{Summer Shorts Feature} Pattern Emporium Hepburn Shorts

The Summer Shorts series continues!! Today I'm talking about the Pattern Emporium Hepburn Shorts - a great little pattern for multiple skill levels and versatile enough to cover many of your shorts-pattern-needs. Here's what I've got for ya:

First Impressions:

  • This pattern is PACKED. It's got 36 pages of instructions, broken down with detailed photos of each of the two pattern views, and supplemented with illustrations where extra clarity is needed. Beginners will LOVE how detailed this is.
  • Hepburn is loaded with options. There's a pull-on (elastic waist) option, a side zipper option, a shorter "play" length, and a longer "urban" length, plus two pattern add-ons.
  • The detailed print guide is heavenly! Zero guesswork. I printed a total of 18 pages (which I actually had to go back and double check because it didn't seem like that much!). 
  • I LOVE the contoured waistband on the fitted shorts. Anybody with curves will love this too - including this rectangle with a "sassy booty." 

I guess the only "bummer" I see here is the lengthy PDF. This is a "plus" for some that others find exhausting. There are links within the PDF to cut down on scrolling, though!

The Muslin

I started with a straight size 10. I knew my hip measurement (38-39 inches) - but the other "lower waist measurement" listed in the size chart was a bit of a wild card. It's described as 2 inches below the natural waist, but my natural waist is so high up my torso I couldn't imagine it'd be a relevant measure for my size-selection. I did work backwards though and try to measure two inches below my belly button (lower than my natural waist). The resulting 31 inch measurement put me in a size 6.. but given the corresponding 33-35 inch hip, I figured I'd just measured wrong. So size 10 it was!  

Generally speaking, this is how I'd advise people to pick their size. Err towards your largest width so worst-case-scenario you'll have MORE fabric than you need. (It's way easier to take seams in than to let them out!)

But, as sometimes happens in the sewing world, my first muslin was WAY off the mark fit-wise. Size 10 was massive. (It was totally my fault - but I'll come back to that in a minute.) As soon as I pulled on the muslin I knew I'd need to size down - but by how much? and where? I could have seam ripped them (I sew muslins with basting stitches anyway, so that's not much of a hardship), cut the next size down, and kept at that routine until I got a closer fit... or I could do the method I'm about to show you and skip right ahead to my correct size.

These steps are helpful for those seamstresses like myself who find they've picked a size too large, or those who are smaller than the smallest size on a pattern. 

Start with your width adjustments:

1. Ask yourself "Where is this garment meant to be fitted?" Shoulders are always a great starting point for tops and dresses, but on these relaxed-fit shorts I'm opting for the waistband so they don't fall off.

2. Measure your excess. I'm going to stick to easy numbers and say I needed to pull/pinch out 4 inches to get the waistband to fit flush against my body.

3a. Remove excess evenly around your garment. There are four shorts pieces (2 front + 2 back) so I took 1 inch out of the center of each. Read on to see "how?"

3b. To remove excess: Fold each piece vertically (parallel to the grainline) at a midpoint of the pattern piece.* Stitch a pleat all along the fold. (Ex: to remove 1 inch, stitch your pleat 1/2 from the fold line.) 

*This process differs with shirts. See diagram below for more info.

4. Try your garment on again and make necessary length adjustments. Ensure bustpoints/waistlines/waistbands are lined up, seat seams aren't too low, hems hit at the right place, etc. If not, make horizontal pleats throughout the garment (starting from the top and working your way down) until the garment lays correctly.

5. Unpick each pattern piece, press well. 

6. Compare your adjusted muslin pattern piece to the original pattern, and see which size most closely matches your adjustments. I then chose to start my muslin process over with the correct size, in an effort to sew a garment that most closely matched the designer's intention. 

Here's that process in a graphic for my visual friends:

And here's what it looked like in-progress:

I'll come back to the Hepburns in a second - but first I want to give a sense of what this process would look like on a shirt/bodice. It's still a grid-like approach to reducing extra fabric and sizing down, but there's more of a science behind WHERE you make the adjustments:

Click me if I stop animating!

So where did I go wrong?? I simply didn't read. Kate tried SO hard to make sure I didn't overlook her advice. She made a beautiful and colorful graphic, included a whole section dedicated to women whose measurements fall into two different sizes... She led this horse to water and I simply didn't drink.

I highly recommend making a quick test fit pair when sewing ladieswear. And when in doubt, for this particular short, a relaxed design, I suggest you size down.
— Kate, Ladies' Hepburn Shorts Pattern
Pattern graphic shared with designer's permission. 

Pattern graphic shared with designer's permission. 

Thankfully, this was my only hiccup sewing the pattern and I've since made two size 6's that fit excellently. Here's a stretch chambray version I made (with a non-stretch waistband lining!) over the weekend. Pic overload coming soon to show you all the details!

I also have the advantage of the pattern pieces including cut-lines for the elastic waist version (no reprinting!!), so I may make one of those as a more apple-to-apple comparison to the True Bias Emersons. Tune in for those, next week!