Simplicity 7393: bells with a yoke

The pattern: Simplicity 7393, MISSES UNLINED JACKET, VEST, PANTS AND SKIRT, copyright 1976 Simplicity Pattern Co. 

This cover art is such a delight. Look, look, the girls are fashion designers!!!! Behind Pink Girl is a bulletin board with sketches and fabric swatches! Green Girl has paper and a paint brush!

Anyway, I made the pants. 

The fabric:

Navy blue wool crepe. Nice. Neutral. Classic. Understated. Not bought by me. My husband bought this a while back for a project and then got distracted by something shiny and never got back to it and when I asked him if I could have it he was like, “Of course. Was that mine?” 

I’ve come to notice that all the fabric in the house that is nice, new, and in any sort of useful amount (for example, 3 yards) is stuff that he bought, with a purpose in mind. Such as this wool crepe. Everything else is the stuff I find and bring home for no reason: tiny crazy second hand scraps. It all becomes mine eventually though muhahhahaha…

Speaking of him getting distracted by other projects, this is the sort of thing that distracts him. (That link goes to an imgur gallery of an old black&white tv he rebuilt, and the channel he programmed for it, to play old cartoons and stuff for our little boy. It’s pretty sweet.) 

I machine washed and dried the fabric before cutting, so the fabric would go ahead and shrink, so the pants can be machine washed and dried later. The shrinking also makes the crepe gather in on itself and gives it a lofty, spongey, stretchy quality which is really nice to wear. These are the most comfortable pants, pretty much ever. 

I’m on the search for that One True Pants Pattern, you know, the one that fits perfectly with no fixes, straight out of the envelope. This one is close, but is not quite it. I had to reshape the center back crotch curve in the butt department, which I tell ya, is hard to do in a dark color on ones own body in reverse in the mirror. 

That was it with this pattern though, no fixes through the leg or waist. Oh, I lengthened the back darts too. But that’s it. Usually there’s all kinds of adding crotch depth and taking in the inseam and reshaping everything. Comparatively, this pattern comes pretty close to right. 


This pattern has one major weirdness! 

The instructions have you sew the front yokes onto the front pieces, press, topstitch, and then make a lapped zipper all the way up through the yoke seam, to the waist. The problem is that the yoke seam (two layers plus interfacing with topstitching already in place) is very thick, and there is only 5/8″ allowed for the lap, and this thick seam allowance takes up room and crowds the zipper, and it’s a total mess. 

I found this really frustrating and impossible. I think my fluffed up fabric was a problem, but even with chino, poplin, or denim (the top three suggested fabrics), zipping past the yoke would be a problem. I mean, if you only have 5/8ths inch, you’re barely left with 1/8ths inch, maybe 1/4 to stitch to the zipper tape. This doesn’t seem like enough to hide a zipper as is, without even adding the problem of the bulky yoke seam being folded into the zipper lap. 

Additional weirdness: as patterned there is no closure at the top of the zipper. I read the instructions like four times (which I never used to do, I used to think I knew better but now I’m like Why Reinvent The Wheel, if they wanna tell me how to do it I’ll listen) and never found any mention of a hook or button or anything At All to secure the waist. 

I thought about just closing the front altogether and doing an invisible side zip, but there would be the same problem with the thick yoke seam. So, I made a fly underlap (which there wasn’t one of in the original pattern, of course) and had the zipper stop at the yoke with two buttons through the yoke. It’s not an elegant solution, but it does keep the pants on. 

So yeah, other than having to totally solve the zipper, this is a great pattern! I love the wide leg shape. 

My little boy took the picture below, I especially like how it captures the pants flaring out from the knee with movement. So seventies. 

That’s him in the foreground, his shoulder, wearing the rice print shirt from his Halloween costume. 

Sew It or Throw It:

Sew It. But differently. It would be neat to convert these to a fall front, like have the yoke come around to the side fronts and then have the front be flat, no yoke, closed with buttons with an underlap. Maybe have the side front seam angle off into some pockets. Or get rid of the yoke in the front, have it just be in the back. Something, definitely, to avoid the yoke/zipper conflict. 

Post Script: My T-shirt is from the Theodore Payne Foundation, one of my favorite places. It’s a nursery in Sun Valley that specializes in California native plants, grasses, flowers, and trees. I think this place is great and want everyone to know about it. 


19 thoughts on “Simplicity 7393: bells with a yoke

  1. Great pants. What an annoying construction! Can you treat the yoke more like a waistband and make an overlap and still use the buttons? I like the yoke and I like the buttons. They just need to work better!
    PS Hubby’s project is delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! That would’ve been the better way to save these pants, if I had recut one of the fronts to be an overlap.
      I got caught up in my own forward momentum and refused to go back and recut and re-interface, and take the old piece off and deal with the fact that I’d already trimmed the seam allowance when I topstitched. Which is silly, because what I ended up doing was not significantly less work.
      Someday I will learn to be less stubborn and embrace the detour!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whoa, flares! I love the really understated ’70s vibe of these. The understatement is thanks to the fabric. Navy blue wool crepe… it already sounds perfect before you even see it. Yeah, sometimes I wish I wasn’t out in the sticks and could get myself some of that magic.

    I hope you find that perfect pants pattern. Meanwhile, your search is yielding pretty good results!

    That yoke, though… All I can say is the pattern was lucky you were the one sewing it, not me.


    1. Wool crepe is pretty great. I bet you could order such a thing online. Probably expensive though? I’m glad my husband bought this fabric and not me, so I don’t have to feel horrified, and mentally justify the price. Thrift shop fabric prices are way more my speed.
      One thing about this laundered wool crepe though, it collects lint and stray threads. Aggressively, enthusiastically. If we had a pet it would have to be a navy blue one.


    1. It is amazing. It’s great to know that we are fostering his sense of absurdist humor, through the programs this tv plays. It’s also neat to see a kid who can operate an iPad be equally comfortable with switching on a tiny old black&white.


  3. the pants are great and you wear them well – love the pattern illustration (but does the lady in green look a bit perturbed by the idea of wet paint on her hands?) – your husbands project is amazing, brought back the idea of the novelty and treat of tv to me as a kid. (my parents used disconnect the aerial to lure us to the dinner table and still we would watch 5 minutes of static before giving in)


    1. Disconnect the aerial! That is funny!
      I read that out to my husband, which reminded him of a friend of ours whose dad would remove this one specific tiny part from the tv, stick it in his pocket, and take it with him so the kids couldn’t lay around watching tv the whole time he was out. Funny that tvs have always been spellbinding for kids, no matter what is on or how many other sources of entertainment are available.
      Green Lady does look perturbed. That weird hand position makes me wonder if the illustrator was drawing from a model who was holding some other object. Like maybe a cigarette? I’m trying to think of things that would benefit from being held that way…maybe two objects, like a piece of paper and a cigarette, with the lit end angled away so as to not catch the paper on fire? Maybe a coffee in a paper cup, and a cigarette? Coffee and a laser pointer? Phone and a marker with the cap off? Phone and the beater from an electric mixer, covered in cake batter?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, think you are so right about the missing object…… the cigarette seems so familiar (i used smoke), unsure about the marker with cap off but only in that if I do it the cap will be in my mouth (ie and have a pop-eye type mouth……)……. phone and beater very good contenders too!


    1. I’m surprised at how much successful the 70’s patterns I’ve made up have been. It’s not a decade I’m really drawn to in fashion, but the majority of the patterns I used last year were from the 70’s, mostly with good results. I think it’s turning out to be my favorite pants decade for pants.


  4. Love these! They look super comfy with the right amount of fitting in top! I have a pair of commercial 70’s pants that zip up the front with no additional closure and they don’t seem to come unzipped. Wonder if it’s a 70’s thing!


    1. Oh, interesting! Maybe it is a 70’s thing. I guess a metal zipper would hold, or a heavy plastic zipper. Something with more fortitude than my lightweight coil.
      Although this zipper situation was frustrating, I am happy to have used up some buttons in the process. I have way too many buttons, and so few of them match each other, glad to have found two that matched and put them to work.


  5. So glad you mentioned pre shrinking wool crepe. I bought some a while back and did just that and panicked over it’s nubbliness. Your pants do look quite a good fit but yes, what the heck were they thinking with that fly. Perhaps they gave this pattern to the apprentice to write up?! Good job on them though, more vintage-y goodness ;)


  6. These are so great! So JPG sailor pant-esque! They fit superbly. And yeah that project of your husbands is extraordinary! He’s a keeper (not least because he buys awesome fabric then forgets about it!).


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