We are having very uncustomary HOT weather in October this year, and I have been caught out between winter and summer wardrobe. Enter the Melly Sews Boxer Short pj’s… a quick and easy sew, using about a metre of fabric depending on the size and whether your print is directional.
I was absolutely desperate for some pyjamas in a hurry, so I raided my “kids clothes” stash and found these two adorable prints. Elephants and Pandas, who can say no? The minty aqua cotton I picked up on clearance a few years ago, it is only 90cm wide so it hasn’t been used for much and was the perfect foil for these fun prints on the front.
The best part about this pattern? It’s free!! Just sign up for her newsletter and you will be sent the link for all of her free patterns from her blog. My only hurdle was the fact it was written for one size, hers. I’m afraid that my hip measurement isn’t the same, so I put this in the too hard basket for a few months, until this crazy spring weather gave me a little bit of a hurry up. However she has written some hints on pattern grading that even a simple seamstress like me could understand. I used the diagram in this post to grade my shorts.
Wow. Glad you can’t see the scale of these bad boys on the wall, as they were embarassingly large. A good way to test if you did it right is to lay the graded front over the graded back piece – mine lined up on the original cut line perfectly, so I knew I had matched the increase evenly across both pieces. Because her original pattern was for a size 36-38″ hip, I needed to increase 1/2″ on all four pieces of the shorts, meaning that the back and front both were spread 1/2″ vertically. This gave me a 2″ increase in total. She also recommends extending the length by 1/4″ for each 1″ you increase overall, so that meant a matching 1/2″ increase in seat length.
The first pair I made (Pandas) following the pattern almost exactly in terms of hems and seams. I tried my first ever french seams on the side and boy, were they lovely. A quick run of topstitching and I had a beautiful finish.
However after wearing them a few days I found that the double fold 1/4″ hem on the legs rolled up badly all the time, and there just didn’t seem to be a lot of room there generally. So for the second pair I decided to leave a little split hem on the side seam, and to only fold the bottom hem up once.
I started by overlocking around the 4 pieces completely. I love doing this in one step as it saves a lot of to-ing and fro-ing than doing it seam by seam. If you don’t have an overlocker, use an overlock or overedge stitch on your sewing machine, or simply a wide zigzag stitch.
First we join the outer side seam. Placing your matching front and back together, pin carefully from waist to hem, stopping 2″ before the end. I marked this spot with a double pin so I would remember. 2″ gives you a nice 1 1/2″ split once the hem has been turned up 1/2″
Press this seam open, including the seam allowance for the part you didn’t stitch. I used a pair of pins to hold the fold while I was pressing them.
Next we join the inner seam for the same matching fronts and backs. This is a different method to the one Melly uses in her instructions, but I’ve made a lot of pants for my boys when they were little and it’s how I was taught to sew them. The seams are simple and it goes together really fast. Press these centre seams to the side in opposite directions, to the front on one leg and to the back on the other.
Now we have two separate legs, it’s easier to turn up your hem and stitch all the way around each one before they are joined together. I stopped before each split, pivoted up, stitched into the seam, across to the other side, backstitching for strength, and then turned down towards the hem again. Make another sharp turn and off you go. If you were making these for sports wear or something more active than summer naps, you may wish to do a double line of stitching to make this hem even stronger.
Now comes the fun part. It’s a little like a magic trick, but when you’ve done it once, it makes complete sense.
Turn ONE leg the right way out, with the other leg piece still inside out. Place the RIGHT SIDE OUT leg inside the other one, matching centre crotch seams and top edges. You will see that what you actually have are two legs that are now nestled RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER which is what you want for a seam. Pictured above I have pinned through the nested inside leg seams (one pressed forward and one back), and folded back the front edge of the outer piece so you can see the right sides on the inside, facing each other. Pin the top edges of this seam also, which are your eventual centre front and centre back seams.
Here’s the overall view. Take your time to ease the curve and match up the two seams, centre front and centre back. Pin as much as you need to, then sew from one waist edge all the way around to the other. A 1/2″ seam is specified for this pattern. Take the pins out as you go, and keep an eye on that nested crotch seam.
Most patterns of this kind specifiy you stitch this seam again from about halfway, around the crotch curve up to the other side. I spaced this roughly 1/8″ apart. You can trim down your seam allowance through this area with some pinking shears if you wish. Mine is such lightweight fabric I didn’t feel the need to remove the bulk there.
Turn the other leg back through, and viola! One almost pair of shorts! Simply follow the directions to add the elastic to the waist and you are completely finished, ready to snuggle up in bed with a good book.
I will save you the modeled shot, but yes, they are very light and comfortable. I especially love them because they are long enough to wear easily around the house in the mornings or evening without worrying about ahem, modesty. I have another pair in the planning stages, however I’m looking at adding a contrast side panel and maybe even some trim in the pattern, so that will probably happen after the studio move when I’ve got myself unpacked.
Are you a dressmaker? I’d love to hear your experiences sewing and pattern grading!