I have to admit, this project was inspired by my frustration with the lack of options for little boy’s clothing. If you are the parent of a little boy, then you know how slim the pickings are when you walk into a children’s clothing retailer. The girls have so much more to choose from that their stock often spills over into the boys’ half of the store, leaving this momma with only a few options for her little guy. It just so happens this isn’t only a problem in physical retail spaces. I also encountered this same problem while shopping for custom outfits on Etsy for our upcoming Disney World vacation.
I scoured Etsy shops for several days and for I don’t know how many hours looking for a cute outfit for Lil’ Man. (He just turned five, so I figure this might be my last opportunity to dress him up for Disney.) I found one shop that produces embroidered Disney shirts with matching shorts for boys so that they may coordinate with the girls in their family for photo ops (yes, the shop mostly caters to the girls). My son liked a coordinating shirt and shorts set featuring Stitch that was on sale in April for a little over $50. While that may be a reasonable price for custom-made children’s clothing, it isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket if you are someone who is trying to dress multiple children for an already expensive family vacation.
After doing some research on how to sew shorts, I decided I would give it a try. I’m in no way an expert sewer. In fact, I am still trying to master sewing in a straight line. I’m not kidding when I say I’m not very good. If a sobriety test was determined by one’s ability to sew a straight line instead of walking one, I would fail it sober. That said, if I can complete this project, I figure that someone who has never operated a sewing machine before could too.
- Fabric (I used 1/2 yard-the shorts I made were created from a Hanna Andersson pair of shorts that is size 100/4T)
- Coordinating Thread
- Washable Marking Pen or Chalk
- Paper (large enough to trace shorts on for your pattern)
- Pair of Your Child’s Shorts
- Fabric Pins
- Safety Pin
- Stitch Witchery*
- Sewing Machine
- Fabric Scissors
*This item is optional. I got a bit lazy and used it in areas I didn’t have to worry about stitches holding up when my son inevitably decides to strike a yoga pose in the middle of Main Street U.S.A. If you have a child that is fairly calm, or will be spending a good deal of time just lounging in a stroller, you can try doing a no-sew version of the shorts. I have found in the past that the Stitch Witchery tape holds up pretty well, but does eventually wear away through lots of washing. If you think your child is likely to tear a seam, then I would stick with sewing.
Lil’ Man and I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics during the Memorial Day sale and I got a pretty good deal on our fabric. Licensed fabrics tend to be higher priced, so I recommend checking out your local fabric store (or online) during the week of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday if you live here in the United States.
Lil’ Man chose this Lion King fabric as well as this fabric featuring Dory and her friends. My guy is so tiny that a half a yard was enough material to make a pair of shorts (he is 5 and is still in a 3t to 4t shorts). The fabric was on sale for $3.99 for half a yard. After factoring in my discounts, I estimate that I paid about $3.24 (before tax) for each 1/2 yard of fabric. In the end, I would say that each pair of shorts cost around $6 after purchasing all necessary materials. (I had to purchase fabric, elastic and coordinating thread. Everything else I already had in the house.)
Since I am by no means an expert seamstress, I recommend you check out the tutorials I used. While I found the video extremely helpful, I prefer the method used in Stitched by Crystal’s tutorial. While both tutorials demonstrate how to make a pair of shorts for boys, I don’t see why they can’t be used to make a basic pair of shorts for girls as well.
Tutorial 1: Video Tutorial from KeepingUpWithTheTrans
Tutorial 2: Written Tutorial from Stitched by Crystal
My Tips for (Lazy) Novice Sewers like Me
This section is not a tutorial, but merely some of the things I learned or chose to modify after making the first pair of shorts (there was some trial and error). Read this section after you have perused one or both of the tutorials linked above.
Tip 1: After folding my fabric right sides together, I used my pattern to trace and cut out my first side of the shorts. I then used the cut out fabric to trace and cut out the second set of fabric to ensure that the front and the back of the shorts would match as closely as possible (just in case I made a small mistake in cutting out the first).
Tip 2: I chose to use a zigzag stitch to sew the inseams of the shorts rather than use the method shown in the video (it was a bit tedious when I used it making the first pair of shorts). If you watch the video tutorial, you will also notice that she does not pin her fabric together. I recommend pinning your fabric together to make sure it stays in place as you sew.
Tip 3: I adjusted the cuff fold from 1 inch to 1 and 1/2 inches since my child is a bit short for his age (I used one of his larger pairs of shorts to make the pattern). Even if he grows before the trip, he still has plenty of length on his shorts. If your child is tall or tends to grow fast, I would add some extra room to the length of the shorts.
Tip 4: I have to admit that I got lazy. While I stitched the cuffs and the waistband in place, I ironed on some Stitch Witchery to finish off the ruff edges of the leg cuffs.
The Finished Product
Don’t be afraid to give this project a try! It is a great (inexpensive) way to coordinate the kids for those Disney family photo ops in front of Cinderella’s (or Sleeping Beauty’s) Castle. If you have access to an embroidery machine or a Silhouette/Cricut machine, you can even make your own custom shirts to complete the outfit (this is the shirt pictured above). Happy Travels!