I like to mix things up and try new things with my existing patterns. My favourite pattern is Kid Shorts by Dana from Made. I love this pattern and have used it over and over and over…you get the idea! You can get the pattern on her blog, the link is above!
I have always admired the slight gather in the leg of some girls shorts and thought I would give it a go!
I started with the standard Made pattern for a size 8, girls length. I added a little extra width in the leg to allow for the gather. I did not add much as the pattern already has fairly wide legs. If you are using another pattern you may need to add more!
Then I cut two 4cm wide strips for the the bottom bands, you could use bias binding, or contrasting fabric or whatever you like! I think next time I would make them slightly wider. You may want to remove the Hem allowance from the bottom of the shorts, I have purposely left Hannah’s longer so when she grows (Again!) they will still fit for a while!
What you will need
Fabric – I used woven cotton blend print. I am not exactly sure what the fabric is as it was a gift out of my Mother in laws stash! But it’s nice and light for summer (yep we are just about to head into spring here!), and I love the floral pattern.
Sewing machine – Overlocker/Serger (Optional)
Elastic – Follow your pattern instructions
Step 1 – Cut out your fabric
Follow the instructions to cut out Dana’s from Made, Kid Shorts Pattern (or the shorts pattern you are using). I am making the flat fronted shorts, I like the streamlined look of these, but full elastic waistbands will work too!
Add a little (or a lot depending on your pattern) to the leg width of your shorts. I have added 1cm (3/8”) to each piece so 4cm (1.57”) in total.
Cut out two strips of fabric 4cm (1.57”) wide and a little longer than double the wide of your shorts leg (it will need to go around both halves – see photo below!)
Step 2 – Sew middles and inseams together
You will need to pin and sew the two fronts together. Place them right sides facing each other and sew together (waist to crotch piece). Repeat for the back pieces.
Pin and sew the inseams together, I like to pin from the crotch out each leg so that the middle lines up. It is much easier to straighten the leg length than have a mismatched seam in the middle.
As you can see mine don’t quite line up, so I will trim the excess of with scissors.
Step 3 – Gather the legs
Set you machine to the longest stitch length and the tightest thread tension, and sew one single line along the bottom of the leg. DO NOT lockstitch (reverse a couple stitches) at the start or end, and leave plenty of thread at both ends in case you want to loosen the gather.
Adjust the gather if needed to the desired length, I measured around the widest part of my daughters thigh (35.5cm or 14” and she’s nearly 7 if you are wanting a guide) to be sure it wouldn’t be too tight! For more details check out my Superhero Cape tutorial! Once you have adjusted the gather tie the ends in a knot to prevent it slipping further as you sew.
Press the gather with your iron. This will help keep them all in place as you sew.
Step 4 – Fold and sew on the bottom bands
Time to fold the bottom bands, so stay by the good old iron!
Iron in half with the right sides of the facing out. Fold open the strip and fold one raw edge over till a little over half way and iron again.
Overlock the remaining raw edge, it should be quite a bit longer than the folded side. You can fold this instead if you want a neater finish, I prefer to overlock it for speed and ease of catching both sides when sewing!
Iron the bands again to press the seams, I adjusted mine slightly to make them wider, and to line the seams up a little closer. (See photos above!!!)
Pin the bands on to the gathered edges.
Topstitch close to the edge, you will have a bit of excess band but you can trim that off.
Step 5 – Side seams
Overlock/zigzag all the side edges separately. This will allow you to fold out the seam flat so the band will sit nicer. Leave the end of the overlocked thread on.
Iron open the side seams.
Thread the overlocking ends back up under the seam, this will help the folds from not showing out the bottom, and will stop them coming undone later.
You can trim the excess overlocked thread off now.
Topstitch on the band on either side of the seam to secure the fold at the bottom, to top will be secured when you sew the waistband.
Step 6 – Waistband
Overlock the waistband to prevent fraying and to even out any miss-matched side seams (You can just trim with scissors and use zigzag).
Decide whether you want to fold the waistband once or twice (to hide the overlocked edge), I have chosen to just do it once this time. Iron the band over once or twice depending on your choice.
I like to sew the topstitch around the top edge of the waistband first.
Now to create the casing for the elastic only in the back half of the shorts. Start at one side seam (make sure it stays folded out), and sew your waistband round to the other side seam. Add a tag if you are wanting one! Don’t forget to lockstitch (or reverse a few stitches) at the beginning and end.
Overlock/zigzag the ends of the elastic to prevent them fraying.
Thread the elastic through till the end is still just sticking out of the opening, pin in place and little way away from the side seam. Sew on the right side of the waistband straight down the side seam to catch the elastic, I like to sew this up and down for extra strength.
Feed the elastic the rest of the way through, line up the other side and pin and sew in the same way.
Sew up the front of the waistband (photo above right!)
Step 7 – Admire the gathered leg shorts!
I also made Harry a pair with pockets, using bias binding and neon green zigzag to attach it. Much like the Baby Bib in the Struggling with bias binding post. Can’t leave the neon thread alone!!!