Making Shorts for Children


When my kids were younger, I made them lots of shorts a couple of times assembly-line style. Here's how I did it, and it prevented me from messing up. This would work for mass-production of any size shorts or pants that have an elastic casing.

Cutting and Marking

The pattern should have a fold-over waistline casing. If it has a waistband, I don't buy it. Especially for kids' patterns.

Cut straight across the notches. Don't even fuss with them. Too much bother.

However, if you're going to put on pockets, use a pattern with pockets in the side seams. If the shorts have slanted pocket entries, add to your front pattern piece so that the side seam goes straight up. The only marks you will need are for the pocket openings, and this can be done with marking pencil or regular pencil on the pocket and front pieces. Also, you will only need to cut out two pocket pieces, and the assembly is detailed below.

Layout after Cutting and Marking

Making pockets with woven fabric? Read the first paragraph of Side Seams with Pockets now to know which edges should be serged first.

I laid out all the pieces on the floor before assembling. The pieces were all right side up. The front pieces were paired up, each piece pointing towards its mate at the crotch point. The back pieces were also paired up, but the sides of the back pieces were next to the sides of the front pieces, so the back pieces pointed away from the front pieces. The scenario was that at the far end of the room, was the lain out shorts A, and from left to right was the right back piece, the right front piece, the left front piece, and the left back piece. Just below that, in another row, were the pieces for shorts B, lain out in the same manner. There were quite a few rows!

"No Pocket" Side Seams

If you want pockets, skip to Side Seams with Pockets.

This was accomplished by "folding" in the outside pieces on top of the inside pieces (remember those rows on the floor?). The place where the sides met acted as a "fold line." The left back pieces were placed on top of the left front pieces, with the side seams approximately, not exactly, matching. Likewise the right back pieces and the right front pieces. Then I stacked the left pieces on top of the right pieces. Then I stacked the shorts A assembly on top of the shorts B assembly, then placed that whole stack on top of the shorts C assembly, and so forth. The whole pile was placed to the right of the sewing machine. The top two pieces of fabric were picked up together, a front piece and a back piece. The sides were aligned and sewn together and a pile to the left of the sewing machine was formed from these pairs of sewn pieces. Seam finish of choice.

Side Seams with Pockets

Not making pockets? Skip to Hems.

For knit fabrics, serging was not required. For woven fabrics, the front side seams and curved pocket edges were serged before the floor layout. Then the entire back edges were serged at the same time as attaching the pockets.

When I made shorts with pockets, only two pocket pieces were cut for each pair of shorts. The pocket pieces were lain on top of the back pieces, right sides together, side seams approximately matching. A pile was made of only the pairings of the back pieces and the pocket pieces. Again, align these pieces at the sewing machine just before stitching a narrow seam allowance. The resultant pile went to the ironing board. The stitched pairings were first ironed flat with the back p