It is a truth universally acknowlegded, that a mama of a girl in possession of a decent length of leg, must be in want of decent shorts coverage…
It’s a pretty common lament, I have found, of mums of girls come summer time, trying to find our little ones shorts that are comfortable, cute and a decent length. Many of us resort to buying shorts from the boys department just to get away from the butt-grazing shorts that seem to be so popular among department store buyers for girls. My little almost-8-year-old Miss Butterfly is just as rough and tumble as her brothers, so needs something hardwearing as them, and a similar length, but she enjoys the traditionally feminine frou-frou as much as she loves rough and tumble, so I can’t buy strictly from the boys department, when the girls’ contains bling and lace and butterflies and unicorns.
A few weeks back, hunting through the stash for a different project, I came across a length of sweet, embroidered pink fabric I had picked up from the clearance bin at the local fabric store, more moons ago than I care to admit. It was adorable, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it. Oliver+S’s Puppet Show bloomers.
I first fell in love with this pattern when Butterfly was tiny, and made an adorable 000 version in linen and cord, and also sewed it up in silk, and then added a hack of the tunic as an overlay for her baptism gown. I love and adore this pattern. A lot of the newer Oliver+S patterns go up to a size 12, but as this is one of their earlier ones, it’s from the days when they only offered 3 months – 2T, and 2T-5. When I measured her up, she came in as a size 6 in the waist, and size 8 in the length. I ummed and ahhed about grabbing the size 5 pattern, but figured if I had to size up anyway, I may as well just work with what I had…
To start with, I traced off the 2T sized pattern for the bloomers, and then checked back my measurements to the size range of both the 2T pattern, and the 2-5 pattern. Based on her measurements, I needed to add 2″ to the width of each leg, and 3″ to the length.
ADDING THE WIDTH:
Once I had the pattern traced off, I cut it out roughly, and laid it down on my cutting mat. Using my long 24″ ruler, I oriented it to align with the grain line on the pattern. The pocket is the same size on all versions of the pattern, so I shifted away from those markers – I didn’t particularly want to mess with re-measuring and realigning the tailors tacks, so I left them intact and made my cut behind them. With the pattern now sliced in half, I added a sheet of butchers paper behind the two new pieces, and taped down the front piece in approximately the middle of the sheet. I used my quilting ruler to lightly sketch a pencil line from the top corner, perpendicular to the cut I had made, and then I used this guideline to place the top corner of the back piece, and my ruler to ensure it was a nice neat parallel 2″ from the front piece. Once it was taped down, I freehand sketched a line to join the two pieces across the top and the bottom, to match the existing shape of the pattern. I did NOT cut the new pattern piece at this point.
Also requiring adjustment was the waistband and leg bindings. Both of these were quite simple, as they increased by a set amount per size. The waistband I needed to add 4″ of length to, to get it from size 2 to size 6, stepping up one inch per size. The leg bindings increased 3/4″ per size, so I added 3″ to the length of these.
ADDING THE LENGTH:
This one I pondered back and forth on where to add the length, and in the end, I measured her inseam and preferred length, as well as the fork seam and her preferred waistband. of the 3″ in length I needed to add, I decided to add 2″ to the bottom of the leg piece, and 1 inch to the top. To do this, I adopted a highly technical method of marking out the required additon every few inches and then freehand sketching in the cut line, because I’m super fancy like that. Once that was done, I was able to cut out the finished frankenstein pattern piece from the excess tissue paper and butchers paper, and move on to construction of the shorts.
I also added extra width to the waistband as I was concerned the suggested size would look too narrow, but in the end I didn’t use the extra width, instead creating a double thickness waistband to better hide the elastic under the semi-sheer fabric.
The other change I made was to construct the shorts with flat-felled seams, for a couple of reasons. One, I like the polished look of the double stitching, and two, the most important reason, my overlocker is a cow of a thing and I reeallllly didn’t want to have to get it out and stuff about with threading it and convincing it to work properly! Plus I didn’t have pink overlocking thread.
WHAT I WILL DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME:
As noted above, I cut the waistband wider, but didn’t use the width, so I will just cut the same width as the pattern next time. I will also cut the leg binding shorter than I did this time – as you can see in the above photo, the leg bindings were long enough to basically render the gather detail obsolete. Length wise, I think they fit ok – I would probably consider adding all the length to the bottom, so the waistband sits lower on her tummy, where it seems to naturally fall, but conversely, the current fit also gives room for her to continue wearing them over a couple of summers, even when she has a growth spurt.
Overall, I am really happy with how they turned out, considering how crazy I felt trying to make a version of a 2T pattern to fit my almost-8-year-old! I have some pinwale corduroy in my stash that I am lining up for the next version of these shorts, and because I’m totally crazy, I’m thinking of upsizing the tunic and hacking it into a pull-over style top. In a lightweight voile, it would make a sweet summer top for weekend outings. I think I’m going to need a whole lot of coffee & a hefty dose of luck on my side to attempt that one…