Tutorial in Pictures: The White Linen Shorts and Trousers

A pair of linen shorts or trousers is a ‘must-have’ (can’t believe  I just wrote that) item in your summer wardrobe. It is an easy, versatile piece and encapsulates the essence of summer. Up until a year ago, I was always on the hunt for the perfect wide-legged linen trousers, scouring the shops for that perfect pair just as spring is about to give way to summer. Unfortunately, I could never find the right fit, or when I do, the price is so ridiculous that I would just settle for the less perfect, cheaper variety. Well, these days, I hunt no more.  I just make them myself.

The following tutorial will teach you how to make a simple pair of linen shorts and can be adapted to make the linen trousers. I say simple because the cutting and sewing are pretty straightforward. The real secret to the perfect shorts/trousers is the pattern or sloper. Nothing is more frustrating than a pair of trousers that look good but fit hideously. You may buy a ready-made pattern or you can draft your own from scratch, tailored to your own derrière, one that would flaunt your curves and hide your little imperfections. I drafted my very own sloper with the help of Pattern Making by Dennic Chunman Lo. Seriously, if you are that serious in making your own clothes, you should get this book. It is a godsend to mortal seamstresses like me. Now, on to the project.

Project: White Linen Shorts /Trousers

You will need:

For  a size 8 UK, 3/4 meter of 60″ wide linen fabric (shorts)/ 1.5 meters of 60″ wide linen fabric (trousers)

12″ white Invisible (magic) zipper

Matching thread

Tape measure, french curve, tailor’s chalk

A sewing machine (unless you want to hand sew) and a serger/overlocker (not necessary, but this dream machine makes sewing a breeze!)

A customised pattern or sloper.

Instructions:

Step 1. Prepare fabric for cutting.

Lay your fabric on a flat surface. With right sides together, fold the fabric from the edges towards the center. One side should be wider than the other to accommodate the back trouser sloper, as shown below:

Step 1
Step 1

Step 2. Trace the sloper to fabric.

This sloper is for a fitted pair of shorts/trousers. I made some adjustments when tracing the pattern to fabric as I wanted a looser silhouette. I added 1.5″ at the bottom of the side and inside seams, which resulted in a slightly flared hem. I also wanted a shorter length so I chopped 2.5 inches off the bottom.

Step 2. Adjusted sloper.
Step 2. Adjusted sloper.

These are the front and back sections of the shorts, 2 pieces front and 2 pieces back.

The back (left side) and front sections of the shorts.
The back (left side) and front sections of the shorts. Notice the chalk marks indicating the measurements of the original sloper.

Step 3. Crotch Area.

Align the two front pieces and with right sides together, sew the crotch area and serge the edges (if you have a serger). This will keep the edges from fraying. Now open up the piece and top stitch along the crotch area for reinforcement. Do the same with the remaining 2 back pieces.

Step 3. Crotch area sewn and top stitched
Step 3. Crotch area sewn and top stitched

You should have two pieces by now – the front section and the back section with the crotch areas sewn.

Back and front sections with crotch areas sewn together
Back and front sections with crotch areas sewn together

Step 4. Pockets.

Cut 4 rectangles of linen 5 inches wide and 7 inches long. Use your french curve to trace an arc on the short edge of the rectangle. This will be the opening of your pockets.

Step 4. Making the pockets
Step 4. Cutting out the pockets

With right sides together, sew two pieces of rectangle together along the arc and the opposite L-side, as shown below. Now turn the pocket right side out through the top and side openings and press.

Making the pocket
Making the pocket

Repeat the following steps on the remaining 2 triangles. Pin the finished pockets to the front section of your shorts and stitch in place.

Pockets attached to the front piece
Pockets attached to the front piece

Step 5. Assembling the Shorts

We are now ready to connect our front piece (F) to the back piece (B). Align the inside seams of F and B. With right sides together, stitch along the seams and serge the edges. Topstitch on the right side .

Inside seam sewn and topstitched. The right image shows F and B connected at the in-seams
Inside seam sewn and topstitched. The bottom image shows F and B connected at the in-seams

Step 6. Attaching the invisible zipper.

We are now going to attach the invisible zipper to the left side of the shorts. Before doing so, serge or neaten the left edges of both F and B to prevent fraying.  Follow the steps on attaching the zipper as shown by the images below or refer to this tutorial for step by step help:

Left: Pin one half of the zipper at the left edge of the front piece exactly as shown (right side of the zipper touching the right side of the front piece). Stitch in place. Middle: Pin the other half of the zipper to the left edge of the back piece (again, right side of the zipper touching right side of the back piece). Stitch in place. Right: The invisible zipper stitched in place.
Left: Pin one half of the zipper at the left edge of the front piece exactly as shown (right side of the zipper touching the right side of the front piece). Stitch in place. Middle: Pin the other half of the zipper to the left edge of the back piece (again, right side of the zipper touching right side of the back piece). Stitch in place. Right: The invisible zipper stitched in place.

Topstitch the zipper seam for reinforcement.

linenshorts-25

Now that the zipper is in place, close the side seams and serge the edges, right sides together.

Step 7. Attaching the facing.

To keep things simple, I decided against a waist band. Instead, I just used a facing to finish the waist line. To do this, measure the length of the waist line and cut a rectangle this long and 2.5 inches wide. Neaten the edges by serging or folding in a 1/4 seam all around.

The facing folded in half
The facing folded in half

To attach the facing, follow the steps below:

Pin the facing to the waist/top edge and stitch
Pin the facing to the waist/top edge right sides together and stitch
Top stitch along the right side
Top stitch along the right side
Fold the facing towards the wrong side of the shorts and secure it in place by stitching vertically along the zipper edges, the opposite hip, middle front, and middle back.
Fold the facing towards the wrong side of the shorts and secure it in place by stitching vertically along the zipper edges, the opposite hip, middle front, and middle back.

Step 8. Finish the hem.

Decide how short you want your shorts to be. Fold 1/4 seam towards the wrong side and press. Now fold 1 inch seam towards the wrong side, press, and stitch in place.

Hem according to preferred length.
Hem according to preferred length.

Behold your new pair of linen shorts!

Your very own
Your very own

Make the trousers exactly the same way. Just make sure your hem is way longer 😉

Hope you find this useful. Till the next tutorial!

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