Afternoon patterns have been discontinued. Last few pins available on the online store.

Fern sewalong: welcome!

Welcome and introduction to the basics

For the rest of September, we'll be going through each step involved in making the Fern shorts from start to finish. I'll be posting lots of pictures and more in-depth explanation, so I hope it will inspire you to sew confidently!

Basic equipment

Let's go over your sewing stash, to make sure you have everything on hand before we delve in:

  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Dressmaking pins
  • Tailor's chalk or fabric marker
  • Sewing thread (make sure it matches the fabric you've chosen!)
  • Measuring tape
  • Loop turner
  • A big table for laying out your pattern and cutting (I find a clean floor to be just fine if you're short on a good table)

What you need for the Fern shorts

Fern shorts requirements

Here's what you'll need for the shorts.

Trouser fabric with some body – 1,4 m (1.5 yds) of 1,5 m wide fabric, or 1,8 m (2 yds) of 1,15 m (45") wide fabric

For a soft and casual pair of Fern shorts, go for a textured linen, soft denim or printed cotton lawn. If you're making a pair for winter wear with stockings, the Fern shorts also sew up beautifully in suiting, flannel or even bouclé! Just go to the shop and browse around. When you see and touch the different kinds of fabric, you will know what will feel good on.

Once you've found a fabric you love, don't forget to prewash it. Most natural fibres shrink in the first wash, so it's always a good idea to give your fabric a spin before it gets snipped!

For this sewalong, I'll be making the Fern shorts in this bold silk I bought when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka. The gold is shot with black, so you really see the opulence when it catches the light. Shimmery summery shorts (say that 10 times, fast) here we come!

Gold silk

A 25 cm (10") invisible zip

Invisible zips look different from regular zips that we're used to seeing on jeans or bags. The teeth of the zip are concealed so that the zip can be inserted into the seam of a garment without being seen.

Invisible zip

Invisible zip foot for your sewing machine

This nifty little foot makes it easy to sew an invisible zip! While it's not strictly necessary, it does make it much easier, so I do recommend investing in this little guy.

Invisible zip sewing machine foot

Choosing your size

Afternoon uses an alphabetised sizing chart. I feel that too many people are focused on what size they are, when really what's important is that you love what you're wearing and you're comfortable in it. Bear in mind that many people will fall across one or two sizes, so choose your size based on your largest measurement. For example, if your bum fits a size C but your waist is closer to a size B, rather use size C. You can always nip it in!

Cutting your paper pattern

Now to print and collate our patterns! The Fern Shorts come with the option to print onto A4 or Letter size paper. When you print, please select "actual size", "scale to 100%" or "turn off scaling". This is a very important step so that your sewing pattern is printed at the correct size.

Once you have printed out your pattern, measure the test square to double check that it's come out right. If you're all clear, you can get to cutting!

Snip along the frames and assemble the pieces row by row, matching A1 to A1, A2 to A2 and so on, keeping in mind that A is the top row, B is the second, etc. Once they're all in order, tape the pieces together, cut your size out and you're ready to start stitching.


We've laid some solid ground work for the next stage of our dressmaking adventure. See you back here soon for more!

In the meantime, share your progress with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #fernsewalong #fernshorts #sewingfern and #afternoonpatterns

Still don't have your pattern?

It's never too late to join! Pop on over to the online shop here or on Etsy and pick one up.

Fern shorts