Seeing shorts, with spots – return of the Thurlow

I’ve got a bad case of shorts on the brain. I was never a big shorts-wearer, probably because I always worked summers and shorts were less than appropriate for work. But with my current job I’m not working in the summer, and I find myself craving shorts. Back in September I made up a version of the Sewaholic Thurlow in shorts form for my Mini Wardrobe, mostly because I wanted to muslin the pattern and I didn’t want to deal with pants for a muslin. I really didn’t think I’d ever wear the shorts. But lo and behold, as soon as it got a little warm in May I was wearing them like twice a week. Even though they’re made of a horrible polyester material that doesn’t breathe and doesn’t stretch even a little, I still wanted to wear those shorts all. the. time. Well, the legs want what the legs want. So of course I started dreaming of all the awesome Thurlow shorts I was going to make this summer. I even bought three (!) pieces of fabric solely for that purpose at the Loft when I was in LA last. And yet, somehow, my first pair of the summer is in a fabric from the bottom of the stash. Go figure. It’s a stretch poplin or some such with printed polka dots that I found in Solvang a long while ago. The piece was small, about a yard, and I had no idea what I was going to do with it – I just liked it. I would never have dreamt it would become shorts. Really awesome stretchy polka dot shorts.

Dotty Thurlow shorts

I decided to make these my first shorts of the summer because I wanted to see how the Thurlows worked in a stretch fabric before cutting in to the fabulous stretch twill I scored in LA. Answer: Thurlows are even better a little stretchy. Because the waistband is interfaced, they fit the same up top (which is to say, fantastically. I will never use another pants waistband), but the extra little give in the legs make them exponentially more comfortable to bike in. They just flex with my legs when I pedal rather than riding up or cutting into the top of my thigh. Win!

This version also served as a second muslin, since my first pair are clearly having some kind of crotch wrinkle party that I wanted to address. I tried this time adding a quarter inch to the rise, front and back, and while that helped, there’s still a little wrinkle shindig happening here. It’s really hard to tell what the wrinkle situation is in the black fabric, but I think I’m still getting “whiskers” of some kind. Next time I’ll keep the quarter inch and also give a little more room front-to-back, as lisa illustrated here.

Dotty Thurlow shorts backI also took my first ever stab at welt pockets! Although the technique is basically identical to inserting a zipper pocket in a bag lining, which I have quite a bit of experience in. Granted, that doesn’t make me good at it. I’m quite the coward when it comes to trimming close to my stitching, so the corners are a tad bit wrinkly. But the welts themselves are so pretty! I prefer the look of single welt pockets to double welts, so I ignored the pattern instructions entirely (which was good also because I’ve apparently lost my welt pattern piece) and instead used poppykettle’s excellent single welt tutorial. I really like that the piece you use to back the welt window gets folded up to become the welt itself – brilliant! The only thing I did differently was to interface the welt piece rather than the area on the shorts around the pocket opening. Size-wise, I made my welt window the length of the welt pocket placement line on the back pattern piece (5 inches), and 5/8 inches tall. I centered the window right on the placement line. My welt piece I made the same width as the pocket lining piece and about 3 inches tall, which worked out well. I used the Thurlow pattern pieces for the pocket bag and facing and it all went together perfectly even though I didn’t use the pattern’s welts. Hooray! I pulled out one of the pockets here so you could see my pink polka dot lining (leftover stretch poplin from this dress).

Dotty Thurlow welt pockets

In this picture you can also see the only problem I had using a lighter weight, stretchy fabric – there’s some puckering where the center back joins the waistband and some pulling along the waistband from my (also obviously imperfect) stitching in the ditch. I used self fabric for the waistband lining, but I only interfaced the outer waistband pieces, so I think that was part of the issue. I’ll interface both next time.

I wasn’t sure I would make much use of black and white polka-dotted shorts, but, you know, I think I will. I already wore them for the 4th of July party I went to on Thursday, and folks seemed to like them. They go with a surprising number of my solid colored tops. And I have more shorts on the way! (Which is good, because I’m pretty sure people would notice if I wore these more than once a week…) I’m working on a Thurlow-Burda mashup right now, and I have plans for a couple of no-cuff regular Thurlows as well. And I’m on the hunt for a nice bright solid color twill too – red shorts maybe? Green? Chartreuse would be ideal…

So many shorts, so little time!

  1. Your shorts are adorable! I love the black and white polka dots and the single welt pockets! I wish I had the summer off work so I could wear shorts too šŸ˜€

  2. Stevie said:

    They are pretty awesome shorts you got there lady. I need to suck it up and get some shorts going. Thurlows look pretty fabulous! x

  3. This is lovely. I’ve not made shorts yet but this is very inspiring. I know what you mean about work attire, summer is my busy work time too so no shorts for me Monday to Friday. Love your choice of fabric and the puckering at the back? Never! Can’t see it : )

  4. Myra said:

    I agree, these are really nice shorts and I can’t see any puckering! I need to get this pattern if it still available!

  5. lisa g said:

    the polka dot shorts are adorable!!! i’ve made so many thurlows and have yet to make them in a print. i need to do that! and it’s definitely worth it to interface both inner and outer waistband pieces… i always regret not interfacing the inner the time or two i’ve not bothered.

  6. These are pretty awesome! I bet you’ll get a lot of wear out of them this summer.

  7. I really like the single welt better too! The polka dots are perfect for summer, and a black fabric with busy patterning hides a multitude of fitting woes!

  8. Marie said:

    Your shorts look awesome and would be so versatile.

  9. These are fab! I’m absolutely loving them – polka dots are alwasys a win in my book! The fit is right on and the length is perfect on you. If you need any more convincing that shorts in chartreuse would be kille – check out the chartreuse thurlows by Lisa (she blogs at notes from a made housewife)! šŸ˜‰

    • aleah said:

      Yes, I’m totally coveting her chartreuse shorts! If only I could find that fabric!

  10. Love the polka dots! These turned out super cute! So what weight of interfacing did you use and did it have any stretch? I like a little bit of “give” in my waistbands, but the interfacing I always use doesn’t have any and going without interfacing makes for a bit of a “pants on the ground” type situation. Or at least it gets close to that!

    • aleah said:

      I used the Pro Sheer Elegance from Fashion Sewing Supply ( It doesn’t stretch, but that’s okay since I tend to keep my waistbands pretty loose anyway, and I didn’t want the stretch in the waistband. It’s got a little give in the crossgrain, though, so you could cut it that way for a little stretch. That site has a ton of really nice interfacing, check it out. I also have the knit interfacing from there and it stretches, of course.

  11. Nhi said:

    Your shorts are ridiculously great. I’m jumping on the shorts bandwagon. I’ve only own pair of shorts and they’re pajama shorts.

  12. Just look at those perfect welts! And they’re not even the best thing about the shorts, the best thing is that they are just basically the perfect shorts – great fabric, great length, great fit. I can’t see the wrinkles, but frankly, I’m not sure what standing position is the no-wrinkle pose, because in that crotch area, any movement will cause some wrinkling, unless you’re making lycra leggings.

  13. I love your shorts! Great fabric choice. I have got to get on the Thurlow train!

  14. trumbelinasews said:

    Love your shorts. The dots are adorbs.

  15. Sooooo cute! They make me want to try the Thurlow again, even though I’m kind of afraid of the pattern. I used stretch twill in my first ones, and the butt was so bad looking. Maybe I just need to add some more booty room in…

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