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Monday, March 23, 2015

Grainline Maritime Shorts

One of the reasons I started sewing was because I couldn't find clothes I wanted (style- or fit-wise) in stores. Why it has taken me this long to make a pair of shorts, I have no idea. RTW shorts are usually a disaster - way too short or oddly long, hitting mid-thigh, too low of a rise, too tight in the legs, and always a huuuge gape in the back of the waist.

I actually have tried to sew shorts before. I have bought three shorts patterns from McCalls and Simplicity. For each one, I made a muslin according to my measurements, which were all terrible fits. If I worked at it, I probably could adjust the pattern for a better fit, but I didn't want to spend all that time and energy on a crummy pattern. As I started looking for the best shorts patterns, I came across many posts about the Maritime shorts pattern and just about everybody had wonderful things to say about it, so I was convinced to try it for myself. It's only available as a PDF pattern (which I am not a huge fan of), but I bought it anyways. There aren't that many pieces, so it didn't take too long to tape together.

I love this pattern! It really is miles better than any of the shorts patterns I had previously tried. My measurements according to the size chart are between a 6 and 8, and I cut a size 8 because I didn't want to risk it being too small. Turns out size 8 was perfect for me, with almost no adjustments.

I made these wild leopard print shorts as a muslin. The fabric is a mid/lightweight denim (no stretch) with a shiny leopard print. I bought this fabric intending to make a bag or accessory of some kind, but then I washed it. And apparently I wasn't supposed to do that because the shiny leopard print cracked and is starting to peel off in places. Turns out it was supposed to be hand washed/line dried, but I didn't look at the care instructions before I bought it. (Although to be honest, even if I had look at the instructions, I still would have bought it and machine washed it because I rarely wash clothes by hand).

I cut and sewed the pattern, straight size 8, following the instructions. I found some of the instructions confusing and had to reread them multiple times. For some steps, I even needed to look it up online. I could have used more pictures to help the written instructions along. Surprisingly, I didn't have any trouble understanding the fly front instructions. I thought that part was very clearly described. Got the zipper in on my first try! I finished the whole thing, including cutting out the fabric, in the same day.

After the shorts were sewn together, I thought the legs were a little too wide. I took a total of 1.5" out from each leg (3/4" on each front and back piece) on the inner leg seam. I used a button closure instead of the hook and eye on the waistband. I realized after I did it that I put the buttonhole the wrong way - vertical instead of horizontal... Oops. Those were the only two changes I made to this pattern.

The best part of these shorts... no back waistband gaping!! I didn't even have to adjust that part of the pattern. It fit me that way out of the envelope.

So even though the fabric isn't perfect, I think it still makes a pretty awesome pair of shorts. Like I said, I made these as a muslin (and expected to have to do a lot of fitting changes) so I never actually intended to wear them. But I'm glad they worked out because I actually love them now. Since I was thinking this would just be a muslin, I just pinked the edges to finish them. Now I wish I had serged them for a sturdier finish, but oh well.

So for my second pair, I wanted to go with a more subdued pair of shorts, so I chose a plain, dark denim. In between making the leopard ones and these, I actually made a pair of jeans by lengthening this pattern (I'll post about that later). But I had some leftover fabric from the jeans to make these shorts. Same as the leopard denim, this fabric has no stretch. But it is much stiffer than the leopard stuff. Maybe thicker? Tighter weave? In any case, it didn't quite turn out as well as the first version did.

The fit is ok (just ok), but the main problem is that the fabric is just so stiff! It's not very comfortable to wear. There's no give to the fabric, so the fit feels a lot tighter.

Again, I used a button closure in place of a hook and eye on the waistband. I need to practice making buttonholes... I much prefer button closures to a hook and eye, but my buttonholes always turn out so messy. I used jeans topstitching techniques and pink jeans thread to make these. Because of all the topstitching, I used a different order to putting the shorts together than what the instructions say to do. But I'll cover that when I write about my Maritime jeans next time.

 I serged all of the exposed seams on this pair. (Don't look at that button hole... not my finest work.)

Now it just needs to warm up so I can actually wear my shorts! Seeing as it snowed about 5 inches here last night, I'm not getting my hopes up that it will be anytime soon.


  1. You did a great job on both pairs! Maybe the denim will soften as you wear and wash the shorts. Another option is to get some denim with a very small amount of spandex in it. I love the pink top stitching. It looks great.

    1. Thanks! Yes, I am hoping they will soften in the wash. I pre-washed the fabric, but maybe it needs a few runs through. I am currently working on another pair using denim fabric with a little spandex, so I expect that pair will be much more comfortable!

  2. These look great on you!! Because of you, I will have to purchase this pattern! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Great - hope you sew up a pair, I'd love to see them! Thanks for reading!

  3. Fits you like a glove. Can't wait to see the next jean shorts.