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Tuesday, 9 August 2016

New Summer Outfits - Shorts and Tops: the Shorts!

Recently, I wrote about a beach cover-up I made for my 2-year-old grand-daughter Jane. I had started making this while we were on holiday, so she could wear it then, but it wasn't hemmed or finished. So that was my first job when I got home. Once home, I thought I'd also make some shorts and a top to match. When those were done, I started more shorts and a top for her cousin Fleur. Eventually, there was a third outfit for Fleur's baby sister Rose. Below, you can see their complete outfits.

You can read the details after the jump of how to make the shorts for these beach separates. You can find details of how to make the cover-up here. And the tops are on another post, here.


I used  two different patterns for the three pairs of shorts, but each was made in a broadly similar way, so I'll combine most of the explanation and pictures for the two different patterns / three pairs of shorts. 

The blue-green pair were made two fat quarters I'd had in my stash for a while, looking for the perfect project. I used a pattern I've used several times before, the Summer Romper pattern from Corinne at Purl Soho. I thought the pattern I'd used for the other two, in a size 2, would be a bit too small for Fleur, who will be three in October. I actually made her size 4-5T - she's tall for her age, and maybe they'll last till her beach holiday abroad in December.

This pattern is not actually intended for 'free-standing' shorts, but for a complete romper in two halves stitched together. However, I had already made this previously in two parts, to facilitate the 'quick dash to the bathroom'. Indeed, to start with, I had intended this time to make the complete romper for Fleur, rather than separates. However, a quick chat with Fleur's Mummy suggested that she might still struggle with untying shoulder strings when it came to it. So I decided I would, as before, make her 'summer romper' as separates instead. 

(Here is the separates version I made her previously, in size 3. 

You can see the details of how I made this original set near the bottom of this post.)

When I come across shorts and trouser patterns with front and backs that are a different shape, I am delighted. These have (as you should) a higher rise and a longer crutch seam at the back (to accommodate the butt). Both of the patterns I used for the shorts, this Purl Soho pattern and Caila Made's pattern I'll describe further down, are just such patterns. Which is why I use them so often. However, both patterns make the shorts in 4 pieces, two backs and two fronts. On the patterns, though, the side seams are completely straight and vertical to the bottom of the shorts. (And the same length, of course.) So I did as I often do, I eliminated the side seam by joining the pattern pieces together. 

If you do this with a pattern that includes seam allowance, you obviously have to overlap them at the seam allowance, as with the Purl Soho pattern shown above.

Because this pattern is intended to be joined to a slightly dropped-waist bodice, I added about an inch to the top of the pattern. I also added about an inch to the bottom, as I didn't want them too short. I also cut a separate waistband, as it doesn't have one. More about the waistband below.

This pattern has nice wide legs. In size 4-5, they measured about 26 inches at the bottom (circumference).

Apart from the contrasting waistband, I thought they needed no other additions. The first step was to sew up the inner legs seams.

Above, you can see the inner leg seam sewn, finished, and pressed, creating the two separate legs. (Of course, if you had cut out 4 separate pieces from the pattern, you would have to sew up the side seams first.)

The next step is to put one leg (right side out) inside the other one (wrong side out) matching the crutch seam, and sew, finish and press that as well. You've already got something that looks like shorts!

Here are the legs inside each other. This is shown on one of the other pairs of shorts but the method is exactly the same.

And here they are pinned ready to be sewn:

Next I made the top waistband hem, ready for the elastic. I measured the waist once I had sewn the shorts together, and cut a strip of fabric this measurement long, by 3" deep. (In fact, I cut two strips, because the spotty fabric you can see in the photo below was very thin. You could use interfacing, but I used a second plain fabric in the same colour, as an inner layer. For the waistband, I treated these layers as one.) This was made into a circle by sewing up the short ends. This was attached to the outside of the shorts top, folded over and attached to the inside of the top of the shorts, leaving a gap for the elastic. I measured just over 21" of elastic to thread through, overlapping by about an inch. And again, I added a little tag to the back centre seam to assist with them going on the right way round!

With this pair of shorts for Fleur, which were quite wide-legged, I didn't add any turn-ups, but just made hems at the bottom 1.4" plus a further 1/4", sewed round on the machine. Finished!

Now for the other two smaller pairs. I made both of these from a different pattern. Jane is just over two, and I thought the Summer Shorts pattern I'd used to make her cousin Fleur's shorts last summer would probably work, with a bit of adjustment. This pattern is from Caila Made and is for 2 years old. Fleur was about 19 months then, but tall, and they fitted her well. Jane is about 2 and a quarter, so I just made them a little looser and longer, on the grounds I could always tighten the elastic and make them more gathered if they proved too big. Rose's pair (pictures further down) were also made from the Caila Made pattern, she is only 18 months old now, so I didn't make hers too much bigger than the pattern.

Jane's pair:

 Rose's pair:

You'll recall above that, with the other pattern, I joined the pattern at the side seams to make one piece. I did the same with the Caila Made pattern, but because I thought might be a bit too cosy for Jane, I didn't overlap at the seam allowance, but in fact left a gap between the two pieces. I then just cut one piece for each side, combining the back and front. (The front pattern is reversed below in order to do this.) For larger sizes your material might not be quite wide enough for this, but for these small sizes, it wasn't a problem.

I left a smaller gap for Rose's pair.

Once you have cut out your two pieces, i.e. one left side and one right side, you are ready to sew up the shorts. (If you've cut them as four pieces, you'll need to join the sides seams next.) 

For these two smaller pairs or shorts, I wanted contrasting turn-up cuffs. The Caila Made pattern has two cutting lines, one of which already includes a self-fabric turn-up.So you could just use that extra length to make turn-ups. (However I couldn't actually see in the Caila Made tutorial how to do this.)  I did use this longer cutting line, but  I wanted them still longer, and so I added extra contrasting material to make the turn-ups. (And it looks pretty, as well.) If you are going to add a separate turn-up, it is a bit easier to attach the turn-ups first, before you make the inner leg seams.

I cut the pieces for the turn-ups to be the circumference of the bottom of the leg by 3 1/2". For one of the pairs, this was 14 1/2" by 3 1/2", for the larger pair, it was about 15 1/2" by 3 1/2". But you need the circumference measurement to fit the bottom of the legs, so it's best to measure it. The depth was just over double what I wanted the finished turn-up depth to be, plus half an inch for two seams, one inside the leg and one outside. Here is a turn-up pinned onto the inside ready to sew:

And in more close up:

If you attach the turn-ups before you do the inner leg seams, you can then do the inner leg seams right from the crutch to the bottom of the turn-up material. If you add the turn-ups after you have done the inner leg seams, you'll need to make each one into a circle by joining the short ends, pressing the seams flat. Then sew them with the right side of the turn-ups to the right side of the legs. You can do this, of course, but it is more fiddly on the machine as you are sewing in quite a small circle.  I didn't think of this till I made Rose's shorts, above, so most of the photos show the turn-ups being attached after the legs are sewn up.

If, like me, you want the seam on the turn-up contained within the turn-up, you'll then next need to sew up the inner leg seams, zigzag or serge the seams, and press them, so you have two separate legs. Exactly as for Fleur's pair made from the other pattern.

On this pair, you can see one of the turn-ups pinned ready to sew, and the other sewn and pressed. 

Next, press a bare quarter inch all round on the free edge of the turn-ups, pressing the edge under, and then press the turn-ups in half, so the  1/4" folded edge just covers the seam allowance inside the shorts.Stitch these all round, then press the turn-ups up to the outside of the shorts. You could tack them in place at a couple of points, but I've found with such little shorts the turn-ups stay up pretty well, and you also can let them down when the child grows a bit. You'll still have the contrasting facing of the turn-up showing.

A point to note is that, if your turn-up fabric has a definite directional pattern up and down, you'll need to be careful how you pin it to the legs. You need to pin it with the top of the pattern towards the top of the leg, so that when you press it out, it is the right way up. It will also be the right way up on the turn-up when you fold that up. You can see this in Rose's shorts, where the pattern is balloons with a string. 

Finally, the waistband. With the Caila Made pattern (these two smaller pairs of shorts), it is actually designed for 'free-standing' shorts, and there is enough fabric in the pattern to make the waistband. (I might have added half an inch this time for Jane's as the pattern was on the small side for her.)  Following Caila's instructions, I pressed down 1/4" and then 1 1/4"and sewed it round except for a couple of inches at the centre back through which to insert the elastic. I used 1" elastic, about 20" long. I threaded this through using a safety pin, then joined the ends of the elastic,  overlapped by 1" for Jane's and 1 1/2" for Rose's (making sure it wasn't twisted). Finally I sewed up the gap I'd left, adding in a little tag to mark the back.

I think all the pairs look quite cute!

Here's the stripey pair in use:

You'll see they are even cuter with the tops. You can find out how I made the tops in my next post.

Postscript: I've often talked about how quickly babies and toddlers outgrow clothes. I've already remade one of the pairs of shorts (the pink paisley and birds pairs) to have a higher waistband (it didn't have a separate waistband before), and I also added a frill to the hem of the top.


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