How to hack a jersey pants pattern into flared shorts - Tutorial

How to hack a jersey pants pattern into flared shorts - Tutorial

This hack started because my daughter needed some new summer PJs and I wanted to use one of my own patterns to do it. I already had the pattern for the top, the Lemon Tee with short sleeves and bands, and I'd been thinking about hacking the Sleepy Head PJs to make shorts for a while now and this was the perfect chance.


The Sleepy Heads PJs has two different patterns for the pants: view A is a legging style pants (fitted), and view B is a less fitted style. I love how both of these look on my daughter, but for shorts I wanted something a bit flared. To do it I used the slash and spread method, which is used to add flare to a multitude of patterns (tops, dresses, shorts, skirts, etc).

Here's how to do it:


Print out the Sleepy Head PJs pattern choosing only the pages for view B (the less fitted pants).


Decide how long you want the final shorts to be and measure it along the inseam. I wanted it to have a 5cm (2") inseam. So measure the seam allowance from the top, which is 1cm (3/8"), and then measure the finished inseam and mark it.


Do the same for both inseams on the pattern.


Draw a straight line across the pattern, connecting both inseams.


You can also go ahead and add the hem allowance. I added 2cm (3/4") as hem allowance.

When adding the hem allowance, leave some overhang on each side to match the leg of the pattern when it will be folded up (see the black arrows in the photo below).

Then cut around the pattern piece.


Now you'll do what is called slash and spread. Draw vertical lines parallel to the grain line and evenly spaced between them. I drew 4 lines spaced 9cm (3.5") between them. But for more flare you can draw more lines closer together.

Cut the lines from the hem line to almost the top of the pattern. Don't cut through the top, leave a few millimetres to hold the pattern together. This is the Slash part.


Now Spread the pattern open. Doing this will add flare while distributing it along the whole pattern without changing the rise.


But the spread has to be done equally on all cut lines. So get a piece of paper and tape the first section of the pattern onto it. I didn't have enough paper so I only taped the bottom of the pattern, which is enough.


Decide the amount of spread that you want to add (I did 2.5cm (1") on each section) and measure it from the finished length line of the first section towards the right. Mark it on the paper.


Keeping the first two sections flat on the table, bring the finished length line of the second section to meet the mark, and tape it in place.

Repeat this for all sections, until you have the entire pattern piece equally spread and taped in place.


Tape the top of the pattern to another piece of paper.

Now if you just connected the sections with a straight line you would get an awkward shape along the top and the bottom, so redraw the top and bottom of the pattern in smooth curves.


Cut it out along the new curves and you have your new pattern piece all done.


How to sew the shorts:

Sewing these shorts is exactly the same as sewing the pants, but I figured I might as well show it here. :-) I used the lightning bolt stitch to sew the rise and inseam, and a zigzag stitch to hem and sew the elastic.

Start by memory pressing the hems towards the wrong side. This will help when sewing later.


Arrange both legs right sides together, pin along the front and back rise, and sew.


Open the shorts and bring the inseams together, right sides together. Pin and sew.


Fold the hem along the pre-pressed creases, pin and sew close to the raw edge.


Cut the elastic (I used 3/4" wide elastic) to the measurement of the child's preferred waist. Overlap the ends by 1" and sew with two rows of zigzag stitch.


Divide the elastic in quarters, and do the same for the shorts. Match the center front, center back and sides.


Place the elastic on the wrong side of the waist of the shorts matching the pins. Pin in place and sew all around close to the top edge. The elastic will be just a tad smaller than the waist, meaning that you'll have to stretch the elastic slightly to match the shorts.


Fold the elastic down towards the wrong side of the shorts, pin and sew close to the bottom edge of the elastic (the raw edge of the fabric). If using a tag, place it in the center back, under the elastic. You may need to stretch the elastic slightly to keep the shorts from getting pleats.


And the shorts are finished. The waist stitches should look like this. Give the shorts a good press with steam and that's it.


Because I made these PJs in solid white cotton jersey I made the sleeve bands and the neckband in a contrast color rib, and I added a heat-transfer design to the shirt and the shorts.


I hope you find this tutorial useful! You can use the slash and spread method to add flare to most patterns (tops, dresses, shorts, etc).

If you want to pin this for later, you can use the photo below.

Happy sewing!


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