DIY - How To Sew Shorts With Elastic Casing

DIY your own tropical/hawaiian print shorts as seen on the runways of Prada and Stella Maccartney!

I never really got over this trend, I just find the bold and bright prints really attractive and quite surprisingly, versatile.

Here's a fun and easy DIY that is sure to brighten up your day on this particularly dark and stormy morning.

Today, I'm going to show you how I turned an old skirt into a pair of high waist shorts. But first, some mood music :)

Okay, I put a video in here for Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" but it won't playback. Here's the link instead (, just open in a new tab and enjoy...

Upcycling old clothing is one of my favorite hobbies. There's nothing quite like pretty vintage fabric. Like they say, "they don't make 'em like they used to..."

For this DIY though, I'm using an old knee length full-skirt from my past clothing line, Tacona. The cut just wasn't working for me anymore but I loved the fabric so much, I couldn't bear to sell it or give it away. Now it takes on a whole new life as a pair of high-waist shorts.

How To Upcyle Old Clothes Into Shorts:

  • Grab an old article of clothing big enough to turn into shorts, while you're at it, grab an existing pair of shorts with a fit that you won't to duplicate. Place shorts on old clothing, make sure it fits twice. If it does, then you're good to go. Full skirts work best but oversized blazers and mens shirts can fit the bill as well.

  • Now fold your fabric and shorts in half as seen in the photo below.

  • Cut around shorts, make sure to leave about 1/2 an inch all around for seam allowance
  • You should end up with two pieces resembling these:

  • With the right sides of your fabric facing each other, stitch on both sides

  • Once you're done stitching both sides together, open it up so the stitches land in the middle like the photo below. See, they already look like shorts :)

  • Now stitch the crotch area like in the photo below

  • If you're using a fabric that frays, zig zag edges first to stop fraying.
  • Measure the width of your elastic. I usually use a 3/4"-1" wide garter.

  • Fold fabric making sure it's wide enough to fit your elastic and stitch all around leaving about a 2 inch gap that you can thread your elastic through.

  • Attach a pin to your elastic and thread through your waistband, gathering and stretching as you go along...

  • Once both ends of elastic are out of the casing, it's time to stitch them together. Make sure to stitch them real a better job than I did, I just got lazy :P

  • Stretch waist band so elastic goes all the way in and stitch in the 2 inch gap. YOU ARE DONE! :)

This is a very easy and useful project especially for moms. You don't have to go out and buy houseclothes for your kids. Just grab some old clothes in your closet to make them shorts.

tip: go to thrift stores and shop for plus size clothing with beautiful printed fabric that you can utilize for yourself and your kids for matching pairs! :)


Jannie said…
Gaaaaah! You know how to sew? I'm so jelly right now. I suck at sewing. I have no coordination whatsoever with a sewing machine.... Tsssk.

Anyway, lovely shorts. So tropical... Makes me miss the summer season more.
Hazel said…
hi sarah! i miss reading your diy posts :) love how detailed the steps were!
A N A G O N said…
Ang saya! Ganda ng prints nga, gusto ko bigla manahi! :) Kahit bara bara sewing ko lang uli hahaha!
wooow!! this is an amazing DIY tutorial!! :D I love this sis!!! :D
If only my sewing machine was ok.. then I might give this a try too. hihihihi.. :D

Rhea Bue (Styles & Writes)
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Mrs. Kolca said…
Looks very easy. I think I can do that too, but my sewing machine is broken. Wahhh! :(
Yesha said…
Cool! Good job:)
Love this DIY
Now I wanna buy a sewing machine ^ ^

Keep 'em comin !!!
Kath Rivera said…
Kung pede lang ako magtahi ng walang sewing machine. Simula nung nabasa ko mga DIY post mo lagi na lang ako maghahanap ng pede i upcycle.
mavicdesigns said…
I do upcycle my old clothes and it's really worth it... Nice DIY and so easy pa...tnx :D