Sunday, April 6, 2014

A quest for plus size shorts

Hi everyone!

I am still focusing on my Spring/Summer capsule and awaiting the arrival of my serger foot from UK (it’s been in status “sent” for 2 weeks now…) to finish the jeans. So I started working on the next items that I will need: shorts! Yes, shorts! This is a very taboo subject for many Curvies. And I am taking this as a challenge. Shorts can be classy or pretty or cute or sporty or sexy.

They can be everything you want and I want some. I am going to Greece in May/June and I would like to have a couple of pairs to go for hikes. The thing is, I have very bad memories about shorts from when I was younger and I am (maybe non-realistically) hoping that sewing my own will make it all better. So far, most attempted projects (skirts, tops, dresses) wrote every bad experience right. The only issues I had are with trousers and that is not a perfect starting point for the Shorts Adventure! I have seen it work in some occasions so I keep my hopes!

Many bloggers have touched down and made great versions. 

Erika and the Iris shorts

Pimsy and her Chataigne

But I am still afraid... Let’s explain why shorts are tricky for Curvies (and some Skinnies too)! They ride up! And when they ride up, the skin of the thighs rubs and hurts. It’s also not a very flattering view.
I did a little bit of research online about possible styles and advise for plus size shorts. And I was extremely disappointed!
“buy shorts at least a size bigger”
“no pleats”
“go for capri ength”
“don’t go higher than just above the knee”
“no pockets”
“narrow legs” (but what what what? That does not work with the “one size bigger” bit)
“wear skorts”

But but but! I wanted some shorts that stop at mid-thighs! With cuffs and handy pockets! I also love the look of pleats… And I don’t like capris, they feel so matronly (as Tim Gunn would say). Though, I like the idea of shorts wider at the waist so they fall down a little bit. It would allow ventilation that would be very welcome with warmer days.

I started looking around for shorts patterns. You can find them with every pattern company. I decided to try a few muslins from Burda issues I already have in my collection. I don’t want to invest in patterns that have high probabilities to not work for me. I also think that’s quite interesting to test out various features from the same pattern block used by Burda. It makes for better comparison.  I have chosen 4 different versions that

-          have cuffs/no-cuffs
-          are wide/narrower
-          have 1/2/3/no pleats
-          are short/long
-          have a curved/straight waist
-          are wide/more fitted

Of course every pattern is a combo of various factors and it is complicated to decide.

Burda 6/2010

Burda 7/2012

Burda 7/2013

Burda 3/2011 
It is a very interesting concept to look into. I will let you know how things turn out!
Muslins ahead!
Do you have any shorts good or bad experience?
Don’t hesitate to send me links with advise or ideas or cool shorts sewing projects!
I will need all the help I can get!


  1. You might want to check with your local post office to see if your package is waiting there for you. If Customs are due, packages can languish at the destination post office (and these people are not always good about notifying the recipient). Trust me, I deal with this all the time (both ways).

    I look forward to hearing about your adventures with (in) shorts!

  2. I especially love those ones in the third pic down, though I would make them a bit longer for myself. I definitely have shorts trauma, but have actually found a few pairs of RTW ones within the last ten years or so that I've worn to *death* and need to analyze to generate a pattern! Best of luck!!

  3. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I love your blog! Your personality really comes through and you have a great "voice". I am also plus sized and working on a capsule wardrobe for spring/summer and love your shorts plan. Shorts can be tough. I am also starting to work on some perfect fitting jeans. Thanks from Canada!

  4. I've got some experience with this. I'm not plus-sized but the shape of my thighs is so curvy I have to be careful of how my shorts are shaped. I also live in a climate where shorts are everyday wear.

    If you want some airconditioning round the waist you might be better to go for a below-waist pattern than a waist-high rise so loose it's falling down. The crotch length/depth and general fit is really important to shorts legs staying where you want them! Go for firmer rather than looser crotch fit. Loose will bunch up and encourage more bunching in the thighs. Also the entire pair of shorts can end up like being pulled back between your thighs a couple of cm, which looks icky and feels icky. Well-fitted is really important!

    However pleats can be really good, so long as the leg narrows down towards the mid-thigh. Pleats give plenty of room in the hips and upper thigh, and a vertical line, which work well and is comfortable, especially if you're like me and have full quads.
    Bring them in closer to the mid-thigh though, so there's not much excess fabric to available for bunching up between your legs.

    The other thing that's really helpful is just simply using a fairly thick, firm fabric that's less likely to bunch. That's why denim's great! And in my experience, heavier fabric isn't too much hotter than light fabric if it's for shorts. Things like fit and bunching up etc are so uncomfortable - and hot, that a firmer, heavier fabric is actually just fine.
    A nice broad hem is helpful too, which helps make the whole thigh-area sit well, and the extra weight of a wide hem helps keep the shorts legs where they should be, too.

    Good luck! I'd love to see the results of your experiments!

    ( )

  5. I lengthened the Colette Iris shorts 2" to hit mid-thigh, and they are the most comfortable shorts I've ever worn. I don't know what it is about their design/leg shape, but I did NOT have the thigh ride-up issue with them. (I wear a Colette size 18.)

  6. I generally only wear shorts when I'm out in my garden in the summertime. I hate when they ride up. I also dislike capris and big baggy shorts. I'd love to see what you come up with. I'd like to make a pair myself and maybe even out in public!

  7. I think I look awful in shorts.... My thighs are too big and the inner side always run up... So I hate them because they hate me ;). I always wear skirts with a legging underneath because I always damage the skin of my inner thighs. Works for me, but I hope your shorts-adventure will be a huge success!!!!!! Love, Natalie

  8. I've been wearing these ( shorts to death. They don't ride up because they taper in towards the knee. But they have to be stretchy too or they'll feel kind of constricting. I find that the looser the legs are the more they bunch.

    I've really been meaning to try making a pair of shorts with stays in the inseam to see if that would solve the bunching problem. I found a product online once that was basically a plastic stay with an iron on patch that was supposed to prevent your shorts from riding up. I was kind of worried about getting stabbed you-know-where... I guess I won't know if it works until I try it!


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