Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ruffled (and recycled) capris/shorts

This is a cross-post from my regular blog, but I had a couple of friends ask me for a tutorial on how I made my girls' ruffled cut-off shorts and capris - so I wanted to make it available to all.

Before I begin though....I want to say that I am a very novice seamstress -
so those of you with more experience will probably have a million better ways of doing this -
but this is how I did it...and if I can do it...ANYONE can!

First, I started with several pairs of girls jeans that either had holes in the knees, or that were started to look like 'high-water' pants.   If your kids don't have any - you can usually find them for greatly reduced prices at rummage sales or thrift stores.

The next step is to decide how long you want your shorts to be.
For modesty's sake we usually prefer to go somewhere in between knee-length and capris.

Then, cut off the legs at the desired length  - figuring on about a 1/4' seam allowance.

The next step is to choose a coordinating fabric for the ruffles.
I always use cotton fabric - you really don't want anything too stretchy, as it just doesn't gather very well.

The amount of fabric you use can vary, depending on the size of the pant legs, and how gathered you want the ruffles to be.
For my girls ( sizes 6 and 8 ) I used fabric that was one yard in length, and approximately 4-5 inches in width.
I cut the fabric with pinking shears, (so it doesn't fray,) then I folded it in half and then pressed the crease.

Until I made these, I had never really never made a ruffle or gathered fabric before.
In case someone else has never done is a pictorial of how I did it.

Set your sewing machine for the widest, longest stitch (a basting stitch)
then take your strip of fabric and make 2 rows of stitches about 1/8 apart - and about 1/8 in from the edge.
*Important - DO NOT 'lock' the thread at either end, and also try to leave at least a 6" surplus of thread when you cut it. 

Next, starting at one end of the strip of fabric, 
take the top two 'tails' of thread and begin to pull them, 
and the fabric will start to gather.

Next comes a rather tedious part.....
You have to 'slide' the gathers down the thread, and push them towards the far end of the fabric.
Continue pulling, gathering and sliding
until your ruffle is roughly the same size as the circumference of the pant leg
(At this point I also turn the ends of the ruffle inside and 'hem' the ends.)

Now you are ready to sew the ruffle to the pant leg.

I always start at the mid point on the back side of the leg,
 but you could also start on a side seam if you wanted.

Leave the shorts right-side out and match the rough/cut ends of both the jeans and the fabric.
Pin the ruffle to the jeans adjusting  the size so that it fits all the way around the leg opening.
If it is too big or too small you can gather or loosen it more or less.

Then, using a basic running stitch, sew the ruffle onto the pant leg.

NOTE: You want to make sure that your seam is to the left of your 'gathering seams -
otherwise they will show.  (Ask me how I know about that....)
P.S. A seam ripper is a very good tool to keep handy.)  :-P

Once the ruffle is attached, fasten off your thread and turn the ruffle downward.
And finally, I sew a top seam along the edge of the denim.
This keeps the ruffle from flipping up while the shorts are being worn.

My girls just love the finished product, and I love that I dont' need to buy shorts,
because last winter's holey/outgrown jeans can be re-used all summer long!

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