The pile has been sat on the corner of my desk since the Easter holidays. On a rainy morning I let the children have a gentle ransack of my fabric stash to remind ourselves that sunshine and warm winds were on their way by pulling out a few options for shorts for all three of them for the summer. Given that my attempts at making baby trousers resulted in three pairs of Anna Maria Horner’s Quick Change Trousers, all of which had a propensity to fall down as the baby in question crawled out of them (note to anyone who arrived here by googling – use half inch elastic several inches shorter than the pattern calls for and you’ll be fine), the idea that I could happily attack a plan to make 6 to 9 pairs of short before we get to the end of June, might seem somewhat fanciful. But last summer, when I had nothing to loose but a bit of spare fabric and an hour or so of a humid evening, I made Pip a pair of shorts to match his sisters’ skirts, and they worked.
In fact they more than worked, they were a roaring success last summer and they still fit this year, even if the young man in question has shot up more than a little. They also fit Elma. It’s not quite the surprise it seems, she is after all only 1 1/4 lb heavier than him, and height doesn’t matter so much in shorts. Which means that I have a pattern of sorts, sketched and cut out of a bit of the children’s drawing paper, but carefully preserved in my desk tidy for just such a day.
Whenever people ask me how I find the time to make things, I tell them I need to be creative more than I need to sleep, and I’m only half joking. I probably need to be creative as much as I need the sleep, but there is a rest and contentedness when it’s just me with a sewing machine, or knitting needles, or even just words, that I don’t get even from something like reading for pleasure. Last week was a tough one in the working world: nothing bad happened, it was just a steep learning curve that left me lurching between confidence and an all pervading and very irrational fear, but by Sunday I needed some studio time. Preferably something that I didn’t have to think about too much, that would be nice and easy to start, and if at all possible, finish.
Shorts it was.
I was only going to make Elma’s. As the member of the household with the most clothes in her drawers and the most handmedowns awaiting her, she was clearly in desperate need of more clothing. Clearly. Desperate. So I’m claiming that the fabric made me do it.
It’s a remnant that we bought in Lil Weasel in Paris last summer, the most beautiful soft floppy organic cotton and if they’d had it by the metre I’d have been wrapping it around myself like a toga if it had let me fit it in the car. As it was, not such self sacrifice was necessary, and this little bit yielded enough for a pair of shorts and probably a future quilt block or two.
The fabric is from a line called Madame Mo, who seems to be a Japanese-inspired French cartoon character who has inspired a very lovely line of fabric. This print is like looking at cherry blossom and a pond through a kaleidoscope so I can see how it fits.
For Elma’s shorts I followed my earlier pattern of basic shorts plus sewn on waistband, with a bit of help from the overlocker along the way (I still can’t figure out how I went so long without using it), and all in all the shorts came together start to finish within my washing machine’s mixed fabrics cycle, so about an hour and half.
Elma tried them on, jumped up and down for a full five minutes without pause, and dashed off into the garden.
I turned back to the pile.
For Pip, and in order that we continue the international theme, I picked up the starry print that he chose in Innsbruck last summer.
For those who are concerned that I seem to spend my summers on a massive fabric haul around Europe, it’s really truly only the tiniest part of our European Adventures, which you can read about here, and watch our videos here. But back to the shorts. I have no idea who made this fabric, it’s a border to border print, but Pip loved it, I liked it, and it makes a great pair of “dorts”.
For this pair I added some extra height to my draft pattern and then folded it down to make an integral waistband. It’s definitely quicker, and probably a more efficient use of fabric and I’m certain I shall continue to tinker until they’ve both grown out of all of them.
The next challenge is to somehow size it up and/or copy and existing pair of Kitty’s shorts, but I have a bit of a batik print that I’m happy to experiment with so there’s really no excuse not to keep having a little play.