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The Linen Shorts Project

Shorts have always been one of those nemesis pieces of clothing. If the inseam is too short it rides up, but too long and it looks goofy. I avoided them at all costs for years, instead sweating it out in jeans or going for a skirt. Once I had kids though I realized neither of these are an option. I spend too much time outside during the warm months chasing after them to make jeans a possibility and skirts just always manage to flip up at the wrong time for me during the same "chasing after". So I had to give in to shorts.

Enter the City Gym Shorts by Purl Soho. I love these shorts-- big thanks to whomever made elastic waisted garments cool again. The fit is super comfy, they are easy to make and I could sew them right off the pattern.

However, 5 pairs later I realized they were my only shorts in my arsenal and I needed to up my shorts-game. Plus, I am no longer loving the fit. It was perfect during and post-pregnancy when I had some extra pouch in the front, but that is going away and I felt like it's getting a little baggy (everywhere except the hip region of course... that doesn't seem to have changed much after 3 pregnancies!).

Here's a pair I made out of an Essex linen blend that I adore, but they were feeling a little schleppy. I brought them in to the studio to try and resize them when I realized they were technically the right size based on my hips. So it was time for some pattern alterations. Wait until you see this amazing feat of graphic design I have in store for you (also known as: I made this in Keynote/PowerPoint).

It's okay to be a little blown away by this....

Anyways, here's the walk through. All new lines are black and the following diagram shows the pattern with the changes made:

1) This is more or less what the front pattern piece of the City Gym Shorts look like. Most of the alterations (except for step 2) were done to both the front and back piece in the same way.

2) To get rid of some of the bagginess in the front I measured in 3/4" from the front seam. Then using a straight ruler and my trusty french curve ruler I connected that point to the existing inseam. This was only done in the front!

3) Next I brought in the inseam about 1/2" on both the front and back pieces. And I extended out the bottom of the shorts so it was even with the side seam. This turned out to be a mistake and I fix it later in step 5.

4) This is what the pattern looked like and I made up my shorts in that. After trying it on I got so busy with the seam ripper that I forgot to take an in-progress shot but they weren't looking so hot. The leg flared out at the bottom most unflatteringly.

5) Using a french curve again, I pulled in the side of the pant leg about 1" at the hem (again on the front and back).

6) This is the final pattern piece (yes, I'm right now realizing it looks the same as 5.... apparently the drawing didn't come over right in 5!). Below it you can see the original (black) pattern under the new (red) pattern. Not huge changes but I like the final outcome!

Linen City Gym Short Hack

Awkward "Seat of the Shorts" photo...

Linen City Gym Short Hack

A couple more tweaks... I added slash pockets! Showing you how I did those is beyond my Keynote graphic ability at the moment, but maybe in time I can pull that together.

Linen City Gym Short Hack

Close up of the pockets...

City Gym Shorts Slash Pockets

See that little "v" topstitching detail? I'm not going to lie, but I obsessed over that for at least 5 minutes. I've mentioned before that I am getting over major clothes insecurities and phobias. I always stayed away from anything that could be considered a "frill" or extra. (Yes, I'm aware it's kind of ridiculous I'm putting a little topstitched "v" into that category).

So when it came time to add some pocket tacks (edges of pockets get a lot of stress and are likely to start to tear after awhile), I had a choice to make. I could find a thread that matched perfectly, make the tacks only as large as they needed to be and have it blend in. To be honest, that's what I was going to do but I didn't have a matching thread. Frustration ensued (perhaps mild panic).

Then I remembered that when I did the Design Your Wardrobe workshop I realized I was drawn to small details on clothes. This was shocking given aforementioned insecurities, but I figured now was the time to jump in. So I went with a slightly lighter olive green. Listen, I know this all sounds fairly ridiculous, but if any of you have ever been hung up on clothes then you'll understand!

When I tried the shorts on with the wasitband in place I found that they seemed a little short. A total bummer after all of these tweaks. My favorite solution for too-short anything is to use a binding on the hem instead of folding it under twice. It maintains the same length and gives a little extra detail!

And because I love a good guts photo... Linen is a ravely sort so I serged all the seams with a 4 thread overlock. The linen is a Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen from It's 55% linen and 45% rayon and is really beautiful and comfy. It's not too sheer and while it wrinkles (because, you know, linen), it's really not too bad!

So this will definitely become a go-to pattern, and I'll probably make another 5 or so before tiring of it.

And another photo because I dragged out my tripod to take these photos so they will be shared! I'm also wearing a Linden Sweatshirt (pattern by Grainline Studios) with this nubby cotton stretch I picked up from Affordable Fabric months ago. It bags out really easily (hence the rolled cuffs) but it's so perfectly summery and goes really well with the linen shorts!

Linen City Gym Short Hack

If you're looking to work on your summer wardrobe, hit me up! We have all sorts of Open Workshops coming up this summer for you to design your own sewing "education". I hope to see you there!

Happy Stitching!


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