Hot! The “Riveter” Jeans

The Facts
Fabric: 2.5 yards Robert Kaufman cotton linen denim from Purl Soho, $35
Pattern: Simplicity 3688 (1940s Retro)
Year: 2007/40s
Notions: interfacing, invisible zip
Time to complete: about 6 hours
First worn: 5/19
Wear again: Yes!  I love these pants!
Total cost: about $38

I get why this pattern is so popular among sewing bloggers!  I was never that impressed with photos of the finished pants, and my own aren’t great either.  But let me tell you, these pants make feel like a million bucks.  They’re flattering and comfortable; I can eat a big meal, walk a few miles, and even be suspected of buying designer jeans for $300.  I’ve been on the fence about high-waisted styles, but this one absolutely works for me.  I’m ready to make another pair right now.  Do you think seersucker would be too much?

Key to my satisfaction is the fit.  Last year, when I read in Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto that 25% of sewing time should be spent fitting, it was a revelation.  At that time I spent 0% of my sewing time on fitting.  For these pants, the fitting consisted of much scowling at the flat pattern and my pants block, trying to figure out what I should do.  I ended up making significant changes to both the front and back crotch curves.  Then I basted the legs together without the waistband to check.  Whoa!  Nice pants!  I adjusted the side seams between the waist and hip, took it all apart, and then put them together for real, with a variety of seam finishes (flat felled seams on the inseam, bias binding on the crotch seam, a French seam on the right side, overcast edges and turn and sew on the left side with the invisible zipper).  After the fitting, the construction is simple– no pockets, top-stitching, or bells and whistles of any kind.  I made it even easier by using an invisible zipper, which I’m very familiar with, instead of a lapped zipper, which I’ve done once very poorly.

I fully intended to make a short sleeved blouse with pin-tucks too, but when I discovered the vintage pattern was perforated, I decided to save that challenge for another week.  I fear the perforations.  My top is a cotton lawn Colette Sorbetto I made last year.



Lee is a highly educated stay at home mom with a lot of projects. She lives in New York City.


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  1. This pattern is haunting me… in a good way. :) Every time I see a lovely pair of pants they always turn out to be this pattern!

    I love your jeans version… you may have just sent me over the edge to buy this pattern myself. :)

  2. (Points up) What she said! I have this pattern and am terrified of making it but keep seeing super cute pants made from said pattern! These are no exception.

  3. Let’s just say great minds think alike : ) GREAT pants!!

  4. What a fabulous version of this pattern!! I love them – they are very stylish and the fit is exceptional!

  5. Great pants! The fit is beautiful. I like the 25% fitting idea (but then, if we spend 30% of our sewing time pressing, 25% fitting, and 25% cutting, why do we call it sewing!).

    I’m definitely going to hunt this pattern up for the time when I finally concede my little pants are still too little and my big pants are too big and I have nothing in between. ;-)

    • Kinda like, if it were all about catching the fish, they’d call it “catching” wouldn’t they? Maybe sewing is just the cover-it-all name to include the stitching too ; )

  6. Hi Lee, love the pants, could you bring them to the meeting, I would love to learn about all the different stitches in construction that you applied.

  7. You look so cute!! I love the pants and I love how you’ve styled them! And, dude, your arms are totally buff! Motherhood is a good workout!

  8. I NEED this pattern! It may be just what I need to crack my trouser phobia. Yours are fantastic.

  9. They look amazing Lee. My version need a full bottom adjustment – what ever that is!

  10. Ooohh I’ve got something similar to this but haven’t seen anyone make them up yet. Love these, so versatile and comfy looking as well as stylish.

  11. These are cute pants and they fit so well. I have a pants pattern that I have been using for 14 years – they fit perfectly and I never dare to try a different pattern. So much for my fitting ambitions…

  12. I love your pictures and your style! I love your pants! They look fabulous on you-I wish I could attend that meeting-I’d love to see all the different finishes you applied. I agree with Leimomi-why do we call it sewing? I’m amazed at how much time I spend altering a pattern and working on fit. It’s so worth it in the end though! Great job Lee!

  13. I love that style of jean.

  14. These look fantastic on you, I love them. :) That pattern is awesome, isn’t it?

  15. Lee, love these. Great fit they really suit you. Love your pics too. I might have to invest in that pattern. The Sorbetto looks very happy hanging out with the Simplicity.

  16. These look fab!! Well done on the fitting.. and your variety of seam finishes.

  17. I’m sooooooo going to have to try this pattern, though may need to work out a full belly adjustment on mine to get them looking half as good as you do in yours. They look so fabulous on you.

  18. Oh my goodness, thank you so much!