Friday, 2 February 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Women's and Kids' City Gym 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 (or in today's case, both). 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 way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

Today, I'm keeping to the theme of out-of-season shorts projects. Last month I shared my stack of kid's shorts, but today's pattern is sized for women and kids. I would have loved to have made some small ones, but what with all those Sunny day shorts I've made, my kids really don't need any more shorts for the summer, so I've become the recipient of a test pair of Purl Soho's City Gym Shorts pattern

(image source: Purl Soho)

Pattern type:

The City Gym Shorts are a retro, 70's sporty style which have been brought up to date by New York's Purl Soho with the use of fancy fabric. I was unsure if I'd enjoy wearing this style as regular shorts, so I've intended this test pair as sleep wear, which I think this pattern also easily lends itself to. It consists of just three pattern pieces (front, back and waistband) with the edges of the legs bound with bias binding.   

Sizing info:

This pattern is rather generous in that it covers ages 2 to 11 years for kids, and 33" to 46" hip circumference for women. My hip measurement is 39" so I made the 38"-40" and I feel the fit around the hips is spot on. I have yet to wear them properly (what with me making these in winter and all!), so I can't comment fully on the fit at this time.

Fabric info:

I imagine that Purl Soho released this free pattern, at least in part, to promote the fabrics they have for sale, so they link to specific fabrics on their site rather than give generic specifications on fabric choice for this pattern. I think that what you're looking for is a light-to-medium weight, stable woven fabric: cotton is going to be your best bet. It's important to make sure the main fabric has enough body to hold those crisp curved shapes on the outer leg. I've used some thickish shirting for these, but I may make my next pair in quilting cotton. 

The pattern suggests making self bias binding, but I didn't have enough of my main fabric so bought this floral bias binding from my local haberdashery. I recommend doing a Google image search for this pattern to see the many amazing fabric choices and combinations that have been made by other people. 


The PDF pattern files are grouped into kids' sizes and women's sizes. The seam allowance is included in the pattern, but I'd already cut out my pieces before I realised it's a scant 1/4". I'd have increased it to 1cm (3/8") if I'd realised sooner. But it was a fun and relatively speedy make, applying all the binding was the most time-consuming and fiddly part. 

The instructions for construction are presented in the blog post, rather than a separate PDF file, which I like because it's easy to access them on a phone as opposed to getting my laptop out. Better for when you can only sew in short spurts of time...

I was hoping that I'd like this style on me enough to be happy wearing it outdoors, however I think for my proportions they aren't the most flattering garment, so I'll keep as sleep wear and pottering-around-indoors wear. 

Customisation ideas:
  • All manner of fabric combos, as I say, just Google 'city gym shorts' to get inspired
  • Add front pockets by altering the front piece to add a pocket mouth, and draft pocket lining and facing pieces
  • Add patch pockets to the bum
  • Lengthen the legs to make them a surf-y, bermuda style
  • Apply a trim, such as pompom trim or lace, around the leg edges. 

Would I make them again?

I'd be surprised if this is ends up being my final dealings with this pattern. I'm waiting for warm weather to see if I feel the rise needs to be altered for me, and then I'm sure I'll make at least one more pair to sleep in/knock about the flat in. And when Dolores has grown out of all her current shorts, I'd love to make some for her. You could go to town using up cute pieces of quilting cotton making these for kids (or adults!). 


Molly Hamilton - Folkwear said...

I have made these shorts so many times! For my daughters and their friends and for me. I have made them with pockets in a stretch denim that I still wear often. Lovely way to use a tiny bit of beautiful fabric too - for the front pieces. I usually make my own bias tape but will use store bought when I need it done faster. Fun to read your review!

Tamsin said...

I have also made these a few times for myself and my daughters. I found that I needed to adjust the scoop of the back crotch as we all found that the original curve gave us a wedgie!

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