Skilts/Slops by Hand


A commercial pattern for slops is now available at Kannik's Korner

Skilts or Slops (both terms are interchangeable) refer to a garment which was worn by sailors and some tradesmen to protect their much more costly breeches or sailor pants worn underneath. Skilts should not be confused with references to "sailor pants" or "sailor breeches." Both sailor pants and breeches are totally different garments.

As early as the late sixteenth century, Sailors began wearing baggy legged pants which reached from below the knee to the top of the shoe. Generally, as time progressed the legs became more fitted and narrow. These pants were both front fall and button fly type and were worn almost exclusively by men of the sea. By the seventeen hundreds, the common breeches were the style of most landsman and frequently what a given person was wearing when pressed. Skilts/Slops became a common sight in both the Navies and Merchant fleets of the world.

Begin by obtaining a common, period broadfall drop front, breeches pattern. Remember that this garment was meant to be worn over breeches, so if you wear a size 32, obtain a breeches pattern in size 34 and so on. This is convenient because you can re cut the pattern to make breeches later. 

1) You will need the waistband, gusset, and optionally, the upper back pattern pieces to construct your slops.

2) You will  also need two 7/8" pewter, mother of pearl, wood, or bone buttons and a  12" piece of  3/8"cloth tape.

3) Skilts/slops were commonly constructed  of Osnaberg, Linen, or light sail cloth.  You will require 2 yards of 54" wide material.

4) Observe the same seam allowance as prescribed by the breeches pattern.

5) First, cut two pieces the full width of the material from selvage to selvage (54"). Then, cut each 54" wide piece to a length of 24". Lay the pieces one over the other with right sides together. (Illustration #2) When completed, you should

 have two 54"wide by 24" long rectangular pieces. (NOTATION: Skilts/Slops were rarely if ever fitted to a specific person. They were an "issue" garment and were stocked onboard ship in a bin to be used by the crew as required. They were commonly cut to a raw length of 24 and thus would fit differently in length according to the height of the wearer.)

6) Cut gusset and waistband. Assemble waistband according to breeches instructions.

7) With waistband completed, mark the Slop body for gusset placement. (top left corner of rectangular pieces. Part of the gusset fits into the waistband, part into the slop body. ( NOTATION: Alternatively, you may use the upper back of the breeches pattern to guide your gusset placement and rear crotch seam.)

8) Sew the rear crotch seam.

9) From right to left, roll corner A to corner B, forming a tube (top rectangle only) and sew together (from the inside of the tube) to form the leg opening.

10) Perform the same operation in reverse, for the bottom rectangle to form the second leg opening.

11) With gusset sewn in, back crotch seam and leg seams sewn, gather or pleat top edge to fit waist band.

12) Sew gathered or pleated Skilt/Slop body to waistband.

13) Sew two button holes at front of waistband, one over the other. Sew on buttons. Hem Skilt/Slop bottoms.

14) Sew two to four holes in back gusset depending upon what is called for by breeches pattern. Lace up the gusset and you're done!

Pattern courtesy of Bruce Cates.

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