I have to admit I have always wanted to try those vintage high-waisted shorts that have been making a comeback for the last few years. I have just always been worried that they will not be flattering. They have darts to bring in the waist, but I don’t really have much of a waist. I kind of end up making it look like I have a waist with whatever I am wearing! But when the Weston Shorts showed up on Seamwork I thought, “Why not?” Also, I can learn how to make darts, use interfacing and sew in a zipper. Plus, it’s summer and I can always use another pair of shorts!
Note: These are by far the most challenging item I have tried to sew yet. I made it twice as hard by altering the waistline to fit me and messing it up a bit. That said, this is a really long post. If you want to skip down to the end to see what they look like without all the messy altering it won’t hurt my feelings!
On to the mistakes!
Stupidly, I cut out a size 24 with a finished waist of 47″, and then realized I would probably be better off with a 26 from the waist measurements. (I also cut out the dart triangles and had to tape them back in.) Oh well. I did a little rogue altering by adding 1″ to the waistline on the front and back of the pattern, adding a total of 4″ to the waist line. What usually happens when I get the waist to fit is that the legs will be enormous so I folded in the leg of the pattern so it would sit flat. It probably only knocked about .5″-.75″ off each leg and it turned out fine.
I bought this nice polka-dotted chambray, on sale, as usual. There is enough left for another pair of shorts or maybe even the Moji pants! First new skill: DARTS! There are 4 darts along the waistline in total. The last thing I normally want to do is to make the waist smaller, but we’ll give it a shot! So I folded the fabric, hit it with an iron and then sewed straight down the seam.
Now the directions would have you continue to finish the front of the shorts with fusible interfacing and a zipper. In order to put off the unknown for a little longer I went ahead and attached the back panels of the shorts. Sometimes I like to do all the easy sewing before I get to the hard stuff.
Then I set these aside and moved back to the front. First you fuse the fly on both interiors panels.
Then put the two panels together with right side together and baste along the outer edge of the interfacing. Then straight stitch the crotch with several back-stitchs for strength. Press open and Boom! They look like half a pair of shorts!
So the pattern calls for a 9″ zipper. After teaching myself how to sew in a zipper it just looks way too long. I may go ahead and use a smaller zipper on the next pair. Sewing in a zipper was not nearly as difficult as I thought!
Then you use those basting stitches as a guide to sew the J shape you see on the front of bottoms that have zippers. You also sew a bar tack (circled below) to catch the bottom fabric of the zipper and reinforce it. Bar tacks, I learned, are those thicker stitch lines that you often see to reinforce pockets on jeans. There are actually bar tacking machines that do nothing but this! Googling sewing techniques can really send me down a rabbit hole! I just used a short, narrow stitch close to the button hole stitch on my machine. My bar tack is a little sloppy, but oh well. Another reason I think the zipper may be too long is that the J shape is really long and goes down into the crotch.
Then I couldn’t resist and I went ahead and sewed the front and backs together, finished the crotch and hemmed the legs. Basically I did all the easy stuff so I could be sure they fit before adding the waistband with buttons.
Where things get wonky…
It is at this point that I need to admit that while altering the shorts front and back waistlines, I totally forgot to alter the separate waistband. I proceeded to cut it out, stay stitch, and fuse the interfacing to the waistband before I realized my mistake.
I decided I couldn’t stand to waste the fabric so I added a middle section to the back of the waistband that would create two back seams instead of one. I’m so sorry, Seamwork pattern drafters! I am totally just altering the hell of out these things!
Here’s the math I did. I added 4″ to the waist so I needed to add that to the waistband. Then I will need room for button holes and buttons, that’s 2″. Then I added the 3/8″ seam allowances. (I added 4 to account for this extra piece and the two halves of the waistband. In retrospect, 2 seam allowances would have been fine.) Now to keep the curve in the waistband I added 1/4″ to the bottom. So the top of the curved piece is 7.5″ and the bottom of the curves is 8″. I know this will give me a little leeway to cut off some if it too long. (I did end up cutting about 2″ off when I finished these.)
Finishing and attaching the waistband to the tops of these shorts probably took me three days. I could have used 2 or 3 more pictures in the instructions. You stitch a front and back together. Below is a picture the waistband and along the top I snipped a little triangle every 1″-2″. Per instructions I pressed the seam allowances towards the interfacing side.
Then you understitch. Something else I have never attempted! To Google! Understitching is just a straight stitch through right and wrong side seam allowances, right along the edge of the wrong side seam. Because of the way the fabric is folded it will not show on the outside. So the front of this photo is the underside of the fabric, and that circle shows how the stitching shows on one side but is still going through both seam allowances on both pieces of fabric. The inner waistband is on the right and the outer waistband is on the left.
And here is the under-stitching after I pressed it. The stitching at the top does not go through to the front of the waist band.
Now attaching the waistband to the shorts took me about 3 days. I could have used about 3 more pictures in the instructions.
After pinning and unpinning I finally figured out how to do it. I added my own diagrams for future reference. The first one shows attached the waistband by opening it up and laying the band and shorts together with right sides facing. Outer waistband facing outside of shorts. Then you pin and stitch.
Next you flip the waist band up and over like the arrow so the right side of the inner waistband in on the wrong side of the shorts. Then you stitch through 5 layers. A double layer on both sides of the waistband and the top of the shorts. I feel like I could have used a little help on that. Really just the last drawing would have sufficed for me to go figure out what the end game was.
So I sewed that up and then realized I had to flip the end inside out and sew and trim them. This is where I cut off a little extra length in the waistband.
Then you flip it back and it look like this! Then follow the top-stitching directions and you are into the home stretch.
I added pink sparkly buttons, because they felt like a fun little addition. The buttons are supposed to sit one on top of the other but I prefer two in a row for strength.
High waisted shorts and pants generally have a waist that cuts in and you tuck your shirt in. I don’t really think this look is going to work for me…
I will, however, wear them like this! Sadly you won’t see my sparkly buttons but I will just know they are there. Also, there are no pockets. I believe they would make the hips pretty bulky if you added them to the front. I would add a welt pocket to the back though.
Overall, I am happy with these shorts. I wore them to my in-laws for dinner one night and they went over pretty well. The inseam length is great, the legs are not enormous, and they mostly fit. They are, as advertised, high-waisted shorts. I just think the look is not for me. Sadly most of the detail work that I spent a lot of time learning will not show, but I did learn A LOT from this pattern.
One more photo. Seriously, this is how high the waist is on these. I did not alter the length of them at all.