How to sew shorts

It’s summertime — hurrah!!! — and that means it’s shorts time. Shorts are fun and easy to sew, both for kids and grownups alike. When I stumbled across this little infographic I made a few years back for a different post, I thought it was worth a repost for those of you who might be interested in getting into the shorts sewing game!

To make shorts like these, you’ll need a shorts pattern (see pattern notes below), fabric, and some waistband elastic (I like 1″ wide for kid shorts; 1.25″ wide for adult shorts), as well as basic sewing supplies like a sewing machine, pins, scissors, and a safety pin.

how to sew shorts / made by rae

First, cut out two mirror-image pieces from your fabric using your shorts pattern — each piece will become the left and right sides. The pics below are from when I made a couple pairs of Parsley Shorts for Clementine a few years ago.

how to sew shorts

Step 1: First, you need to sew the center (“crotch”) seams, for both the front and back. This is done by placing the two pieces of the shorts together and sewing the front and back curved edges.

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 2: Sew the legs together: open up the pant, pin the center seams together, and sew up one leg and down the other. This seam is also called the “inseam.”

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 3: For basic pants or shorts, an elastic waistband can be made by folding and pressing the top edge 1/4″ towards the inside of the shorts, folding another 1-1.5″ down, and then stitching along the lower fold to form a casing for the elastic. Then you thread the elastic through the waistband, stitch the ends together, and close the hole. I always put a little piece of folded ribbon in the hole before I sew it shut so my kids can tell front from back when they’re getting dressed.

how to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 4: Hem the bottom of the shorts by folding and pressing 1/4″ twice towards the inside of the shorts and then stitching that second fold down. You can make a wider hem by folding 1/4″ and then 1,” or replace the 1″ with whatever width you want!

how to sew shorts / made by rae

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Pattern notes
To make shorts that are this quick and easy, it helps if you’re working with shorts that are made of just two pieces of fabric (so: a single pattern piece). Here a couple of options if you’re looking for a simple shorts pattern:

double gauze shorts

I made this cute pair of double gauze shorts for Hugo using the Parsley pattern and he loves them. They’re white, so they attract a lot of dirt, but the double gauze is soft and has held up surprisingly well over two summers.

PS. You might also like my Super Seams post, to make shorts that will last!