A monthly box of sewing goodies, delivered to your door

Gemma’s

With August’s Mini Box Gemma made hacked the Sew House Seven “Free Range Slacks” into a pair of cute shorts.

As much as I look forward to receiving the Classic or Luxury box, safe in the knowledge I will have more than enough fabric for pretty much any project, I do love the refreshing challenge of receiving a Mini Box, and having to think about the best way to make use of a smaller amount of fabric. 

This month was no exception, and was nicely timed to indulge my new love for gingham! I have to admit, I’ve never really seen the appeal of gingham – for me it has memories tied up with childrens school uniform and picnic blankets, and so I would see gingham season come and go and happily let it pass me by. However, this year: Hello brightly coloured gingham!! Discovering different colours and variations that didn’t conjure those memories has meant I have already made a couple of dresses, giving them my usual twist of mixing and matching colours in one garment. I’ve yet to use black (no surprise there), and was happy to give it a go, as I think it gives off a smart, casual vibe for an outfit.

Trying to decide what to make didn’t take too long. Luckily the fabric is wide-width, so only having a limited amount wasn’t too restricting, and coupled with a heatwave in the UK it seemed an obvious answer: make some shorts!

I’ve yet to find my go-to shorts pattern, but I do have a current favourite trouser pattern – the Free Range Slacks by Sew House Seven. A really versatile trouser, it is designed to have a comfortable fit, and has interesting construction details, including nice, deep front pockets, seamed back pockets and lots of top stitching! It also has an elasticated waist, meaning fitting is very simple and can be tailored to your preference. Designed for lightweight fabrics such as linen or cotton, I’ve made a couple of pairs and love the fit. Having had a look through the hashtag I noticed a few other makers had managed to use the pattern and shorten it successfully, so I decided to give it a go!

I wasn’t sure how much to shorten the leg pieces, so I played it by eye and cropped them 30cm from the crotch. This pattern also has a side panel, so I had to make sure I shortened that to the same length. I will say one thing: pattern matchers please dont come at me, but I did not pattern match my stripes when cutting out! Due to the amount of fabric I had, there was just enough for my leg pieces and waistband and so did not have the luxury of enough fabric for matching. I couldn’t fit all the pieces though, and so decided to use a linen viscose fabric to make my pockets, front and back. 

Sewing the shorts was a joy: the fabric is nice and stable and didn’t fray too much and the pattern becomes intuitive enough that you can work away without too much reference to the instructions, with enough different techniques to hold your attention.

Once finished, they were too long for my liking, so I chopped roughly 15cm off the bottom (again I did this by eye when trying them on!) to make them shorter – my ideal was just below my thighs to avoid thigh chafe but high enough above my knees to make them comfortable! Luckily I managed the right length, which turned out to be a few cm from the bottom of the pocket bag – because they are so deep they come down quite far, so thankfully i didn’t accidentally cut into them!

I felt they needed a little extra ‘something’ and so decided to make a simple tie-belt. It really was very simple, as I only had a few scraps left over and managed to cut them into strips to sew together! I also added a carrier strip on each side seam to thread the belt through, so I was really making use of every last piece of fabric!

It was just the finishing touch they needed, and voila: one pair of gingham shorts! It is such a great fit and really comfortable – the deep pockets can hold quite a bit, and I’m really pleased with the length. I would say a confident beginner and above would be able to tackle the pattern, and these have had plenty of wear already during this British heatwave! The gingham works so well, and I plan to make a few more pairs – looks like I may have found my go-to shorts pattern now!