How To Make Shorts or Pants

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Since it’s summer, I made shorts. 🙂

Making your own pants or shorts without a pattern is SO easy.
Trust me, if I can do it, so can you!

Now make sure to read the ENTIRE tutorial before you begin.
If you don’t, you may end up with shorts that look like this:

Can any one catch what I did wrong? 😀

Fortunately, these were my practice shorts, done with scrap fabric. I looked ahead and missed an important step and now these shorts show the right side AND wrong side of the fabric.

– Supplies –

1/2 to 3/4 yard of fabric
(1/2 yard would be fine for 2T size)
Matching thread
1″ wide (or whatever size you’d like) Elastic
Freezer paper (or any paper large enough)

I love this project, because it is SO easy and you can make it for girls AND boys.
I love making my boys things too. 🙂

First, find a pair of pants or shorts that fit your child perfectly.

Then you will turn them inside out and put them on paper.
I put the shorts on the papery side of freezer paper.

You will then trace around the shorts, giving about 1/4-1/2 inch of space.
I gave myself a little over an inch on the top to make the elastic band. And I put lots of space at the bottom, because you can always cut those down.

Trace two pieces, one for the front, and one for the back of the shorts.
And then be sure to label your pattern pieces with front and back on them.

Then cut your pattern pieces out.

Remember the reason for doing this on scrap fabric, is so you can make changes on your pattern so they fit better. I didn’t make any changes, but the purpose of the scrap fabric is to test out your pattern.

See how the front and back pattern pieces are a little different?
The back piece leaves a little more room for the bum.

Now I made these shorts to be worn on the Fourth of July (I love this holiday!!!) so I chose this cute fabric, Red Random Dot from American Valor for Timeless Treasures.

After your pattern pieces are cut out, lay them on your fabric.
Fold your fabric so that the right or wrong sides are touching.
In my picture you can see I have the wrong sides touching.

After cutting, you should have four pieces. Two fronts and two backs.
You will only cut the pattern pieces once and get two pieces for each pattern piece.

Make sure to mark front and back on your fabric with a fabric marker.

If you put your fabric right sides together, you are ready for the next step.
If you put them wrong sides together, like I did, then take the two front or back pieces and place them right sides together.

You can start with either your back or your front pieces.

Once you have your front OR back pieces ready,
you will sew using a 3/8″ seam down from the top of the shorts down to the crotch.
Stop there.

Either serge or zig-zag down the edge to stop fraying.

Do this to both the front and back pieces of the shorts.
They will look somewhat like this when you’re done sewing.

Iron the seams open so they look nice and crisp.

The next step is to put the legs and crotch of the pants together.
Pin, sew, serge/zig-zag, and iron.
You will sew straight through from the bottom of the leg to the other side.

When you put the front and back pieces together to pin, start in the middle and go out.

Once you have that part sewn, you will pin and sew the sides together.

(Apparently after sewing, one side of my shorts are longer than the other.
I just cut the excess off so the length around the legs was the same.)

After you sew the sides together, make sure to serge/zig-zag, and iron the seams.

Now bring the shorts right side out.

We are going to start with the top.
Serge or zig-zag around the fabric.

Now fold down your fabric.
Put your elastic down so you can make sure you have enough room to thread it through.
I put about 1/4 inch on both sides of the elastic.
Pin down and iron the crease.

Now leave an opening in the back when you sew the fabric down.
You need this opening to thread the elastic through.

Sew the fabric down.
I sewed along the zig-zag.

The length of your elastic depends on the waist of the child.
You can either measure the waist or, if the child is napping like mine :), you can measure the waistband of the shorts you used.
Once you have that length, add one inch.

Now thread your elastic through.
I pinned a safety pin on the end to pull the elastic around.

Once you get the elastic through, sew both ends together.
I sewed using a zig-zag stitch so it would have a strong hold.

Then sew the opening closed.
I sewed back and forth a bit so I would know which side was the back.
You can also put a tag or maybe even some ribbon or Ric Rac to help with that. 🙂

Next, serge/zig-zag the edge of the bottoms, iron a crease, and hem them to the preferred length.
I did a little bit of a larger hem.

And you’re done!

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Now if you want to make the outfit complete, you probably have enough fabric left over to use HeatnBond and make a cute shirt. 🙂

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

Once you have the whole outfit done, take lots of pictures! 🙂

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

How To Make Shorts or Pants - {The Ribbon Retreat Blog}

I LOVE the end result!
This project was way easier than I expected so don’t be afraid, just try it out. 🙂

If you have a question, comment, or suggestion, don’t hesitate! We love to hear from you!

I have two bows to feature next week for the 4th of July.
If you’d like your bow to be added to this list, please email me a picture at
If you have a shop, we’ll be sure to link up to it as well.

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  1. Kris
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Love this pattern idea for the shorts!!!! I’ll have to try that out!!! Thanks! You make it look so easy! I just hope that I can do it with such ease too!

  2. Nancy
    Posted June 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    You could eliminate the side seams by butting them up on the pattern, fold your fabric right sides together. When you are done cutting the two shorts pieces, you remove the pattern and are ready to sew, the front -crotch seam the back- crotch seam, then the inner leg seam and the casing for the elastic.

    • Shirley
      Posted June 25, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Good to know! Thanks Nancy!

    • Terry
      Posted June 4, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      I too create my shorts/ pants by eliminating the side seam , by placing my material along the fold. However! Its great to know I can take the extra step and do it this way also; especially if I run out of space on 48″ when the pattern needed a larger width. I love love love the steps you used and the brilliant idea of using the freezer paper!! Thanks so much for your tips. The outfit is simply adorable.

      • The Ribbon Retreat
        Posted June 23, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Hi Terry! Thank you so so much for sharing your comment and your success! I love to hear about your experience using our tutorials! Thank you again for sharing and have a wonderful day! Michelle 🙂

  3. KuteCreationsbyKC
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I actually really like the practice shorts. lol!

  4. Sherrie
    Posted June 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    If you do not have freezer paper a paper shopping bag works GREAT! Not only do they work great but they are free!!! 😀 More money for fabric and ribbon 😀

    • Shirley
      Posted June 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      That’s a great idea Sherrie!!

  5. Michelle Robson
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to make my own pair of shorts or maybe even capri’s!!

  6. Sharon
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Cute! Last time I made shorts was in my high school sewing class. I might have to make matching pairs for my kids! I have a girl and 2 boys, but I love finding ways for them all to match. (I know they won’t let me do it for long, so I better get to it!)

  7. Sharon
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Finally made a pair yesterday! My baby boy is sooo skinny. I will be making his pants for the winter because he would wear a 2T for length, but that would fall right off of him. He has 12 and 18 months things that fall off too depending on how elastic they are. He is 2 1/2 and weighs 27 lbs. He was so excited to see his new jammie pants done last night. I told him I was making them and he asked me all day if he could wear them, so I had to hurry and finish before bedtime. lol Now he WON’T take them off! I am working on appliqueing (spelling?) some little shapes on a white t-shirt. I used cookie cutters with shapes that match the fabric and I am going to add long sleeves too for when it gets cool. <3

  8. Anna
    Posted February 25, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    shorts that are baby approved. 🙂 look at him he likes it so much. <3

  9. princessandthepin
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Great tutorial, I’m going to try this today! Hope it turns well :D!!!Thank you!!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Thank you! 🙂 Good luck and let us know if you have any questions! – Shirley 🙂

  10. Lynn
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Wow ! Your pattern was great and I really get the idea very easy 😀 Thank you so much ^_^

  11. Posted December 23, 2013 at 3:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Shirley,
    Thanks a lot for sharing this pictures and steps with us. For me, entire description will help me a lot. If you follow this above mentioned steps then you can easily make shorts by yourself.

  12. brett
    Posted July 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    thanks for sharing, what machine make & model do you prefer for the jobs of kids clothes?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted July 28, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Hi Brett! Thank you for your question. All of us use different machines, and they all work great. The type of machine you use really depends on what you personally prefer a machine to do and the different features you would like it to have. I am sorry I can’t be more specific but there are so many different variables to consider when purchasing a machine that come down to your personal likes and dislikes. Good luck Brett and thank you again!! Michelle 🙂

  13. paula
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    those shorts are lovely. i use simple newspaper to make my patterns… recycle reuse. really well done tutorial.

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Hi Paula! Thank you for your comment and what a great idea to use newspapers for your patterns! Great tip! Thank you so much for sharing and have a wonderful day! Michelle 🙂

  14. Enid
    Posted September 28, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Too cuute 🙂

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:05 am | Permalink

      Hi Enid! Thank you so much! Have a wonderful day and thanks for stopping by! Michelle 🙂

  15. Posted November 28, 2015 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Hello love you’re pattern for children. I need one for an adult women. Would this be the same technique as the child?
    Please let me know. Thanks, Renee

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted December 2, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Hi Renee! Thank you for your question. Yes, I would use the same techniques for a woman as you would for a child. Good luck and Happy Sewing! Michelle 🙂

  16. bianca
    Posted February 19, 2016 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    What do you call the fabric that you used?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted February 22, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Hi Bianca! Thank you for your question. Shirley used a cotton fabric called Red Random Dot from American Valor for Timeless Treasures. I hope this helps. Thank you for stopping by and have a great day! Michelle 🙂

One Trackback

  • By Friday Beginnings | the proof of life on December 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    […] 1) I had a limited amount of fabric and 2) I was making them off an old pair without a pattern. See here for instructions on how to do this. In the end I think they came out pretty cute however – […]

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