Who wears short shorts?

Shorts! ...ulp.

Um, I do. For a very long time a 1″ inseam was my standard. And while I’ve gotten considerably more shy about my midriff over the past decade, my legs have stood the test of time up much better. They remain one of my favourite physical features. (Not to toot my own horn)

Of course, the last few years I haven’t had much opportunity to wear shorts, period. The summers here are, well, chilly by my standards (blame elevation or proximity to the mountains or just a run of bad luck); it only broke 30C once last summer. Add that to spending my days in an air-conditioned lab and, well, shorts just kinda got left for weekends and visits home. (The two or possibly three people reading this from my home town can protest all you like that your summers have been beastly the last couple of years. They were still better than the summers here.)

Lekala 5465 Sailor Shorts, pattern here.

Anyway, my shorts history aside, this seemed like a good way to tackle the fit of the Lekala pants block without sacrificing a huge amount of fabric (obviously I was not thinking in terms of topstitching- and machine-rethreading-time). I may also have been feeling kid-project-ed-out. Or possibly crack smoking was involved*. Anyway. For whatever reason (reason really played no role in this decision), the other day I found myself printing out the pattern (only nine pages!) and laying out the pieces on the denim remnant left over from my bellbottoms.

One bonus to this particular set of pants is that the directions on the Lekala website have, in fact, been translated to English. Now, I think translating sewing directions has to be one of the hardest things in the world, as the technical terms are both a) highly specialized and b) unique to each language (translating scientific stuff, on the other hand, is much easier, since most of the important words come from Latin anyway. I don’t speak a word of German but can still often pull the major details I need out of a German research paper. Not so a German issue of Burda.) All that being said, I made it to about halfway through step 6 before my brain blew out. I had no idea what they were trying to get me to do.

What exactly are you telling me to do?

So I stood there with my pieces, laying one on top of the other, this way up, that way up, trying to figure out what to do.

There was a slit involved. I knew that much.

In the end I didn’t do it exactly right—the piece which they call the “Fly Panel Facing” (this would’ve been more helpful if the names of the pieces on the pattern hadn’t still been written in Cyrillic) is supposed to lap out and make a little overlap on the front, which I didn’t get. I’m still not sure how you would make the bottom of that neat, by the way, without adding a crapload of bulk, anyway). But I did manage to get the fly panel and the four “inner front parts” together. I am too lazy to actually put together a tutorial for how I did it—if you really feel the need to make this pattern, I can do one, but I’d really recommend you make the 5742 pants into shorts instead. Or use this tutorial for creating a sailor-button look with a continuous lap placket. Or even pay for the Hot Patterns patternย (which I haven’t used but have seen some very nice pairs made up). Or, y’know, email me and I’ll do my best.


What it basically came down to, though, is that you end up with a slash down the middle of each front piece, with the “Fly Panel Facing” making a facing for the inner side of the pants and the “Inner front parts” sandwiching the edge of the slit, some frighteningly narrow seam allowances (I had to re-stitch several of mine), and nothing but a bit of fusible interfacing reinforcing the bottom of the slit. And I’m not convinced there’s anything at all you can do about this with this kind of pattern, unless you incorporate a front seam (as they did in the 5742 pants) or add a seam from the bottom of the slash over to the side, maybe with a pocket in it. Maybe I’ll try something like that next time.

So that’s my issue with the pattern itself. On to my own failings.

Crappy topstitching AND buttonholing!

Partly because I was really unhappy with the slit feature, and partly because I was trying to slug away at the piece and get it done before I had to reathread the machine for a kajllion kids’ projects, I sorta gave up trying hard. My topstitching around the inner part of the front fly panel isn’t symmetrical. I didn’t place my buttonholes properly, AT ALL (at least the topstitching I can fix if I come to my senses). My machine really doesn’t like zig-zagging with the top-stitching thread, so the buttonholes themselves are pretty dodgy as well (I tried buttonholer attachment, machine’s proper attachment, and manual—it just really doesn’t like to zig-zag with heavy thread). I added patch pockets to the rear, mostly on the principle that my butt needs as much decoration as it can get. Those are actually all right, although I forgot to do any topstitching designs before I sewed them on, so they look a little plain.

So those are my issues, purely self-inflicted. I should’ve taken more time, been more careful, not expected to bang out a pair of jean-shorts in a couple of hours. One thing the instructions do emphasize is topstitching carefully and evenly.

On me: front

And in the end, I don’t really like the shorts at all, for a reason that has nothing to do with the design features, the construction quality, or the instructions.

I don’t like the rise.

Now, the pattern illustration shows a moderately low rise. It’s hard to gauge things like this from illustrations (or even other peoples’ bodies, rise being a fairly individual thing). And I like low rise. The problem is, I like low rise.

These are more like mid-rise. They fall just below my navel. This is at least an inch or two above where I like my waistbands to fall, as it hits right in the middle of my jubbly bits. I’d rather have my waistband lower, where my hip gets bony. I realize that this isn’t most people’s preference, but it works for me, with my particular narrow-hipped, short-waisted body.

On me: side view

The bright spot of light in this is that the fit itself is more-or-less perfect. I didn’t even have to make any kind of gaposis adjustment to the back, which I had to in both the Ellen pants and the Jalie 2908 jeans (granted I think the Jalie pattern is drafted to the flattest common denominator, possibly because they figured this was an easier adjustment to make than the flat-butt adjustment). The only alteration I made upon trying them on was to take in the outseam of the leg a little bit below the hip, so they are not quite so loose around the thigh. ย Which is more of a style issue, again, than a fit issue. The illustration shows quite loose, slouchy shorts, rather than my sturdy denim version (and the fabric they call for is “sheer flax”, by which I assume they mean a lightweight linen. They use the word “linen” for fabric.)

I also used a smaller number of buttons than called for, because it “looked right” and I thought it would be okay on the denim. So there’s a bit of gaping that shouldn’t be there. Lesson learned.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the finished inseam wound up being about 2.5″.

Finished interior, with bonus threads. I'll snip those some time when I give a shit.

I don’t even know for sure that the rise will be an actual wearability problem, since I wouldn’t normally tuck a shirt into these anyway.

Oh, yeah… the pattern also calls for a zipper. I have no idea where this is supposed to go or why it would even be necessary.

In Me-Made June news, here’s yesterday’s outfit.

Me-Made June 23

This photo was taken in the glorious sunshine about five seconds before the clouds rolled in and the winds picked up. I was expecting one of our June thunderstorms, but it never quite materialized. Maybe today (if not tomorrow in the midst of the kids’ birthday party).

70s Tunic
Jalie 2908 CaprisHmm, tired of these yet? Obviously I need some other pairs… (and it just so happens I got some summery cream stretch twill at the Fabricland Canada Day sale yesterday…)

Oh, the earrings are a pair my mother and I put together back when we were making jewelry when I was in high-school. The bottom is a little malachine elephant a friend brought back from Zaire.
*Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I at any point, smoked actual crack. Or been been in a room where crack was being smoked. Or seen crack, except on a movie. I didn’t even smoke pot in high school, which is practically a rite of passage.**

**largely because my friends all smoked pipes and I was too embarrassed to admit I didn’t know how to use a lighter. Yes, those cheap Bic lighters. It wasn’t until I had been married to a smoker for several years that I learned how to use one. Mostly by practicing when he wasn’t around.



Filed under Sewing

29 responses to “Who wears short shorts?

  1. Miriana

    The shorts look great!

  2. You wear short shorts! I think they look really great on you. And good on you for struggling through the instructions and crazy pattern pieces and finishing them. I would have been absolutely clueless. I agree about the rise. I think it looks like “mid-rise” to me, too, especially on the back view. But I think the mid-rise is flattering on you and would look great with a blousy top tucked in.

  3. I actually think those short are seriously cute, although I see what you mean about the gaposis with the buttons. The rise is exactly the type I like, but I’m long-waisted so different fitting needs.

    Maybe the zipper was because the front is supposed to be decorative, and they want you to get into them via the back or side? That would annoy me in any case, because I hate non-functioning buttons. I mean, I’m fine with buttons as decoration but if you insist on me making buttonholes and putting in flaps and etc, I expect to USE the buttons.

    I have never done drugs, not because I’m particularly virtuous (AHAHAHA) but because only one person has ever offered me drugs — pot, as it happens — and this was in high school, at my mom’s house, where we were sure to get caught. Yeah, no thanks. I do have druggie friends, but apparently none of them share well. I think I should sound less annoyed by that. I’m not upset about it or anything, really!

    • Yeah, the rise issue is totally personal preference, not an actual problem with the design ;).

      I wondered that about the zipper, too. It could certainly go in the side-seam, although not in the back because the back waistband’s one piece. Which would annoy me, too. I don’t mind non-function buttons so much as I do non-functional pockets, but if I wanted a non-functional sailor-front I would just run a couple of rows of buttons down the front and save myself the slit-frustration. Perhaps it was supposed to go in the middle below the waistband (behind the button panel, like in the Kasia skirt from burdastyle.com), but the inner front part is only like 2″ long here, so it would be a bit useless, I think. Probably it says somewhere further on in the instructions, after I had given up on them…

  4. Those would have been more than I could handle to make with all the issues! I think they really look cute on you, but then I haven’t seen anything not look cute on you yet LOL. I understand though we like what we like on the rise of jeans and shorts. I like the lower rise as well.Those are kinda mid rise… Cute though mercy me those are cuteness! I too wear shorty shorts even at my age and plan to continue to do so as long as my legs hold up LOL. I am a runner, I think that is extending my shorty short
    life span ROFL :O). I liked the hot pattern a lot you linked up to..Thanks for linking up to that. I might try those as shorts!!
    I even liked them as pants. Cute pattern. Thanks for taking the time to do the links and give all the info you did.

    • Yeah, I have been very tempted by that Hot Patterns pattern a couple of times (there are some very nice made-up versions hanging around the blogs if you hunt).

      Running is definitely good for the legs… I credit mine to the massive amount of walking I did as a teen and young adult (I didn’t get my driver’s licence until I was 25).

  5. You’d think, maybe, living in The Netherlands, that I would have enough experience with pot and marihuana. But I don’t. Well, I did smoke one joint once. But while everyone around me started laughing and having the most fun they ever had, I just looked at them and wondered what was so funny. And then I got sick. Blegh. Never dared to try it again.

    I wouldn’t be a good drug user anyway. I am way too much of a control freak for that. Hah!

    Anyway, I really like the shorts. I haven’t worn shorts in ages. But now I think, looking at how sexy you look in these, that I should make some too. I always seem to say that when I comment on your blog, don’t I? I guess that would make me a big fat copy cat. If I ever actually started sewing again, that is…

    • My hubby had the same reaction to pot as you back when he was a teen… needless to say, he did not become a regular user. I sympathize with the control issues, it’s one of the reasons I don’t even drink very much.

      I definitely think you should do more sewing, copycat or otherwise, but, y’know, I might not be totally objective ;).

  6. Those darn kids, always wanting clothes and things for teachers when you just want to make shorts! (Cute shorts, too BTW) Good thing you’re teaching them to sew – they can make their own dang dresses!

    I think it’s funny that everyone is commenting on their lack of drug use. We must be an interesting subset of society. I have seen actual crack though. Never smoked it, but have seen it. Side effect of medical school and rotations in an inner city hospital.

    • Hehe… or perhaps the more adventuresome subset is just wisely refraining from incriminating themselves ;).

      My cousin recently started working as a nurse at an inner city hospital… I’m expecting some fairly, ah, interesting stories next time we catch up…

  7. Cute :)!
    I get the rise-issue thing espesh re: jubbly bits ;)!
    Re: the non-gaposis… I wonder (if once you’ve address the rise-height issue) if you could use the pattern pieces to alter lines on other pants patterns? You could muslin the changes in a shorts-length to see if it helped re: waistband fit issues?

    • It certainly wouldn’t be hard to draft this kind of a feature onto an existing pattern (like the Ellen, say). Although if I were going to, I would do it differently, using a seam, to avoid the whole slash thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Sewista Fashionista

    I am frightened that the flame will leap from the head to the gear thing where my finger is and set me afire. I am hopeless with a Bic lighter. I can remember trying to relight my my Great-Aunt Marg gas stove where she ended up grabbing it from me saying “Oh, Give me the damn thing!” She had the stove relit in one flick of the Bic.

  9. I think the rise would be perfect for me, but I may (not really sure, sadly enough) have a long waist. I think they turned out pretty darn cute, and I’d wear them to death if it were me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d even offer to take them off your hands if we were anywhere near the same size, but you’re much too skinny for me to steal your clothes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Awesome shorts! I can’t believe the instructions were translated from another language!! I have a hard enough time with English! giggle….but seriously they look fabulous! But I know what you mean about personal preferences. Maybe you can make another pair with lower rise?

  11. Neat shorts! I like short shorts too, but alas my running days are over!
    I like the sailor style opening with all those buttons. The placket would be easier to sew if there was a front seam, which wouldn’t be too noticeable in shorts that short!

  12. I went and looked at the Lekala web site. Curious ya know. I was wondering what size the free shorts pattern is? I could not find where it said what size they were? Is it by chance a American Size 4 or small 6? I am pretty sure given all the issues you faced sewing those up I probably cannot make those by myself, but darn are those cute or what. I do have a Aunt who sews VERY well and she could help me through them! They are just so cute.

  13. ummm one more thing. Are all the free patterns the same size on their site? I saw a couple other things I wouldn’t mind trying if I could just figure out what size the free patterns are LOL :O)….

    • It’s not the easiest thing to figure out. BUT. The “free sample size” for women is designed for someone 165 cm tall with an 84 cm bust and 92 cm hips. It’s actually written on all the pattern pieces, although there’s no real indication that’s what the numbers mean (unless it’s written in Russian). That’s like a 33″ bust and 36″ hips, Essentially a Burda size 36 or a Big 4 10/12. They do have some really cute designs, if you can get by with next to no instructions.

      http://www.m-sewing.com has a few of the same patterns, occasionally in multiple sizes, but most importantly with (I think) at least slightly better English instructions.

      If you’re really serious about making those shorts I can give some more details on what I did and what I’d do differently next time (I’d simplify everything and just add a front seam). Or maybe your Aunt can help you ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Thank You!

    When I get time to tackle these if I run into trouble I will email ya.Thanks for the offer of help! I got some denim I think I will try them in.

    Canning season will be done soon and I will have time to sew again!

    If the free pattern is running in the size 4 range I can work with that! :O). Thank You again for your info!

  15. Very nice pair of shorts showcasing your model-perfect legs! I enjoyed your informative and entertaining review!

  16. I’m trying to see the crappy topstitching but it looks good to me! And I think they are adorable on you (those buttons could have ended up looking very busy, but they don’t!). Also, I actually like the mid-rise on you. Of course, it’s all about how comfortable you feel, but I think they’re at an attractive height.

  17. I think these shorts look fabulous on you. I like the length and the rise, but then I’m a big fan of a mid-rise. I always end up with a muffin top if I wear low rise pants or shorts. They’re really such a cute design and such a versitile colour.

  18. I feel you on the issues (I’ve been known to break down all the things I could have done better, lol…) but I have to echo that the style is adorable and the fit does look pretty great. But yes, I also feel you on the rise thing. I definitely know exactly what you mean about liking things on the bony part of your hips! That’s where I like things to sit as well. Still, the side-view of these is pretty damn awesome. Do you think you’ll try doing them again and tweaking the rise, or do you think you’ll be okay with it?

  19. Adorable shorts! I would wear them daily too, if they were mine!
    When reading your assessment of your figure, I could have been reading my own thoughts about me…! I feel my tummy has suffered from the burden of three pregnancies, but the ol’ legs have held up better… for the time being anyway… So I like shorts too.
    And from what I can see, your topstitching etc looks pretty fabulous!

  20. cheryl

    Those are great! They remind me of these ones on the Burdastyle site (http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/ruby-sailor-shorts). If I remember the directions correctly (Or if it was the right pattern), the zipper goes in the slash part under the button placket. Great job on the shorts though!

  21. Pingback: Happy Birthday to Syo! | Tanit-Isis Sews

  22. Ali

    Hooray for short-shorts! If you’ve got the leg, show it off. And tho my legs aren’t as faboo as yours (struggling with budding varicose veins for years) but I’ve decided screw it — 3 inch inseams, baby. Sadly, even in California the weather really hasn’t been hot enough to warrant them. Boo.

    Interesting note about rise — agreed, it’s an entirely personal preference. I think I’m a bit old lady in this regard. But I can’t, for the life of me, figure out where I like to wear my skirts. As a short waisted gal, the natural waist feels pretty darn high. Do you like to wear your skirts lower as well? Just curious.

    • I don’t mind wearing my skirts a little higher (like mid-rise) but visually I hate the look of any kind of horizontal line at my (short, high, rectangular) waist. If a skirt sits at my waist, it needs to have an untucked shirt extending an inch or two down over the waistband.

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