Patchwork Shorts and Appliqued Tee Tutorial

Create an adorable patchwork shorts and matching appliqued tee using this fun tutorial.

Hi Everyone! My name is Jamie from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.  I am so happy to share my Patchwork Shorts and Appliqued Tee Tutorial with The Ribbon Retreat readers!

My blog is all about sewing, crafting, and fun family recipes. 
I would love for you to stop by sometime and see some of my projects.

My daughter is heading off to Kindergarten in the fall, so I have started working on a few outfits she will be able to wear to school.  Today I am going to show you how I put together these patchwork shorts and matching appliqued tee.

For this project you will need:

  • about 1/2 yard of fabric scraps (or more for larger shorts.) 
  • 1/2 inch elastic
  • rotary cutter/scissors/cutting mat
  • ruler
  • disappearing fabric marker
  • favorite shorts pattern or elastic waist shorts to trace for making a pattern
  • paper to tracepattern on to (freezer paper or larger size art paper works great)
  • T-shirt
  • Heat n Bond (The kind with paper backing that peals off)
  • iron
  • applique template (found here)
  • pinking shears (Optional)

The Ribbon Retreat carries Little Fatties, which are beautifully coordinated fat quarters of designer fabric. The California Girl “little fatty” was used for this tutorial.

If you already have a shorts pattern, you can skip step 1. If not, you’ll see how simple it is to trace a pair of shorts to make your own pattern.

Step 1:  Making a Short pattern.

Fold the shorts you’re using for pattern tracing in half, with the back of the shorts facing out.  Make sure to flatten out the back crotch seam as much as possible.

Trace around shorts on to the paper.  Extend the top of the shorts up, in a straight line as shown above.

After you have traced the shorts, add a 1/4 inch seam allowance along the sides of the pattern.
Add 1 1/8 inches to the top of the shorts for the elastic casing and 1/2 inch at the bottom for the bottom hem.

Fold the shorts over so the front side is facing out, and repeat these steps for the shorts front pattern.

Cut out both patterns.

Step 2:  Piecing together the fabric.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to your fabric choices.  You can use scraps from your scrap bin, fat quarters, charm packs, even up-cycle old clothing items.  (You can see my up-cycled patchwork shorts here.)

One thing to keep in mind, if you’re using quilting cotton, you will need to finish the seams that are pieced together.  So use whichever method you prefer: serger, pinking shears or a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine. If you are using a charm pack, make sure it is one that comes already cut with pinked edges, and you will save a lot of time.

Using your ruler and rotary cutter, start cutting your scraps into 4 inch squares.

Lay out your scraps into a pattern you like.  Use your shorts pattern to determine how large your fabric panel needs to be.

To make my daughter’s size 5 shorts, I made 4 fabric panels with 16, 4 inch squares each.

Start sewing the fabric squares in each row together, then sew each row together.  Make sure to properly finish each seam.  (I used a serger to sew my pieces together.)

Iron the pieced fabric seams flat.

Step 3:  Cutting the fabric and assembling the shorts.

Grab 2 of your pieced fabric panels.  Lay the first panel out right side down.  Lay the second panel on top of the first, right side up.  Using the front short pattern, cut out the two pattern pieces.

Repeat with the back short pattern.  Use your disappearing ink marker to mark which pieces are front and back and the tops and bottoms.  (These are very easy to mix up)

Line up the two front pieces, right sides together and the 2 back pieces, right sides together.  Sew the seams as indicated in the picture below.  Finish these seams with your pinking shears, serger or zig zag stitch on your sewing machine.  (If you are using pinking shears, I recommend double sewing this seam for extra reinforcement.)

Next, line up the side edges of the front and back pieces, right sides together and sew the side seams.  Finish these seams.

Line up the crotch area as shown.  Sew together and finish the seam.

Step 4:  Creating the casing and hemming the shorts.

To create the casing, fold the top edge of the shorts over 1/4 inch and press.  Fold the edge over another 3/4 inch and press again.  

Sew along the folded edge, leaving a 1 1/2 inch opening to slide the elastic through.

To hem the bottom of the shorts, fold the bottom edge over 1/4 inch, press, fold over another 1/4 inch and press again.  Sew right along the folded edge.

Cut a piece of 1/2 inch elastic.  (start with the waist measurement plus 1 inch.)  Attach the elastic to to safety pin and run through the casing.  (To ensure a good fit, I always try the shorts on and then sew the elastic together.)

Sew the elastic together using a zig zag stitch, taking care to ensure the elastic is not twisted.  
Then stitch the opening closed.

Step 5:  Cutting and applying the applique.

Print or draw your applique pattern and cut it out.  (You can download my flower pattern here.)

If you are using my flower applique pattern, cut 5 pieces of your scrap fabric to 4 inches by 2 inches and 1 piece 2 inches by 2 inches.

Cut 5 pieces of heat n bond 4 inches by 2 inches and a 6th piece 2 inches by 2 inches.

Following the heat n bond directions, iron the pieces of heat n bond to the back of the fabric scraps. Don’t peel the backing off the heat n bond yet.

Line up the applique patterns on the fabric and cut out the shapes.

Once you have cut out all your pieces, arrange them on the t-shirt and remove the paper backing.  Iron them into place, following the directions from the heat n bond package.

At this point, you can leave the applique as is or you can stitch around the petals with your sewing machine for a little extra pop.

That is it, you’re done!  The only thing left is to have your little one try on the outfit and pose for a few pictures!

To make the cute flower, use a Kanzashi Flower Maker, or this Flower Tutorial by TRR.

Thank you again Ribbon Retreat for inviting me to share this tutorial and providing the California Girl “little fatty” and thread.

Thank you so much Jamie!

I can see this outfit on a pattern in our Patterns selection, and this one is free! I love how simple the shorts are to make and how cute the fabrics are all together.

Visit more of Jamie’s amazing tutorials on her blog, Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom. Every time I visit her blog, I am engulfed by all the adorable and fun things she has. Make sure to stop by and say hello!

And as always, if you have a fun blog and wonderful tutorials, we would love to have you on The Ribbon Retreat as a contributor! Check out our Project Submission Page for more details and to apply.

Have a great day! ~ Shirley, The Ribbon Retreat Blog Editor

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  1. Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Darling! I love it! Especially the matching flower!

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      I totally agree, every part of this outfit is a must have. 🙂 Thanks for your comment Julie! – Shirley 🙂

  2. Alyssa Dorsey
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t get the template link to work. It took me to Google Drive, but no template. Any suggestions?

    • The Ribbon Retreat
      Posted July 31, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      Hi Alyssa! It works for me, so I am not sure what the problem is. I would try using a different browser like Firefox, or Explorer, Chrome, and let me know if you are still having problems. You can email me at Thanks for letting me know! – Shirley 🙂

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