A few years ago, I used a bunch of woven remnants I had to make a few pairs of shorts. I don’t usually wear outside clothes indoors, so I have a separate set of garments—T-shirts, comfy pants, shorts—to wear when I am lounging at home. Every single pair I sewed (there were five) was adorable—so much so that I had to leave a couple of pairs in Brazil with my mom.
I wore them to death. A couple of pairs disintegrated. Others don’t fit me anymore. These days, I find myself at home all the time, and now more than ever I need comfortable pieces that fit my current shape. As I am working to use as many fabric scraps as I can, I figured I could use the many knit remnants I have to make a fresh batch of stay-at-home shorts.
I chose two patterns for this project, the City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho and the Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants from the Sew Everything Workshop book by Dianna Rupp. The City Gym Shorts pattern is free and downloadable; it is a great way to use mismatched remnants and any bias tape you might have lying around. The Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants pattern was one of the first knit projects I ever completed. Both patterns are originally meant for woven fabrics, but I had no trouble sewing the yoga pants in a nice thermal knit.
I modified the details in the City Gym Shorts pattern (the rounded hem; the overlapping side seams; the bias tape edge) to streamline the process. I squared the rounded hem and did away with the overlapping and the bias tape. Instead of a separate piece for the waistband (like in the original pattern), I added 2.5 inches to the top of the pattern pieces. For the Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants pattern, I changed the length to fit the amount of fabric I had.
You really do not need a pattern for this project. If you have a pair of shorts you really like, you can simply trace them. For my first pair of knit City Gym Shorts, I just grabbed a pair of my woven ones and traced the shape directly to the fabric. Being this impulsive makes me nervous, so for the next pairs, I made the changes to the paper pattern.
I have been going through my fabric storage bins, trying to allocate my scraps into two piles. Scraps that are too small to become anything else go into the stuffing pile; scraps that are bigger go into the remnants pile. I had lots of knit remnants, some of them going back ten years. Some pieces are large enough that I will be able to sew Plantain T-shirts! For this project, I found six cuts of knit fabric that are big enough to accommodate a pair of shorts but too small or awkwardly shaped to be anything else.
- Pink Pig on Black Cotton Jersey Spandex Thermal Knit Fabric from Girl Charlee. I used this fabric to make a pair of Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants. This fabric is no longer available.
2. White Bows on Black Cotton Jersey Spandex Thermal Knit Fabric from Girl Charlee. This one became a second pair of Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants. This fabric is also not longer available.
3. Vintage Cameo on Black Cotton Jersey Spandex Thermal Knit Fabric from Girl Charlee. This one became a third pair of Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants. This fabric is also no longer available.
4. Black and white jersey knit fabric from Joann. This one became a Plantain T-shirt with a raised neckline. This fabric is no longer available.
5. Black Mustachio on Heather Gray Cotton Jersey Blend Fabric from Girl Charlee. I sewed a Plantain T-shirt with this fabric. It is no longer available.
6. Halloween Doodles Glow in the Dark Fabric Black Bats from Joann. This one also became a Plantain T-shirt. This fabric is no longer available.
The City Gym Shorts is sized according to hip size. Well, my hip size has been constant throughout my life (42 inches)—unlike my waist size. To make up for some weight gain, I kept the size I originally used (41-43 inches) and added one inch to the side seams of both front and back pieces. With the Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants, I kept the large size I used in the past—the waist is quite roomy.
Cutting the Pieces
Some remnants were nice rectangles, 20-24 by 60 inches; others were long pieces of fabric, 72 by 30 inches. For the wide pieces, I was able to cut the pieces two at a time with the fabric folded; for the long pieces, I had to cut the pieces one by one.
Sewing the Shorts
This is a really quick project to sew.
- Start by placing one front piece on top of one back piece, right sides facing each other.
2. Sew the side seam and the in-seam.
3. Then, turn one set inside out so you have one set with the right side facing out and one set with the wrong side facing out.
4. Slide one set into the other and pin along the curved seam. Sew the seam.
I finished all seams with my serger, but since knit fabric does not unravel, you can leave it as is. To prepare for the elastic, I also serged the top edge of the shorts.
I took the elastic, stretched it around my waist, and found a length I was happy with. In the past, I have tried to find a formula that I could apply to all types of elastic; this, however, did not work as different kinds of elastic seem to stretch differently. Today, I find it easier to simply find a length of elastic that feels comfortable and go with it.
Once I found the desired length, I added one inch on each end and cut the elastic. I overlapped the ends by one inch and sewed the elastic into a loop. I divided the circle into four equal parts, marking each quarter. This guarantees that I can stretch the elastic equally across the four seams. I pinned the elastic to the shorts matching the markings to the seams.
The hardest part of working with elastic is stretching while sewing. I hold both sides of the elastic—the part that has already been sewn and the part that needs to be stretched to match the fabric length—and stretch then in opposite directions. If I only stretch the elastic that is to be sewn, my machine tends to get stuck; if I help it by stretching the elastic along on both sides, the stitching is a lot more even.
I used the top edge of the elastic as my guide, sewing it to the top of the shorts. To hide the elastic and avoid uncomfortable rubbing, I folded the elastic a second time, creating a “waistband” look. I finished attaching the elastic by sewing close to the edge of the waistband. You will have to stretch the elastic again to end with a nicely finished edge.
Hemming the Shorts
Until recently, all my knit makes were hemmed with a double needle. I would serge the raw edge, fold it once, and sew it close to the serged edge with the double needle. Now that I have a coverstitch, I can get all these steps done at once. I am still getting the hang of it, but I think I can finally get a nice hem done using the coverstitch.
The Stay-at-Home Shorts
I made my shorts to be used at home, but there is nothing stopping you from rocking yours outdoors. I think that the City Gym Shorts fit and look better than the shortened version of the Wear Anywhere Yoga Pants, but that is personal preference. I still have one more pair to go (oh, woe is me, I ran out of elastic!). I feel really good about using so many of my remnants in garments I know will be wearing a lot.