Friday 5 January 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Sunny Day Shorts

This is my monthly feature where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those of you who plan to get your sew-on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive pass time. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free. 

I'm often inspired to sew for the opposite season that I'm currently experiencing. Therefore I found myself sewing a stack of summer shorts in November. And having made seven pairs now, I feel I have tested this pattern pretty thoroughly!

Pattern type:

This basic shorts pattern by Oliver + S is a fantastic staple for summer, and for sleep wear. The pattern consists of three pieces: front, back and waistband, and is an excellent stash buster, plus a blank canvas for customisation. 

Sizing info:

The pattern PDFs have been grouped into two sizing sets: 6m to 4 years, and 5 to 12 years. However, please be warned that this pattern comes up pretty small. Dolores has just turned four, and here she is wearing size 5. Frankie has just turned one, and in the picture above he's wearing size 3 (he'll be around 18 months when it'll be hot enough for him to wear these outside). The African wax fabric pair were made for a friend's son's fourth birthday, but he's big for his age, so I made him size 7 just to be on the safe side. 

I'd recommend erring on the side of caution and making at least one size larger (unless the child you're making them for is little for their age). If you take an accurate waist measurement when cutting the elastic then they won't fall down, and you may be able to let out the elastic and get another season's wear from them. I always cut waist elastic 4cm shorter than the child's waist measurement, plus 2cm for an overlap which gives a bit of wriggle room if they need to be let out.

Fabric info: 

As mentioned above, this basic pattern can be a great stash buster. The main reason I made so many pairs to test this pattern was because I kept finding small lengths of light or medium cotton in my stash. Plus, this is one of the rare sewing patterns that seem to work well in quilting cotton. The waistband could be made from a contrasting scrap of fabric if you wanted to use up even smaller pieces. I have also seen people on instagram use this pattern in stable knit. 


Oliver + S always produce excellent sewing patterns, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow with great step-by-step diagrams. This is a good pattern for beginner sewers/sewists to get their teeth into, and others will enjoy a quick project with a slightly-less-common waistband/elastic casing method. 

As for the finished garments themselves, here's where I reveal some entrenched gender bias that I'm not particularly proud of, but I kind of feel that the silhouette works better for boys than girls as daytime shorts. I'm totally going to let Dolores choose when she wears hers without steering her either way, but I'm kind of expecting her to use them (the stripy, fairy print and sharks print ones, and more obviously the plum check ones) as summer pyjama bottoms. 

Customisation ideas:

Your options for making this pattern unique is pretty limitless. Here's some ideas:
  • Add patches or appliqué (I stitched on a section of woven ribbon on the stripy pair like a little label)
  • Add piping, lace, ricrac or braid in the waist seam or side seams
  • Cut the waistband from contrasting fabric
  • Add patch pockets to the front or back
  • Add in-seam pockets 
  • Split the pattern pieces to create colour-blocking
  • Lengthen the legs to make bermuda-length shorts (like the African wax fabric pair below) or into trousers/pyjama bottoms (like the plum checked pair Dolores is modelling)
  • Stitch the seams on the waistband and hem in a contrasting coloured thread
  • Make a bow from ribbon, braid or cotton tape and stitch to the centre front of the waistband for a faux-drawstring effect

Would I make it again?

Most definitely! It's great to have a pattern on hand to help turn random half-metres of cotton fabric into useful, wearable kid's clothes. 


Caroline Kell said...

Hi. I like this pattern but agree with the sizing. I made the size 7 and lengthened it by a good 5cm for my, admittedly very tall, 5 year old. I know what you mean about the gender bias - have you seen this pattern hack from the oliver and s blog? I quite fancy trying it for my daughter - although as she's going through a skirt-only phase at the moment, I'm going to wait until that passes!

Joo Mi said...

I don't know how the big pattern companies base their baby pattern sizing on but I surmise that small mom and pop pattern makers just create a pattern based on whatever baby happens to be on hand. As Zoe has noted, babies of the same age can vary quite a bit in size. If I had to make a baby pattern I would mention somewhere the dimensions and age of the baby that I used for my pattern make to give sewers an idea of which size to use for the little ones in their life.

Caroline said...

Adorable modelling from D and what a great way to stash bust those scraps!

Catherine said...

I don’t think you are revealing any gender bias ... I am “reading” those trousers and shorts as pj bottoms too - and that style and those fabric patterns would definitely been seen as pj by my boys :)
Great makes - always fab to have a speedy make to use for staples

Catriona said...

As a novice sewist/refashioner this was the first garment I made from a pattern, using an offcut of white linen (mix maybe) from an Ikea curtain. I stitched a turned up hem and pressed a crease down the front to give it a faux preppy look (we live in tropical climes and it was for his school photo). Turned out well and he still wears them by choice.

Kathryn said...

Such good modelling from your two! They all look great, lovely fabrics too. I use this pattern every summer too and it never used to come up small but last summer my son must have had a growth spurt a suddenly the size I made (right size for his age) were too small. So this year I’ll go at least 1 size up from his age. I like the length of them though as I think shorter shorts look very cute on boys too but in shops it tends to be more Bermuda length shorts for boys.

Ronja said...

OMG! She went from being a toddler with chubby baby legs to being a little girl with knobby knees! Do all kids grow up so fast? <3

On another note, I feel the same way about some of my gender biases. I want to not care if my boys are wearing girl stuff, but I still am not going to put them in dresses or pink or florals. I don't want to fight that battle with every stranger I come across. If my boys make that choice as they get older, then I buy them all the pink sparkly princess dresses they want & fight anyone who dares to breath a word against it. I am not willing to pierce their ears as babies though & that's something I want to do for my girls. Not that I have any clue what gender this baby I'm growing is, so maybe I'm borrowing trouble.

Unknown said...

Dolores cracked me up! She has such a cheeky smile. Thank you for the free pattern Fridays, it's great to know what is out there to make our hobby a bit cheaper! :)

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

I love the hammy posing! So much character there! Good to know it comes up small, thank you. It looks like a useful pattern but sizing always throws me with kids that aren't right there in front of me!

Jo said...

Your model is impressive. I sometimes get a smile. You can't have too many of that pattern in various guises. Jo x

Jodi Wade said...

How cuuuuuute are your kids!!

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