Shorts are a great first sewing project. They can be finished quickly, have minimal fitting issues and are comfortable as day wear or pajamas. Making shorts is fun and takes only the most basic sewing supplies. Here's how to sew shorts using a simple pattern.
Cut out your fabric as directed in the shorts pattern. For beginners, a simple shorts pattern is better. The simplest shorts patterns are just one piece, making this a great first sewing project. You should also have a pattern piece that serves as a guide for the elastic when you make shorts. Press all of the pieces after cutting and before you begin sewing shorts (see Resources below).
Thread your sewing machine with coordinating thread and set it to a short straight stitch. While each pattern may have you work in a different order, one common method for sewing shorts with an elastic waist is to construct each leg. You will sew the inner leg seam on a one-piece pattern or both the inner and outer leg seam on a two-piece pattern for each leg. The shorts are now in two separate, individual legs.
Sew the crotch seam. This seam runs from the front waist to the back waist. There is an easy trick for sewing this seam when you are sewing shorts or pants. Take one leg, turn it inside out and then place the second leg into the first, with the right side facing out. You now have the crotch curve right sides together and ready to be sewn. Sew this seam in one pass. Reinforce the center of the seam with an additional line of stitching.
Finishing your seams is the next step. A serger will work for this; however, you can also use your sewing machine on a zigzag stitch or even just a pair of pinking shears. This will keep the fabric from raveling and make sure that you did not waste your time sewing shorts.
An elastic waistband is the easiest option for a beginner making shorts. Your shorts pattern should offer instructions for how to finish the waist, but these are fairly standard. You will typically hem or finish the top waist edge of the shorts, then press a fold down and stitch this waist seam. Leave a small opening at the back center. Attach your elastic--cut either to the shorts pattern measurement or around 2 to 3 inches less than the desired waist size--to a safety pin and thread it through your new casing. Once you are sure of the fit, stitch your elastic together into a loop and sew closed the opening in the fabric casing.
Hem your shorts. The hem allowance in your pattern may vary, so check the instructions to make sure your shorts are not too short. Press and stitch the hems for each leg. Give your new shorts a final pressing and trim the threads. Making shorts is really quick and easy, and takes very little fabric.
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.