) Thank goodness for a good bright print to mix up the dull!

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  6. I’m with Linda, safari jacket all the way! I had a music teacher at high school whom I idolised, he was just so cool. He had slightly primate features, but his safari suits x 2 – wow. One in purple and the other lime green. He cut a dashing figure, it was the 80s. Even more surprising, he was married!!
    To do these dotty pants justice you simply must buy tickets to a music festival darl!!

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      1. Last time I went there was no sleep to be had, kept awake by the drug addled moron in the tent next to us. I suggest you do the selfie wall thing and get a good night’s sleep!!

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    1. Isn’t that always the way, with pattern drawings. Legs for 2 miles!
      Very pleased to find that here it’s not as crazy an exaggeration as usual. This style does elongate, although not as much as the illustration imagines. Legs for half a mile, maybe.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. More great pants!! I own one pair of authentic 1970’s trousers but would love to make some. These really make your legs look long!! But I worry that I don’t have the proper footwear to have multiple pairs of 1970’s pants…maybe the answer is buy more shoes? ;-)

    I have only been to one yard sale as an adult, and it was done very well. Things were basically all priced, for one thing!! (And I totally agree that yard sales are supposed to be “nearly free” because hello, you’re selling your junk in the driveway because nobody in the neighborhood *would* pay more than $1 for any of it, DUH. It’s a bulk business: sell tons of your stuff for $1 a piece and make $100 and unload 100 pieces of stuff. Yard Sale Math 101.) It was a lady who sewed home dec items for a well-heeled clientele–she was even selling an industrial machine, but I resisted–and I got several yards of a silk buffalo plaid material plus some other great stuff for next to nothing. She was just so thrilled that people were buying anything at all that she didn’t really care–she just needed it gone! There was one remnant I really wanted that wasn’t tagged, and she had stepped out (of course) and her poor husband was left to try to call her to ask: all for a $3 piece of fabric! Oops. But I did buy it, so it was worth it! =)

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