DIY Polka Dot Shorts: A Tutorial {for little ones}

Summer is quickly approaching (probably faster for me here in Southern California than for many of you!), which means it’s time to start sewing those warm-weather clothes! I’ve had a lot of fun this week revisiting my Summer Shorts pattern and thought you might like to take a look. If you’ve never seen it before, this pattern is available for FREE in the size 2T
I’ve been adding multiple sizes this week and think I might be ready to release a full pattern for the shorts sometime soon (yay!). The free version is about as simple a pair of shorts as you can get, but a complete pattern would include extra goodies like pockets, cuffs, pretty extras–that sort of thing. We’ll see what happens.
In the meantime, these polka dots ones are Abby’s first pair in a 3T. These are simple DIY SUMMER SHORTS that anyone can make. The pattern is perfect for a beginner. In this tutorial I’ll walk you through the steps for printing your shorts with polka dots in fabric paint. This can be done on a store bought pair, OR you could make your own using this tutorial and my free pattern. 
First up, choose a pair of shorts to polka-fy, either ones you made yourself, or store bought.
Slip a piece of cardboard inside the leg to protect against fabric paint leaking through to the other side.
Get out your fabric paint. I always choose to use Tulip brand fabric paint, in a soft matte, as you can see below. There are other great brands out there, but this is available a couple miles down the road at my local Joanne’s store. For these shorts I chose a hot pink paint with a little bit of sparkle. 

Squirt some in a bowl (or tupperware, whatever you’ve got on hand) and grab a pencil with an UNUSED eraser. You need a nice round, flat, eraser to make perfectly round polka dots.

Do a test run on a few scraps of fabric and see how it looks. 
Make sure your fabric is lying on a flat surface, then use the eraser to print the polka dots all over the first leg of your shorts. After finishing the first leg, move the cardboard to the other leg and print it with dots. 

Once the second leg is complete, let the fabric paint dry completely. Then flip the shorts over and follow the same steps to finish the shorts.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you heat-set the fabric paint with an iron according to the manufacturers directions after the paint has dried. Tulip fabric paint requires that you cover the fabric with a press cloth (I use a thin kitchen towel or piece of muslin) and press with high heat for about 5 seconds. This will ensure that the paint won’t fade or peel off with washing.

Here are my shorts on the ironing board after I heat set the paint. This is before I added the elastic in the waistband.

And there you have it! An adorable pair of polka dot shorts. I think this would look great with white paint on denim, don’t you? Let me know if you make some!

Thanks so much for reading! For more kids clothes tutorials, check out the following:

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