Wrap Shorts! (a tutorial)
Okay, I am sitting here wearing the absolute most comfy shorts ever. And I made them myself the other day, in literally about 40 minutes which included a couple of breaks to answer the phone, greet the kids, and feed the dogs.
The basic tutorial you can find in all kinds of places with a google search of “how to make wrap pants.” They are incredibly, amazingly, easy. If my instructions here are not complete enough, definitely check out places like Indietutes, Crafty Tutorials (who make them look almost sexy, which they don’t on me), or Laupre, who all have instructions and photos for how to make and wear the things. You can make them in almost any length–floor length, capri, or even shorts. Which is what I did this time, since I love my long ones so much.
You need a sewing machine and fabric. How much fabric kinda depends on how big you are. For me, it took about a yard and a quarter to make shorts. It would take more like two and a half yards to make long pants. It’s also your call what kind of fabric to use–I have a bunch of really lovely light cool batik stuff I got on sale probably 4 years ago that’s been sitting in my stash all this time…it works beautifully for this kind of garment.
This is, honestly, the trickiest part. you are going to make two identical rectangles. The “length” measurement is easy–measure from your waist to wherever you want the pants or shorts to come on you, add about an inch for hemming (1/2 inch each top and bottom, or more if you make bigger hems), and there you go. That’s your “length.”
The “width” of each rectangle is slightly trickier. There are different formulas to use, but the one that works best for me is something like this:
Take your waist (or hip, depending on where you want the pants to sit) measurement. =A
Divide your hip measurement by 4=B
Add an inch or however much you want for hem=C
Add together measurement A+B+C=width of each panel.
For example, say you have a hip measurement of 40″. Divided by 8 that’s 5″. You’ll do an inch of hem. 40+5+1=46″ wide. Cut two of these. (Hint: If you are using 44″ wide fabric and your number comes anywhere in the vicinity of 44″ one way or the other, you can get away with not having to hem the sides of your pants, and just use the selvedge, which is usually nice and clean! Ditto if, like me, you need 45″ long pants, you can avoid the bottom hem.)
Fold the two rectangles so that what will be the inseam of the pants/shorts is on the fold. (That is, fold across the width, not the length.) Here you need to cut your crotch curve, which will represent the only real seam in the pants at all. And here we need another formula:
Crotch depth: measure from where the pants will lie on your hip/waist, down to the center crotch. Add 3 (or so) to this number. (Alternatively, if you have a good pair of pants that fit really well, you can take your crotch curve from them.) Measure this many inches down the fold and mark.
Crotch width: take your hip measurement divided by 8. (Remember? Measurement B from above, halved because it’s now folded?) Measure that many inches away from the fold and mark.
Then you just cut the curve. How curvy to make it is up to you–you don’t want an absolute square, but you don’t want to undercut either. Trust your judgement.
With right sides of the fabric together, sew the two pieces together along the crotch curves. Make this seam really strong–I usually sew it twice and then zigzag the edges just to be safe. Try the pants on at this point to make sure they fit right, that you like the way the curve you just sewed fits, that your fabric isn’t too long or short or wide or narrow. (if it’s too narrow…you’re kinda out of luck. If it’s too wide, you can cut off the sides a little more, or if it’s too long you can shorten them. If you’re kinda close and wish you’d cut something an extra inch bigger, this is when you decide you’re going to do really narrow hems.
You can make the ties either out of ribbons or by sewing tubes of the actual fabric, right sides together, and then turning them right-side out. Fabric ties tend to be sturdiest, but they also are bulkier and can make odd lumps. Grosgrain ribbon is excellent and doesn’t slip after you tie the bow. Cut four ribbons or ties of whatever length you prefer, and sew them onto the four top corners of the pants. (Check and double-check this–it’s really easy at this point to sew something onto the wrong corner, or on the outside instead of the inside. Finish all the edges, top, bottom, and sides, using whatever kind of hem you wish.
Then go put ‘em on! (the tutorials I listed above all have directions. And I can just tell you now–there’s no dignified way to get them between your legs to tie the second bow. You’ll feel like an idiot, probably, but that’s okay, because how often do you put on pants when other people are there to see?) Like I say, they are comfy and lightweight, the perfect summer pants. I’m planning on making a couple pairs of linen ones for work, since it can get muggy there, and hopefully a few more pairs of shorts.
And you, my friends who have sewing machines but are non-sewers…this project is TOTALLY for you!