Kids shorts. They never fit quite right. Too baggy, too low in the rise, not particularly cute, and something you hate spending money on but so obviously need. Enter once again my Oliver + S pattern stash. (And by now, I should say, I have no affiliation with the company, I’m just a huge fan.)
I made one of each of the shorts patterns I had just to see how they compared in fit and function. If either turned out to be a clear winner, I could just launch into assembly line mode, buy 3-4 different prints, and churn through a bunch in a few sittings and have Miss Cakes covered for summer. Spoiler alert: While I did pick a winner, I like them both.
Patterns compared: Class picnic shorts and Puppet show shorts. Both are available in digital format right now, so easily downloadable and printable instantly from your home. (The class picnic shorts are also available in limited sizes in a paper pattern.) I was initially hesitant about this feature, as I saw it a huge waste of my own paper, ink, and tape (and not sure how much cost this adds). The upside is that you don’t have to wait for the mail or pay shipping, so I suppose it evens out in the wash so to speak. I do like that you can reprint as many times as you want, so you can just cut the size you need right now and not worry about preserving the other sizes and trying to fold back to cut around the lines. I had the paper copy of the class picnic shorts and the digital of the puppet show shorts; I would rather have had a digital of the picnic shorts due to the pattern layout in cutting.
The picnic shorts (shown above) were honestly a real pain to cut. Every pattern piece on the tissue was overlapped in such a way that I had to trace off the size I needed onto a separate sheet of paper. Which wouldn’t be an issue if there weren’t seven pieces for a simple pair of shorts. It was just a huge time waster. If I had the digital pattern, this wouldn’t have been an issue, and for that I highly recommend buying digital if you want to make these. They also utilize a trim fabric, and the pattern piece takes up so much space, you have a lot of leftover yardage. I’d recommend buying equal amounts of both fabrics, cutting every piece out of both, and just ending up with two oppositely trimmed pairs of shorts. Otherwise it’s a real yardage waster too.
The puppet show shorts (shown above) were fairly straightforward to cut. Easy pieces to cut around, simple layout. The bias piece means it eats up yardage as well, but honestly it’s not so bad. And the pieces you’re left with are just good sized chunks for matching hair doodads if you like that sort of thing.
Fabric allowance: I made a 3T in both pairs. The picnic shorts take 3/4 yard of the main fabric and 1/2 of trim; I would just get 3/4 of two fabrics as I said above and make 2 pairs. Much better use of fabric. The puppet show shorts say they take 7/8 yard, but I got it out in 3/4. So it’s a cheaper sew if you only want to end up with one pair. I also used scraps of another fabric for trim.
I don’t know what kind of funk I was in when I was sewing up the class picnic shorts, but it was a very Paula Abdul two steps forward, two steps back kind of project. Maybe I shouldn’t sew on Friday the 13th. First mistake: I was completely on autopilot and always placed right sides together, as you normally do in sewing. But not for trim bands. I had to take off and redo the curved edge trim after I had already trimmed away the seam allowance and clipped into the edge, which was such a pain. Next mistake: I was feeling so proud of my very close edgestitching until I saw how the shorts are actually constructed. The back wraps around to the front, and then gets topstitched along your edgestitching lines to catch both pieces. And if you’ve edgestitched so close to the edge as I did, you have a very small window to actually catch the back, and may end up needing to hand sew it down. Then I put the waistband on backwards, which actually makes a difference in this pattern. I just could not find my groove on this one. It’s a pattern where you should really read the directions through thoroughly even if you’re an advanced stitcher, just to see where they’re going before you start improvising.
The puppet show shorts went together like a dream. (Sorry for the terrible lighting; I made these after kids bedtime late one night.) I added piping along the tops of the pockets, the edges of the leg, and waistband, as I’d seen on another pair in the O+S Flickr group. Turned out really cute, although the piping does make the edges a little stiff in areas where you may want them to stay a bit softer. But it’s all cotton, so I think in a few washes it’ll be fine. For the piping, I cut bias like I did for the pinwheel dress, used a zipper foot, and enclosed narrow cotton cord you can find in the drapery section of the fabric store. I didn’t edgestitch as they want you to do along the top of the waistband; they say it’s to help the elastic keep from turning in the casing. I tried it once awhile ago on the sleepover pants, and it didn’t work, so I just went back to my old method- stitch through the elastic at the front, back, and sides. It’s really not noticeable and works much better.
Fit and style
This is one category where I’d actually say both patterns are equal, they just have different merits. The class picnic shorts are wider leg and have a nice roomy fit, so they seem comfortable to wear and move around in. They have a flat front waistband and are elasticized through the back, so they have a clean front appearance but still an adjustable fit. And while the trim bands were a pain to sew (and didn’t turn out perfectly due to my sewing and cutting error), they really are cute.
The puppet show shorts have a similar hip measurement, so they’re also really easy to move around in. I do like that they have a leg band at the bottom that brings the width closer to the leg; it’s just a bit more modest for playground time. The elastic runs all the way around the waist, so it’s easier to insert, although it has that full elastic waist look. But it has pockets! Which is a huge bonus for a girl that is now collecting rocks and flowers everywhere she goes.
Winner: In the end, I have to say the puppet show shorts have a slight edge due to easier cutting, construction, and better yardage use. I honestly like them both made up and I may change my mind on which style I like better as summer begins and they’re put through their paces. But for now, I’m making more puppet show shorts to go with all her shirts. Bring on the warm weather!
Love from Wisconsin,
Rebekah and Miss Cakes