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Friday, March 30, 2012

Tutorial--Make Your Own Shorts/Pants

As my sewing skills and confidences grow, I would like to start sharing my knowledge with others.  This is the first time I am trying to write a a tutorial.  Hopefully someone will want to try and out and let me know how it worked for them!

Making your own shorts or pants without a pattern definitely isn't a new thing.  I have no idea where I learned how to do it--I read so many amazing blogs that have helped hone the skills that my mother taught me.  All you need is a pair of shorts/pants that fit well, some paper (I use a roll of kids craft paper), fabric, elastic, and a sewing machine and thread.  For Ayden's shorts, I used a little less than half a yard of fabric.
The first thing you need to do, is turn the pants inside out and tuck one leg into the other.  Try to get the piece as flat as possible so you can see all of the side seams.  These shorts did not want to lay flat, so I drew the left side out to where they should have lain flat.

Lay the shorts on the paper and trace around them, about 1/2 inch away from the seam to account for seam allowances.  The bottom and top edges are about an inch and a half below the seam, to allow for a 1 inch cuff and a 1 inch waist band.

The front and back pieces of your clothes are not identical, so you need to trace both the front half of the shorts and the back half.  Make sure you label your pattern pieces!  And if you would like to make the shorts again, you might want to label the size.

Cut out your pattern pieces.

You will need 2 front pieces and 2 back pieces, so I fold my fabric in half and pin my pattern pieces on top.

Cut the pieces out.

  To ensure that I don't mess up my front and back pieces, I labeled my front pieces with an "F."  Note that I use a pencil that will disappear when it is washed.

Now the sewing begins!!!

Pin 1 front and 1 back piece together, with the right sides facing each other.  (You will only see the wrong side of the fabric.)

Sew up the long, straight side, using a 1/2 seam allowance.  This is the side seam of your pants.

Repeat for the other two pieces.

Open the pieces up and iron flat.  You will have 2 pieces that look like this.

As a side note, I do not have a serger.  . . (yet) so I like to make french seams because they look more professional.  If you would like to make a french seam, all you have to do is (1) put the pieces together with wrong sides together (2) sew a narrow (3) open and iron flat, trim extra fabric (4) press the fabric with right sides facing each other (your seam will be smooshed between the 2 layers) (5) sew 1/4 seam.

Ok, back to the normal tutorial.

If you don't want a cuff, skip to the next image.

To make the contrasting cuff, I made a narrow hem on my polka dot fabric.  To make a narrow hem, place fabric on the ironing board right side down and press 1/2 inch of fabric over twice.

I pinned this fabric to the pant leg, lining up the unfinished (bottom) edges.  The rolled hem that I just made is at the top where the pins are.

Sew a straight line down the pins. (I remove pins as I go, to avoid possibly breaking a needle.)

Repeat for the other leg.

Another "professional" touch that I added, was sewing 2 parallel lines here.

Next, place the two legs together, ride sides facing each other.

Pin up the J shaped curves on either side.  These seams will be the waist to crotch and waist to butt seams.

Sew where you have pinned with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Open up the shorts so that the seams lay flat.  I have a pin in the picture above so you can see the seam that we just sewed. Your fabric should look more like shorts now!

Now I have flipped my shorts around.  Pin the inseam.  This area is shaped like a U.  That middle seam is the seam that you sewed in the previous step.  Since I made a cuff, I was careful to match up the cuffs on the front and back pieces.

Sew, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

If the clothes are going to get a good bit of wear, you might want to reinforce the crotch inseam.  Come back and add a line of stitches at the crotch on the outside of the seam that you just sewed.

At this point, I like to try the clothes on just to make sure nothing needs to be adjusted before I hem up the bottoms and create the waist.

To make a cuff, make sure the pants are inside out.  Flip over 1/2 inch of fabric and press it flat.  Next flip over 1 inch of fabric and press flat again.  You will not see any of the raw edge.

Sew the cuff down.  I life to line my presser foot up with the top edge of the cuff.

Repeat for the other leg.

Since I already had a line of stitching on the cuff, I flipped my pants around so they were right side out to sew the cuff down.  I then sewed right on my upper line of stitching and carefully removed each pin before I got to it.

 Lastly, you need to make the waistband! Just like the cuffs, with the shorts inside out, fold over 1/2 inch, press, fold over 1 inch, press again.  At this point, I like to make a little tag.  I just use my pinking shears to cut a square of fabric and insert it into the center back waistband.

Pin the waistband down.  You are going to need to leave about an inch and a half open so that you can insert the elastic.  To mark the open spot, I use 2 pins on either side.

Stitch around the waist, using about 1/4 inch allowance.  Start at one set of double pins, and end at the other set.  Note, too, that my opening is in the back.  This is just in case I get a little pucker, mistakes aren't as noticeable in the back.

Put your elastic around the wearer's waist (not stretched) and mark where you need to cut.  (This is 3/4 inch elastic.) I usually cut the elastic just a tad shorter than the person's waist circumference.

To thread the elastic through, use a safety pin.  Be careful to keep the elastic from twisting.

It also helps to use "non-roll" elastic.  My store was out of  the non-roll, so I am making due with standard elastic.

Overlap the ends, and stitch, using a zigzag stitch.  I go back and forth a couple times to make it strong.

Distribute the elastic evenly through the band.  If you want to make sure they fit well, you might want to try them on before you close up this seam.

Sew the seam closed, doing your best to line up your stitching with the other ends.

Congrats!  You just made a pair of pants!  Enjoy!

One last thought.  Anyone can sew.  All you need is patience, a good iron, and lots of pins.  It is like carpentry, take your time, measure twice, and mark your patterns well and you, too, can create whatever your mind can think up!