It’s been a strange kind of month sewing-wise, because I’ve been flitting around a little more than usual, adding little projects here and there. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and I in no way feel I have to stick to any schedule, but this latest project – these Piper Shorts from Mood Fabrics – are a good example of what I mean. I received an email about this new free (yep – free!) pattern on Monday night and had them finished Wednesday afternoon.
Partly it’s because the warm weather has arrived and I’m thinking about cool clothes in the heat; the fact that it’s Me-Made-May has also contributed – I’ve made a few TNTs to fill wardrobe gaps I’ve identified, but will write a combined post about those later. The arrival of a baby girl also caused me a little diversion from my plans, as per my last post. All fun diversions and all rather successful, which brings me neatly back to these shorts.
I saw a free pattern from Mood a few months back that I liked, which was the Gingko shirt and duly downloaded it, but it was quite similar to the Melilot and Kalle style of shirt, which were already in my queue, so I didn’t make it in the end. That fabric though! I haven’t really been back to the site until now but, my word, they have a LOT of free patterns. I’m going to have to go back and have a proper look soon. Check it out – impressive!
I’ve also been humming and hawing over one of the recent trends I’ve seen around blogland, which is that of the paper bag waist. Although I initially discounted the paper bag trouser as pretty cool, but unsuitable for me, I’ve since seen quite a few versions that had me changing my viewpoint, like this pair from Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’. Still, I wasn’t quite sure and then I saw this – the paper bag-waisted short! Even better, I knew I had this buttery soft piece of Japanese linen in my stash that was 1) not really my colour, so it had to be a lower-body garment and 2) only a short piece (1.5m?), so anything long was out. A project was born!
The pdf is pretty easy to put together and consists of the back and front (both labelled front as it happens, but of course the back is the larger piece with the longer crotch curve), a pocket piece and a belt. There are also requirements for interfacing in the instructions, but then no directions where to apply it or cut it out. I guess it was maybe for the belt, but I just ignored it. The sizing is really very generous as the pattern is provided in sizes 2-30, so a big gold star to Mood for that one.
The instructions are on the website, rather than with the pdf, and are fairly brief. There are a few pictures, but you are expected to know (or look up) what French seams are and which way round to join pieces, for example. The construction is relatively simple, but it’s just worth bearing in mind if you’re a beginner. The onus appears to be on a fast sew, which suited me fine, and it was quite nice to knock it together. As I mentioned, French seams were recommended, so it wasn’t slapdash, just economical with time.
The paper bag part is created by simply folding the top of the shorts to form a wide waistband and then sewing two lines of stitches to form a channel, through which you then feed a 1/2″ wide piece of elastic. The hems are merely the bottoms folded over three times, pressed, and then a few stitches added by hand to keep them loosely in place. The whole sew took me under two hours I think, so this really is a project you can whip up on a whim.
So what did I make of them? I made a size 18 and I would say the sizing is fairly generous. I probably could have gone down at least a size or two, comparing my finished shorts to the pattern picture, and there’s plenty of leeway with waist measurements because of the elasticated paper bag waist. At the halfway point they looked MASSIVE and I was seriously thinking about checking my printing scale, but this resolved itself in the latter stages of construction.
This does mean that they look slightly different than the pattern pictures. I really like the slightly loose result – it’s extremely comfortable, avoids any potential chafing in the warm weather (ha!) and I made the legs a little longer because I sometimes think those up yer bum short shorts look quite… intrusive. I always see people tugging at them as if they’re trying to uncork a bottle, and I don’t care if that makes me sounds like a old fart. My husband said it looked like I was wearing bloomers – and, yes, I suppose I know what he means, cheeky bugger. One thing I need to do is move the pockets quite substantially. On this looser fit, they’re too low and wide.
I’m still not 100% sure about the paper bag waist. It does make my legs look quite long (which is nice for once), but I think the boob height/waistline ratio might not be the most flattering. If I wear them with a longer t-shirt, they just look like regular shorts so it’s not going to stop me wearing them. The fabric colour still isn’t really the best for my peely-wally Scottish skin, but it’s no bother, because it’s like I’m wearing the silkiest boxer shorts without actually wearing underwear in public. I found it a little tricky to find a me-made top to wear with them and ended up with a RTW vest here – so there’s something else to add to my quick n dirty projects list! I’m thinking an Ogden cami or similar might do the job nicely.
If I make them again, I will add pockets. The back pockets are nice, but they feel like they should have some sort of in-seam pocket to put stuff or your hands into. I’ll probably also go down a size to see what difference it makes, although I am happy with this pair. And I will definitely add a couple of belt loops to these, just to hold the belt in place, which is is simple enough to do. These are going to be a summer staple for me I reckon and for a free pattern, you can’t really ask for more than that! Well played, Mood Fabrics!