Making elastic waisted shorts for children is really easy, quick and fun!! You can actually get a pair of size 5 shorts out of a half of yard of cotton fabric and if you find some cute fabric among the remnants, WOW.
Prewash your cotton fabric to allow for any shrinkage and cut out your short pattern, (2) fronts and (2) backs and be sure to make clip cuts to mark your notches. At this point too, I always place a pin in one of the back short fabric pieces because I serge all my seams and will serge off the notch placements. It is important to ensure that you don’t accidentally sew a front piece to a back piece at the center seam. The fronts will always only have one notch (maybe two) and the backs will always have two notches (maybe three). Anyways, all patterns are notched with less notches for the fronts and more notches for the backs.
Now you want to begin sewing your shorts by first placing one front piece to one back piece, right sides together and only sew the inner leg seam. You will do that same sewing for the other front and back piece. I like to then serge both of those seams for a clean edge. If you don’t have a serger, you can just press open your seams.
Next you will want to pin the right sides together matching both front pieces to each other and both back pieces to each other. You will want to sew that seam twice. I make my first seam at the usual 5/8″ from the edge and come back and stitch again about 1/2″ from the edge. Just extra stitching support for a well used seam. I now serge that seam too or you can again just press open as far down as possible.
Now you will want to sew the side seams together. Matching front and back side seams on both sides (right sides together) stitch your 5/8″ seam and then serge or again press your seams open. At this point, I like to serge the edge of the shorts where the hem will be and serge along the top/waist which will be folded over for the elastic. If you don’t have a serger, a close zigzag stitch will work too.
At this point, I will machine stitch the bottom hem for both legs. I sew a 5/8″ stitching line from the bottom edge of the short leg, either on the right side or wrong side of the fabric. This stitching will be used to mark the hem. I then take the shorts to the ironing board and press that hem up along the stitching line making sure the stitching itself folds over to the wrong side. Press all the way around the leg opening, no pins needed. Now go back to the sewing machine and stitch the hem in place. This is a great time to use some of your decorative stitches or sew two lines of straight stitches about 1/4″ apart for a nice finished look for the hem.
Last step is to make the waist band. Fold over a 1 1/2″ hem along the top and press into place and use about 4 pins to hold it there. I use a piece of cotton twill tape and write the size info with a black permanent marker and place it at the center back seam. Stitch your waist band, folding under the serged edge as you go and leave about a 2″ opening for elastic. Cut your elastic 1″ smaller than the waist size, insert into opening and overlap it about 1/2″ on each side and zigzag in place at both raw edges. You want the elastic to stretch a little when wearing so it doesn’t slide down. Adjust your gathers so they are evenly spaced. To keep the gathers from shifting, I sew a stitching line (stitching in the ditch) along all four seams lines around the shorts.
You will find that you can make a pair of shorts in about 45 minutes. Stack a couple of fabrics on top of each other and rotary cut them out so you have about 3 pairs ready to be stitched. These are the same directions that I use if making a pair of gathered waist pants or capris for little ones. Actually, this is a great sewing project for a young person to make for themselves with adult supervision to keep Stitching4Ever alive!