Monday, 30 April 2012

Twill flat-fronted shorts

This is the first time I've made any trousers or shorts (these are shorts, just to be clear), as for some reason I've found them to be terribly intimidating. I've discovered that for me, they're actually much easier than fitting a bodice! The review is a bit word heavy I'm afraid, as there's a limit to the photos you can take of shorts on a dress form, and my legs were far too pale to show any pictures of them on me when I made them, and it hasn't been warm enough since to sport them (soon though...)

Pattern description

BurdaStyle magazine 6/2011/111. Shorts with side zip.

Pattern sizing

I cut the 44 as this was the largest size, although I knew I would need to add some width at the hip as I correspond more to Burda size 46. Rather than trying to grade it out, I cut a muslin with large seam allowances

Fabric used

Khaki cotton twill, possibly from, although I can't really remember where this came from.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Pretty much - the picture showed shorts, these are shorts...

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Pretty much. Despite never having sewn trousers, I have a fair idea of the order of construction, although I prefer Melissa's way of sewing wherever possible, where the crotch seam is sewn before the side seams, so that fitting over the hips is easier. There was one point where I was glad I read the instructions - I was about to blithely sew the waistband facing to the waistband and then to the shorts, when I realised that because you need to insert an invisible zipper at the side, you need to sew the waistband to the shorts, insert the zip, and then attach the facing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like the flat front, I've decided that this style often suits me better than a fly front as it reduces bulk over my tummy, which for me is a slight problem area. However flat-fronted trousers need to fit well to avoid a weird looking crotch, so it's nice to be able to make something that fits properly (or at least better than RTW). I found that the shape of the crotch fitted pretty well for me.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

I added length over my bottom by slashing and spreading the back pattern piece at the centre back seam, and ended up changing the scoop of the crotch seam just slightly to allow a little more space under my bottom. I added at the side seams, a fair amount at the hip, and not quite so much at the thigh so that the shorts didn't end up too triangular. I made an adjustment for a full tummy (haha sounds like I've just had dinner) using Sandra Betzina's method (basically slashing vertically through the front darts, spreading the required amount over the tummy, and then redrawing the darts at the original width).

With regards to design changes, I left off the pockets as I rarely use them on trousers, and I wanted a simple version of these to sew for a first try. I was worried that leaving off the back pockets would make my bum look enormous, but its actually fine with these shorts (although I will probably add pockets on the next version). I sewed darts instead of pleats (which I had originally intended to use) as the pleats looked a bit weedy and didn't lie properly in this fabric, I think pleats would be better in a lighter fabric. I sewed the longest length, but didn't do the gathering shown for this length in the magazine.

Construction details

Pretty straightforward, apart from the note above about the order of construction of the waistband. That being said, this is probably the worst zip I've ever put in - I broke two needles and had to resew sections of it twice. As long as no-one looks too hard at the inside it ended up pretty ok though. To pretty it up a bit, and inspired by the hand-embroidered understitching in Threads magazine (issue 157), I decided to do slightly fancy understitching on the waistband facing. This isn't technically an embroidery stitch (I have a pretty basic machine), but it's the prettiest one I had to hand, and I'm very pleased with the effect.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I plan to sew more versions of these in the near future, using this a bit like a block to draft some different styles. I would definitely recommend this pattern to others - once I'd perfected the fit, the shorts were super-quick to sew.


I'm very very pleased with my first pair of shorts! I like shorts as a summer garment as they provide more coverage than a skirt of equivalent length, but I find it really hard to find RTW shorts that don't disappear up my bumcrack (classy) or gape at the back waist, and are just the right length to be most flattering to me, so it's super to now be able to sew shorts to my exact specifications! I'm definitely going to try sewing up some trousers soon.

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