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Simple Knit Shorts with Oval Knee Pads and Easy Hem {Tutorial}

2013 May 16

Hi folks, we’re finally into Day 3 here at Thread Riding Hood Spring Shorts Week.

If you have been wondering where I was today, you need the Thread Riding Hood Facebook page! A photo of today’s shorts and a status update were posted last night. Like us and access “new post” updates, links to sewing related giveaways, a chance to hear from and comment with other sewing fans and important answers to questions like “Where is the third installment of Spring Shorts Week? I can’t wait to see what it is!” (PS. You also get sneak peeks of sewing projects before they are posted here! Shhh… don’t tell!)

Alright, enough of that! Here’s today’s tutorial:

Simple Knit Shorts with Oval Knee Pads and Easy Hem

It is possible that these are the easiest of this week’s shorts – though I am not sure, seeing as how tomorrow’s shorts use a lot less fabric (for girls) and don’t need a “proper” hem because they are lined. This pair of shorts does not have a “proper” hem either, instead it is replaced with a cuff that matches the oval knee pads. The really great thing about these shorts is that they are a bit more unisex than the others this week. I think these shorts would look perfectly comfy and cute on a boy – you’d just need to tie the twill into a knot instead of a bow.

 You will need:

  • knit material – yardage depends on the size of your pattern piece (read through the tutorial to make sure you have enough material for the pattern piece and the casing)
  • contrasting knit for the oval knee pads, cuffs and casing
  • regular sewing machine (you do not need a serger to sew knits!)
  • 3/4″ or 1″ non-roll elastic
  • 8″ twill tape (ribbon) to match/contrast the shorts
  • old pair of pants with worn knees (to check where the knee pads should go)
  • tissue paper, paper, or tear-away stabilizer
  • ballpoint sewing machine needle (for sewing knits)
  • pins/glue stick/scissors/matching thread/water soluble marking pen/other sewing gear
  • Shorts Pattern Piece – Make your own in any size: {How To} Make a Kid’s Simple Knit Shorts Pattern OR click on the following link to download the 5 page Size 3 printable pdf
  • Oval Knee Pad Pattern Piece – click HERE to download the printable pdf (in 3 different sizes)

Before you begin (if you are using the printable Size 3 pattern piece):

  • Print out all 5 pages of the pattern piece pdf on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size. Once you have printed the pages, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Cut or fold the pages on the outer gray lines and tape/glue the pages together, matching the letters in the gray half-circles.

Tips on Sewing Simple Knit Shorts for Boys:

  • tie the twill tape in a knot instead of a bow
  • paint on a freezer paper “sport” number like these
  • top-stitch on a fake fly like these

Here we got

Again, this tutorial is based on the Simple Knit Shorts tutorial from earlier this week. It might be handy to have it available in an extra browser tab or printout. 

Step 1: Follow Steps 1 and 2 on the Simple Knit Shorts tutorial to cut out your fabric and casing. Cut the casing from contrasting fabric that will match your knee pads and cuffs.

Step 2: Cut out your knee pads following the printable pattern piece. Choose an oval size from the printable pdf that best fits the scale of the shorts you are making. I have labeled the size I used as Size 3 – for those using the printable Simple Knit Shorts pattern piece. Give them a press if needed. (If you are wondering why there is a seam at the edge of my fabric, I was able to use an old t-shirt for the contrasting knit in these shorts.)

Step 3: Now we measure and cut the bands for the hem cuffs. (1) Cut a 2 1/2″ high piece of contrasting knit that is the width of your pant leg. (2) Stretch your newly cut band as far as it will stretch and cut off any fabric that stretches past the width of your pant leg. (The cut cuff band on the shorts fabric in the photo is the same length as the one I am stretching.)

Step 4: This one is easy! Tie your short piece of twill tape in a bow (you can use a lighter to – CAREFULLY! – melt the ends of the tape so it will not fray) and check to make sure you have the things in the following picture. (Oops – missed the bow.)

Step 5: Follow Steps 5 and 6 from the Simple Knit Shorts tutorial to find your knee pad placement.

Step 6: Grab your glue stick (wouldn’t be a Thread Riding Hood tutorial without one!) and apply glue to the oval shape. Stick it to your shorts fabric, use the mark you just made to centre it. (Make sure you have at least 1″ between the hem line and the cuff. You will need this space later to add the cuff.)

Step 7: (1) Use a water soluble pen to mark “quilting” lines on your knee pad. I used unevenly spaced straight lines in the opposite direction of my stripes. (2) Stitch (using a ballpoint needle) across your knee pad quilting lines, I used a thin zig-zag to make things more interesting – be creative! (3) Stitch close to the edge of your knee pads with a straight stitch. (4) Use water to remove your water soluble pen markings. Your knee pads are done! (Note: If you have very stretchy or thin knit you might want to place some tissue/paper or tear away stabilizer behind the knee pad while you sew it on – so stop it from stretching.)

Step 8: Follow Steps 12 through 21 from the Simple Knit Shorts tutorial to stitch the shorts together (and then come back!). You can skip Steps 13 (3) and 13 (4), we will be adding a cuff here instead.

Step 9: (1) Iron your cuff bands lengthwise, right sides out. (2) Unfold the bands, fold them the other way and pin them into loops. (3) Stitch them across the short ends with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 10: (1) Re-fold the cuff band lengthwise where you ironed it. (2) Mark the pant hem and the cuff band evenly in 4 places. (3) Match up the seam in the cuff band and the inseam of the shorts. Match up the raw edges of the cuff band and the shorts hemline, pin the cuff band to the right side of the shorts. Match up your other 3 marks on the shorts and band, use them to pin the cuff band around the shorts hemline.

Step 11: (1) Stitch the band to the shorts with an aprox. 3/8″ seam allowance. Stretch the cuff band to the width of the shorts hemline between your pins as you sew. (2) You will end up with a wonky looking hem line! (3) Turn out your cuff – amazing! It looks so cute!

Hooray! You are finished!

And… another one tomorrow – Simple Knit Sport Shorts with a Lining! (or today, as I am about 15 minutes into Thursday right now!)

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. May 18, 2013

    Great series! I love this variation to protect chubby little knees from scrapes.

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  1. {How to} Make a Kid’s Simple Knit Shorts Pattern | Thread Riding Hood
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