One of the trends in children’s clothing is and “all-in-one” skirt and shorts. The obvious purpose is to assure that there is panty coverage during normal play. While this no-brainer design element isn’t ubiquitous, there are some children’s clothing manufacturer’s such as Lands’ End and Carters who regularly design play clothes with built-in shorts. Unfortunately, without the under-shorts, an adorable skirt can hang in the closet unworn. I understand that at schools, pants are a dress code requirement in order to play on the gym equipment.
Here’s an example from my last blog post.
If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a skirt with built-in shorts the alternative is to sew under-shorts only so they can be worn with existing skirts.
Sewing All-in-one Skirt and Shorts
The method for sewing shorts into a skirt is fairly simple – when sewing the waistband onto the skirt, sew a third layer which is the shorts. In other words, you are sewing the waistband, the skirt and the shorts together. What’s not so simple is that the circumference of a skirt is often wider than the circumference of a pair of shorts, so you may need to stretch the under-shorts a bit while sewing.
Here’s and inside photo of Catie’s new skirt with under-shorts. In this case I did need to stretch the under-shorts. however the fabric has a good amount of lycra.
Tips for success when sewing skirts with attached under-shorts.
- Take a good look at ready-to-wear with built-in shorts – this is the best way to learn how they are constructed.
- Use a knit with lycra for the shorts (~30%) so they can stretch when attaching the waistband.
- To reduce bulk at the waist, choose a pattern with a yoke or a wide waistband and
- Reduce the rise on the shorts by the height of the waistband (or else the crotch will be at your young-un’s knees)
- For a pattern, copy an existing pair of knit shorts or use this leggings pattern. Add width so the shorts aren’t skin-tight and shorten it to the desired length. This is a pattern where the exact fit isn’t so important.
- Avoid side seams in the shorts – they add bulk (and a few minutes of your precious time to the project).
If your favorite girl loves to do cartwheels and has a closet full of unworn skirts without built-in shorts, this tutorial is the answer. Now as standard attire, Mira and Cate have many colors to choose from. How convenient that both Mira and Cate enjoy skirts and I often have knit scraps. Sometimes I sew the undershorts to match a top or skirt such as in this photo.
And sometimes the under-shorts are a good way to use up left-over fabric. A pair requires little more than a quarter yard of knit fabric or some random scraps. Here’s an example from several years ago. Seems to me that I’ve still seen them in action recently.
Tips on sewing under-shorts.
- As with attached under-shorts, avoid a side seam.
- Shorten the front and back rise so the waist elastic falls slightly below the natural waist. This reduces bulk and improves comfort.
- Hem with a zig-zag, cover stitch, decorative elastic or a rolled hem. Some knits can be left un-hemmed as is common in ready to wear.
- When applying the elastic (I prefer 3/8″ lingerie or knit elastic), stretch slightly so the elastic is slightly smaller than the circumference of the under-shorts.
- Use a zig-zag or cover-stitch to apply elastic (click on above photo to see detail).
- Place a small piece of ribbon at the back seam to make it easy for the wearer to know which is the back.
Now give it a try. You can whip up a few of these wardrobe expanders in no time at all.