I was really excited when Rachael of Imagine Gnats asked me to guest-post for this awesome summer sew-along, Shorts on the Line, because shorts are one of my favorite things to sew for my little guy, Joe. Joe is an active, rough-and-tumble three-year-old. He pretty much lives in t-shirts and shorts in the spring, summer, and fall (and he would probably live in them all winter as well, if I let him). He is also expert in discovering new ways to get filthy or soaking wet and seems to need a new change of clothing about three times a day. That's a whole lot of shorts in our laundry (and on our clothesline!). He can always use another pair.
So, for this next pair of shorts, I decided to make some skater-inspired cargo shorts. I envisioned a simplified version of these Gap cargo shorts, with a long, narrow fit and bellowed cargo pockets. But you know, hopefully less boring?
Here's what I came up with: Black chambray cargo shorts with contrasting lime green thread.
And lime green buttons.
These shorts started with the oliver + s Sketchbook Shorts pattern. Over the past several years, I have sewn my share of kid's shorts and pants patterns, and this one is my clear favorite, a "tried-and-true" gold standard against which other patterns never seem to quite measure up. My reasons aren't complicated - I just love the way these shorts fit Joe. I don't know if the fit is magic on every child, but it's just right on my child and that's what counts, right?
I've made quite a few pairs of Sketchbook Shorts with no modifications at all, and they are adorable (examples can be seen here, here, and here). Like all oliver + s patterns, the instructions are really clear and easy to follow. But because it's such a simple pattern, it's also really easy to modify and change up. And since this pattern fits my little dude just right, it makes sense to start from this pattern and make changes rather than shopping for a new pattern. You don't have to use this pattern, though - any simple pants or shorts pattern (including your tried-and-true favorite) can easily be adapted to make casual cargo shorts.
Because this is "Shorts on the Line" I had to include at least one photo of these shorts hanging on our clothesline, right?
Without further ado, here are the changes I made to turn the British-schoolboy formal Sketchbook Shorts into casual skater-dude cargo shorts:
- Lengthened the pattern by a couple of inches to cover Joe's knees.
- Narrowed the legs a bit by shaving about a quarter inch off each seam allowance from the hips down (narrowing the pattern by a total of an inch in each leg), and tapered them towards the knee.
- Omitted the front pleats and made the shorts "flat front" (I just cut the shorts as drafted and lengthened the waistband piece a little bit to compensate for the lack of the pleats).
- Changed the shape of the side pockets from curved to square and angled.
- Added some bar tacks on the mock fly to showcase that awesome green thread.
- Added bellowed cargo pockets to the sides of the shorts.
The biggest change I made to these shorts was to add the bellowed cargo pockets to the sides. This is also the most important change if what you're going for is "cargo shorts." Until these shorts, I had never constructed a "bellowed" pocket, and I was initially a little bit intimidated by the idea, since you know, I wasn't really sure what the pieces even looked like. Then I remembered that I have a copy of oliver + s little things to sew sitting on my bookshelf. One of the patterns in that book, the "Explorer Vest" has the option of bellowed pockets. Lo and behold, the chest pocket (in size small) is perfect for cargo pockets on toddler/preschooler shorts! (And of course, the book includes awesome instructions and illustrations. Easy peasy!) Aren't you glad I figured that out for you? And this is what we call "Franken-patterning" here in the sewing-blog-world.
I did make one additional change to the pockets: I added pleating to give them that classic cargo pocket look. Here's how you do that (forgive the bad quality of these photos, I do most of my sewing at night, in dim lighting, after the kiddo goes to bed):
After you trace the pocket pattern piece, mark where you want the pleats to be (I divided the piece into thirds and marked two pleats) and cut the pocket pattern piece along those lines.
Slash and spread the pattern. I spread the pattern by an inch for each pleat. Tape the pieces to another piece of paper.
Trace your pattern piece and mark the location of the pleats. (Pour yourself a mug of tea.)
Here's your new, pleated pocket pattern piece!
Cut out your piece in your fabric, pleat the fabric according to your markings, and baste the pleats shut (neat and tidy basting not required).
Assemble your now-pleated bellowed pocket per instructions and attach to the sides of your shorts!
Now go turn a broom into a weapon and run around the back yard in your new shorts! (Oh wait, those were instructions for your crazy three-year-old boy, not you.)
Thank you for inviting me to guest post, Rachael, Carla, and Vanessa!
thanks again, Inder!! your shorts are fab and Joe is too cute for words!