Butterick 3487: 70’s jeans. Is it her, or is it the pattern?


The pattern: Butterick 3487, MISSES’ JACKET, SKIRT, PANTS & SHORTS, no copyright date but it’s from sometime in the 1970’s. 

I love this cover art because it is such an excellent example of how body shape itself, not just clothing, is subject to trend. 

Look at that butt. Imagine if this pattern was re-released today. A round butt is what would happen now.

On a side note, it’s so weird to me that the physical body is subject to trend. How is that even possible? How can something we can’t change, trend? 

I mean, if the aspirational fashion body had always been the same throughout history, it would seem like there was some truth to it, something evolutionary, but to see the Butt Of Fashion change within such a brief time from the 70’s pancake to the rounded now, both of which exclude tons of people who just plain have to wait out the trend or dress carefully or find some other way to be fashionably correct for their time, it just seems like madness. And yet participating in this mass crazy is kind of unavoidable, for example, if this were a modern pattern I never would have bought it. I would’ve been afraid it would give me a flat butt. 

In fact, I made the jeans, (out of some brown cotton twill from a thrift shop) because I had to know: Did the illustrator draw that flat butt because that was what women wanted in the 70’s, or is that the actual shape created by the pants?  

Well here’s the answer:


It’s not the pattern! It’s just the drawing! Phew! 

I am rethinking those clogs with these pants. I wore them to reference the pattern, but they are looking a little cowgirl to me now. 


Ok, so all that stuff aside, these turned out pretty ok. 


I changed a couple of little things: 

-Made the pockets bigger and set them a little lower than as patterned. They seemed really high and tiny and I was afraid. The pocket top-stitching isn’t part of the pattern, I just decided to do something and that’s what happened. 

-Cut the waistband as two pieces, with a seam at the top edge, because I like that better. Most home sewing patterns have you cut the waistband on the fold, which means at the top you have two layers, while at the bottom of the waistband you have five layers, which is an inequity that encourages the waistband to roll and buckle and, just, I don’t like it. So this one has a seam along the top of the waistband, making it four layers thick to better match the five at the bottom. 

I also topstitched pretty much everything that could be, including the side seams through the front pocket area, to keep the seam allowance going toward the back. The front pockets kind of work their way upward, I wish they the kind that anchor into the front zip instead of the free ended kind. Something to remember for next time. 


I added a coin pocket, you can see it in the photo below. It seemed like a fun thing to do, although I think it’s adding to the pocket-riding-up thing. Might actually come in handy though for parking meters, I just have to remember it’s there. 


One really interesting patterning thing that got me thinking: the instructions for these jeans have you close the inseam as one long seam. I’m used to the crotch seam being closed last of all, as one continuous seam, and the inseam-as-one method only happening for leggings and stretch things. 

I patched my sister’s jeans recently, and they noticed they were inseam-as-one, but figured that was a skinny jeans thing, like maybe it’s because they have a Lycra content and are maybe cut more similar to leggings. But this pattern is made for sturdy non-stretch stuff, so why would it want me to treat it like leggings? 

So then I went and checked my own pair of jeans, which are old boring bootcut things with no Lycra, definitely not skinny jeans, I mostly keep them around for yard work, and they too had the inseam as one long continuous seam. 

So then I thought why? Is this inseam-as-one a throwback to when jeans were work clothes? Are they assuming I’ll be riding a horse? That I’ll need more, like, straddle mobility rather than stride mobility? 

And then I figured it out: it’s easier for the factory. If the factory closes the center back and center front, but keeps the fronts and back separate from each other until the very end, that means they can do all the front stuff (zipper, pockets, etc) and all the back stuff (yoke, pockets), separately, maybe even on separate floors or separate buildings, and then close it along the inseam and topstitch that seam since it gets the most wear, then close the outseams last. 

So, it’s not about riding a horse or panning for gold after all. I’m disappointed. 

Anyway, Sew It or Throw It?

Sew! These are good!

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30 thoughts on “Butterick 3487: 70’s jeans. Is it her, or is it the pattern?

  1. Love these from the pattern envelope art to your final result. They look great, you look great!
    I have a pancake butt. Does that mean the ’70s are my decade but just in spirit not in pattern reality?
    Currently struggling through some very contemporary pants myself. Not defeated (yet? well, I hope not at all, in the end), but decidedly challenged by my own inexperience and by a straight waistband that doesn’t make much sense to me. The pattern is McCall’s 7445, btw.

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    1. Ha, I looked up 7455 first, which is not pants, but some kind of Sailor Moon-ish get up. That seemed unlikely. Your pants (the actual McCalls 7445) look like fun, I like how the front pockets are horizontal, and I like the wide legs. What’s bothering you about the waistband? I’m totally up for helping, but I also totally get the joy of not being helped, of figuring it out.
      I think you’ll have to try a 70’s pants pattern and find out. Maybe the 70’s have some kind of Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants type thing going on, wherein they flatter all. More research must be done.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I definitely need to look into ’70s pants patterns. Those illustrated ladies look so cool. I want to bask in that coolness.

        I really like your recent sews from ’70s patterns. That coolness is there, definitely :-)

        My troubles, meanwhile… The waistband on M7445 is just a straight piece. My problems with begin with just how wide it is it. It would need to be curved if it’s to be that wide. Am I up for redrafting it? Maybe. Is now a good time in my life to be working on that? Not really. It will be a minor miracle if I finish these pants anytime soon, and that miracle will happen on stolen time.

        OK, so the easy way out would be to narrow the waistband. I think I should go with that if I want to actually finish and wear these.

        That’s step 1. Step 2 is accepting the fact that I need to throw the concept of sizes out the window yet again on this pattern. Not sure you could help with that other than by offering sympathy.

        To put it in a nutshell, the distribution of ease on Big 4 patterns makes me feel fat. Specifically on my waist because my hips get ample ease. I fall into one size according to the body measurement chart but the actual pattern then leads me to do all kinds of resizing to get anything that feels wearable. All that I have to say about that is that it sucks to feel bodyshamed by a sewing pattern. So, yeah, I’m also now trying to figure out how to match up my pants (cut a full two sizes below the body measurement chart) to a waistband that actually makes it possible for me to breathe.

        The pancake butt might have been a fashion of yore but the wasp waist is apparently here to stay… Sorry if that ended up a bit of a rant.

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        1. How about using the faced waist option on McCalls7445? Avoid the waistband altogether?
          And on the sizing, yes, yes times a million.
          On pants I always have to add to the waist, every time, I didn’t bother to mention it this time because I figured it’s my particular and constant alteration and it wouldn’t be helpful or interesting to anyone else.
          I think I added three (!!!) inches to the waistband on these pants? The body of the pants has a dart in the front pocket area, and the whole thing is meant to ease down into the waistband. I let out all that ease and added a little bit also. Three inches feels like so, so, so much to add though, especially when I didn’t add or change anything else. I totally know what you mean about feeling body shamed by a sewing pattern. Like wow, I am officially a barrel. I almost refused to add more than two, but then was like, don’t be dumb, it’s their crazy measurement chart it’s not you, if you were drafting your own pattern this wouldn’t even be an issue so just add what you need and don’t think about it.
          What an awful feeling though. I’m so glad you brought this up, I know it’s bad form to want company for this kind of misery but I’m glad for it.

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          1. Thanks so much! I don’t have access to emoticons on this keyboard and maybe that’s for the better because I’d be tempted to paste in a row of kittens with hearts for eyes.

            You are very, very far from resembling a barrel in any way. And now thanks to you I feel less barrel-shaped and less crazy, too!

            I think I should write up a post about this weird body shaming issue. Just so others could stumble upon it and also feel less crazy.

            As for that waistband. I made the version with the fly front, so I don’t know if or how I could use the facing. I think it will be a waistband that will be both narrower (as in: not hitting me too high on the waist) and wider (as in :added ease on that waist for the express purpose of being able to wear those pants).

            Thanks again!

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  2. Love love love. I wish I could motivate myself to sew anything (really going through a malaise at the moment), as I’d sew these!

    Hmm..I take your point about body trends, but at the same time the girls look very very young in the illustration, so perhaps that is part of it? In any case, I like the way a high waist elongates everything.

    Your observations about the order of sewing are interesting, though I, too, am disappointed that panning for gold was not involved.

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  3. I want, I want! This is an awesome pattern. Mm-mm delish.
    Not getting a cowgirl vibe from the clogs, but as you know I also can’t be trusted in that I love the replication (is that a word?) of the pattern art so my judgement is suspect.
    With regards to trends: in the renaissance high foreheads were “the thing” and women would pluck their foreheads to get a higher neckline. For a hirsute, low hair-lined gal such as myself, learning that was the stuff nightmares were made of.
    There’s a good video floating around the interwebs on the changing shape of the fashionable body over the C20th. You might have seen it…?

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    1. I have seen that! I might have to go check that out again. Wasn’t there one on make up too? Or maybe I’m just wishing.
      The high forehead thing totally disturbed me when I came across it too. I mean, that Portrait Of A Lady (van der Weyden) (I just found the title by googling “medieval portrait lady high forehead” hahahhaha internet) is pretty hot, but otherwise, like on regular people, how would that ever be attractive. But I guess its all about context.
      I also remember looking through an art book once, as a kid, with an adult who pointed out that the lady in the Arnolfini Portrait (Jan van Eyck) is not hugely pregnant, it was just the style of the time to look that way.
      Fashion is so funny.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There’s an excellent one on drag queen makeup, so it stands to reason there is one for ladies makeup fashion too. And yeah, fashion is very funny – in both the haha and weird definitions.

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  4. They look great! I sewed a lot of jeans for myself in the ’70s and needed to make a fuller butt adjustment on almost all of them. This pattern seems like a keeper. Love those back pockets. And the clogs definitely fit the look.

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    1. Aha! So the butts were patterned small! Good to know.
      I was surprised that there are no belt loops on these. Seems like jeans always have belt loops, but maybe this is another thing I’m wrong about, like the inseam thing. I wonder if the waist was so high and close fitting that a belt would look weird, plus be unnecessary. I mean, I wouldn’t wear a belt with these, but I never wear a belt with jeans anyway.
      The back pockets are great aren’t they. They were so high and tiny though, like they seemed guaranteed to create a wide, empty, flat expanse of a backside, oh no…

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  5. I saw a quote from Linda Ronstadt saying that she had the body that was in style for 2,000 years before she was born and went out of style the day she was born. Can’t help feeling like that every now and again. Love those pants and nice to see a 70s pattern getting its props.

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    1. That’s a great quote. And she’s a great looking lady! I guess everybody’s got their issues.
      So far the 70’s is my most sewn decade. It may just be a matter of numbers, in that I have more 70’s patterns than say 50’s patterns, but it may also be that the 70’s were pretty ok. Who would have thought?

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  6. Thanks for following my blog! I am going to blame you for all the work I don’t get done this week because I am trawling through yours… love what I have seen and read so far, I have so many vintage patterns but rarely actually make things from them any more and never to the expert degree that you do. Also, don’t give up those clogs, they are fantastic!

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  7. well done on all that top stitching….your patience is far greater than mine will ever be. I keep meaning to try jeans but chicken out each time – yours are fantastic.. I believe the inside leg as one sew has two reasons – one is ease of movement, all casual clothes/sports end on the horizontal seam (sleeves set in on the flat then sewn cuff to hem) to all for better horizontal movement, and pants the same, where as tailoring ends on a vertical. and to go with the grain….. the other is that this sewing method is easier in factories where things are sewn on the flat for as long as they can be – (I also totally confused the beginner sewers I had last night with this…… and they were only sewing basic half sized blocks for the first time, ..god only knows how it translated in their heads… )

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    1. Ha! I love that you brought this up with beginners! There’s no wrong time to start thinking about how things go together and why though, right?
      What are you teaching? Have you done a blog post about this? I’m going to go look.
      I love topstitching. I love how it looks and I love doing it. I get into it. I pretty much only ever do it at quarter inch though, because that is the width of the presser foot, and using the edge of the foot as a guide makes it easy for me, and if a factory can arrange its work for maximum easiness, so can I.
      I will say, also, I’m ok with some imperfection in my own clothes. I like to think that when they make the movie of my life, then the clothes will be perfect, but for now I’ll make my own clothes to my own satisfaction, and later when I go back to work I’ll make perfect clothes for pretend people.
      Try jeans! They’re just pants. In fact, I think of these as kind of fake jeans, real jeans in my mind have rivets and those metal shank buttons. Which, actually, now that I think about it, is a silly reason to call these not real jeans…

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    1. Thanks! They are really comfortable and easy to wear too. I was surprised, I would’ve thought being encased up to the waist would be restrictive, but nope, the opposite.
      I almost feel like I can’t take credit for my sewing ability/experience, I mean, people taught me, and then people hired me and taught me even more. I did pursue it and then try to retain it, so there’s that. But thank you. I’m always interested to learn what people do for work, like what kind of professional work is balanced by sewing for pleasure.

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      1. Yeah, I wouldn’t think 70s would be flattering but they really are!
        Ha ha, sure you’d help but that doesn’t take away from your amazing ability!
        About life/sewing balance. Someone I knew who was aware of how into sewing I am was super surprised that I’m also an economics student. Because that’s so ‘rigid’ and sewing is ‘creative’!

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  8. Well I often blame bloody Kate Moss for my body issues. She had negative boobs in the 80s and I took to bandaging mine. Whoah did that backfire – they’re now F cups!!
    I also vote in favour of the clogs, gorgeous.
    I do think body shape changes over time due to exercise trends and work habits too. Just doing by the amount of time my kids spend at computers, an erect back will disappear and we’ll embrace the ‘nerdy Quasimodo’ back!

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