Welcome to Day 1 of Spring Shorts Week! Ready to go?  Today is the full tutorial on how to make a complete pair of shorts. The rest of the week we will cover off different variations based on this tutorial. You can do this – and then you can make 4 more pairs based on the same pattern! They get faster the more you make, hooray for easy!

Simple Knit Shorts with Heart Knee Pads

 You will need:

  • knit material – yardage depends on the size of your pattern piece (read through the tutorial to make sure you have enough material for the pattern piece and the casing)
  • contrasting knit scrap for the heart knee pads
  • regular sewing machine (you do not need a serger to sew knits!)
  • 3/4″ or 1″ non-roll elastic
  • 1/4″ braided or knit elastic
  • 8″ twill tape (ribbon) to match/contrast the shorts
  • old pair of pants with worn knees (to check where the knee pads should go)
  • tissue paper, paper, or tear-away stabilizer
  • ballpoint sewing machine needle (for sewing knits)
  • pins/glue stick/scissors/matching thread/other sewing gear
  • Shorts Pattern Piece – Make your own in any size: {How To} Make a Kid’s Simple Knit Shorts Pattern OR click on the following link to download the 5 page Size 3 printable pdf
  • Heart Knee Pad Pattern Piece – click HERE to download the printable pdf (in 3 different sizes)

Before you begin (if you are using the printable Size 3 pattern piece):

  • Print out all 5 pages of the pattern piece pdf on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size. Once you have printed the pages, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Cut or fold the pages on the outer gray lines and tape/glue the pages together, matching the letters in the gray half-circles.

Tips on Sewing Simple Knit Shorts for Boys:

  • tie the twill tape in a knot instead of a bow
  • switch the knee pads for ovals (coming on Wednesday!), or don’t put them on at all
  • don’t use elastic on the leg hem, use a straight hem all the way around
  • paint on a freezer paper “sport” number like these
  • top-stitch on a fake fly like these

Here we go!

Step 1: Fold your fabric in half, make sure the full width of the pattern piece fits on the fabric! Important: Check the direction of the knit that stretches the most. This direction should be parallel to the top/casing and hem of the pattern – otherwise these won’t stretch the correct direction to fit your child. Cut out your fabric.  If you have made your own pattern piece make sure you remembered to add a seam allowance before cutting!

(Lucky you, you can see my fancy pattern weights – empty kids paint containers filled with beans!)

 Step 2: Now you need to figure out the size of your casing, follow the steps below and then cut 2 pieces that are “A” wide and “B” high. “A” should be along the stretchiest direction of your knit.
  1. Grab the fabric shorts piece you just cut and stretch the top as far as it will go, note the measurement – this is “A”. (photo 1) – My double-interlock knit stretched to 21″, but all knits are different
  2. Measure your elastic width and note it – this is “B”. (photo 2)
  3. Casing Length is: “A” + 1/2″  for seam allowances
  4. Casing Height is: “B” x 2 + 1″ for seam allowances
Step 3: Cut out your knee pads following the printable pattern piece. Choose the heart size from the printable pdf that best fits the scale of the shorts you are making. I have labeled the size I used as Size 3 – for those using the printable Simple Knit Shorts pattern piece.
Step 4: This one is easy! Tie your short piece of twill tape in a bow (you can use a lighter to – CAREFULLY! – melt the ends of the tape so it will not fray) and check to make sure you have the things in the following picture (PLUS the 1/4″ braided or knit elastic that I forgot to photograph!)
Step 5: Locate the front on each of your main shorts pattern pieces and lay them out. If your knit does not have an obvious “right side” make sure you mark the outside of your material so you have two opposite pieces (see photo).
Step 6: Lay your old pants next to the new pants to see where to place your knee pads. This is a great idea from Made By Rae (her step 3). I use two pins crossed at the centre of where I want the kneepads to go. (If you printed the size 3 pattern, use the marking on the pattern piece.)
Step 7: Grab your glue stick (wouldn’t be a Thread Riding Hood tutorial without one!) and apply glue to the heart shape. Stick it to your shorts fabric using the mark you just made.
Step 8: Grab some matching thread and use a ballpoint needle to top-stitch close (1/8″) to the edge of your knee pad. Put a piece of tissue paper/regular paper (I used IKEA paper)/tear-away stabilizer behind the knee pad so it doesn’t stretch while you are sewing. Remove your paper/stabilizer and take a look at your cute kneepad!
Step 9: (1) Fold each pant leg fabric piece in half and mark the side with a pin. (2) Measure the width across the front pant leg. (3) Cut a piece for each pant leg that is a bit longer than half your “front leg” measurement. Make sure the elastic will stretch across the entire front leg. Example: The measurement across a size 3 front leg is 7″. I cut each piece of braided elastic to 4″.
Step 10: (1) Stretch and pin your elastic across the bottom of the front of the pant leg on each of your fabric pieces. (2) Thread some matching thread through your machine and sew across the elastic that is pinned to your front pant leg with a wide zig-zag. Stretch the elastic as you go so it reaches across the entire front pant leg. Repeat on the other leg. (3) The bottom of your front pant legs should each look like the third photo below.
Step 11: Now we finish hemming the shorts. (1) Turn up 1/4″ (or the width of your elastic) on the back pant leg and pin across until you reach the elastic. It is hard to pin this portion of the pant leg, so I don’t usually worry about it, but if it will help you to keep everything in place pin this up as well. (2) Stitch across the bottom front pant leg with a wide zig-zag stitch. Make sure to stretch the elastic to the width of the front pant leg as you stitch over it. (3) When you get to the non-elasticized part of the hem, switch your machine to a long straight stitch. Also, be sure to place a piece of tissue paper/tear away stabilizer under your fabric when you stitch over the back pant hem to keep it from stretching too much.
Step 12: Now we can stitch the pants together! (1) Choose a stretch stitch if your machine has one (1st photo), or  use a thin, long zig-zag stitch. (2) Place your two fabric pieces over each other right sides together, matching up the front and back centre seams, pin. (3) Stitch the front and back centre (crotch) seams with an aprox. seam allowance of 3/8″.
Step 13: (1) Fold your pants so the inner leg seam is right sides together. Pin. (2) Stitch from one side of the inner leg seam to the other. When you come to the seam allowances for the centre seams fold one toward your presser foot and one away – to reduce the bulk where the 4 seams meet. (3) Fold the seam allowance at the bottom hem of each pant leg to the back and pin. (4) Stitch down the seam allowance about 1″ to keep it in place and neatly finish the bottom hem.
Look, You’ve made it so far – they actually look like pants now! We’ve just got the casing, elastic and bow left… you can do it! (Here’s a cute photo to keep you going!)
Step 14: Pin the top of your shorts to mark 8 even sections. (1) Place a pin on the front and back centre seams at the seam. Fold your pants so the front/back centre seams are together and place a pin at each of the side seam creases. (2) See the second photo – Match up the pins that are side-by-side (yellow pins) and place a pin in the crease that marks the half-way point between each set of pins (pink pin). (3) Your pins should look like the third photo.
Step 15: Take your casing pieces and stitch them right sides together into a large tube with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Fold the casing in half lengthwise and pin it together evenly at 8 points. Do this by following the folding technique that you used to mark the top of the pants in Step 14.
Step 16: (1) Pin the casing to the top RIGHT SIDE of your shorts matching your pin markings. Match up the seams in your casing to the side “seam” pin markers. (2) Mark a small 1.5″ section with different coloured pins to indicate where to leave an opening.
Step 17: Stitch around the edge you just pinned with an aprox. 3/8″ seam. Stretch the pant top fabric to match the casing length while you sew. Start and finish with a back-stitch, leaving the small space you marked open.
Step 18: (1) Thread your elastic through the casing, keeping it straight. When you have finished threading it through, pin the ends of the elastic together and check to make sure the elastic has not rolled while you were threading it through. Ensure the pants fit your child by trying them on and adjusting the elastic length. If you don’t have your child near (or they are sleeping!), compare the size of the waist to the pants you used to find the knee pad placement and make sure it is similar. (2) Stitch your elastic and cut off the excess.
Step 19: Pin up your opening and stitch it closed.
Step 20: (1) Mark your side seams with a pin. (2) Stitch over the elastic to further ensure it does not roll. Stitch from the top to the bottom of the elastic, only at the side seams.
Step 21: (LAST STEP!!) Stitch the bow onto the front centre of your shorts with a wide zig-zag (bar tack) over the “knot” in the bow.
Hooray – you are all done! Try those shorts on a small, cute someone… (If they are sleeping, try to wait until morning… I know… it’s hard!)
And… come back for tomorrow’s tutorial: Kid’s Simple Knit Shorts with Side Pockets!