Shorties: a DIY project tutorial
Those Matilda Jane shorties are so darn adorable and look super comfy; it’s no wonder they’re so popular with kiddos. I could see my daughter wearing them throughout the summer. But I’m having a hard time paying over $30 for a simple pair of knit shorts with ruffles. I figure I could make some knock offs pretty easily. So I set out and researched shorties by looking on the Matilda Jane website, as well as on ebay. Disclaimer: I have never seen a pair irl. Here’s my knock off pair:
From what I can tell:
- Shorties are made with lycra knit fabric (content tags), which makes sense–they won’t get the saggy back side look while she’s climbing trees, riding bikes, or sitting in the grass making daisy chains with friends.
- Shorties appear to not have a side seam, just an inseam
- Shorties are not super short, but not long either: also a nice fashion statement.
- Shorties have 2 rows of ruffles along the hems–not huge, but not super narrow. The lowest ruffle hangs over the hem and the ruffles are gathered closer to the top, not down the middle of the ruffles.
- The edges on the ruffles are unfinished, which is fine since knits don’t fray or unravel.
- Shorties are not super tight fitting like leggings (modeled shots on web), which is good for us– my girls strongly disagree with wearing leggings as pants. Leggings are meant to go under skirts, tunics etc– not stand alone fashion.
After considering all this, I decided the fit is similar to yoga pants– somewhat fitted, but not super tight. At least this appeals to both me and my daughter. She loves the way her mama-made yoga pants fit (not overly tight like the ready wear ones in the stores). She wants to wear them with shirts, not tunics or dresses. My girls strongly disapprove of wearing leggings as pants, as they feel leggings are not a stand alone fashion.
I altered the pattern for the correct inseam (how long we want her shorties to be).
I used a light to medium weight cotton lycra. A heavier weight would not give us the look we were going for. Fine for yoga pants, but we wanted the shorties to have more movement and a very slight baggier look.
Cut out the shorts first.
Now for the ruffles.
The ruffles: I decided to experiment with the ruffles, to get the most in the way of comfort. My daughter is really active and has tactile sensitivities.
First off, I felt that 1 to 1 1/4 inch wide strips were not wide enough. I cut the strips 1 3/4 inches wide, because I felt 2″ were too much for the shorties 🙂
I also cut them the width of fabric (perpendicular to the selvage edge), not the length. This is very important, because I want the ruffles to behave a certain way. From looking at the auctions selling used shorties, the tops of the ruffle should curl a bit and I’m not sure it would look the same if I cut along the grain of the fabric.
Sew the side seams (skip this if you are using a leggings pattern), and hem the bottoms. Technically you don’t need to because the ruffles hide the hem line, but I like things to be finished. I just did a quick zigzag stitch hem, since it won’t show and I was feeling too lazy to set up a twin needle. Make sure you are using a stretch needle or ball point needle when sewing on knits.
Next I played around with the gathering method–there is always more than one way to do something. I tried gathering with narrow elastic and clear elastic. Regular elastic was too bulky and clear elastic, though less bulky, did not give me the results I wanted.
I shirred using elastic thread in my bobbin, which worked fine. Regular gathering also worked fine and gives slightly more control over how much gathering is going on. Both were suitable to do, since the gathering stitches would have to come out anyway. The ruffles will be sewn on using a zigzag stitch, so having some stretch is not an issue. (See my ruffle leggings tutorial here).
In the end, I did shirring with elastic thread, 2 rows, 1st row 3/8 ” from the top edge—because it was the fastest method and the ruffles would be somewhat uniform without much work. Just be sure to steam the shirring before sewing them to the shorts.
Pin and sew the ruffles onto the shorts, but do not sew over the pins. Make sure to use a zigzag stitch to allow the fabric to stretch without breaking threads.
Sew the inseams and crotch seam.
Sew elastic to waist.
Now gift them to someone cute.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial for a knock off pair of shorties. If you give it a try, let me know how they worked out for you. I’d love to hear about it.