Yipee! It’s time to celebrate shorts, people! I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I was bit by the shorts bug. I’m well known among my friends on Instagram as the girl who churns out a few new pairs of shorts every week. I wouldn’t be surprised if my IG followers rolled their eyes every time a new pair popped up in my feed. Sheesh, shorts again. Get a new hobby.
Shorts appeal to me in a way that skirts don’t. Maybe it’s because I have two boys, maybe it’s because my active daughter can’t keep her knees together to save her life and must wear something that covers up those undies. Whatever it is, I LOVE SHORTS.
Last year, I loved shorts so much that I sewed along with Shorts On The Line, entered a few pairs in the Flickr group, and WON the second place Judge’s Choice Award for these lace shorts. It was super fun, and the first time I received any kind of recognition for sewing. It still gives me warm fuzzies to think about those shorts. (See some of my other shorts here, here, here and here.)
This year, Carla and Rachael asked me to join in the fun by contributing a guest post, and since I get a lot of feedback these days on the stuff I sew for my boys, I thought we could all use a good dose of BOY. So, let’s color-block some boy shorts, shall we?
When it comes to sewing boy clothing, I have two aims:
- It must not look dorky.
- It should look like it came from a surf brand, such as Quicksilver.
- Twill: this is my absolute favorite fabric for sewing boy shorts. It’s durable, strong, and of high quality where I buy it at Jo-Ann’s. The main shorts you see in this post were made using twill for the gray part. It washes and dries well, and only continues to look better with wear.
- Linen: this is my other favorite. I’ve used linens with a lot of drape, and some stiffer versions with very little. Linen is strong and durable, and like twill, it weathers well over time. Linen shorts get better and better with wear and washings.
- Cotton solids: cotton quilting solids, such as Kona Cotton, is my favorite choice for color-blocking. The vibrant colors (especially primary colors) look best paired with a more neutral colored twill. These fabrics combine well with others, and if you buy designer cottons (like the Kona, or solids by Robert Kaufman) you can count on the fabric wearing well without fading.
One last note on choosing fabrics for your color-blocked boy shorts: experiment with textures. Color-blocking can be even more effective when you combine different textures and/or shades of the same color. You don’t have to use all brightly colored solids against a gray backdrop. Sometimes, I like to use stripes in different directions to emphasize certain design elements in my shorts.
- I have a free shorts pattern in one size, 2T. You can easily use it for these shorts, but make sure you extend the legs a little bit to give the shorts a more boyish look.
- Dana from MADE has a free pants pattern that you can shorten into boy shorts using these instructions.
- The Oliver + S Sketchbook Shorts are a good option. I’ve never sewn them, but the pattern gets very high reviews.
- For older boys, try a boy shorts pattern form the Japanese sewing books, Happy Homemade. My favorite pattern comes from Happy Homemade Vol. 2.
Choose where you want the color blocking to start. You can either measure up from the bottom of your shorts (see photo above) or from the top edge of your shorts (see below). Whichever you choose, make sure the lines you draw match up at the same point.
Draw a line across the front and back pieces to denote where your color blocking seam will go.
Lay your top front piece on top of your bottom front piece with right sides facing, like this:
Stitch them in place with a 1/2 seam allowance, and finished the seam with a serger, pinking shears, or a zig zag stitch.
Press the seam allowance up toward the top piece.
Top stitch with two rows of stitching. For the first row, edge stitch as close to the seam as possible. Stitch the second row 1/8″ from the first.
Lay the stripes across your fabric, using the method I showed you earlier to make sure they will match up at the side seams.
Pin down the top strip of fabric. Once you’ve stitched this one down, use it to help you align the next two.
Stitch the stripes down, about 1/8″ from both raw edges of all three stripes. The edges of the fabric will fray up to the stitching. You can help it along by pulling out some threads from the horizontal weave.
Trim the excess.