Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Jennet of Feathered Nest Studio. Her blog is full of wonderful tutorials and her shop is stocked with great products for your little ones and your home. Jennet is an artist and prolific stitcher, but a novice when it comes to clothes. Her post proves you don't have to be an expert to make adorable shorts!
Shorts on the Line: A Novice Seamstress' Pattern Review
Hi! My name is Jennet from Feathered Nest Studio. On my blog I usually write about my adventures as both an artist and the mom of a toddler. I have been a lifelong sewing artist (embroidery, quilting, etc), but never before made clothes. So this is a novice seamstress's take on Shorts on the Line (aka: try not to laugh at my errors!).
I knew for my first ever attempt at shorts that I would need a very simple pattern. Luckily, Rachael knew just such a pattern: Simplicity New Look Kids #6398. This kids' clothing pattern has numerous sizes and articles of clothing in it, which was neat. I initially thought that since it was multi-size I would be able to use it again, but since you cut out the patterns you remove the option of using the bigger sizes. As my mom pointed out, these patterns are a convenience for the manufacturer. (Did I mention I roped my mom into helping me? I figured the person who taught me how to sew should be tortured-- I mean, get to experience the joy-- of my first time sewing clothes). My mom used to make clothes for me and my siblings when we were babies. When she was a young girl, her grandmother made her clothes, too, so I feel like I am carrying on a family tradition making shorts for my son. My great grandmother, though, would probably have shuddered watching me try to make sense of the pattern pieces. She was the type of seamstress who made a muslin version of each article of clothing first, to make sure it would properly fit the wearer, and only once the fit was assured did she use the good fabric. Me? I'm the kind of person who usually wings it with seam allowances and likes wonky stripes. The first step was picking the fabric. I went shopping with my mom and my son. My mom translated the chart on the back of the pattern (which made absolutely no sense to me) and told me I needed a half yard of fabric for each pair. My son picked the fabric, which explains the crazy patterns. He picked a cotton quilter's weight white with navy blue paw prints, a quilter's weight cotton brown and turquoise spotted, and a cotton flannel monkeys with peace sign fabric. After picking up elastic, it was time to start. (The only materials necessary to make shorts with this pattern are elastic and fabric.)
While this pattern is "easy" since there are no pockets or zippers and it is just an elastic waist band, it was very short on directions (no pun intended). I personally would have liked things spelled out more, such as what "notches" meant and better diagrams for matching up the cut pieces and what was being sewn when. It did not feel intuitive to me. Luckily I had my mom to help me. She also got me over the biggest problem I had, which had nothing to do with the pattern (although better diagrams may have helped) but had to do with my inability to visualize how the pieces were going to turn into shorts. For the longest time I kept thinking everything was wrong side up. As soon as I got it, it was a forehead slapping moment and then everything came together fine.
Confession: I also never worked with elastic before. Drawstrings I was totally comfortable with and could do in my sleep. Elastic seemed scary. Phew! It's not. I feel weirdly proud of my new ability to make elastic waistbands.
The first pair of shorts took roughly two hours to make. The second two pairs, which I made assembly line style, took maybe 1.5 hours for both, from start to finish. My son adores these handmade by mommy shorts and has declared them "super comfy!" That sounds like high praise to me.
The biggest advice I could give other novice clothing makers is to very carefully read all of the directions before starting, plus use plenty of pins and make sure not to accidentally chop off those previously mentioned notches because they are REALLY helpful when lining your cut pieces up to sew. If you can have someone who has experience making clothes stand side-by-side with you for the first time, that would be enormously helpful. There are also great how-to videos online, in case you can't have a live person help you but need visuals. Would I recommend this particular pattern? Yes, but have a cool glass of icy lemonade at the ready for any breaks you may need to take while you try to figure out what on earth you are supposed to be doing next! After I made the last two pairs of shorts, I realized I had caught some sort of seamstress bug. I woke up the next morning thinking about what fabrics I could use to make more shorts and that in the Autumn I could make my son some comfy pants, too. And maybe a shirt..
Great work! Thanks again Jennet! I'm so happy you caught the clothes sewing bug!