4. Bougainvillea

Pattern: Iris from Colette Patterns

Fabric: Red wool twill from the remnants bin at Stone Mountain Daughter Fabrics

Notions: Interfacing, invisible zipper, some scrap rayon for the pockets

Time to Complete:4 – 5 hours


I was pretty excited when I heard that Colette Patterns was releasing a shorts pattern for spring. I had it downloaded, printed, and assembled within hours of their announcement! Alright, so it doesn’t have a fly zipper but the shorts looked so cute on the model that I didn’t care. I’ll admit, when I first finished these I was a little underwhelmed. I don’t know what it was but they just didn’t thrill me. However, after wearing them for a day, I’m in love! They are so comfy but still flattering that I wouldn’t hesitate to make them again.

Once I had the pattern assembled, I went about choosing the size I would cut. In Colette world, I am a perfect size 10 below the waist (30 1/2″ waist and 40 1/2″ hip), however, the finished garment measurements were more important to me. The Iris shorts come with 1/2″ ease at the waist. I went to my closet and measured some of my favorite shorts with a higher rise and found that none of them cut it this close. Most had 1 1/2″ to 2″ of ease so I cut a size 12 (finished waist measurement was 32 1/2″). I was a little concerned that this would leave me with too much room in the hips but I figured that I could shave off some from this pair and then grade the pattern for later makes. In the end, this wasn’t necessary as the shorts fit almost perfectly!

Construction went so quickly! Over the course of a few days, I assembled these in small spurts. I figure it took me no more than 5 hours to cut and sew these shorts. I’m really happy with my sewing overall. I’ve struggled in the past to get a smooth waistband and this is probably the closest I’ve come. Everything will be perfect until I go to topstitch the facing down. When I finish the waistband warps and shifts and looks so terrible. There’s a little bit of wrinkling but nothing more than many of my RTW shorts. I think I may be finally gaining some finesse with fabric rather than torturing it!

I didn’t stray from the instructions too much on this project. However, I did try something new on the crotch seam. The instructions have you clip the curves before finishing the seam but, frankly, I’ve never seen a pair of RTW shorts with clipped seam allowances there. Once again, I went to my closet and pulled a pair of shorts out that have really lovely construction. I studied the way these were made and did the following:

  • I trimmed the seam allowance to 3/8″
  • Serged
  • Understitched to one side of the pants.

This worked perfectly! Sure, you can see a small row of stitching on the right side if you’re looking closely but it’s actually rather nice looking. The best thing is, the seam is perfect and there are no wrinkles around the curve. Now the seam is beautiful and stronger!

I also tried out a coverstitch for my hem. You heard me right – coverstitch. No, my little Singer serger doesn’t have the capability but my brand new serger does! I’ve been in the market for a new serger for a while now and I finally took the plunge this week. I’ll tell you more about it in a separate post but it’s been a game changer. I have seams on these shorts finished with my old one as well as the new and it is night and day. I’m left to wonder how it took me so long (alright, so not that long) to upgrade.

I know several of you are making these shorts right now. How’s your progress going?


57 Responses to “4. Bougainvillea”

  1. These look fantastic! I love red on you – so perfect with your dark hair and blue eyes!

    I thought it was funny that you were referring to your RTW items for tips on how to deal with your sewing problems. I’ve been doing the same thing lately! So now that I know you’re doing it too, I feel like it’s a little more kosher!

    • Great minds! In some ways, I feel like RTW can skip corners in production. These are obviously not the techniques I’m looking at. However, sometimes I feel like home sewers do weird things – take 5/8″ seam allowance for example. Why in the world do I have this much seam? Unless I’m doing a fit, I’m going to start taking off some of the seam allowance off of my commercial patterns. Especially around the necklines and armholes. There is absolutely no reason why I should be trimming a seam after I’ve sewn it.
      Any neat tips you’ve learned lately from your RTW?

      • Yes! The seam allowance thing! It makes it so much harder to set in sleeves. I was taught to have 1cm seam allowance most seams and .6cm on necklines at school, and I usually trim patterns back to this. I love your shorts, the perfect showcase for that gorgeous red!

  2. I have perfected a shorts pattern and I don’t clip the crotch curve either. That’s wacky. I only have a 3/8″ seam so I just serge and sew as you did. If the seam allowance is small enough there is no need to clip a crotch seam.

    They are adorable. Super adorable actually. How long is the inseam? I’m into 5″ these days. The older I get the longer my shorts get.

  3. Seriously!!! Those are freaking AWESOME!! I love the colour and the style looks just amazing!!! Yours is the very first pair I’ve seen other than the Colette models, and I must say, I’m extremely impressed!!

    I ordered the paper version because I prefer working with them rather than rassling with tape and a billion printed sheets LOL, but the tradeoff is that you now have a pair of shorts while I have…. well nothing yet HAHAHAHA!!

    I’m really intrigued at your method of finishing the seam at the crotch area; I’ll have to try that. Did you sew first, then serge the seam allowance together? or serge the seam allowance separately on each side and then understitch both sides?

    Also, very very curious to know, regarding sizing: do the shorts fit right at the waist or are they below-waist? This will have a huge impact on what size i decide to make as my hip measurement is a totally different size than my waist is LOL.

    • For the crotch seam, I sewed the seam together first. It was at this point that I began to wonder why clipping was necessary. Once I had studied the shorts and decided on my approach, I trimmed the seam allowance and serged. Then, I understitched the two seams together to one side of the shorts. I should mention that I didn’t touch the shorts with an iron until after understitching.
      The shorts sit just below my belly button. If I had gone with the intended size, they would sit above my navel. I’m pretty certain they are intended to be fairly high.
      One thing that I like about printed patterns is that I don’t have to trace the pattern off. I figure I can cut into it because I can always run another sheet off if the size doesn’t work (or if I make them for someone else). Sure, taping is a hassle on large patterns but these shorts don’t take up too much space.
      I can’t wait to see yours made up! I think you’ll love them. Also, I saw on your blog (but haven’t commented on anything in ages!) that you’re planning on making the Mission Maxi for spring. You are going to look incredible in that!

      • Interesting!!! If they’re intended to sit higher, you’d think there would be some problems with the fit being a bit baggy at the crotch area, but they’re not at all; they look perfect! Did you do any adjustments to the crotch depth? (i feel weird saying crotch so much LOL)

        Good point on the printed pattern; I spose it’d be different for a larger garment like pants or a full dress, but for shorts i don’t suppose it’s too bad πŸ™‚ Still, I’m a weirdo – i kind of like tracing LOL.

        Yeah! I plan to make the shorts for my summer palette, cause I’m still doing Sew Colette so I didn’t want to distract myself TOO much from that! LOL But yeah I couldn’t resist throwing in the Mission Maxi; it looks soooo comfy and I really do hope it suits me and looks as good as you think it will! πŸ™‚

        • If I’m really being picky, there is a tiny bit of “poochiness” under the waistband but not enough that someone else could see. However, Ginger at Gingermakes is working on these and she reported quite a bit in her muslin. So your mileage may vary.

        • I’m really glad you ladies are forging the way! I’ll be grateful to have the experience to draw on when I eventually tackle them myself! πŸ™‚

  4. I know this post is about your shorts (they are great, by the way) but I just adore your top!!

  5. Gorgeous, Lizz! I always love your styling choices!
    I’m eagerly waiting for the paper patterns to be in stock in European shops, I was so excited with these new releases, although I must say the dresses are what really caught my attention!

  6. Wow, these shorts look fantastic on you. Well done. I love the red.

  7. I am with Janet, that top is just lovely. Might have to go to Anthropologie to figure out how it was made.

    Back on topic: Those are very cute shorts. You got me thinking about making shorts and I don’t wear those things for the life of me unless they are long board shorts to go with my swim suit.

    • So yesterday I went into work wearing these and my coworker complimented me on them and then asked if shorts were back in. Evidently, shorts have been a big no-no fashion wise for a few years? I didn’t know this but looking at my closet, this is the first year in maybe five that I’ve purchased/sewn shorts. So I’ve been following the trends without even noticing!
      And yes, you could totally make this top! My mom was in town two weeks ago and we did a little shopping. Otherwise, I would normally put this back on the rack to make instead.


    i devoured this post because you are so very discerning, and now i’m sold on the iris shorts. like trice, i don’t wear shorts. but you sold me.

  9. Lovely. Just lovely. And, as I just purchased a serger, I’m excited to hear more about yours.

    • Thanks, Amy! Congratulations on your purchase. How are you enjoying it so far? You haven’t mentioned this on your blog, right? I don’t think I’ve missed any of your posts (although I’ve been absolutely rubbish at commenting, sorry!).

  10. These look great on you! I’ve only made two pairs of shorts and one of them was for my roadrunner costume, so this is nsomewhat new territory for me. These are so cute though, I’m totally inspired!

  11. ahh! I was eyeballing that remnant at Stone Mountain! I’m glad I didn’t get it because your shorts look fantastic! My Iris pattern should be coming in the mail any day now and now I can’t wait to start!

  12. They look awesome!! Love the red. I cant wait to hear more about your new serger since I’m in the market for a new one myself!

  13. I love these! They look positively tasty on you! You are a dish! Ha! So cute. When I sewed up my Clovers, I sadly, followed the directions for clipping the curve in the crotch! Its something that I’ve read you should never do and I know why. The chances of having a blow out while wearing the pants is much more probable. I love the pants and the instructions, but that is not a good tip. I had a seam rip apart right at one of the clips in the crotch seam while wearing the pants and as the pants are rather close fitting, well I’m sure you get the idea.

    Gorgeous job on everything! I love!
    xoxo, Sunni

  14. They look amazeballs on you, and the red and white outfit is very chic. Thanks for all the insight on how you approached this pattern – I want to make them!

  15. Seriously, great fit, color, styling, you rocked this pattern!

  16. So pretty! You always take good photos πŸ™‚

  17. Lovely fit!

  18. You look so great!!! I love the fit of the shorts and the color, too!! And I’ve already pinned that top and stewed over how to copy it! Lovely outfit!

  19. The red shorts are really great! The whole look is really wonderful (red shorts and red lips? girl after my own heart…)

    But hang on a moment… coverstitch?!?! Be still my heart!!! I’m kinda bowled over by this – please please please give us all the details soon!!

  20. Congrats for the new serger! I am also thinking about getting one for some months now but I always end up deciding I don’t need it – not really. Looking forward to your feedback about it :>

    The shorts are amazing! Love the colour and the fit!

    • I totally understand that. My old server had very few stitch capabilities and the tension discs were pretty worn so I was constantly adjusting (even mid project). So this purchase was needed but I’m always thinking I want a new sewing machine until I realize that my machine can do anything a new one can.

  21. Ooh, that is exactly the kind of outfit I want to spend my days in this summer. (The blouse is gorgeous.) Glad to hear these were so successful, without having to do major pattern alterations. And red is awesome–I’m making the sweet shorts in a red twill, too! Mine are almost done. Shorts are so easy, and somehow they don’t have all the headache of pants-fitting so I’m thinking there are going to be a lot more to come!

    • Isn’t that true. It’s kind of odd though considering that the tricky bits are on both. I guess I don’t feel so guilty about wasted fabric if my shorts don’t come out though. I’m looking forward to seeing your shorts!

  22. Ahhhh!! Love, love, love these. That’s a great color and so is the fit. Did you make Clover’s? I just wonder if these are based on the same sloper. Probs, huh? Because those did not fit me at all. I’m still willing to attempt these. They look fancy AND comfortable – my favorite combination. (Love that top, too!)

    Suuuper jealous about your coverstitch machine. That’s so exciting! I haven’t looked into them, but really want one for finishing knits. I’m looking forward to your review!

  23. awesome shorts Liz, the color is lovely! They look wonderful on you. And good timing, just as the weather is warming up. It’s supposed to reach the 80’s in the South Bay this weekend πŸ˜€

  24. Red hot! I wasn’t sold on these. Until now, of course. Well, I’m not a shorts person in general, but was going to try the Pattern Runway pair this season. Maybe I’ll do these instead. Ha! I never clip crotch seams… do exactly as you described πŸ™‚

  25. I haven’t made the Collette short but from what I read, there have been some fit issues with it. It doesn’t look this way with your red-as-ever-can-be shorts. I love the color! There amazing. I’ve recently been in the mood for red but have been leaning towards buying a dress and not shorts. Seeing you and your shorts may have changed my mind πŸ™‚

  26. Bwah!! Coverstitch hem?!?!?! Can’t wait to hear more!!!!!

    I’m planning to wrestle through the shorts this weekend (this week has been MANIC, and all I’ve wanted to do is sew sew sew!!)! Yours are so cute! Isn’t it funny that we both chose red?

  27. Love the cut of the shorts. Tell us about the blouse. The sleeves are fantastic.

  28. I just wanted to thank you for posting your sizing information on the Colette forum. I have almost the same waist and hip measurements as you and planned to cut a 10. Thanks to you, I cut a 12, and while I don’t have the waistband in yet, they seem to be fitting perfectly. I really appreciate it (and I love your red shorts!).

  29. You and your shorts look great! I love how you paired them with matching lipstick and that breezy white blouse.

  30. They look great! I love red for shorts… & nice styling with that white top and brass bracelet!


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