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Monday, September 22, 2014

Clean Slate Shorts for School

School has been in full swing here now for almost two months, and this year, Ella started kindergarten while Connor moved on to middle school. Our public school system requires children to wear standard school attire which amounts to any solid color shirt with a collar plus black, navy, or khaki pants, shorts, skirts, or rompers. While Connor's wardrobe was fully stocked of acceptable items, Ella's closet was really lacking! As you know, I sew most of her clothes, and very few are solid colors!

Well, rather than go out and buy all her school clothes, I decided I would sew as many as I could. We purchased a few knit polo style shirts, and then I made her a khaki and black pair of shorts using the Blank Slate Clean Slate Pants Pattern (affiliate link). These shorts fit the bill perfectly!

The Clean Slate Pants Pattern is incredibly versatile. The pattern includes lengths to make pants, capris, or shorts, and it's a unisex design that fits both boys and girls equally well. The Clean Slate Pants Pattern fits sizes 18 months to 8 years and comes equipped with multiple optional features like

  • zip fly
  • welt pockets
  • front rounded pockets
  • and either a full elastic waistband or back elastic waist

I love a good pattern with options, and this one most definitely fits the bill! 

After reviewing the pattern sizing chart and comparing it to my daughter's own actual measurements, I chose to sew her up two pair of Clean Slate Shorts in size 6. For each pair of shorts, I used slightly less than a yard of twill fabric, 3/4" elastic, a button, and a 4" zipper. 

With so many options to choose from, I decided to go all out and give all but one a try. 

First, I went with a functioning zip fly on both pairs. This is only the second and third time I've sewn in a zip fly, but using the pattern instructions and the new zip fly video tutorial Melissa recently published made the installation a breeze! 

Since my zippers were only 4" long, they were the perfect length and didn't require any trimming; however, the instructions clearly show how to shorten a longer zipper. I also opted to use Wonder Tape in lieu of pins when securing the zipper to the fly. Wonder Tape keeps the zipper flat and prevents any shifting of the fabric or zipper when sewing. I'm super pleased with the results and won't ever shy away from installing a zip fly again!

My kid loves clothes with pockets, so I definitely added the front rounded pockets to her shorts.  

For the back pockets though, I saw my chance to make this the stand-out-in-the-crowd feature for my girly girl! If you've seen the Blank Slate Bookworm Button Up Pattern (affiliate link) then you may recognize these bow pockets as the same ones used on that shirt. That's another terrific pattern full of options that I sewed recently, and it made perfect sense to use the smallest size bow pocket from the shirt pattern as the back pocket on my daughter's new shorts! 

Not only does the back bow pocket give the Clean Slate Shorts a feminine touch, but it's a unifying feature that ties the outfit together! Plus, I think the bow pockets are a lot easier and faster to sew than welt pockets!

One bit of advice though when cutting out the back shorts pieces. Be sure to somehow mark which end is the top of the shorts on the wrong side of the fabric. The back rise seam and the inseam curves are almost identical and can easily be confused. Don't ask me how I know!

Finally, my Clean Slate Shorts both have back elasticized waistbands. To me, the elastic length measurements included in patterns are hardly ever a perfect fit for my child, plus I've noticed that the amount of stretch varies from elastic brand and type of elastic and fabric used. I learned a long time ago to always cut my elastic a little longer than specified and then thread it through the casing, secure one end, and then have my child try on the item to adjust the elastic length for a perfect fit. 

Another little thing I did differently from what the pattern instructed was to fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the front waistband (the part without elastic) on the khaki pair. I didn't use interfacing on the black pair, and I noticed the front waistband folding over after Ella wore the shorts for a while. The black and khaki fabrics were identical except for color, and the addition of the interfacing to the khaki pair provided the structure needed to prevent the front waistband from folding over.

Ella and I are both totally pleased with the slim fit and ease of construction of the Clean Slate Shorts, and without a doubt I'll be sewing capris and pants length pieces for Ella's standard school attire wardrobe later this fall and winter!

Now if I could just convince Melissa at Blank Slate Patterns to add some larger sizes to the Clean Slate Pants Pattern so I could sew my son a few pairs! (affiliate links) 

Until next time--have FUN sewing!


  1. I love the pockets detail so much! =)

  2. I love them! The pockets are fabulous! I have been thinking about that pattern for pants for Joel this fall, but have never done a zip fly, either. This helps!


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