Big Island Board Shorts (Bring on the Summer!)

Whoa, you guys. Summer is quickly approaching! I know the official first day of summer isn’t until June 21, but seriously, no one told California. As far as I’m concerned, summer is happening! My kindergartener is out of school in just 9 days and once that happens, look out world, I’m going to sleep in until 7:00 a.m. and swim every day.

(Do you all get my sarcasm? Sleep in until 7:00? Boy, I’m really lucky, aren’t I!)

One of the best things about our already-summer is definitely these awesome board shorts Hudson is wearing. Can you believe it, you guys? I made board shorts! I’m so proud of myself! Last week I had the opportunity to test the Big Island Board Shorts pattern by Blank Slate Patterns. It was just released for sale TODAY, and please, go grab it now!

Just like all patterns by Blank Slate Patterns, (affiliate link), the instructions are clearly written and easy to follow with helpful pictures throughout. Even if you haven’t sewn shorts before, you can sew these board shorts and make ’em look great. Seriously. I think it’s a great way to branch into sewing shorts, actually.

The color-blocking for these shorts was my own twist on the pattern and I’ve included some step-by-step photos at the very bottom of this post you’re interested in doing something similar. You know how I love color blocking and mixing things up with solid fabrics! This is a fun way to make a unique pair of board shorts, even if you only have solid fabrics to choose from in your local fabric shop.

I’m sure you’re all wondering: what kind of fabric is that anyway?? Melissa provides a good list of the best fabrics to use for board shorts in her pattern. For these, I used red and black nylon fabric from Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Crafts. (They don’t carry board short fabric in their store, and this was the closest I could get). I was iffy about it at first, but now that I’ve seen my son swim in them, I can tell you that nylon works GREAT for board shorts. It’s also pretty inexpensive per yard, making these an inexpensive option for summer swim wear.

I also added a fun chevron detail to the back pocket, kind of like the one I did for the shirt inΒ this post. The pattern suggests adding a grommet to the pocket so that water can drain out instead of weighing the pocket down. Since I didn’t have grommets, I added a buttonhole instead, and it seems to be working really well.

This pattern also includes options for a mesh lining, or “built in underwear” as we call it around here. I included it on this pair and used fold over elastic (also from Jo-Ann’s) to trim the lining. Hudson says it’s really comfortable, which I’m glad to hear! Those can be tricky, but Melissa really nailed the sizing with this pattern.

We had a bunch of friends over for a pool party yesterday and no one asked if Hudson’s board shorts were homemade, which is a good thing if you ask me! When a bunch of cool boys are running around and swimming together, I don’t want my son to be the only one in home-made looking board shorts. But these must look professional enough to pass for store bought, I guess!

Now, head on over to Blank Slate Patterns and get ready for summer sewing, and summer swimming!

Full Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Blank Slate Patterns, which means I receive a percentage of each sale from the links in this post. As always, the opinions in this post are 100% my own!


First, decide where you want the color-blocking seam to be. Once you know where you want the colors to change over on your board shorts, mark it with a straight line across the FRONT pattern piece. Β Now, add another line 1/2″ above that to mark the seam allowance:

To repeat with the BACK pattern piece, mark these lines at the equivalent places on the back pattern piece. The easiest way to make sure these match up when sewn is to do the following:

Measure from the top line you drew to the top left of the front pattern piece. Take that measurement and measure the same distance down from the top left of the back piece. This will ensure that your color-blocking is exactly the same on the back pieces as on the front.

Next, cut both pattern pieces along the top line you drew. You will now have two front pieces and two back pieces. Remember, the seam allowances are included on the bottom halves, but NOT on the top halves. You’ll have to measure an extra 1/2″ for the seam allowance when you cut the fabric for the top halves.

You will need to cut one piece of both colors from each of the four pattern pieces. Place your two fabrics right sides together and cut out your pattern pieces. (NOTE: you only need one pocket, so there is no need to cut one of each color). REMEMBER to add the 1/2″ seam allowance to the top pieces!

These are the pieces you should now have cut: (sorry the picture cuts out some of the pieces, but you get the gist)

– one red bottom back piece and one red bottom front piece
– one black bottom back piece and one black bottom front piece
– one red top back piece and one red top front piece
– one black top back piece and one black front piece
-one black waste band
– one black pocket piece

Sew the red and black pieces together with right sides facing, and then serge or zigzag stitch to finish the seam. Fold the seam up toward the top piece (pin if you choose) and topstitch the seam allowance down. I added two lines of stitching, just for fun and because I liked how it looked.

Now sew the shorts together according to the pattern instructions, and you’re done!


  1. says

    so cool!! They totally look professionally made! One time a Gap employee asked me if a dress Lu was wearing was one of theirs and it was one I made….I was a LITTLE stoked πŸ˜‰ I will have to look at these links and see what patterns they have for girls!! They look so cute!

  2. says

    These are so great! They definitely can pass for professionally made! Love the detail on them, and the color combos!
    Heidi @

  3. says

    Oh wow, you did such a wonderful job! I love these!!! Especially the colour blocking!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

  4. says

    Wow these are wonderful! I love the color blocking! such a simple twist to the detail of these really great swim shorts/swim trunks! they are just perfect.

  5. says

    These turned out so cute! I am going to be making some… I am hoping to find some fabric for them this coming weekend! πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to meet you all in person.