Sweet & sour ‘Summer Berries’ shorts

Last week I told you about the Sew Weekly and showed off my first offering: the Little Black Dress-Clip Dress.  The Sew Weekly theme for this week was ‘buttons’.  I thought about doing something fancy with bound buttonholes, but I end up doing that sort of thing all the time, so there was no reason, and I don’t particularly need anything fancy and tailored and fussy in my wardrobe right now.

What I do need is simple summery things, and stuff I can do swing dancing in when it’s hot.  Solution: make a pair of vintage-inspired button front shorts.

I’m calling these the ‘Summer Berries’ shorts.  I’d originally meant for them to be quite nautical with white buttons, but when I went through my fabric stash I didn’t have anything that really worked, and the only thing that stood out to me as exciting at the fabric store were some raspberry pink buttons.

So now I have bright blueberry blue shorts with raspberry pink buttons.  And I’m eating a blackberry real-fruit ice cream as I model them.  Sweet.

I wore them on Friday for a fabric and vintage shopping mini-roadtrip to Palmerston North with Claire of the Vanity Case and Elizabeth of PorcelainToy, who I have gotten to know since doing the costume for their music video, and who is just the sweetest thing ever.

I was very nervous about baring my knees for the whole day, so took a dress in case I chickened out halfway through.  Luckily I didn’t, and even got compliments from two strangers!

Despite that, I don’t love how I look in the shorts.  I feel like they emphasize my stomach and lack of waist.  That’s the sour part.

The photos were taken on a stop for real fruit ice cream (the BEST stuff ever – definitely something you must do on a NZ road trip) at the end of our trip.

So me and the shorts are doing pretty well for having been sitting in a car and rummaging through grubby op-shops for most of the day.

I’m wearing the shorts with a 1980s thrifted Japanese blouse – the same one I wore with the Pachyderm skirt.  I re-cut the neckline because I felt the blouse was turning me into a waistless block, and while the new neckline helps, looking at the picture above has convinced me to re-gift it to a thrift shop.  Sigh.  I guess one of my next projects should be a new white shirt for me!

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: .6 metres of blueberry blue cotton twill, inherited from Nana.

Pattern: Self drafted, based on the shorts from New York Patterns 1040.

Pattern alterations: I switched out the side buttons for a sailor-inspired button front, moved the pleats slightly away from the front (this turned out to be a bad idea), and sized up the pattern to fit me.

Year: ca. 1938

Notions: Raspberry pink buttons from The Fabric Warehouse, blue bias tape from the stash.

Hours: 2.5 hours to draft the pattern, fit, make alterations, and sew up the shorts

Techniques used: Pattern drafting, buttonholes, false flat-felled seams (aka stitched-down french seams).

Will you make this again? Yes, but not for me.  I don’t think I need more than one pair of high-waisted button-front shorts in my wardrobe.  Other  people have liked them so much though that I already have a client who wants a pair.

Any changes? For future editions I’ll reinforce the front more and angle the buttons and pleats for a more flattering line.

Total cost: $6.00 for the buttons.

And the inside?: Sewed down french seams, bias bound placket, invisible hem stitch = practically perfect in every way.

Except for the part where I don’t love how I look in them.  That’s not perfect.

Sigh.  Can I have some more ice-cream now?

23 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Lynne says:

    I think they look good, actually. Why don’t you like the pleats? They give extra comfort, less grab, I would imagine, and I like the look of the fullness.

    I think the waist issue is a colour problem. The white shirt looks wonderfully fresh with the blue and pink, but the contrast is strong, and it is right at your waist. (I keep doing this, too – lesson to self: do not wear light shirts with black pants! Cuts me in half, and makes the middle look bigger.) Do you have a pink/blue top you could try with them?

  2. Oh. My. God. I am obsessed! These are the most amazing shorts ever! I have been trying to find a similar pattern to make some for derby to skate in and this fits the ticket. So lovely and so inspiring :D

  3. MrsC says:

    You know I am not a faux complimenter, and I love how you look in them! Their vibe and style is perfectly you. Needs a cropped top like you made Tash but slightly longer for your aesthete, for absolute perfection, I feel!

  4. Polly says:

    I think with a raspberry or boysenberry subtle print blouse they would be a perfect look for you. I agree the white blouse cuts you in half at the point ‘you’ wish not to emphasise (not that any of us would agree). Love the binding.

  5. Kathy P says:

    I think the shorts are wonderful and you look delightful in them. Perhaps you could find some raspberry and white striped fabric and make a cute sailor style blouse to go with them?

  6. Cornelia Moore says:

    I’m visualizing a top of the same material in the same color, with a white arrow collar and a small breast pocket trimmed with white piping and a rasberry button for accent. very short sleeved or no sleeved. sleeves maybe trimmed with white piping, but if so, then the pants need hemmed with it as well.

  7. Lauren says:

    Adorable! Love the red buttons!

  8. Dawn says:

    I think Lynne hit the nail on the head with the color contrast making you look bigger than you are. Those buttons are dramatic but we don’t need drama in the spots we feel are less than ideal. Blue buttons would definately tone that down. You need more drama up by your pretty face. Get another top and put those pink buttons up there!

  9. Zach says:

    I think you look quite smashing, actually (you should listen, too; I’m a guy). If you really are worried about the emphasis at the waisy–which you really need not be–you could always make a nice white t-shirt that ends right above the second set of buttons up from the bottom–it would look especially nice in an embroidered fabric (white on white in a small repeated pattern). On a side note, I really love how you always finish the insides of your garments off so nicely. It really adds a nice touch that the wearer can always appreciate.

    • Thank you! I think I was too harsh on myself about these, and I really appreciate all the support from you guys (in the general sense!) :-)

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that loves inside finishes. It’s one of the things that makes me really happy – it’s like a private gift for the wearer.

  10. StephC says:

    Such cute cute shorts! I’m loving your simple sewing projects lately.

    I like the blouse, too… but you know, that’s just me. :)

  11. Gillian says:

    I think they look really lovely! I certainly didn’t immediately look at the photos and think “oh my – those shorts make her waist look wide!” – I think they suit you very well. But I do agree with other commenters that if you’re self-conscious about it, a shirt in a closer colour might help. I love the contrast of the pink buttons with the blue, also (and they do look pink on my computer screen!)

    Also, the finishing inside is gorgeous. I wish I left myself time to do such nice finishing more often!

  12. Personally, I think the whole combo looks really cute on you, but I also know how it is to be convinced that something doesn’t look flattering on yourself when everyone disagrees — if you don’t love yourself in it, it’s not worth the mental discomfort. That said, those shorts look lovely on the inside! I have been trying to be better about finishing my garment seams and things, but it’s difficult (at least for me!) to get things to look nice even when it’s all wrapped up in seam binding.

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Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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