Hot! The “Incredible Invincible Invisibility” Shorts

The Facts 

Fabric: chino-like leaf camouflage fabric in sale, bought too much, might make a hat some time $13.50 (£8.65), plus sheets for muslins from stash.
Patterns: sort of self-drafted from 3 old pairs of shorts/trousers I’ve held on to for this purpose.
Year: contemporary.
Notionszip scavenged from above pair of old shorts.
Time to complete: about 20 hours (making of muslins, reading of shorts/trouser tutorials in books and websites).
First worn: for gardening 16th July 2012.
Wear again? Yep, and I’ll be making more using this basic design.

Total Cost: $13.50 (£8.65)

The challenge: “The Great Outdoors: something inspired by nature”.

(I apologise in advance of the quality of this week’s pics. I decided to take them myself with the remote rather than wake up Goth Child, as it’s her last week of school hols (translation: summer intercession/break) and I do the garden and pool at 7ish in the morning before the temps get over 100F.

The shorts are called the “Incredible Invincible Invisibility” shorts because I convinced my youngest that I was making camouflage gardening shorts so that when I stood in front of bushes my hips would disappear…she bought that this would happen for about 6 seconds before tutting at me. I also thought that the fact that I finally made a pair of legged things, they should be rewarded with an overblown ridiculous name).

I was going to wait until next week’s “Reality Check (something missing from your wardrobe)” challenge to embark on the great voyage into making shorts/trousers adventure, but when I saw this camouflage fabric in the Jo-ann’s sale area I couldn’t resist it and it felt ‘naturey’…..and to be honest I’ve been putting off making trousers for long enough now, it was time to bite the bullet.

Btw, I might have lived in the USA for nearly 3 years now, I might even slip the words “store”, “cart” and “gas” into conversation without a second thought, but I don’t there will ever come a day when I hear the word “pants” and won’t be able to stifle a giggle. I can’t do it, I can’t call trousers “pants”. That would be like me asking an American not to laugh at my favourite pudding “Spotted  Dick”. I won’t tell you now about the time my husband had to get me out of a Dick’s Sporting Goods sharpish when I saw a sign for “Open Bottom Pants”……ohhh America.

Aaaaanyway. This was the week when I tackled making something with legs to fit my figure: my ample hips, my sway back, my delicious but overly-proportioned bum and my low round belly. I cannot deny, I have been putting this challenge off. However, I also knew the day would dawn when I would have to face it, and to be honest, I want to know how to make trousers to fit me….I might wear dresses most of the time, but I really fancy one day having some killer suits ala Annie Lennox or David Bowie (I want his Life on Mars light blue one most). Well, killer suits for a short round person :) And no, this isn’t a clue to what I’m making for the upcoming Music challenge….

So knowing the day would come, I’ve been hanging onto trousers that I’ve worn the bottoms out of (real open bottom pants) for a couple of years now. Rather than throwing them out, I put them in my sewing cupboard to one day unpick and make myself a sort of pattern from.

I’d also decided that if I did ever make my own trousers, I’d make them TOTALLY the way I WANTED. I know that because of the roundness of my middle, having a zip front and centre isn’t the best position for me (instant camel toe unless the crotch is hanging near to my knees). So I made 2 muslins to get the shape of the crotch right so there was no camel toe, no smiling or frowning lines (I found various websites fab for understanding trouser-fitting, see list below), no gaping of fabric. I know Lee (and I think Nettie?) has/have recommended StephanieC’s Consulting Dressmaker Pants (haha) Block service but I thought I’d quite like to have a go myself because I wanted to see what problems I’d encounter. The method in my madness was that it would be better to have a go so that I’d understand the basic mechanics of making leggy things and the problems I needed to remedy.

So these shorts are my first attempt. I’m now confident I have a basic pattern for the crotch and hips with a side zip, that hopefully I can use to adapt proper patterns to fit me (an additional problem I have is lots of the really great patterns for trousers people recommend stop way before my size (and I’m sure I’m not in a minority here of fat people (which is just a describing word like short or blonde, and I’m claiming it back from those who nicked it to be an insult) who’d love to make their own clothes because clothes for us fat people are sooooooo darn boring in shops, and often sooooo badly fitting).

Tell me, oh wise women (and men) of sewing, am I disillusioned and mistaken in thinking that now I’ve worked out a pattern that fits my belly, bum, hips and crotch ie. the top bit of the legs….that I can just use this as my base to make shorter shorts, cullottes, wide legged trousers etc? Am I being too naive? Any constructive advice will be gratefully received.

Warning: invisibility shorts only work if you stand in front of bushes or trees, and if viewer can also see the Emperor’s New Clothes or is a small, very gullible child.

Websites I found I’m continuing to find massively helpful:

Patty the Snug Bug’s adventures in fitting trousers

Coletterie: some pants (hardyhaha) fitting basics

The Colette Patterns Pants (snicker) Fitting Cheat Sheet

Acting my (Vint) Age Pants (hohoho) Patterns Part 1



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. I don’t think you’re being naive about finding a trouser pattern that fits and using it for a basic pattern, I think that’s a great idea! I always sew from vintage patterns and side zips are the norm for women, so much more flattering for ladies with bellies I find personally!

  2. Not sure whether I am a WISE woman but I would agree with the commenter above: You’re not being naive and you’ll be able to use this pattern for long trousers as well. You might have to tinker around a bit to find the leg shape you like best but that’s going to be a piece of cake compared to getting the crotch/bottom area to fit right. Oh, and I like side zippers better, too. I don’t like it how the button and the front zip show through a right shirt I wear on top. It just looks better with a side zip. Anyway…congratulations on finishing your first pair of trousers! They look good to me…although I can’t judge this too well given that they are invisible and extremely well camouflaged. ;)

  3. Yay! Good for you and your shorts. I just made my first pair of fitted shorts, too. If I’m not mistaken, Steph has shown how to adjust a pattern based on one that fits you:

  4. Pants! It’s funny every time! Heh heh.

  5. Hey Tempest, way to go girl, now you got a base for everything ! I love the last photo hilarious. I remember there being a Saturday Night Live Skit on camafloge which was hilarious but I cant seem to find it on you tube ;(

  6. You may have a long rise causing the camel toe. I have that problem whether I am skinny or round. =/ I am short-waisted but have a long rise, which makes finding clothing in stores that flatter my figure quite a challenge. It is one reason that I started sewing for myself.

  7. OMG! These are radical! If it weren’t for your gardening booties, I wouldn’t have been able to find you in the pics. I love the colors and the length. You look great Tempest!

  8. Great shorts! And I don’t think you are at all mistaken that you will be able to use them for other things – I just have my basic go-to pants pattern, and then I borrow other design details from other patterns.

  9. Nicely done and camouflaged! Congrats on making a great pair of pants ..I mean trousers. He hee!

  10. Hooray for things-with-legs sewing!

  11. Love the shorts (when I could find them in the pictures!). Great fit and no reason why you couldn’t keep adapting this patterm – I do this all the time and it seems to work. Good luck!

  12. I think I am falling in love with you. And your pants.

  13. Lol I love your post! I like that the camo-print has a bit of a flower motif in it. Much prettier than regular camo. Fab job as usual :D

  14. Shorts…what shorts? I see some arms and legs and some leaves…. : )

  15. Well now that you’ve made the perfect pair of shorts you can totally pull off that Annie Lennox or Bowie suit. Totally! Do it Tempest!

  16. Well done working out a shorts/ trouser pattern. The possibilities are endless now!

  17. For those of us facing the same challenges, would you considering sharing your basic pattern as a starting point? I’m a beginner sewer and the idea of making my own shorts is fantastic, but starting from scratch (thanks for the links) is muy intimidating!

    • Hi Andrea, I don’t really have a basic pattern, I worked from 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of shorts that were worn out beyond belief but I’ve always kept hold of because they fitted my shape so well. My advice would be, find a pair of shorts/trousers you are willing to sacrifice for the greater good of sewing-future…..use a seam ripper and take them apart as carefully as you can and see how they were put together and make a muslin from them…..BEARING IN MIND (which I forgot first time) that you’ll need to add a little for seam allowances. There’s an e-course on making jeans from existing jeans on Craftsy….hang on I’ll find the link….. that might be worth trying out….I don’t know if others have tried it and recommend it, perhaps stick a question up on the Sew Weekly Community boards. Best of luck!