20th Century, What I wear

The 1950s ‘Mad, Bad & Dangerously Green’ Shorts

I love green, and it’s St Patrick’s week, and I’ve been sewing more for me, so of course I have something green to show you this week.  And it’s pretty awesomely green.  Mad, Bad, and Dangerously Green even.  Are you ready?

Aren’t they fabulous!?!  Do you love them?  I love them!

OK, the story:

The Mad:    Have you seen the print?  I can’t believe I have grass green  and  mustard  and  vermillion  and  aqua  and  mint  and  white shorts covered with bright spots  and  birds.  I’m usually pretty restrained in my fabric and clothes.  And, despite all this, I  like  them.  Actually, I  love  them!  (Have I mentioned that before?)

The Bad:  OK, so the fabric was ridiculously expensive.  Very, very naughty of me.  I saw this fabric, along with the fabric I used in my “Love at First Flight” Dress while in Australia, and I  had  to have it.    But what on earth could I make with bright grass green birdie and spottie fabric?  How about the least likely thing possible: shorts?  Steph, who is braver than I, convinced me that I wasn’t completely mad, and I went with it.

The other bad is that my camera croaked taking photos of the construction (just before I was about to go do a photoshoot on the perfect late summer day!), so I had to run around, research a new camera, fork out for a new camera, and then the weather crapped in, and I had to wait a day and a half for more good weather.

And the weather wasn’t that good after all – despite the sun, there was a cold wind (that infamous summertime southerly) blowing, and Mr D was wearing a wool coat and jeans and complaining about how cold he was, while shooting me, in this:

And the  Dangerously Green  should be self explanatory 😉

So what kind of shorts do you make with mad, bad, dangerously green fabric?  I looked around for inspiration, and found a bunch of images of early 1950s shorts.  I liked the clean styling, the high waistbands that flattered the waist and showed off the hips, and the clever little details, like waistbands with split fronts and cord ties.  So cute!

Shorts inspiration from the 1950 Sears Catalogue

That’s what I wanted.  So I rummaged around in my patterns, found McCall’s 4687, a 1970s pattern with a basic pants patterns, altered it for shorts, altered the waistband for the split front, and there I was.

They are pretty close aren’t they!  You’d hardly know that I started with this pattern:

McCall's 4687

The shorts went together really quickly, even though I altered every single seam.  It’s just such a basic, easy, well cut pattern.

I’m super happy with the fit – they are super comfortable, unfussy, and flattering.  The only two things I am not happy with are the waistband and its fold issue, and the lack of pockets.  I know, I know!  I’m the queen of pockets, but I really didn’t want to mess this fabric up, so I played it safe.  I guess I could go back in and add some side pockets, or sew on patch pockets, or set in little front welt pockets.

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric:  1.5m of  Echino by Kokka ‘Bon Bon’ cotton linen blend.

Pattern:  S1970s McCall’s 4687 pants with LOTS of alterations.  Basically I altered everything.

Year:    2012 does 1950 with a 1970s pattern.

Notions:  Invisible zip, 3 hooks and eyes, white cotton cording, yellow bias binding.

Hours:  3 hours (+ the half an hour to go to my local sewing shop to get a zipper which didn’t actually match after all)

Will you make this again?  Yes!  I love these shorts!  I’m taking them with me to OZ in April and home to Hawaii in June (spoilers).  It’s such a great, simple pattern

Any changes?  The waistband is a little soft, and does fold down a bit at the centre front.  It needs more interfacing, and maybe even collar stays.

Total cost:  Erm.  Somewhere around NZ$45 (US$35ish).  I spend more on the fabric than I have spent on any other fabric,  ever.  And since my stash is 80% silk, that says a lot.

And the inside?:  French seams & sewn-back seam edges, bias bound hems and waistband.  Little bitty white hooks with hand-worked hook bars to fasten.

The inside of these shorts makes me soooo happy!

So does the outside!

Sewing win all around!  Green is definitely a lucky colour!


  1. Oooh! Lovely. My favourite shorts are a bit of a crazy print, too, though more restrained than this… but I can relate. And I love the “2012 does 1950s with a 1970s pattern” factor.

  2. Lynne says

    They are brilliant! What a terrific fit! And they really suit you. I see why you had to have the fabric, too.

    Ah, the last shorts of summer!

  3. Shell says

    These are adorable! I kinda hope they might fit me so I can call borrowsies sometime. 😀 If you let me, of course.

  4. Love the last two photos — great colors and shadows. Way to go, Mr. Dreamy!

    Can’t WAIT to try ’em on when you bring them over to Melbourne.

    • Those were taken up by our house, where it is more sheltered and not so cold, so he wasn’t complaining about the weather! I did colour process them though.

      So you think it’ll be warm enough in Melbourne? Someone else said it would be too cold. Of course, it’s 11 degrees and roaring southerly today in Wellington – so everything else is blazing by comparison!

      • It was damn hot and humid today, but you never know! It’s definitely not windy here, though, which will be a nice treat for you.

  5. I love an unexpected animal print 🙂 That waistband detail is adorable and once again, oh! the insides! I am now considering hacking the bottoms off one of my many 70’s pants patterns…

    • Oh, thank you! I was really surprised & thrilled by how easily the pants pattern translated to shorts. I did angle out the bottom of the shorts, so that they widened instead of narrowing around the legs.

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