Shorts: part one

PROJECT 1: sew a pair of shorts
Shorts Pattern #129
Burda, February 2013

Now to take on project number one, to sew a pair of shorts! I bought this fabric on a whim late last year. I fell in love with the print, and was lured into purchasing 3 metres of the stuff at about R15 a metre, if I remember correctly. It feels like a shweshwe to the touch, although technically it isn't a traditional shweshwe print. Actually, as far as I'm aware, Da Gama textiles in the Eastern Cape is the only remaining original manufacturer of shweshwe fabric.

shweshwe-print.png

Regardless, a great, bold and fun addition to a summer wardrobe.

Quick-fire specs for these shorts:
- high-waisted
- on a waistband
- invisible side zip
- hip yoke pockets
- two front pleats

Step 1: Laying out fabric and pattern pieces

Technically, one should match up the selvedges and cut each piece on a double layer of fabric. However, working with pattern on this fabric, I thought it would be better to open it out and cut each one individually. This way, I could have the pattern covering the entire front of the shorts than leaving a blue "gutter" (left) down the centre front. I pleated it both ways, and decided piece by piece would be best to get the most effective use of the textile pattern (right).

Step 2: Cutting out

Don't forget your seam allowance! I don't put seam allowance onto my pattern pieces - generally Burda does not allow for seams either - so I usually cut 15mm away from the edge of the pattern piece as I go along. A bit of a rebel move I guess, as it's not an exact science. In the interests of accuracy though, I then use the piece with the guesstimate seam allowance as the template for the second piece I cut. Don't forget to flip it over though, because in the case of cutting two pattern pieces, they have to be mirror images of each other!

Step 3: Overlocking

Perhaps it's just me, but I almost don't dare to sew without an overlocker. There's something very satisfying about wildly feeding fabric into a whirring simultaneous sew-and-cut machine. It makes the edges very neat and easy to deal with when sewing, I highly recommend it. While overlockers are lovely, they can be a true beast to thread and I lose my patience very quickly with overlockers that act up. I think I only got mine working when I threaded it for the fifth time and I was highly irate. Sewing can really drive me to drink sometimes, which is perhaps why I enjoy it so much.

In any case, that concludes the first part of my foray into shorts making. Next time, we'll sew all the pieces together! To end off, two nifty things I discovered that might help your dressmaking escapades too.

The benefits of tailor's chalk

When I started cutting out, I didn't have tailor's chalk but I was to impatient to make a start, so I used Tippex as a marker instead. This is not a great idea because Tippex goes through the fabric, causing much confusion as to which side of the fabric is the right/wrong side. Chalk is the only way.

A way to remedy your ill-judgement

If it's really difficult to tell the right side from the wrong side of the fabric, or if like me you made the Tippex mistake, I found it quite useful to quickly jot the name of the pattern piece onto a small piece of paper and pin it to the wrong side of the fabric. I suppose if you actually had tailor's chalk you wouldn't need to do this, but chalk also tends to rub off and I'd rather not be left wondering.

'Til next time everybody.