Hot! The “Better Luck Next Time” Shorts

The Facts
Fabric: Orange broadcloth from Halloween last year $2
Pattern: Simplicity 0635 from mom’s stash
Year: 1990s
Notions: 2 buttons, and hook/eye from stash
Time to complete: 6 hours (6 eps of The Forsythe Saga)
First worn: For pictures on the weekend
Wear again? Not a chance
Total price: ~$2

I was wavering if I was going to do this week or not. I couldn’t really find any trends that spoke to me. But then “neon” kept popping up in my research and I couldn’t look away. Luckily I had some neon broadcloth in my stash from making Halloween decorations last year. I had more neon green than this orange, but I figured Tangerine Tango was the Pantone Color of the Year, so I should try it out. I had just enough to make these shorts.

I chose to go with shorts just because I’m trying to work on the fitting. A lot of times I settle for “close enough” – ok, basically ALL the time – but trousers and shorts are harder to fudge. I thought this pattern would be a good one to play with. The pattern calls for an elastic waist and faux fly, but I tried my hand at making the fly real and put in some darts to take up the bulk around the waist. I didn’t have an orange zipper, but I did have orange buttons so they won by default.

I definitely tried to do too much. When all I had left was the hemming, I was really upset with them. They just aren’t right. And for a while I was sad because I wouldn’t be able to do anything else this week so I’d have to skip. But then I sucked it up and said that Sew Weekly is just as much about the fails as it is about the wins.

So here they are. My epic fail shorts.

If I ever need orange buttons again, or scraps of orange fabric, these are getting chopped to pieces! Until then they will be fall-back summer pjs because they are soft and loose.



Liz has been sewing since April 2011 but has been crafty all her life. Her full-time job is as a museum curator at a smallish institution, where her DIY skills often come in handy. Liz likes to sew while watching TV, which she uses to measure the amount of time it takes to finish.


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  1. Oi you….there is no such thing as a Sew Weekly ‘fail’… not everything is catwalk ready ;) but Sew Weekly isn’t about perfect seamstresses making perfect garments, you know that. Sew Weekly is as much discovering what we don’t like about things, about learning new skills yes, but also learning what not to do etc. So these aren’t perfect, so what, you are a step closer to making something even better that needed this ‘fail’ (even though there’s no such thing as a fail :p). I also think its good to post our ‘journey towards something magical’s that are sometimes called ‘fails’ so that others thinking about learning to sew know that this is a journey, this is a process….and not to be disheartened when learning how to fit their shape as opposed to making a precise pattern size. Shall I shut up now? ;) in conclusion….I love this colour, it makes me smile, and you are one step closer to making shorts that will make me seriously jealous of your fitting skills :) and they only cost $2 but what you learnt from this week is far more valuable in the long run. *steps off the don’t be hard on yourself soapbox*

    • Awww thanks for the pep-talk, Tempest! I did really need it this week. I think when I mess up a project that I thought would be easy, I’m harder on myself than if I had gone in expecting it to be difficult. But next time is a clean slate! :)

  2. You can use them as pjs? How does that count as a fail? Sometimes your garment ends up being useful for a completely different purpose – so don’t cut up a perfectly comfy pair of pj pants. I too love the colour and they do look comfy.

    • Thanks, Jen, I guess you’re right. Let’s just say they’ll be saved until I’m desperate to cannibalize them for something else :)

  3. I’m glad you shared these Liz. It’s been encouraging for me to see that it’s OK to get it wrong sometimes. I think I stayed away from sewing so long because I felt like it had to be perfect and thought everyone could see the flaws. I still feel that way sometimes. I love the color though and they don’t look so bad in the photos.

    • Thanks, Gina. I still have trouble remember that, especially when I have such high hopes for something. Don’t linger too long on the pics. It was basically, “Get the front and back and we’re done.” But next week is a new project! Huzzah!

  4. Liz, you are one step closer to your dream shorts. I made a couple of funky pairs before I got the result I wanted too. Then next ones will be closer, in the meanwhile, as Jen above says, comfy pjs…

  5. Awww…they aren’t that bad! They are bright and cheerful and comfortable and you have a use for them! In my book that counts as a win!

  6. Hi Liz, completely understand how your feeling but you still succeeded. I hope you enjoyed the sewing time you spent on the garment, because it’s the journey that’s the real fun of sewing. Hope the next challenge goes great for you.

  7. hey, there’s a LOT to be said for comfy summer pj’s, perfect for counting fireflies from the porch. wear them well, girl!

  8. You know, I wasn’t so keen on my dress this week but in the end it’s all about the journey, not so much the end : ) So what if some things aren’t up to our standards, you learned more for that 2 dollar and six hour investment that you might have otherwise. I totally get the whole “going into the use-it-for-something-else pile”, just don’t stop sewing and showing us! This is all about the good, the bad and the ugly and if everything we did were great how boring would THAT be? Not to mention intimidating because just like life everything we make here isn’t perfect and sometimes not even pretty, but we get to share our wins and our “WTF’s” and that is more important. Keeps us real : )

  9. Oh I’m with Loran,the problem with me is that I’m constantly sewing squares LOL! not really pushing my own boundaries due to time-family, work, yadda yadda. I think we all have our own expectations of what we consider acceptable. Don’t be too harsh on yourself there’s always next week. Have a fun week in the meantime :)

  10. All your pics are far away, and it looks like those would make an adorable mini skirt, which would be easier, no? Like those mini’s that you can tell were pants or shorts, re-sewn. Doooo it!

  11. I know that sad feeling. I messed up on the mix it up challenge and I have not been able to recover. You will make something great next time, Im sure of it.

  12. I can totally relate to your malaise, Liz as I’ve felt thoroughly defeated by another multi-muslin garment. But, I must say…after a glass of wine and perhaps distractions of another hobby (like cooking or bike riding) I start to see all of the lessons I learned in my series of fails…and, then I return to hacking and slashing patterns with renewed confidence that proper fit is another muslin (or two) away.

  13. Sorry to hear that these didn’t work out so well – the shorts actually look quite ok in the pics…I hope you’ll find the perfect pattern still (or fit there here better). I do like the color though. Looks nice and fresh with the white.