sailboat pants and skirt

I have a favorite pair of canvas sailor pants. They’re French (of course). They’ve got wide legs. They are about as flattering as a pair of pants can be. Did I mention that they’re really comfortable, too?

I was thinking about them when I designed the Sailboat pattern. I didn’t look at my pants for details, though, because I wanted this pattern to be entirely built from the memory of those pants–all the things I love about them, but mostly the feel of them.

Kids’ pants tend to be really detailed and tedious to sew. Boys’ clothing tends to be overly fussy (pockets and zipper flies and elaborate topstitching) or really boring and plain. (Fashion tip: never send your son to school in pants that look like pajama bottoms.)

These unisex pants are neither of the above. They’re easy to sew. Really easy to sew. And easy to wear. Even if your child can’t do a button by himself or herself, the elastic at the back waist will come to the rescue. They’re completely pull-up if need be. But the details are what make them fun.

And as long as we’re at it, why not add a skirt? Same details as the pants but in a sweet A-line, short skirt that’s as appropriate for the playground as it is for school. (I’m thinking about the skirt for girls, here. But, hey, Oliver + S was born in New York’s East Village where anything goes. So if you have a boy who likes to wear A-line skirts, you’ve got our permission to go for it.)

My favorite fabrics for both the pants and skirt are solid-colored cottons and linens. Linen is great for kids’ clothing because it’s really strong, looks better with wear, and gets softer every time you wash it. I adore the look of un-pressed linen–especially when it’s just out of the wash. But wouldn’t the pants and skirt be cute in a fun stripe or print? My first pants and skirt samples were made in mattress ticking and turned out awfully cute. And what about using silk dupioni for a dressy look?

And, although it’s still early, why not start thinking about fall here? Last autumn I made both the skirt and the pants from a cotton herringbone tweed, and S got tons of wear from them. And they looked great with nearly everything in her closet. So great, in fact, that I wanted them for myself.

By the way, you’ll notice that the cover of this pattern features our S doll with the top and skirt But guess what? The back of the envelope features the Oliver doll with the pants and top. We wanted to include both dolls and thought it would be fun if the pattern envelope had two sides. So don’t be misled: you’ll get all three patterns in the envelope.




  1. Very nice! I love this ensemble – fitting for all active boys and girls … can’t wait to sew them up for someone special! Keep up the good work, Jovita

  2. Those pants are so beautiful. Funny story actually.
    I have a pair of pants I wear as often as I can. They’re french of course. With three bottons on each side. Wide Leg and very flattering.

    Now I want this pattern so my daughter can have a pair!

  3. OHmygoodness!!! That ticking is a FABULOUS idea! Love that – will be looking for ticking now – red and blue – such great inspiration.

  4. Hi Liesl,
    I have yet to try one of your patterns and am dying to! I wonder, what do you think would be an easy pattern for me to start with? I have some sewing experience, but wouldn’t call myself fluent by any means. I have a daughter I would like to sew for, she is one.
    Thanks for your help.

  5. Jenny, I’m glad you’re interested in our patterns. I think the Sailboat pattern would probably be a good first pattern, as would the Sandbox Pants, the Tea Party Sundress, or the Bedtime Story Pajamas. I hope you enjoy them, and we’d love to see what you make on the Flickr group. Cheers!

  6. I am going to give this pattern a try! I’m so excited that I can sew an outfit for both my son and daughter from the same purchased pattern!

  7. Liza

    These are amazing! I’d love to try making them. Are the patterns still available? Or am I 3yrs too late? lol

    1. They are still available. They’re a digital pattern now. You can find it in the Shop under that category

  8. NiCaam

    Do you think there’s any chance this pattern will ever be sized up to 12?

    1. Sorry, but not. The pattern won’t be resized in the future.

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