Tuesday 12 February 2013

A heart outfit for Valentines Day ... and some more gorgeous fabric to play with!

Well, first thing's first with this post ... a huge thanks to Abakhan Fabrics who sent me this beautiful Hearts and Dots fabric to use for a Valentines Day tutorial, and thanks also to Totally Tutorials for hosting another awesome tutorial exchange, and for picking me to participate in this one.  Who doesn't love some free fabric in exchange for a chance to play around with a new design!?!... especially when the fabric is as beautiful to sew with as this one!

Here in Sydney, Valentines Day is in summer, and I particularly love that day 'cause it's also my birthday.  Anyway, I thought a summery little outfit was in order for this one, and I've been toying with some designs for shorts for a few months.  I'm finding that at the level I'm at with my sewing, I can follow instructions well, but don't really understand the piecing together process properly.  To try and improve on this, I decided to design and make a few articles of clothing for the girls without patterns or tutorials to help me ... just a feel-as-I-go type thing.  The first thing I made was a pair of lined shorts for Bethany with a ruffled top.  This first pair (see some pics below) just have plain hemmed bottoms.  So I thought this tutorial exchange would be the perfect opportunity to have a go at a pair of shorts with a turned up cuff.  I have never made anything like this before, but the idea came from a pair of shorts Bethany had as a toddler.  They're yellow with a beautiful floral fabric lining, so when the cuffs are turned up the floral fabric can be seen.  I love these little shorts ... they should fit Hannah soon too I think which will be great! (That's the awesome part of having two girls ... the re-wearing of all the cute stuff!!)

I decided to make fully lined shorts because, well ... I have no overlocker!!!! (well, not yet anyway ...  I've been not-very-subtly hinting to my hubby that I would really appreciate one for my birthday ... we'll just have to wait and see I guess!)  Anyway, the great part about making the shorts lined is that you can hide all of those unsightly seams that cause fraying and just general "blerk"!!  I know you can zig-zag or using pinking shears to reduce fraying on raw edges, but I just find that no amount of this stops the dreaded fraying, and it's so frustrating for something you've made lovingly to end up looking so yuck!

I also decided to add a ruffle top to the waist-band, 'cause it's just cute!! ... so much cuter than a plain waist-band I reckon, and really no more tricky!

Anyway, do you like them?  Wanna make some of your own?  Here's how to do it ....

What you need:
- 1/2 yard of main fabric
- 1/2 yard of lining fabric (mine is just a plain red cotton)
- Coordinating cotton
- 2 coordinating buttons
- 1/4" elastic
- Sewing Machine, scissors etc
The How To:
1. Make a pattern - I used the method of tracing an existing pair of shorts ... I originally learned this method here, when I made these shorts.  For this pattern, instead of making 2 pattern pieces (front and back), I made 1 piece.  The shorts are cut on the fold, so there is no side-seam, just a crease.  It sits nicely and is even simpler to make.  As the shorts are a baggy style, I also used the same pattern piece for the front and the back ... they fit perfectly fine, and once again, it makes the whole thing lots simpler.  After tracing the shorts, and adding a 1/4" seam allowance, I also added 1 1/2" to the top, and 1 1/2" to the length.  This allows for the waist-band turn-down, and also for the turned up cuff.

2.  Using the pattern you just made, cut 2 from the main fabric, and 2 from the lining fabric.

3. Place the main fabric pieces right-sides together and sew the top seams together, using 1/4" seam.  Repeat with the lining fabric.

4. Sew the inner leg seams on the main fabric, starting at inner part of the leg hole on one side, and ending at the inner leg on the other side.  Repeat with the lining fabric.

Carefully snip some slits  around the crotch seams of both pieces ... be really careful not to snip in further than your seam, or there will be a hole in the crotch.  Never a good look!

You should now have what appears to be 2 kinda-short-shaped pieces ... one from the main fabric and one from the lining fabric.

5. Turn your main fabric piece right-side-out, and iron it.  Then iron the leg holes under 1/4 inch all the way around.  Repeat with the lining piece, expect keep your lining piece wrong side out.

6. Carefully insert the lining piece into the main fabric piece, to make one pair of shorts instead of 2.  Pin the lining and main fabric pieces together around the leg holes with their wrong-sides facing.  It helps to line up the inner leg seams on the lining and main fabric and pin in place first.

Make sure your 1/4" hem is tucked in all the way around.  The sew (top-stitch) around the bottom of the legs approximately 1/8" from the edge.

7. Repeat above with the waist, then give them a good iron.

You should now have one pair of shorts, with no raw edges showing anywhere ... yay for that!

8.  Fold the waist down 1 1/2" from the top and iron, then pin in place.  Sew around the waist-band, following your stitching line from Step 7, and leaving a 1/2" gap between the start and end of the row (so you have space to insert the elastic later!)

9.  Measure 1/2" from the line of stitching you just completed, and sew another line parallel all around to make a casing for your elastic.  You don't need to leave a gap in this row.

10.  Measure your munchkin's waist, and add 1" (for overlap), then cut elastic to length.  Use a safety-pin to thread your elastic through the casing, trying not to get it twisted.  Then, using a zig-zag stitch, overlap the ends of the elastic 1/2" and sew together.  Stretch the waist out and allow your elastic to be pulled in to the waist-band.

11. (Optional) - Bethany has a thing about NEEDING to know which way her clothes go, by finding a tag.  Even though it really doesn't matter with these shorts, as the front and back are almost identical, I have started sewing a little piece of ribbon in the back, which shows the back for Bethany, and also closes the gap we left for the elastic in the one step ... like so!

12.  To make the side straps, cut 2 rectangles of main fabric 2 1/2" x 3 1/2".

13.  Fold in half long ways, right sides together and sew.  Then sew a "V" shape, and trim the excess fabric off.

12.  Turn the side straps through to the right side ... I found this easiest by using my scissors to force the end out like so ...

13. Measure your buttons and make a button-hole at the pointed end of each strap, then iron the strap, and iron the raw edge under 1/4".

14.  Iron the each shorts-leg up 1 1/2", then unfold, and pin the strap to the lining fabric just above the iron mark like so ...

15.  Stitch the strap in place ... I sewed a rectangle, and a diagonal line across the rectangle to give it strength.

16.  Fold the cuff up, and measure where your button needs to go, then sew in place.

Da-Dahhh!!  All finished.  I'm pretty happy with mine ... how did yours turn out ... I'd love to see!

Anyway, as an added bonus (and due to my current knit-fabric addiction), I decided to make a matching T-shirt.  I used this pattern and up-sized it to fit Bethany ... I love how this sits on the girls, especially the little gathered bit at the front.  This is a great one for a knit-beginner like me.  Then I just appliqued a matching heart from my Hearts and Dots fabric to make it all matchy and super-hearty for Valentines Day.

So, another huge thanks to Abakhan Fabric and Totally Tutorials, and Happy Valentines Day to all!

Oh, and here's a few pics of the other lined pair of shorts I made for Bethany recently.  This was my first attempt at the "lined shorts" concept, and I will admit that when making these I pretty much undid every seam at least once before I worked it all out.  But I like them, and I think I'm now getting an understanding of pattern shapes and piecing and how it all works ... so much fun!!


  1. I am amazed at how quickly you got this tutorial and adorable outfit together.

    1. Once I get new fabric, I can't leave it alone for long! It is called very little sleep though! A bit bleary-eyed today! Still, it was lots of fun!

  2. Sadly my girls are way to big for this, so it's good to just enjoy the tutorial and not worry about them wanting me to take on yet another project...

  3. How do you get your elastic to gather so nicely? I have been making shorts for my nephew and the elastic is hardly gathering, and doesnt really have much fabric to stretch. Any tips?

    1. What a lucky nephew you have!! I had a similar problem once. My tip would be that when you're creating your pattern, and tracing a pair of ready-made shorts, add a little width to the top waist-band … like an extra inch at each side. That will give plenty of space for the fabric and elastic to stretch over your nephews little hips when pulling them on and off. You want the measurement of the waist on the shorts (before the elastic is inserted) to be at least a couple of inches more than the elastic length. Does that make sense? Hope that helps!!

  4. I know this is a really old post but I'm going to give some a go for my daughter and just wanted to clarify something. Looking at the post you referred to for making a pattern, it says to add 1 1/8" for waist band casing. Then in this post you say to add 1 1/2" to allow for the waist band turn down. Have you also added the 1 1/8" or is your 1 1/2" including that from the other post?

    1. Hi Donna, thanks for your message! Yes, I just added 1 1/2" for the waistband (not 1 1/8). I wanted my waistband taller for the frill at the top. I'd love to see what you make!!!

  5. Thanks for this post! I've not made shorts before and this was perfect for making some cute PJ shorts with cats on for my 2 little cat lovers. Was really easy once I got over the fact I'd put my hand made pattern on the fabric back to front and but it out!! ;) Thankfully I'd done them wide enough to be able to re-cut them!! Thanks again.