Reversible Shorts

The last 7-8 years our local sewing guild has been sewing outfits for the first day of school for local first graders who are experiencing homelessness. This year, I had a mind explosion about sewing reversible shorts.

It took one late night/early morning thinking, a lot of seam ripping and looking on line, but I came up with a plan for me to sew multiple pair of reversible shorts with quilting fabric and novelty fabrics in my collection.

I will try to show you how I made them here.

About pattern choice: Simple is better. For your first pair, skip the pockets. On this pair of size 5 shorts, I eliminated the side seam by overlapping the pattern at that point by the amount of the seam allowance. I used the free kids woven PJ pants pattern from 5 out of 4. The adult pattern is here. I have not tried it “reversible” yet, but love the regular version.

Fabric Choice: Choose two similar weight fabrics that are fairly light weight, opaque, and work well together if the inside shows a bit. If you use a fabric that is the same on both sides, take extra care to make one left and one right leg. It would be really easy to end up with two left legs with a solid or yarn dyed fabric. A print that is clear on one side will make it simple for your first pair. Fold each fabric right sides facing in, and stack them, so that you cut all four layers at one time. Having the pieces as close as the same as possible will give you a better end product.

Pattern alterations: No casing to fold over and sew means that we need to fold over the casing amount less a seam allowance all along the top of the pattern.


1. Sew the inseams of all four legs first. Press one set to the front leg, and the other set to the back leg. That way these seams can nest both at the crotch curve and at the hem.

2. Sew the crotch curve of the inside layer. Starting at the top of the backs, mark 1/4 inch from the top, and an inch from that. Sew the first quarter inch. Skip the inch, then sew the remaining crotch curve. Take care to secure the end and beginning of your stitches here. The skipped inch will be the opening that we later use to thread the elastic. A note about crotch curves: sew this area with a shorter, or more secure stitch. Triple stitch or wobble stitch (zig zag set at 2 long and 1 wide) will bear the stretch of the fabric at the bias points, and prevent popped stitches. You can also sew this seam twice if desired. Since the shorts will be “lined” it will be hard to get to this seam later.

3. Reinforce the opening, by pressing open the seam at the back. Top stitch down one side, just past the opening, and back up. This will keep raw edges from popping out of the opening later. In the photo, we have sewn down one side, over and are just ready to sew back up to the top.
4. If you plan to insert a label, now is the time.
5. Opening from the right side of the shorts with the tag tucked inside the opening.
6. Peek-a-boo tag!

Leg Hems – two at a time.

7. Leave the crotch curve sewn shorts right side out. Slip the corresponding leg of the other side right sides in over the first. Nest the inside leg seams and sew the circumference of the hem. Repeat for the next leg.
8. With the sewn set left as is, pull each leg away from the main shorts body. Press the seams you just made to one side or the other.

9. Tuck the loose leg inside the shorts, press the hemline so that the seam you just made is on the edge.

10. Edge stitch around each leg to secure the hemline.

Hems – one leg at a time. Further clarification.

Left photo, Flames are right side out, tools are right side in. Slip corresponding leg over so that right sides are facing, and you are sure front is matched up to front. The crotch curve is a great indicator. Sew the circumference of the hem line. Bring the single leg around so that wrong sides are facing, carefully press the seam you just made to the very edge of the inside of the hem, and top stitch.

Second Crotch Curve – two ways.

11. Pull the layers apart so that the right sides are facing. Pin the front and back crotch curves. Sew, with a secure stitch (remember that crotch curve bias) the front crotch curve then the back crotch curve. Make sure your seams overlap nicely at the inseam. Alternatively, I start the crotch curve at the center back, and just pull the fabric through, making sure to not stitch any additional layers, just the the crotch curve. When you are making these in multiples, or this is your 3rd of 4th pair you may feel more comfortable with just starting at one edge of the crotch curve and sewing. See photo below.

Who is ready to sew the waist seam?

After your shorts are straightened out so that wrong sides are facing, and they begin to look like a real pair of wearable shorts, we will sew the waist seam. I will show you two ways.

Burrito Method

12. Roll up the legs of the shorts and wrap the back of one layer around to meet the back of the second layer. Pin the centers together, with seams open and as far as you can to either side. Make double sure that all the extra layers are pushed down and out of the way of your seam.

13. Start sewing just before the intersection of the seams, so that they are included in this waist line seam. It will seem like you can only sew a few inches before you run out of fabric. Unfurl the rest of the shorts as you go. The remainder of the waist line will reveal itself as you go. Sew across the front crotch seams on the waist either opening those seams as you go, or nesting them.

As you get to where you can see the point where you started, stop sewing about 3-4 inches before that spot to leave an opening to turn your shorts right sides out. The right two photos are an “L” seam. It makes for a super sturdy opening for turning and eliminates those loose threads.

Waist seam Alternate Method.

13. If you do not want to take the time to burrito your shorts, and your shorts are still wrong sides together, you can just flip the back sections. One clock wise and the other counter clockwise so that the right sides of that section are facing each other. There will only be a few inches that seem to work to sew together. Sew those, then pull the fabric from the center of the shorts, exposing more raw seams to sew together along the waist line. Be the boss of the fabric here. Consider sewing this seam with a longer stitch in case you need to remove it later. Half way around, you will run into the front seams. .

14. Match them up right sides together and either nest them or open both and keep sewing. You are able to sew the entire circumference of the waist seam in this fashion. Please stop short of doing that – about 3-4 inches short of completing the circle. This way you will have an opening to turn the shorts right sides out.

15. After you have turned your shorts right sides out, edge stitch around the top waist band. Pressing might be your friend here. Tuck in the raw edges of the opening and align them as close as you can. This seals the opening, and no one will notice it. Then make another seam one inch away from the edge. This forms your casing. Using the opening you created in step #2, slip the elastic through the casing and secure. A heavy duty safety pin or bodkin is useful here. I used 3/4 inch elastic for kids size 5 shorts. You can slip stitch the elastic opening closed if desired.

Think about top stitching with coordinating threads in the top and bobbin.

16. Congrats! You did it!

Tips: Start simple with a kid size and quilting fabric in similar hues, so that the thread in your top and bobbin will work with either fabric. Be sure to prewash and dry all fabrics used. Use single side printed fabrics for your first pair. Try a longer stitch length of 3. That is easier to take out than 2.5. Add strength to your crotch curve. Triple stitch or add a little width to the seam at the bias edges.

Want more reversible clothing? We sewed Tie Dye Diva’s Potato Chip Skirt pattern a couple years ago, that lead many of us making Chocolate Chip Skirts for our selves, and Puperita’s Baa Baa dress the year before that. I love sewing reversible!

This post may contain affiliate links. I thank you for using them. Happy sewing! Joan

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