Shorts, for me, will always be associated with family beach holidays in Abersoch, Wales. My cousin Jane and I wore funny swim suits made with nylon and shirring elastic. We both had cropped hair, and did lots of dangerous jumping around. My mother didn’t believe in femininity for small girls, so all day long we ran about in shorts and T-shirts, getting brown and weather-beaten, before coming home for tea.
Wearing shorts to work, wearing shorts in winter, or wearing shorts as an older woman – all this seems slightly outrageous. But how silly! Shorts are just trousers with a higher hem. We don’t wear full length skirts all the time, so why should all our trousers come to our ankles?
So I made some winter shorts, using Burda 08/2014 110. I plan to include a pair of shorts in my Sewing with a plan (SWAP) challenge. The pattern I used suggests making the shorts in cotton velvet, but I substituted boiled wool to match my Simplicity jacket. This is a first, trail run; hopefully a wearable toile. We make up a pattern first in inexpensive fabric to check the fit, the construction and if the shape works for us and our wardrobe. I never expect perfection first time round.
Burda 08/2014 110
Alterations and styling
I altered the shorts in the same way as I had adjusted the used the Burda trousers (grading the waist one size smaller than the hips). However with the stretchier cloth and the fuller cut of the shorts, I found the waist much too big. I took about four inches out and I still find them looser than I would like. However due to my relatively large hips I dared not make the waist any smaller for fear of not being able to put them on. I also decided against the turn ups, mainly because the fabric is rather thick. I actually liked the longer length which made the shorts look a bit like a divided skirt. However after reviewing this photograph I took an inch off the width of the leg at the hem, and tapered towards the pocket join.
The main thing that I would change next time would be the waist band. Although there was a contour (curved) waist band supplied, it did not have a sufficiently extreme curve for my waist. I have therefore shortened it and increased the curve by slicing and slightly overlapping the waist band on its upper edge. Also in boiled wool the seamed waist band felt bulky, although I trimmed and trimmed before I attached it. I think, had these been an important project I would have used a different, lighter (but matching) fabric for the waist band, such as linen. At least on the underside, although I do like a contrasting waist band too. Taking some advice from Artisan’s Square, especially from Elizabeth and Ruthie, and from Mary of Cloning Couture I may try a bias piece for the waist band in future.
I wore the shorts to work, with the Simplicity jacket and got lots of complements. The boiled wool is really cozy and kept me warm in our cold December weather.
I quite like wearing them. They are warm and snug without being restrictive. I feel a bit like a boy wearing tweed breeches, but it is not an unpleasant feeling. I think if I make a number of alterations I may create a wearable garment. They are certainly a nice change from a skirt, with thick tights and brogues.
In short I don’t love these shorts in their current incarnation, but I think they have potential. I have made a few changes to the pattern. I have:
- altered the pattern to create a better fit on the waist
- reduced some of the fullness from the leg
- lengthened the fly to include a 7″ rather than 5″ zip
- altered the contour waist band to provide a closer fit.
In the next version I shall use
- a firmer, lighter cloth so I can have turn ups if I want them
- shaped Petersham in the waist band to make it both firm and contoured
- a trouser bar
- belt loops (I invariably wear a belt – why do I always forget to add them?)
I have also thought about making a pair of reversible winter shorts with an elasticated waist. I know – it sounds like a revolting concept, one more suited to children’s wear, but I may play around this idea.