In the words of the classic turn of the century movie, Almost Famous, "It's all happening!" As I write this, we are starting to venture back out into the world and making plans again. Do you remember plans? Those things that before March 2020 were exciting events to look forward to in the future? Yeah, those! Well, they're making a comeback. And as we go back out into socializing and exploring, we're going to be letting go of some of our wardrobe that we've come to know and love over the past 14 months. Out with the sweatpants, in with the business casual and brunch wear.
If you're like me, however, it may be less appealing to give up some of best parts of your comfy clothes. I've become very attached to my sweatpants, and I've decided that just because we can go back to some sense of normalcy doesn't mean I have have to go back to non-stretch waistbands. And with that in mind, I decided to embrace the elastic life and do elasticized waists this month.
Long time subscribers may be thinking, "But hey, didn't you do elastic pants last year?" and you would be right. This year, because it's summer, we're taking it up a level with elasticized shorts! Just because it's hot doesn't mean you need to sew a zipper fly or pull out your old gym shorts. And don't worry, if you're not a shorts person, each box contains a pants length as an option. The four patterns I've found make elastic waist shorts (and pants) cool, comfy and oh-sew-stylish!
Because this is our mid-summer box, I wanted to fully embrace the season and go with a beachy, coastal feel for our fabrics. Lots of linen and light cotton in colors that you could wear to a casual beach wedding or lobster bake. These are going to be the shorts you'll want to wear all summer long, no matter what plans you decide to make.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the patterns for this month!
Sew Fearless Box: 101 Trousers & Shorts from Merchant & Mills
This year has really been all about Merchant & Mills patterns, but it's hard not to turn to them as a source of fantastic wardrobe basics. The company is all about simplicity and utilitarian styles, and, honestly, that's been a theme for this past year's boxes. So, it's no surprise that we found another great pattern in their collection to use.
The 101 Trousers & Shorts have their appeal in their name. They are super beginner friendly and a great place to start if you want a super simple pair of pants or shorts. While technically not an elastic waist - these have a drawstring instead - they allow you to adjust the ease of the waistband, so I fudged the rules a little bit. They have side pockets, a faux fly, and 3 variations: a wide leg trouser, a tapered pant, and a long short (which can easily be shortened to your desired length).
With so many options, you could make these shorts again and again in different fabrics for different looks. In a lightweight cotton, they would be ideal pajama pants, and in a dressy silk, you could have lovely palazzo pants. For our fabric choices, I wanted to fall somewhere in the middle, casual yet nice enough to wear around town or to a picnic. This led me to some really lovely cottons and linens that I think you'll love. So here they are!
- Charcoal Neon Speckled Cotton - Surprising hints of neon yellow and pink dot this silky soft chambray. With a relaxed drape, this fabric is the perfect twist on a classic fabric and will become a fantastic pair of shorts. The charcoal gray color gives you a lighter take on a basic black short, and the lightweight fabric will keep you cool and comfy as the days get longer and the temperature hotter. A wonderful choice!
- Summer Madras Patchwork Cotton - If you've ever been to the Northeast in summer, you've seen this fabric. In fact, if you've ever looked at a J. Crew catalog, you've seen it. It's a classic Nantucket madras patchwork, and the fabric actually is constructed from pre-sewn squares of colorful tartan, like a quilt without its backing. Embrace the plaid life with this bright and colorful print!
- Mist Brussels Washer Viscose Linen - Brussels Washer combines the textural feel of linen with the drape and softness of rayon to create a lovely and versatile fabric. This mist green color has a lovely serene quality to it, not too bright, like a green that has been faded by the sun. A perfect color for both the beach and the backyard, this fabric will become a lovely pair of shorts to wear all summer long!
Sew Confident Box: Armor Pants & Shorts from I AM Patterns
Say hello to a new pattern company for our boxes! I've wanted to use I AM Patterns for a long time, but for one reason or another, it hasn't happened until now. But I've very excited to finally include them! A French company, they release themed pattern collections, such as I AM a princess or I AM dreaming, where they interpret classic tropes with a modern aesthetic.
Such is the case with the Armor Pants & Shorts. A contemporary take on maritime style pants, they take the traditional button front panel that defines the style and turn it into a trompe l'oeil front that is really a pull-on style. Decorative buttons and a pin-tuck that runs down the crease line sell the look and give a unique look to what could be a basic elastic waist short. And we absolutely love it!
For fabrics, this pattern gave the largest leeway. They recommended everything from corduroy to double gauze, which is quite the spectrum. With the button front, I decided to go with crisper fabrics that will show off the pintuck, but that are light enough to gather at the waist without a ton of bulk. So, let's take a look!
- Peachy Pink Cotton Twill - This twill is one of our favorites and we've used it a few times before. The cotton fabric is just 6 ounces per square yard, giving it nice lightness and suppleness, while the twill weave adds a more utilitarian look. All three aspects make it idea for this pattern that combines a workers' style with a relaxed fit. Oh, and did I mention the color? A shade between a peach and a salmon, it's a bit dusky while still being nice and light. A lovely hue!
- Royal Blue Seersucker - If Madras in our Sew Fearless Box is a quintessential, beachy fabric, then seersucker is its partner in this box. It's impossible to see the classic blue and white lines of this fabric and not think summer vacation. The wonderful thing about seersucker is the puckered texture that transforms a simple cotton into a jack of all trades fabric. Light, airy, and touchably soft, this fabric will become a knockout pair of shorts!
- Petrol Blue Aero Finished Linen - Linen shorts are perfect for summer so we couldn't pass up a chance to use this fabric. Thin and medium weight, this linen has been finished with a special high pressure air that stabilizes the fabric and gives it a smooth, soft hand. With a supple drape, it will give the shorts an almost suiting look, while still retaining all the breathability and durability that makes us love linen. A sophisticated yet relaxed choice for your wardrobe!
Sew Curvy Box: Misa Paperbag Pants & Shorts from Style Sew Me
Paperbag pants are having a bit of a moment right now, as they seem to do every ten years or so. And it's hard not to see the appeal of the style. The simple gathered waist is flexible and forgiving, and the waist tie that usually accompanies it adds a stylish sophistication.
What I love about the Misa Paperbag pants pattern is the proportions. Sometimes with the style, you get so much bulk at the top of the pants, it can look a little ungainly, but here, they have kept the gathers small, and even added sections of flat, ungathered panels, on the pockets and back where you want to avoid bulk. It's a brilliant design choice, and it speaks to the detailed thought that they have put into the pattern.
Because of the paperbag waist, I wanted to go with thinner fabrics with nice drape, which led me to linens and tencel. I couldn't be happier with the ones I found. Here they are!
- Royal Blue Chevron Linen Cotton Rayon Blend - Sometimes you want a denim blue in your wardrobe, but rather than a traditional denim or chambray look, this fabric has a herringbone (or chevron) weave, elevating it beyond what you might be used to making. The fabric itself is quite thin, with a slightly textured hand from the linen. It will fall nicely from the hip with this pattern and give you the look of denim, but the feel of a lovely summer fabric. It's a win-win!
- Silver Gray Cotton Linen Blend - I can't get enough of this linen cotton blend. Medium weight, with a dry, slightly crisp hand, the fabric softens significantly with washing and develops a nubbly, almost crepe-like texture. In a sandy, silvery gray, it's a neutral but anything but boring. For the perfect shorts to wear to the beach, this is the fabric for you!
- Mulberry Textured Sandwashed Tencel - Though slightly darker and more saturated than the other fabrics this month, I just couldn't resist this fabric! The dark, rich mulberry purple is just so elegant, and it will contrast wonderfully with the simple gathered waist. A sandwashed, textured tencel, the fabric has a wavy, striated feel that gives it a velvety hand and soft, effortless drape. The sandwashed finish creates a matte, sueded look, similar to silk. If you're looking for a pair of dressy shorts or pants, this is the choice for you!
Sew Indulgent Box: Tula Pants & Shorts from Papercut Patterns
Inspired by the Anima Pants, which we used last year in our Sweatpants boxes, the Tula Pants are an even more versatile version of the now out of print pattern. Suitable for both wovens and knits, the trousers can be made in a myriad of ways to suit your style.
Sometimes simplicity is the key, and that is the case with these trousers. Clean lines and easy fit allow you to find a place for them in any wardrobe. A wide leg trouser is perfect for lazy days around the house. A tapered leg is perfect for the beach where you can roll up the cuff to keep your hems dry. And a straight cut pair of shorts can be worn as anything from pajama shorts to pool coverup to outdoor activity staple. The possibilities and uses are boundless!
In keeping with the other boxes, we've focused on woven fabrics. And because this is our luxury box, we couldn't resist using some really fine linens that are a cut above the rest. So without further ado. . .
- Navy Blue Cotton Linen Jacquard - This fabric is love at first sight. Seriously. We've used it before in other colors, and we couldn't wait to sew it again. The jacquard weave gives it great texture plus makes it reversible! The lighter portions are simple weave and the darker side is a more open looped weave. Plus, the saturated blue gives it an elegant, subtle quality.
- Fruit Stripe Yarn-Dyed Pink/Orange Linen - Do you remember the gum from the 80s/90s that came in fruity flavors (that lost those flavors in about 30 seconds)? The stick of gum came striped with thin colorful lines, and that's all I could think of when I saw this fabric. Orange, pink, red, and white: the thin lines for a striated, colorful cacophony, and it's wonderful! Like a rainbow pinstripe or modern zumba print, it's fun, cheery, and perfect for summer. Plus, the fabric itself is light and airy, so you'll stay cool and collected all season long!
- Sage Green Washed Linen - When I first saw this pattern, I immediately knew I wanted to use this washed linen. It's a company favorite, and it's hard to resist. The fabric takes dye beautifully, like with this sagey, minty green, and the washed texture has extra softness. A slightly slub weave adds texture, and a structured, lightly crisp drape adds volume, which is ideal for these pants. A dream of a fabric to make your dream pair of pants or shorts!
And that's all she wrote! I can't believe I'm already writing about July. This year seems to be flying by. But here's hoping that the summer months give us a well-deserved reprieve from the last year.
In our Classic series, we're reviving the Box Tops from last fall. The simple, boxy shape is made for hot summer months where you rarely want fabric clinging to you. And it will pair nicely with elastic shorts if you are so inclined. :)
Until next time. . .