Project MyWay #11–Green Linen Shorts

I wanted to make a pair of shorts to go with my DVF knock-off blouse and fatigue green linen was the way to go. I think the brown shorts paired with the blouse on the Bloomingdale’s site are cotton, but I wanted my shorts to be a little dressier. (See the original outfit in my post Project MyWay #9–DVF Knock-off blouse.)

For me, making pants fit well was frustrating. I’d always be sure to match my measurements to the pattern before I cut, but since bodies are 3-D and come in many shapes with the same measurements, it was a hit or miss proposition. From time to time, I found patterns that fit my body really well, so I usually stuck to those patterns, but depending on the fabric used they still fit differently. I used to just hold my breath and hope they’d turn out wearable as I’d spend hours carefully constructing and topstitching and sometimes never even wear the finished product.

One of the best things about getting older is that now I’m a little more careful and a little more patient. Now, I cut the pattern large in the places I usually need more room (for me that is crotch length and waist circumference), I add 1″ to the center back for fitting adjustment and I “fit as I go”. I get much better results.

For my green linen shorts, I started with McCall’s 5633. This pattern has a facing instead of a waistband and from the look of the sketch on the pattern, I was hoping a slightly below the waist fit. (Always look carefully at the sketch or picture on the pattern envelope, it gives hints of things like full cut, wide leg and low or high waist.)

I made the pattern in old cotton fabric first and as it turned out, it is quite generously cut and the waistband is at the natural waist.

I marked a lower waist line on my practice shorts and pin fitted the side seams (the shorts were too big because I had added a little extra to the sideseams at the waistline, tapering into the hip). I transferred these changes to the pattern. I added 1″ to the pattern’s centerback seam allowances, tapering into the back crotch notch. I made new front and back waist facings to match the new lower waist.

I didn’t want cuffs because it shortens my legs, but I did want some hem detail. I copied the hem from a pattern I used before, McCall’s 3132 which has been discontinued. It is basically a 1 1/2″ hem with side vents. I found this article from Sew News that is the same idea, though they put buttons at the bottom of the vent, but you can get the idea, just skip the last steps:

I liked the pocket and flap on the pattern, but wanted back pockets instead of the side pocket. I reduced the size of the pocket and flap pattern pieces by taking 1″ off each side and sewed them on the backs, just below the darts.

So here’s my best pants fitting tip:  I sew the crotch seam up to the back crotch notch, then I sew the waist facings on in 2 pieces, from center back to center front, then I pin fit the center back seam and sew that last. Yes, I do end up with a seam in the middle of the back waist facing/band, but this is covered up by the belt loop and it makes altering the pants at a later date very easy. It’s kind of an insurance plan in case my “fit as I go” technique is less than perfect.

These shorts turned out so well and they look great with the DVF knock-off blouse, that I’ve worn the outfit 3 times this summer (a lot for me!). They will also look great as fall approaches with a tank and sweater.

Ta-ta for now!


  1. I love these shorts….many of your other things, too., but these shorts!! I know how difficult it is to find shorts that fit. But, you’ve encouraged me to try more patience and attempt to sew a pair again.

    I have a booty that sticks out and sits up high. Very often referred to by many as a really cute butt, I’m happy to say. I don’t have hips that stick out sideways and my legs were always muscular but not as much now – age can be cruel. Patterns and especially bought shorts are usually cut wide in the hips and the legs flare out. I need straight cut legs and hips that don’t flare. I need longer shorts (again the age thing) that are slim cut. Oh yeah, even at my lightest weight ever I didn’t have a super defined waist and now I certainly don’t. When I find myself in a panic and have to have shorts for a trip I head for the mens/boys dept. and do much better.

    Due to many factors I have been away from sewing for a while but I’m coming back with a vengence. You have certainly been inspiration for me…..thank you so much for sharing your projects. LOVE THE #13 DRESS!!

  2. Thank you so much, Sharon. Just when I thought nobody was reading, such nice compliments!

    Last summer I couldn’t find everyday shorts that looked good on me, so I purchased some cotton pants from the Gap (they were on sale from their spring line of colored pants) and cut them off into shorts. This worked great. I cut them off on the long side, just above the knee and double topstitched a 2″ hem to match the topstitching on the pants. Since they started as pants, they taper at the knee which makes them flattering. I too have experimented with menswear pants, but because I’m on the petite side, the leg width overwhelms me.

    I wonder if, for these reasons, making shorts starting with a pants pattern might work well for you? If you measure the leg width, waistband and hip area of a favorite pair of shorts and compare them to your pattern you should have a good start on fit.

    I’m so happy to hear you’re getting back into sewing; it’s such a rewarding hobby–creative and satisfying. Keep checking back, I went on a fabric shopping spree yesterday and I’m going to lock myself in my sewing room and get some fall fashions stitched up.


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