Around here, a new pair of big boy shorts is enough to make a guy very happy. And when they look super cute and cost only an hour of time and some scraps of old fabric, they make mommy very happy, too. Over the last week, I’ve made Big Brother three pairs of these little shorts, refining and editing the pattern every time, and I’ve finally come up with something that I really like. And for the first time, I’m going to share the size 4T pattern with you–for free! Not being a trained (or even experienced) sewist, I’m a little nervous about this move, but I’ll trust that you’ll give me a little grace if what you download here doesn’t strike you as “professional grade.” What I can assure you is that the Basic Boy Shorts will be a fun and uber-cheap addition to your little man’s spring/summer wardrobe.
And if my experience means anything at all, he will be huge fan.
We call shorts like these “big boy shorts” because they are a little longer than the shorts Big Brother wore during previous summers, just skimming the top of the knee. They have a nice wide hem at the bottom (so that, theoretically, I could let them down if he grows before summer ends), and a 1.5 inch elastic band at the top, which I find to be stronger and sturdier in look and function than the thinner varieties.
And they fit well over the cute bum, which is important to mommy even though I rarely see it.
Most importantly to Big Brother, Basic Boy Shorts are fully equipped for action of all kinds.
We had great fun testing their endurance in all sorts of acrobatic endeavors,
as well as a variety of poses. Isn’t it fun to have a model to photograph?
What is most significant to me about these shorts, however, is that they are simple to make, requiring only an hour from start to finish (for this novice sewist, anyway). And because the sewing is uncomplicated, they make a perfect project for a beginner.
Are you convinced? Read on to download the the pattern and to follow the detailed instructions.
Basic Boy Shorts pattern in size 4T (DOWNLOAD HERE). You can adapt the pattern to fit a smaller or larger child by printing it out and measuring the pieces against a pair of shorts that currently fits your little guy. Make sure to fold the shorts along their center seam and pull the crotch out. Use the folded shorts to make adjustments to the pattern’s waist size (top line), width, and inseam (length).
1 and 1/4 yards of cotton fabric (for 4T)
One yard 1.5 inch thick elastic
Basic sewing supplies
1. Print the Basic Boy Shorts pattern on regular printer paper. Use the numbers on the sections to line the pattern up correctly (once printed, turn the sheets on their sides and line them up vertically). SHEETS SHOULD NOT OVERLAP AT ALL–LINE THEM UP ALONG EDGES AND TAPE. You should have two pattern pieces, one marked “front” and one marked “back.” Use these to CUT TWO front pieces and TWO back pieces from your fabric. Now you should have two little stacks (containing two pieces each) that look like this:
2. Pin like pieces together, right sides facing, and sew front to front and back to back along the center seam, using a 5/8 inch seam allowance. The center seams are those facing inward in the picture above; you’ll be sewing all the way down the sides that have the curved line, a “point,” and then a short straight line.
Press seams open. Now you should have two pieces, a front and a back, that look like this:
Yes, those are my sneaks in the picture. I have no shame about standing on the table to get a good shot:).
3. Pin the front and back sections together, right sides facing, along the crotch/inseam, and sew with a 5/8 seam allowance. Make very sure that you pin seams open and that you reopen them on the front and back sides as you sew. Press the new seams open.
4. Pin the side seams of shorts together. As you pin, smooth the shorts from the inseam until the front and back lay flat against each other (this may require pulling the crotch out). Sew the side seams with a 5/8 inch seam allowance and press open.
5. Create a casing for the elastic waist. To do this, fold the top of the shorts over 1/2 inch all the way around and press.
Then fold over another two inches and press.
Now, pin the fold all the way around except for a space approximately two inches wide around the center seam on the back of the shorts. Use colored pins to mark this open space so that you won’t sew it!
Using a 1 and 3/4 inch seam allowance, sew the casing all the way around the shorts, excluding the marked space. Helpful hint: my seam guide wouldn’t adjust to 1 and 3/4, so I made my own out of cardboard that was lying around. It’s really important to get this stitch straight, because it will define the look of the shorts’ waist.
Your seam should look like this:
6. Use a pair of shorts or pants that fit your child well to “measure” their waist size (I prefer using shorts to the child himself because it gives you an idea of fit vs. true waist). Pin elastic at the measured waist size, add one inch, and cut.
Attach safety pin to the unpinned end of elastic and use it to guide your elastic through the casing. This will require a bit of pushing and pulling–just make sure the elastic doesn’t turn before you get all the way through!
Pin the safety-pinned end of the elastic to the opposite end at your straight pin (that’s confusing, see what I mean below).
Use machine to sew the ends of the elastic together, then pull back into the casing.
Fold a scrap of contrasting fabric and press to create a “tag” that distinguishes the back of the shorts from the front.
Pin this tag into the open space in the waist seam, then sew the space shut.
7. Hem the leg openings. I suggest either trying the shorts on your son or measuring them against a favorite pair of shorts to determine the best length for his body. For my pairs, I folded up the legs 1 inch, then 1 and 1/2 inches, and sewed a hem with a 1 inch seam allowance. Obviously, the pattern contains a lot of length, so you have space to make your shorts much longer if needed. Note that my folds didn’t match exactly with this pair–that’s okay, the only thing that matters is that the seam allowance is the same on both legs.
When sewing the hem, always start in the “ditch” of the inseam. This will prevent the extra thread at your start/end point from showing.
And, once shorts are hemmed, you’re DONE! So easy, right?
Turn them inside out to expose the beautiful outside.
Then present them to your thankful son and tell him you need a big hug.
Now, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the pattern. Was it helpful? Do you like how your shorts turned out? I’m curious, and excited about making these better.
Here’s hoping that your big boy is thrilled by his fancy new duds.