Hi, everyone! It’s been a little while, but I finally have some finished projects to share that are slowly getting photographed. I usually work in batches and I love it when I get to the sewing part of a batch because it feels like I’m quickly turning out projects. What it really means is that I spent a lot of time planning, tracing, and cutting a bunch of things, but it still feels great to finish several projects in a row. One of the projects in this latest batch is a popular free pattern that has been around for almost six years, but that I hadn’t tried. This year it was finally time to jump on board since I really need some shorts…and elastic-waist shorts sound amazing. The pattern is the City Gym Shorts for All Ages from Purl Soho.
This pattern comes in a range of kids’ and adult sizes. It was published before PDF patterns were as popular as they are now, so it and the directions look a little different from what you might commonly see today, but I think they are still good. I used the largest women’s size. Although I’ve purchased a small amount of fabric in the last several months, I’m mostly trying to use what I have on hand as much as possible, so I pulled out some vintage sheets and some bias tape I had as well as whatever thread was closest in color to my fabric, and got started. I had to buy some elastic, but that was it.
The directions were pretty straightforward, although the seam allowance is only 1/4″, so keep that in mind or your shorts won’t fit as expected. The nice thing about this smaller-than-usual seam allowance is that you won’t have to trim your seams. I didn’t bother too much with making my sewing look pretty for this version, except where I sewed on the bias tape. The goal was to finish these quickly so I could try them out.
The one thing I changed was the waistband. I plan to follow the directions if I make this pattern again, but for this pair, I wanted to use the folded over edge at the top of the sheet as my casing. That did make the casing a bit wider than what is called for, so I anchored my elastic by sewing through the waistband at the sides, front, and back so it wouldn’t flip around in the wash or while I’m wearing the shorts.
Once I finished the shorts and tried them on, my initial thoughts were that these were pretty good! I liked the length and found them pretty comfortable. I thought that if I made them again, they should have pockets (of course!) and possibly a bit of a full seat adjustment and back crotch length extension as well as possibly a bit more ease (maybe I would grade up one size). After wearing them for awhile, though, I think all those things (except the pockets) are things that might improve this pattern slightly for me, but aren’t things I absolutely have to do to enjoy wearing these shorts. I’m really happy with them.
Speaking of pockets, if you have tried this pattern or want to try it, but also want somewhere to hold your keys or phone, I found this post on the Zaaberry Handmade blog that covers her variation of this pattern and includes how to add pockets (she links to a tutorial she created for adding pockets). In her version, she eliminates the bias binding. If you want slash pockets, but want to keep the bias binding, you could check out this post over on the All Wrapped Up blog. What I haven’t found is anyone who added inseam pockets and kept the bias binding. Those are the lines I was thinking along, although I also really like what each of the these women did, so I would be open to either pocket style (slash or inseam).
One tip I have is that if you are running short on matching bias tape, attach what you have to the front side seams first as most of the back side seams will be covered and you could easily hide mismatched bias tape there if you wanted to.
I think the City Gym Shorts pattern would be a good one for a beginner. It doesn’t have too many pieces or things like buttons or zippers, and you can make it out of quilting cotton or even old sheets, like I did. You can purchase bias tape or learn to make your own, so it’s a good skill builder while still being completely doable. And for the seasoned sewist, it’s a fun and quick project with lots of possibilities to customize the end product.