Sewing shorts is an excellent way for beginners to delve into the world of garment creation. Not only do shorts provide a comfortable and practical piece of clothing, but they also offer a great opportunity to hone basic sewing skills. In this detailed guide, we’ll walk you through each step of how to sew shorts, ensuring you can confidently tackle this project.

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Essential Materials You’ll Need for Sewing Shorts:

  • Fabric for Your Shorts: Choose a suitable fabric like cotton, lightweight denim, or other comfortable, durable materials.
  • Sewing Machine: A basic sewing machine capable of performing straight and zigzag stitches.
  • Matching Thread: Ensure the thread color matches or complements your fabric.
  • Scissors: A sharp pair for precise fabric cutting.
  • Measuring Tape: Essential for accurate measurements.
  • Pins: For holding fabric pieces together before sewing.
  • Iron and Ironing Board: Crucial for pressing seams and hems.
  • Pattern: Use a commercial pattern or create a homemade one by tracing a well-fitting pair of shorts.

Step 1: Sew Shorts: Fabric and Pattern Selection

When selecting fabric, prioritize comfort and durability. Cotton is breathable and ideal for casual shorts, while lightweight denim offers more structure. Regarding patterns, beginners might prefer using a commercial pattern for clear instructions and sizing. Alternatively, create a homemade pattern by tracing a pair of well-fitting shorts, leaving room for seam allowances.

Choosing Your Fabric for Sewing Shorts:

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  1. Fabric Type: Consider the end use of your shorts. For everyday casual wear, cotton, linen, or lightweight denim are excellent choices. These fabrics are not only comfortable but also easy to handle, especially for beginners.
  2. Fabric Weight: Pay attention to the weight of the fabric. Light to medium-weight fabrics are ideal for shorts as they drape well and are comfortable to wear.
  3. Fabric Stretch: If you’re new to sewing, you might want to start with non-stretch fabrics, as they are easier to sew. However, if you choose a stretch fabric, ensure your pattern is suitable for stretch materials.
  4. Wash and Pre-Shrink: Always pre-wash your fabric. This helps to remove any shrinkage, which is vital for a well-fitting garment.

Selecting the Right Pattern for Shorts Sewing:

  1. Pattern Type: As a beginner, look for patterns labeled as ‘easy’ or ‘for beginners’. These patterns usually have fewer pieces and simpler construction methods.
  2. Size and Fit: Carefully review the pattern’s size chart. Remember, pattern sizes can differ from ready-to-wear sizes. Measure your body and choose the size that best corresponds to your measurements.
  3. Read the Pattern: Before you start cutting, read through the pattern instructions. This gives you an overview of the process and helps you understand any specific requirements.
  4. Pattern Adjustments: Don’t be afraid to make adjustments. If you’re between sizes or have specific fit preferences, it’s okay to alter the pattern. You can also trace an existing pair of shorts that fit well, adding seam allowances where necessary.
  5. Understanding Instructions: Ensure you understand all the symbols and markings on the pattern. These provide crucial information for aligning your fabric, cutting, and sewing.

Step 2: Sew Shorts: Taking Accurate Measurements

Taking accurate measurements is a fundamental step in sewing shorts that fit well. Precise measurements ensure your finished garment is comfortable and flattering. Here’s a guide to help you measure accurately:

Essential Measurements for Sewing Shorts:

  1. Waist: Measure around the narrowest part of your waist, typically where your body bends side to side. Keep the tape measure snug but not tight.
  2. Hips: Measure around the fullest part of your hips. This is usually about 7 to 9 inches below your waist. Ensure the tape is level all the way around.
  3. Rise: The rise determines how high or low the shorts will sit on your body. Measure from your waist (or where you want the shorts’ waistband to sit) down through your legs to the same point on your back. This is often done in a sitting position to ensure comfort and mobility.
  4. Inseam: This is the length from the crotch to where you want the shorts to end. The inseam length can vary based on the style of shorts you’re making (like Bermuda, standard, or short shorts).
  5. Leg Opening: Measure around your thigh where the hem of the shorts will be. This is especially important for fitted shorts.
  6. Outseam: Measure from the waist to the desired hemline along the outside of your leg. This helps determine the overall length of the shorts.

Tips for Accurately Measuring for Shorts Sewing:

  • Wear Fitting Clothing: Measure over thin, fitting clothes to get the most accurate measurements. Bulky clothing can add extra inches.
  • Use a Flexible Measuring Tape: A soft, flexible tailor’s measuring tape is ideal for taking body measurements.
  • Stand Naturally: Stand in a relaxed, natural posture. Do not suck in your stomach, as this can lead to inaccurate measurements.
  • Seek Assistance: If possible, have someone else take your measurements. It’s easier and often more accurate than trying to do it yourself.
  • Double-Check: Always double-check your measurements for accuracy.
  • Record Your Measurements: Write down your measurements as soon as you take them, so you don’t forget.
  • Compare with Pattern Size Chart: Before cutting your fabric, compare your measurements with the size chart on your pattern. This will guide you in choosing the correct pattern size.

Step 3: Sew Shorts: Cutting the Fabric

Lay your fabric on a flat surface and place the pattern pieces on top. Use weights or pins to keep the pattern in place and cut carefully around the edges. You should have two pieces for the front and two for the back.

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Cutting the fabric is a critical step in sewing shorts, as it lays the groundwork for your entire project. Precision and care are key to ensure that the pieces fit together perfectly when sewn. Here’s how to cut your fabric for shorts efficiently and accurately:

Preparing the Fabric for Shorts Sewing:

  1. Pre-Wash and Iron: Pre-wash your fabric to prevent future shrinkage and iron it to remove any wrinkles. This ensures accuracy in cutting.
  2. Lay Out the Fabric: Spread your fabric on a large, flat surface. Make sure it’s smooth and wrinkle-free.
  3. Position the Fabric Correctly: For most patterns, you’ll lay the fabric out in a double layer, with the right sides facing each other. This means you’ll be cutting through two layers at once – one for the left side of the shorts and one for the right.

Arranging the Pattern for Sewing Shorts:

  1. Place the Pattern Pieces: Lay out your pattern pieces on the fabric according to the layout instructions provided with your pattern. This usually includes a front piece, a back piece, and possibly a waistband or pocket pieces.
  2. Align the Grainline: Ensure the grainline on the pattern pieces is parallel to the selvage (the uncut edge) of the fabric. This ensures that the fabric hangs correctly when worn.
  3. Secure the Pattern: Pin the pattern pieces to the fabric or use pattern weights to hold them in place. Be sure the pattern is flat and without any bubbles or wrinkles.

Cutting the Fabric for Shorts Sewing:

  1. Use Sharp Scissors or a Rotary Cutter: Sharp tools are essential for clean cuts. Use fabric scissors or a rotary cutter for the best results.
  2. Cut Carefully: Follow the edges of the pattern pieces closely. Be precise, especially around curves and corners.
  3. Mark Notches and Darts: Transfer any notches, darts, or other markings from the pattern to the fabric. These are crucial for aligning the pieces when sewing.
  4. Check Pieces: After cutting, remove the pattern weights or pins and lift away the pattern pieces. Check the fabric pieces to ensure they are correctly cut and all markings are visible.

Tips for Cutting Fabric in Shorts Sewing:

  • Stay relaxed: Keep your hands relaxed while cutting to avoid jagged edges.
  • Consistent Pressure: Apply consistent pressure while cutting for smooth edges.
  • Double-Check Before Cutting: Mistakes in cutting can be costly, so double-check before making any cuts.

Step 4: Sew the Shorts Together

Start by sewing the front pieces together along the crotch line, then do the same with the back pieces. Use a straight stitch and remember to backstitch at the beginning and end for durability.

This step requires attention to detail and careful stitching to ensure a neat and durable finish. Here’s a comprehensive guide to sewing your shorts together:

Step 4(a): Sewing the Front and Back Crotch Seams in Shorts

  1. Align the Front Pieces: Place the two front pieces of your short’s right sides together, aligning the crotch seam.
  2. Sew the Seam: Using a straight stitch, sew along the crotch seam. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end for added strength.
  3. Repeat for Back Pieces: Do the same for the back pieces, sewing along the crotch seam.

Step 4(b): Joining Front and Back for Shorts Sewing

  1. Open the Pieces: Lay the sewn front and back pieces open, with right sides facing up.
  2. Place Front Over Back: Place the front piece over the back piece, right sides together, aligning the side and inseam.
  3. Pin the Inseam: Carefully pin the inseams (the long seam that runs from the crotch down each leg).

Step 4(c): Sewing the Inseam for Sew Shorts

  1. Sew Along the Pinned Seam: Sew the inseam from one leg opening to the other, ensuring the crotch seams match up in the center.
  2. Backstitch at Both Ends: This is a high-stress area, so backstitching adds durability.

Step 4(d): Side Seams in Shorts Sewing

  1. Pin the Sides: Align and pin the side seams of the shorts, matching up the waist and leg edges.
  2. Sew the Sides: Sew down each side from waist to hem, backstitching at the start and end.

Step 4(e): Checking the Fit in Sewing Shorts

  1. Try Them On: If possible, try the shorts on inside out to check the fit, especially around the hips and crotch area.
  2. Adjust if Necessary: If adjustments are needed, do so before proceeding to the waistband and hemming.

Step 4(f): Creating a Waistband in Shorts Sewing

  1. Create Casing: Fold the top edge of the shorts down to form a casing for the elastic or drawstring, based on your pattern instructions.
  2. Sew the Casing: Sew close to the edge, leaving an opening to insert the elastic or drawstring.

Step 4(g): Hemming Techniques in Shorts Sewing

  1. Fold and Press the Hem: Fold the bottom edge of each leg to the inside, press, and pin.
  2. Sew the Hem: Sew around each leg, maintaining an even distance from the edge.

Step 5: Sew Shorts: Crafting the Crotch Seam

Align the front and back pieces right sides together, ensuring the crotch seams match up. Sew along the curve of the crotch seam, creating the main structure of your shorts.

Creating the crotch seam is a crucial step in sewing shorts, as it ensures both comfort and mobility in the finished garment. This seam shapes the area between the waist and the legs, so it’s important to sew it with precision. Here’s how to create a strong and well-fitting crotch seam:

Step 5(a): Fabric Preparation for Crotch Seam in Shorts

  1. Front and Back Pieces: Ensure you have the front and back pieces of your shorts cut out and ready. Typically, these will have different curves for the crotch area – the back piece usually has a deeper curve to accommodate the body.

Step 5(b): Sewing Front Crotch Seam in Shorts

  1. Align Front Pieces: Place the two front pieces right sides together, aligning the curved edge designated as the front crotch seam.
  2. Pin the Seam: Pin along this curve to hold the fabric in place. This helps prevent the fabric from shifting as you sew.
  3. Sew the Seam: Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine, sew along the pinned edge. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end to secure the stitch.
  4. Seam Allowance: Follow the seam allowance specified in your pattern, usually around 5/8 inch.

Step 5(c): Sewing Back Crotch Seam in Shorts

  1. Align Back Pieces: Similarly, align the two back pieces right sides together, focusing on the back crotch seam.
  2. Pin and Sew: Pin along the curve and sew, just like you did with the front pieces. Backstitch at both ends for strength.

Step 5(d): Joining Front and Back in Shorts Sewing

  1. Open Pieces: Lay the sewn front piece and back piece open with the right sides facing up.
  2. Place Front Over Back: Place the front piece over the back piece, right sides together, aligning the crotch seams you’ve just sewn.
  3. Pin Together: Carefully pin the front and back crotch seams together, ensuring the seams and edges align properly.
  4. Sew the Seam: Sew this combined seam from the back to the front in one continuous line. This creates the central crotch seam of the shorts.

Step 6: Sewing Side Seams in Shorts

Line up the front and back pieces along the side edges. Pin them in place and sew from the waist down to the hem, repeating on both sides.

The side seams run from the waist down to the hem of the shorts and are crucial for shaping and structuring the overall piece. Here’s how to sew them effectively:

Step 6(a): Aligning Pieces for Shorts Side Seams

  1. Right Sides Together: After sewing the crotch seam, open the shorts so that the right sides are facing up. Then, fold them back so the front and back right sides are together, aligning the side edges.
  2. Matching Seams and Notches: Make sure the waist, crotch seam, and hemline match up. If your pattern includes notches, align them as well. This ensures that the shorts will be symmetrical and fit well.

Step 6(b): Pinning Seams in Shorts Sewing

  1. Pin Along the Sides: Start pinning from the waist down to the hem, ensuring the edges are flush. Pinning helps to hold the fabric in place and prevents shifting while sewing.

Step 6(c): Sewing Side Seams in Shorts

  1. Sew with a Straight Stitch: Using your sewing machine, sew along the pinned edge with a straight stitch. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam for durability.
  2. Consistent Seam Allowance: Maintain the seam allowance recommended by your pattern, typically 5/8 inches. Consistency is key for a professional-looking finish.
  3. Repeat on the Other Side: Once one side is done, repeat the process on the other side of the shorts.

Step 6(d): Finishing Seams in Shorts Sewing

  1. Trimming and Finishing Edges: To prevent fraying and to reduce bulk, trim the seam allowance and finish the edges. You can use a zigzag stitch, a serger, or pinking shears.
  2. Pressing the Seams: For a neat finish, press the seams. You can press them either to one side or open, depending on the style of the shorts and your preference.

Step 7: Sew Shorts: Constructing the Waistband Casing

Fold the top edge of the shorts down twice to create a casing for the elastic. The width of the fold should be slightly wider than your elastic width. Pin in place and sew close to the lower folded edge, leaving a small opening to insert the elastic.

Step 7(b): Preparing the Waistband in Shorts Sewing

  1. Press the Fabric: Iron the top edge of your shorts to eliminate any wrinkles. This helps in achieving a crisp, even fold for the casing.
  2. First Fold: Fold the top edge of the shorts downwards (towards the wrong side) by about a quarter inch. This initial fold hides the raw edge and gives your casing a clean look. Press this fold with your iron to keep it in place.

Step 7(c): Crafting the Waistband Casing in Sew Shorts

  1. Second Fold for Casing: Fold the top edge again, this time creating the actual casing. The width of this fold should be slightly more than the width of your elastic or drawstring. For instance, for 1-inch wide elastic, fold down about 1.25 inches.
  2. Press and Pin: Press this fold with your iron to make a crisp edge. Pin it in place to hold the fold as you sew, ensuring the casing is even all the way around.

Step 7(d): Sewing the Waistband Casing in Shorts

  1. Stitch the Casing: Sew close to the lower folded edge all the way around the waist, leaving a small gap (about 1-2 inches) unstitched. This gap is where you will insert the elastic or drawstring.
  2. Backstitch at Start and End: Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching to reinforce the casing.

Step 7(e): Inserting Elastic or Drawstring in Shorts

  1. Attach a Safety Pin: Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic or drawstring. This makes it easier to thread through the casing.
  2. Thread Through the Casing: Use the safety pin to guide the elastic or drawstring through the casing. Make sure it doesn’t twist as you pull it through.
  3. Secure the Elastic/Drawstring: Once threaded, securely sew the ends of the elastic together, or tie the drawstring ends.

Step 7(f): Securing the Waistband Casing in Sewing Shorts

  1. Pull Elastic/Drawstring and Stitch: Gently pull the waistband to distribute the gather evenly. Then, sew the opening closed, stretching the elastic as you sew to keep it flat.

Step 8: Inserting Elastic in your Shorts

Cut a piece of elastic based on your waist measurement, minus a few inches for snugness. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it through the casing. Ensure the elastic doesn’t twist inside the casing.

Step 9: Closing the Waistband Casing in Sew Shorts

Overlap the ends of the elastic and sew them securely together. Then, stitch the opening of the waistband closed.

Step 10: Hemming Techniques in Shorts Sewing

Fold the bottom edge of each leg twice to create a clean hem. Iron the fold to keep it in place, then sew around the hem, ensuring a neat finish.

Step 11: Sew Shorts: Final Touches and Styling

Give your newly sewn shorts a final press with the iron for a polished look. Try them on, admire your handiwork, and enjoy the satisfaction of wearing something you made yourself.

By following these steps and using the “Sew Shorts” technique, you’ll be able to create custom shorts that are perfect for your style and comfort. This project not only adds a unique piece to your wardrobe but also strengthens your sewing skills. Happy sewing!

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