Now that we’ve tackled Basic Shorts….let’s give them a Flat Front. (UPDATE: There is also now a video for these!)
This post is one of many tutorials that accompany the KID Shorts PATTERN, which you can purchase HERE in the Shop.
You do not need our pattern to sew these shorts but it’s recommended.
If you’re using a different pattern, or if you’ve created your own pattern, follow along with the instructions and make shorts with us!
And check out all the variations we’ve made by clicking a button below:
Flat front shorts are not hard to sew. They might look like they are—cause the finished product is all awesome and professional looking—but we’re using many of the same steps to get a Short that looks really snazzy.
Basically all we’re doing is cutting the Front pattern piece a bit more narrow than before (which is easy to do with the Flat Front fold line on our trusty pattern). Then we’re adding elastic to the Back of the shorts only, rather than throughout the entire waistband.
In reality, flat front shorts don’t take much longer to sew than Basic Shorts….and you end up with a more polished and professional look. It’s my favorite way to sew shorts for my kids.
So let’s get started!
Grab your Front pattern piece and note the diagonal dotted line labeled “Flat Front Fold”.
Simply fold the pattern under along that line (but don’t cut it so you can still use the pattern when making Basic Shorts ).
And we’re ready to cut fabric. Fold the fabric in half, selvage to selvage and lay the pattern pieces parallel to the grainline (more info in the Basic Shorts tutorial).
TIP #1: When folding the fabric, fold it with right sides together. Then once your patter pieces are cut, they’re already “right sides together” and totally ready to sew!
TIP #2: When cutting out pieces you can trace around the pattern with a pen and then cut your pieces, or you can use some sort of weights to hold the pattern piece in place while you cut, OR—what I do—is to simply press down on the area I’m cutting with my left hand (using it as a “weight”) and then cut the fabric with my right hand. No tracing. And it’s surprisingly pretty accurate.
Okay, you should have 2 Front pieces and 2 Back pieces.
We’re going to start sewing the shorts the same way we did in the Basic Shorts tutorial (for fine details, read through that tutorial).
–Use a 3/8 inch Seam Allowance for this entire tutorial—
Finish off your seams (with a zigzag stitch on your machine, or with pinking shears, or with a serger. Read details about Finishing Seams in the Basic Shorts Tutorial). Iron out your seams and your shorts should look like this:
You can tell that the Front is much more narrow than the back, which is perfect.
Now pin the side seams together. Pull the first side seam over so it reaches the Back side seam and pin, then pull the other side seam over and pin.
It will look like this:
Then sew down both side seams:
Finish off the seams (with a zigazag, pinking shears, serger, or leave them as-is)
Now create the waistband casing just as we did with the Basic Shorts. Iron it under a 1/2 inch, then iron it under another 1 1/4 inches.
Now because the flat front pattern piece was slightly angled when we cut it out, the waistband might not lay as flat as it did with the Basic shorts. So just do your best to iron the waistband in place when ironing the Front portion of the shorts. And the good news is…..there won’t be any elastic going through the Front. So the Front doesn’t need to be ironed under a perfect 1 1/4 inches to accommodate elastic. If some of the front is ironed under only 1 inch wide to help the fabric lay more flat, this is totally fine. Don’t get hung up on it, just do your best.
With the waistband ironed, we’re going to sew only the BACK portion first:
Start at one side seam and sew the waistband in place—around the back of the shorts—over to the other side seam.
And now it’s time for elastic!
Reference the chart included in the pattern for the proper elastic amount.
Basically the elastic length should be half of your waist size, plus an extra 1/2 to 1 inch (for wiggle room when sewing it to the side seams)
We’re using 1 inch wide elastic and I prefer Knit elastic (over Braid or Woven) because it tends to not roll up inside of the waistband over time.
Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and start stringing it through the waistband.
Enter through one opening at the side seam and push the elastic through till you have only a small tail of elastic sticking out at the first opening. This doesn’t need to be exact (and try not to pull it too far or you’ll have to start over)….but when there’s about a 1/2 inch of elastic left at the opening, sew that end in place. I keep it real simple in this step. Simply sew down the waistband, right along the side seam, sewing the elastic and fabric together (see bottom right photo).
Now if you’re smart, you’ll either use a thread color that doesn’t show any mistakes…..or, you’ll sew a little more precisely along the side seam underneath so it doesn’t look wonky. I did neither. But I’m calling it good and moving on:
With the elastic sewn to one side of the shorts, continue pulling it through the back till it comes out the other side-seam opening. Let the elastic hang out about a 1/2 inch and sew it in place, just as we did above.
Trim the ends of the elastic so they don’t poke into your waistband.
Now I should note that with that with this style of shorts….you could also make these shorts into an adjustable waistband by adding two buttons on the inside of the front waistband, and using elastic with buttonholes sewn in (you can purchase that type of elastic in many fabric shops, or even make your own).
In all honesty, these shorts are so easy to make that I personally don’t think it’s worth the time to make an adjustable waist and I don’t think it looks as nice either. The beauty of sewing for your child is that you can make clothing to fit their particular body size. So, in my opinion, forgo an adjustable waist and simply sew a new pair of awesome flat front shorts if they grow out of them!
First is to pin the waistband down and then sew it in place. The pinning is fairly easy to do because we already ironed it down in previous steps. However, when sewing, you’ll sometimes end up with small bunches of fabric folds in your waistband.
You can solve some of this by working out the kinks with your fingernail afterward (just scratch the seam and try to smooth it out). Or, when sewing, you might try sewing on the right side of the fabric, rather than the inside of the waistband, to watch for any pleating.
But what I’m finding works best is to NOT pin the waistband down, to start sewing, and as I sew, continually pull the fabric slightly to the left and either up or down (depending on where I am on the waistband. I do this with my left hand, to get it as smooth as I can underneath the waistband. I use my right hand to hold the shorts and feed it through the machine. This distributes any small bits of excess fabric throughout the Flat Front. And you can see on this yellow pair of short below, there are a few small “gathers” but overall it looks great and in reality, once your kiddo has her shirt and shoes on….no one will even notice such minor imperfections.
You could stop right there. But for this girly pair let’s add some buttons….just for fun.
The buttons here serve no purpose, other than looking cute. So no need to sew buttonholes. Simply find two buttons you like, center them on the front waistband and handsew them right to the fabric.
Then pair it with a colorful shirt and shoes and you’re ready to hit the boardwalk!
Hopefully your boardwalk tastes like this….
Have a great weekend!
Come back on Monday for our next tutorial….we’ll be making RACERs!