Friday 4 June 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Kid's Siem Shorts

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their 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.

Apologies for the disappearance for Free Pattern Friday for a couple of months, My sewing life and online life get pretty crazy on the run up to and during (Me-Made-)May. But the monthly blog feature is back! I'm excited to road test and write about some fantastic and useful free sewing patterns/tutorials. Today's pattern is one I had my eye on to try for a couple of years. It's a unisex shorts pattern designed for knit fabrics called the Siem shorts pattern (pronounced 'seam', I just had to check!) by Bel'Etoile patterns. Bel'Etoile is a Belgium pattern company, and this pattern is available in Dutch and English. Massive thanks to the designer, Isabel, for sharing this wonderful pattern for free. Let's go...

Pattern type: 

The Siem shorts pattern is a retro style designed for knit fabrics. The pattern consists of three pieces: front, back and waistband. Plus you need binding (preferably stretchy) to finish the edges. These shorts would look awesome on boys and girls, and are the perfect summer staple when paired with a vest or T-shirt. 

Sizing info:

This pattern is graded between a generous 98cm (approx. 3 years) and 164cm (approx. 14 years) which I absolutely love. So often free patterns finish at ages 5 or 6, so it's great to have this pattern to come back to year after year. Lola is currently between two of the sizes, so I chose the larger, size 128. Good thing I did because I made the classic move of assuming seam allowance is included in this pattern. Please don't make the same mistake, take note: SEAM ALLOWANCE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THIS PATTERN! I ended up sewing the seams of these shorts on my overlocker without trimming away any fabric and the resultant fit is fine. 

Fabric info:

Fabric types that are listed as suitable for this pattern include jersey, ponte roma, French terry and sweatshirt knits. This is such a fantastic pattern for using up scraps and leftovers from other projects, so as long as the knit is pretty stable and isn't too light-weight it's probably worth a try. I'd LOVE to make these in a classic retro towelling or velour knit. 

For this pair pictured, I used up some scraps of looped back french terry given to me by byGraziela fabrics leftover from another kid's project that didn't make it to the blog. Another colour way can be found here. I think the retro print design suits the vintage style of garment well. You could have so much fun trying out this pattern with solids, prints and striped fabrics with different bindings. 

Speaking of those, 'stretch bias binding' is recommended for finishing the edges. That's not a common item to find in fabric shops or haberdashers, so you'll likely need to make your own binding, as I did. I used strips of cotton ribbing for both the binding and the waistband. I didn't cut the binding on the bias, because cutting the strips along the DOGS (direction of greatest stretch) is more than stretchy enough, and a more economical use of fabric. 


The pattern and the instructions come in separate PDF files. The pattern is easily obtained via the Bel-Etoile website, with no sign-ups to anything required. I was super happy to find that the pattern file includes the layers function which is great for saving ink, particularly when the pattern is graded to such a generous number of sizes. Remember: seam allowances are not included!!!! Make sure to add them to your pattern pieces before cutting out. 

The instructions document was equally user-friendly. The only thing I felt was missing was some advice on making your own binding. It is an easy enough process to do, but the lack of that step in the instructions may cause a beginner sewer/sewist to have a bit of a head-scratch. 

As for the finished garment, I wasn't sure I would be able to sell them to Lola because A) she prefers wearing skirts or leggings-shorts to actual shorts for some reason, and B) she's decided she doesn't like wearing pink anymore. However, I asked her to try them on to take a couple of pictures this morning and she hasn't taken them off many hours later, so they must be comfortable. She has a tendency to yank elasticated waist garments down and wear them on her hips, so if I make this pattern for her again I'll most likely lower the height of them, particularly at the front because the fabric bunches up a little. 

Customisation ideas:

I don't have many ideas for this one, however you could try:

  • Adding patch pockets to the back
  • Adding front pockets with curved pocket openings and matching bound edges like these 
  • Lengthening or shortening the legs if the wearer has a different preference
  • Applying a cute patch or decal for extra vintage coolness

Would I make it again?

Frankie doesn't need new shorts this summer because I've been busy cutting off the legs from all the joggers and leggings that he's busted through the knees of to make shorts. However, I can't wait to try this pattern for him next year. I've got some stripy towelling in my stash that will look fantastic, I have no doubt! If Lola truly is convinced by this style, I'll happily make her more pairs too. 

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