Just me that hears that title and thinks: “They’re not Hillary’s, they’re mine!” (a la Terry’s Chocolate Orange advert a few years ago!). In fact, the reason I’m calling these “Hillary’s Shorts” is a good one – these are made from the fabric used to make the new Roman Blinds collection at Hillarys Blinds, as part of their 2015 Craft Competition. I’m all about these competitions at the moment (remember the Simplicity one I took part in last month?) – I’ve always disliked the blog competitions where it’s all “Create a blog post of your favourite things from our shop and you’ll win a chance to get featured on social media”…eurgh. The ones where you’re in with a chance of actually winning something good aren’t so bad, but this one is different as you get to do something fun at the outset, so actually winning the competition would just be a really nice bonus at the end!
So for this competition, I had to choose a piece of 1m by 1m fabric out of four choices from Hillarys. I decided to go for the Daisy Pistachio, although it was a hard decision, especially as I hadn’t yet decided on what to make (as usual!) and just went on instinct of what I liked best. The fabric arrived, and it was gorgeous. As it’s more upholstery fabric, it’s thicker and more “woven” (is that the right word?) than the usual cottons or stretch fabrics I’m used to using, so I was a bit hesitant to jump in straight away making something with it before I’d actually properly decided what I would make.
Since it was only a small piece of fabric at 1m by 1m, I considered first making something simple like a cushion. My usual sewing doesn’t extend much further than cushions or clothing, so I started to get a bit stuck on ideas. My initial idea had actually been to create some sort of underwear (ie. Watson bra most likely) as I’d assumed the fabric would be thin cotton and I could get away with making it a “crop top” style bra, but the fabric was just not going to work with that.
I decided in the end though that since clothing is my thing (read: “thaaang”), I would see what I could do with it. At first I was all: “This will be so easy, just find a 1m dress pattern and get going!” Then I realised that most dress patterns require far more material than 1m. I searched around a bit for patterns that only require 1m of fabric, but had little luck. I toyed with the idea of using the bodice part of the Simplicity 2444 pattern to make a top, maybe even keeping the very top of the skirt on to create a peplum top, but realised I didn’t have a zip long enough for that, but a huge amount of shorter zips. It would be easy to make a simple skirt, I thought, but I wanted something slightly different. And this is what I ended up with:
Yep, a pair of high waisted shorts! I’m actually super proud of these. The only shorts I’ve made before have been loose fitting pajama ones with an elastic waistband, so these are entirely different. They’re fitted and high waist, made up of 8 panels…and they’re entirely self drafted, eek! They’re actually based on this pair of shorts I have from Urban Outfitters, but there are a few differences – for example, those are made of a sort of denim with a slight stretch to the fabric, whereas the Daisy Pistachio fabric has no stretch whatsoever. I made the pattern by tracing over the panels in the shorts as much as I could (which was actually pretty difficult!), then adding a seam allowance of around an inch – the plan was to use around half an inch as my actual seam allowance, and the extra half inch would allow a bit of wiggle room since this fabric had no stretch.
I decided I’d better do a mock up pair of shorts first to see if my master plan would actually work. I found a piece of fabric around 1m big that I had left over from another project, cut out all my panels and slapped them together quickly. I started by attaching the two centre front panels, then the front side panels, back side panels, and finally centre back panels, leaving a gap at the top of the back to insert the zip. I then attached the pieces at the crotch, inserted a zip and tried them on for size. The legs and hips fitted perfectly…the waist not so much – in fact, there was a good extra couple of inches there, oops! I think this was mainly due to the fact that I hadn’t considered I didn’t need the extra inch along the top edge, so that extended up an extra inch to where my waist is narrower. I added in a couple of darts at either side, which actually worked fairly well, but planned to do the real pair slightly differently. There was a lot of extra room around the crotch at the front too, so I planned for some slight changes there too.
So for the “real thing”, I modified the pattern slightly: I chopped off about half an inch from the top of each panel, then angled the tops inwards too. When I sewed the panels together, I also allowed around a 3/8″ seam allowance at the bottom of each panel, then angled outwards to around 5/8″ seam allowance as I went up. I’m not sure this is a done thing, but it worked for me, and by the time the zip went in, I had a perfect fit around the legs, hips and waist. I do still have an ever so slight problem with there being a little extra material in the crotch, but actually looking at the original pair, I have that there too, just the stretch fabric in those is more forgiving.
I did attempt a little bit of pattern matching in places, as you might be able to see, but it wasn’t entirely successful thanks to the curve needed to fit my waist and hips. It was also difficult considering the small amount of fabric as I couldn’t shuffle the pattern pieces around too much, but at least I tried – one day I’ll get it!
I normally don’t include detail pics of items I’ve sewn on the hanger, but with these I wanted to do so, especially since I’m quite pleased with the insides! As you can see, I used a yellow zip for a bit of extra interest and to match the yellow daisy centres. Then I tried out something new that I haven’t done before – I used bias binding to finish the edges, but kept it invisible. I hate using facings (they just really bother me!), and love bias tape, but I usually have it exposed and visible. This time I thought it would look nice to have it on the inside and not distracting from the design on the outside, so tried it around the waistband, and wow! It worked! In fact, it worked well enough that I didn’t hem the legs as I’d planned; I used the remaining bias binding to finish the legs. It was actually a lot easier than I’d thought (no idea why I thought it would be hard), and looks really pretty on the inside too. For the seams of the panels, I decided just to press the seams and use the pinking shears. The fabric is very prone to fraying thanks to its woven texture, but the pinking shears stopped that somewhat.
So, what do you think? Definitely a different use for upholstery fabric! And now that I’ve discovered I make a pair of fitted high waisted shorts out of just a metre of fabric, I may end up making a few more pairs! I’ll be working on fitting the crotch area a bit better next time, but these are definitely wearable enough that they’ll be making a few outings and probably coming with me on holiday.