Sewing Paperbag Waist Shorts
One trend that could not have passed me by this year is the paperbag waist - on shorts, trousers and skirts everywhere. I love the nod to the 90s (my hey day) and it seemed like a very wearable trend. Whilst pondering all things paperbag I simultaneously spotted the need for more shorts for my winter sun holiday in October. Then I remembered a new Simplicity pattern release I shared on Instagram stories a while back, which would have this trend all wrapped up.
The Pattern and Fabric
The pattern I chose was Simplicity 8651 and I decided to make view A. It looked like a really easy make, although I must admit I was a little nervous about the fit being shorts and all.
I chose our jungle tropics print cotton lawn in multi colour and fully admit I have a tropical print obsession going on! Unfortunately this colourway has now sold out, but there is still a lovely alternative here or here. After the success of my recent slip dress I knew this fabric would be perfect. I thought it would look great worn with a simple white vest top.
Adjustments and Sizing
I made a quick toile in calico and cut a size 14 based on my hip measurement. I didn't bother to sew a buttonhole, add pockets or thread the elastic or drawstring. The toile took about an hour to whip up and I tied elastic round the waist to check how the finished shorts would look.
I was thrilled with the initial fit! Yes! I mean, how often does that happen?! No adjustments necessary - woo-hoo!
Having searched around and created an inspiration board on our Pinterest page I did decide to make a couple of changes to the design. Rather than thread the elastic and drawstring through a buttonhole I thought it would be more flattering to add some belt loops and create a waist tie/belt in the same fabric as the shorts. More details on this below.
I also omitted the pockets. Partly because I didn't have enough fabric, partly because I didn't want to add bulk at the hips and partly because I was being lazy.
Thanks to my design changes mentioned above this was the quickest, easiest sew ever. To be honest, even if you kept the buttonhole and added the pockets it would still be super easy.
Sewing the Paperbag Waist
Sewing the paperbag waist was so easy. You simply pressed the raw edge of the fabric at the top of the shorts under 1/4" then pressed it under again about 2 and 1/2" (there was a fold line marked on the pattern piece for this).
Next you stitched close to where the folded fabric finished and then about 1" above this to create a casing. Thread your elastic through and Bob's your uncle!
One bit of the construction that did have me scratching my head was how I was going to get the crotch seam to sit nicely. I sewed it, overlocked the raw edges and pressed the seam open then thought, I can't clip this curve. It would have looked rough and messy. I knew there was a way around it, but just couldn't remember what it was.
Time to consult Angela! As soon as she told me what to do I remembered. She suggested overlocking the seams together nice and close to the seamline (making sure the shorts fit first!) It worked like a dream.
Belt Loops and Waist Tie
To make the belt loops I sewed a spaghetti strap on my overlocker and cut strips to the relevant size. I turned the raw edges under and stitched in place then sewed them at the waist on the shorts.
I don't know why, but I sewed them with the stitches visible on top of the loop rather than turning it under and stitching it there. At first my heart sank and I thought I'd have to re-sew them. Then I decided it was a 'utility' look and was quite happy to leave them as they were!
To make the waist tie I used the pattern piece from this wrap dress pattern.
I really love these shorts! They are incredibly comfortable and perfect for pulling on over swimwear round the pool. I also think they're very wearable here in the UK when the temperatures are climbing.
They were so, so easy to make. So easy in fact I'm going to rustle up another pair at the Sewing Weekender. I figured it is something I can sew with relatively little concentration so good for sewing whilst chatting. I've chosen our beautiful Liberty cotton lawn in pink and multi, which you can find here.
Thanks to the fact they were so easy to sew and fit I'm really pleased with the finish on them. I was able to focus all of my attention on sewing neatly without messing things up with adjustments and alterations.
The only thing I might need to adjust is the elastic. I think I could have pulled it just that little bit tighter. This is an easy alteration to make if I just unpick a small section of the casing.
- Simplicity 8651
- Tropical print cotton lawn in navy and green (alternative) or monchrome
- 1" wide no roll elastic
Have fun sewing!
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