Every summer there are a few days when it is really hot and I want a pair of shorts. This generally passes and I don’t actually do anything about it. I don’t wear shorts because I don’t love my thighs and it seems better not to inflict them on the world.
Until recently this went double for sewing shorts because I struggled for a long time last year to make trousers and trying to resolve the fitting issues around my hips/thighs almost drove me crazy – I am about two sizes different between waist and hip and getting the fit right is a challenge. Heather B wrote an amazing post about fitting trousers which expresses everything that I went through in this process more perfectly than I ever could.
But – here I am with shorts – so what has changed?
Well – the sun came out and my annual longing for shorts happened and I had kind of forgotten about the misery of the pants fitting cycle of hate and I was ready to have another go. I have also read a lot of posts about Katey and Laney’s Tap Shorts which I am really tempted to try next time I long for shorts. I also read a post on U & Mii about how people react to those of us without perfect figures posting pictures of their shorts. This made me think about whether I should stop worrying about a few inches of thigh and just get on with wearing what I want?
Sewoverit recently released the Ultimate Trousers – this is a pattern that they have been teaching as a class for a while. I first saw the pattern on Lisa’s blog and thought they looked really cute and I saw that SoZo had made a pair and she reported no fitting problems. Recently more versions have been popping up, including this gorgeous pair from Rachel at House of Pinheiro on the Minerva Crafts blog.
I do want to make some Capri trousers very soon as a couple of pairs of RTW ones that I wore regularly have fallen apart recently, so I got the pattern with this in mind and then I found that it also includes shorts. So I figured the shorts would be a good test for the trousers and I got on with a muslin.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if I just made the muslin and it was perfect and then I sewed the shorts and ta-da! Sadly not – I cut what I thought was my size – I started with a size 12 waist grading out to size 16 at the hips. The first version were too tight across the thighs in the front and back, but the crucial thing for me was that the fit and length at the crotch wasn’t too bad. I tried taking the seam allowance right down to give a little more width and that helped but I still needed a bit more space around the thighs.
It can be hard to identify particular fitting issues when things are too tight – some changes may actually make things worse elsewhere. The Colette Pants Fitting cheatsheet is an excellent resource. I decided I didn’t want a full butt adjustment as that lengthens the crotch rise which was actually OK on these – so I scooped out the crotch curve to make more of an L shape (comparing to a pair of RTW trousers that fit quite well). I then made a wide hip adjustment to give myself a bit of extra width across the thighs without adding too much width above the hip line.
So the fitting process wasn’t painful which was a huge bonus! I made two muslins and then the final version out of a grey linen. Sewing these shorts is actually super easy – there are very few seams and making a facing instead of a waistband was very straightforward – no fiddly fly front to worry about.
On the final version the waist has turned out looser than I expected – I sewed the side seams with a reduced allowance and I guess I didn’t need to do that. There is a bit of excess fabric at the front which I don’t know how/whether to get rid of and I think I have made the curve of the hip a little too exaggerated. But I don’t hate them – or how I look in them – and I am encouraged enough that I will gather my strength and attempt some trousers very soon! I am wearing them with my Me-Made May Sorbetto with sleeves which has been getting lots of wear this summer.
Sadly I may have brought the lovely summer to a premature end with reckless shorts making. Last weekend sunshine and swimming in the river – this week I finished the shorts and there are flood warnings across the UK, torrential rain today and this is the forecast for next weekend, so I guess the world may still be safe from the sight of my thighs..