It’s true. I stand firmly on the fact that every person (male or female) should own a sewing needle and know how to use it, not just for “fixing” things on clothes but for the added benefit of making things more modest.
Our culture has really placed an emphasis on throwing and buying new if something breaks or wears out. This is not how our parents and grandparents grew up. In a lot of cases fixing things has become a part of the past, but it doesn’t have to! And choosing to fix an item can save you money!
Contrary to popular belief, unless you plan on making all of your clothes from scratch, you don’t need a sewing machine. All you need is a needle and thread! Although, I won’t lie, I love my borrowed sewing machine! Hah.
A few weeks ago we went looking for shorts for Little Miss (who isn’t so little anymore). Although we’ve been doing play dresses and legging shorts for a few years, she decided this year that she would like to have some plain shorts to run around in.
It was such a disappointing day for her as we wandered around stores (which isn’t strictly the right wording since I’m not sure anyone “wanders” around stores in this era). All the shorts were what we would consider to be the length of undergarments, not for regular wear (I know what this summer is going to look like). I’m pretty particular about them being knee-length.
In the end, I realized that we could make all our lives easier by choosing some cheap pants and cutting them off for short length. With that in mind we were able to find two pairs (one pictured below) that would satisfy our needs, and we headed home. We also raided her closet and chose a pair of jeans that she never wore to cut off.
Today, I wanted to share with you a few ways that you can also make some modest shorts (that will work for either boys or girls). This is also a good option if you’re strapped for cash and want to just turn their winter wardrobe into a summer one.
With knit fabrics (stretchy items like t-shirts, jogging pants, etc) you don’t even need to hem, just tie off the side seams so they don’t continue to unravel after you make your cut. So simple and an easy way to extend the life of their clothes. I’ll share some more ways to extend the life of your child’s clothes in another blog post.
Here are three ways (one requires a machine) to finish the hems on shorts/skirts after cutting:
1.Don’t hem and let it fray.
Stretchy fabrics usually won’t fray, so these are a really good option for not hemming at all, I do this a lot when I make maxi skirts. They are a bear to actually hem. Jean fabric is great for fraying for it will only go so far before it stops.
Fray just means that if you run your fingers along the fabric strings will come loose. Some fabrics will fray too much and you’ll end up losing most of your garment, while other fabrics are woven in such a way that they stay together.
The above picture is after one wash, each subsequent wash will cause a little more fraying. If you don’t like the strings you can just take a pair of scissors and cut them off after each wash. Some people add a line of stitching where they want the fraying to end, but I don’t find it strictly necessary.
2.Use Iron On Hem Tape
This stuff is fabulous. It’s a great fix when the hem on dress pants gets ripped out, or on skirts or dresses. It can also be used in this case, to hem up pants that you’re shortening that would otherwise fray. All you need to do is turn up the hem to the inside of your garment and place the hem tape inside that, then iron. Simple.
I didn’t use this method on any of Miss’s shorts because I didn’t have any and fabric stores were still closed when I did hers. If you click the picture it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase it (I am not an affiliate of Amazon so you can choose to purchase anywhere, lol).
3.Sew the hem in place
This method can be done a few different ways.
A. Turn up the hem to the outside of your pants and stitch at the seams to hold in place. This is a really cute option on jean shorts or khakis
B. Turn the hem to the inside, folding over twice so the raw edge is enclosed, and hand stitch using wide stitches, to hold the hem in place. I use this method most often for dress pants but it could also work if you don’t have a sewing machine and want that seam line that the hem tape won’t give you.
C. Use a zigzag stitch on your machine to sew the hem in place. If your fabric has any stretch to it at all (like this pair of pants did), you need to use a zigzag or stretch stitch on your machine or you’ll end up popping stitches when wearing them. A non-stretchy fabric can just use a straight stitch and it will be fine.
These are just a few ways that you can transform pants into shorts (most of these without needing a machine).
Keeping a needle and thread handy is always a good idea, even if just for sewing on a button. This is a simple life skill that everyone should know. Knowing how to thread a needle and knot it is a simple skill you can find tutorials on all over Youtube. I won’t link any here but you can you can do a quick search and find some easy ways of doing this.
Keep an eye out for the next post, showing how to upcycle clothes to make them last longer than one or two seasons!