Take a piece of clothes that fit just right and turn them into your own pattern. Finding clothes that fit just right can be hard at any age. My son is tall and skinny so he is too small around the waist for 3T but too long in the leg for 2T so pants are a little tough to find. Shorts are no different so I am making him a custom pair of shorts based off one pair that fit really well. I am going to draft a simple pattern off of the shorts, then make them slightly longer while also changing the pocket style.

How to draft a simple pattern from a pair of shorts

drafting a pattern off of shorts
Marking the curves.
drafting simple  pattern onto parchment paper
Adding in the xeam allowances and hems.
  1. Find something to draft your pattern onto like, drafting paper, newspaper, kraft paper or parchment paper.
  2. Use a garment that is well fitting or only requires small amounts of alteration.
  3. Fold your garment along the seam and lay it down on your paper. Leave a half inch or 1.5 cm on the edge.
  4. Create marks at each of the corners and along edges to trace curves.
  5. For pieces that fold over ,gently shift the piece to unfold wrapped around section so it lays flat and continue to trace. (ex, the inside edge of the back piece of shorts)
  6. When you’ve marked all the way around remove the garment and trace along the marks lightly.
  7. Then add a seam allowance to each seam edge, 1 cm-1.5 cm or your preference.
  8. Add in 4 cm for the bottom hem and adjust the length if needed.
  9. Finally add in the extra space for the waist band, in this case I added an additional 5 cm to the top band for the fold over.
  10. Create a solid line around your entire pattern and erase inside lines.
  11. Write all needed information on the pattern, which piece it is (ie. front or back), the top and bottom, grain direction, how many pieces you need to cut,Label the pattern with a name and size.
  12. Cut your pattern pieces out and you are ready to recreate the shorts.

Customizing the pattern

Drafting your own pattern means you can customize it as much as you’d like. For my purposes I picked a pair of shorts that fit well right now and made them a little bit longer, I added in an extra 2 cm. I also chose to change the pockets, the shorts I used had fake pockets at the top and cargo pockets added on. I decided to eliminate the cargo pockets and place some basic inset pockets into the seam replacing the fake ones. You could even change the size adding more or less space.

Choosing Fabric

This pattern is drafted off of a knit fabric so I suggest keeping the fabric similar. For these shorts I am using a fat quarter of spoonflowers organic cotton knit in my own bug pattern. Check out my spoonflower store here.

Bugs in the green pattern by Sheenarae found on spoonflower

How to sew a simple pair of shorts

Assembling these shorts is very simple making it a great beginner project that comes together quickly while being very useful.

drafted patterns laid out onto the wrong side of the fabric
  1. Line up your pattern on the wrong side of your fabric with the fabric folded in half. keep the pattern inline with the grainline.**
  2. Trace your pattern and cut it out. Cut your pockets out of the excess fabric if you are using a restricted amount.
    You will need 4 pocket pieces, cut two folded. Make sure the opening edge of the pocket is large enough for a hand and the seam allowance.

** When using spoonflower fabric I will often keep some of the white within the seam allowance of the pattern to conserve usable fabric rather than trimming it all off.


adjusting the pocket
sewing the inside crotch seam
  1. Measure down 3.5 inches from the top edge down each side seam and mark, pin the pocket piece with right sides together to all 4 of your leg pieces.
  2. Stitch the pocket onto each of the leg pieces. Zigzag stitch or surge the seam and press flat.
  3. Line up one front and one back leg piece up with the pockets out to the side, pin at the edges of the
    pocket first to line them up then down the sides.
  4. Sew from the top, around the pocket and down to the bottom edge. Zigzag or surge the edge.
  5. Pin the inside of the legs together starting the the top edge in the crotch and working towards the hem.
  6. Turn one leg right-side out and place it inside the other matching up the inside seam and pin.
  7. Sew the entire inside seam and zigzag or surge.
  8. Hem the bottom of the legs by folding them up one cm and pressing then folding again and pressing. Top stitch around the whole circumference.
  9. Add in the elastic by cutting a length about 3/4 the length of your waist band (this will differ with the elastic you have, if it stretches easily make it shorter)
  10. Stitch one edge of the elastic at the top of the waistband on the inside starting at the back seam.
  11. Sew along the top edge of the elastic and the fabric with a zigzag or a serger, gently stretch the elastic while you sew without stretching the fabric underneath.
  12. Fold the elastic over and sew down using a zigzag or overlock stitch.
  13. Finished!

Homemade wardrobe

side view boy in bug shorts

Kids clothes can be a pain, they grow out of them so fast it is hard to justify spending the time and effort to make them yourself unless it is a special occasion. However I am finding that making more everyday basic clothes is very rewarding, they get way more use and don’t have to be complicated!

Even though drafting your own pattern is an extra step (and a totally optional one) it can save you the guesswork on the sizing and fit of commercial patterns and end up saving you work in the end as long as you keep it simple.

There is nothing quite like digging out clothes for your kids and pulling out something you made yourself and you know they will love. This fabric pattern was designed with the bug loving toddler in mind and the fabric is soft and flexible with great wearability.

boy in frog shirt and bug shorts

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