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Make your own Boy Shorts: with front pockets/back flaps


Unpacking is a slow process.

I need to turn it into a game or something.  Because it’s just not getting done.  I’d rather blog.  Or visit family.  Or grocery shop.  And I don’t even like to grocery shop.  Any advice to kick it in gear?


Anyway, before leaving Georgia a few weeks ago, I made a couple things for my little guy (like these).  So these shorts today were made and photographed before our long trek to Colorado……….but I just didn’t have time to put a post together to show you.  Looking at the photos makes me miss little downtown Savannah.  I feel like it’s been months since we lived there.  Isn’t that strange?


Anyway, girls are so fun to make dresses and skirts for.


And boys are just as fun to make shorts and pants for.

Especially when you start adding details to them.  Like pockets.




This little boy is particularly fun to make things for.  He’s always so excited to try something new on.  Big goof.



The front pockets are functional.  The back ones are just flaps.  But cute, just the same.



And no, I didn’t patch all of that fabric together……it came that way.  So cute for shorts.




Would you like to make your own little boy shorts?

(There is no zipper or button hole……the button is just for looks.)




Complete with front pockets, back pocket flapsbelt loops, and an elastic waist in the back??



Let me show you the process…


First of all, I purchased this pre-squared fabric at Joann Fabric.  They had different colors and shades.  All were pretty cute.


But before starting, I created a pattern for these shorts using a pair of my little boys shorts that currently fit him.  I actually turned the shorts inside out and folded them in half and tried to get as accurate of shape as I could of the front shape, as well as the back.  I made 1 pattern piece for the front pieces and 1 pattern piece for the back pieces.




Make sure to add an extra bit to your pattern pieces for a seam allowance.  I added another 1/4 inch on the sides and 1 extra inch to the bottom and 1.5 inches to the top.  (I also made my back piece slightly wider along the top because the finished shorts will be cinched in at the back with elastic while the front remains flat.)




I could have stopped here and put my shorts together without the pockets……but I wanted front pockets.  So I drew a diagonal line along the side of the front pattern piece to create the pocket section.  To make these size 3T shorts……I made a dot at the top that was 1.5 inches from the side edge and then another dot on the side that was 7 inches from the top.  I connected those two marks to create a diagonal line.  This is the pocket line.




If I were to cut that diagonal line off, that would be my new front pattern piece…….but I needed it there for the next step.  I wanted to create the pockets pieces first.  I placed this pattern piece on top of a new piece of paper and made a mark at the top, about 1.5 inches left of the top of the diagonal line and another mark on the side, about 2 inches below the bottom of the diagonal line (circled in red).



I traced around the top corner of the original pattern piece from the one mark and down to the other.  Then I lifted off the pattern piece and free-handed the curve of the pocket piece.  Your curve doesn’t have to be perfect because it will never show but you want to add a nice curve to it so that things can fit inside.  This is the main pocket piece. Then I cut off the piece of the main pattern piece, right at the diagonal line……but don’t throw it away.



Next, I cut out the main pocket piece and then traced the exact shape onto another piece of paper.  Then I placed the diagonal scrap ,from the previous step, on top…….and lined it up in the corner.  Then I drew that same diagonal line.  Cut out this new pocket piece and cut off the diagonal line portion…….and now you have the lining pocket piece.




So now you should have 4 pattern pieces: back piece, front piece, main pocket piece, and lining pocket piece.




Now, I cut out 2 back pieces, 2 front pieces, and 2 main pocket pieces out of the main material.  And then I cut 2 lining pocket pieces out of a thin white cotton.  (When cutting your fabric pieces, fold the fabric in half, with right sides together and lay the pattern on top and cut through both layers at once.  This will give you a right side and left side to each of your pattern pieces.)




Now, the sewing.


Begin by sewing your main pocket pieces together with the lining pieces, with right sides together……..and sew along the curve and nothing more.  (Zig-zag or serge your raw edges.)



Now to visualize, once your pockets are sewn on to the shorts, they will lay under each front shorts piece…….with the diagonal cut of the pants lining up with the diagonal cut of the pocket lining.  Make sure you are sewing the correct pocket to the correct side.




Now, grab one side of the shorts and the correct pocket and place the pocket, face down, on top of the pant leg.  Line up the diagonal lines of the pocket lining and the pant leg, with right sides together, and sew the two layers together.  Zig-zag or serge to finish it off.  (Make sure to keep the main pocket piece out of the way while sewing.)




Then flip the pocket back underneath the main front piece and iron that diagonal line flat.  Top stitch (sew really close to the edge) right along that diagonal line.



Repeat with the other front pant leg and pocket.


Now, lay each front pant leg flat and pin the pocket into place.  Then make a seam right along the top and the bottom to help keep the pocket in place while sewing the pants together later on.  Sew about a 1/4 inch from the edge.





Now, place the 2 front short pieces together with right sides together and sew along the curve of the shorts.  Do the same with the 2 back pieces.



Now, open up the front section and the back section and place them together with right sides together.  Sew all along the inner legs of the pants.  (I always line of the center seams of the front and back pieces and start sewing there in the middle……..right to the end of the leg.  Then I start at the middle again and sew down the other pant leg.)  Zig-zag or serge to finish off.



Now, sew along both sides of the shorts and finish off again with a zig-zag or serge.




Next, zig-zag or serge the top edge of the shorts and then turn the pants inside out.  Fold over  the top.  (I allowed for an extra 1.5 inches at the top while making my pattern pieces, so I folded mine over 1.5 inches.)  Make a seam along the front of the pants only, sewing the fold in place from the one side seam to the other.  Make sure to sew close to that bottom serged (or zig-zagged) edge.



Now, grab some 1 inch wide elastic (or whatever size works best for your pattern) and cut a piece that will stretch from side seam to the other side seam while stretched.  You may want to try the shorts on your little boy and pin the piece of elastic to each side to make sure your using the right amount of elastic.


From the back of the pants, slide one end of the elastic into the side of the waistband of the shorts, right where you just sewed the folded over waistband.  And then sew the end of elastic in place, right along the side of the shorts.




Sew the other end of the elastic into the other side of the waistband, the same way you did with the first end.




Now, you’ll need to close off the waistband, to include the elastic……and create a casing for it.



As you’re sewing, pull the elastic and be sure to sew along the bottom edge and to not sew through the elastic at all.




When you’re finished, you’re elastic will release and will cinch in the back of the shorts.



Next, zig-zag or serge the bottom of the shorts and then fold them under 1 inch (or however much you allowed for the hem) and then sew into place.



To make your shorts look more professional, you can create a double line of stitches along the bottom hem of the shorts.  You can do this, one hem right after another……or you can switch to a double needle to make the seams evenly spread and neat.  (Click here for tutorial on using double needles.)


This double stitch also looks nice along the other seams of the shorts.






And just for fun, I created some zipper-like stitches……to give the look of there being a zipper, without actually putting a zipper in.  This is totally optional……but kinda fun.




Next, I created a tube of fabric to use for the belt loops.  I turned the tube right side out (tutorial here) and then sewed along each edge.




Then I cut 5 belt loops to be as tall as the waist band, plus a little extra to fold under at each end.




Then I attached 3 belt loops to the back of the shorts by folding under each end and sewing each end to the shorts.




And then I attached 2 belt loops to the front of the shorts the same way.




To complete the fake button and zipper look……..I added a button right to the front of the shorts.




Next,I cut out 4 pocket pieces…….to be used for the back pocket flaps.  (For this tan pair of shorts……..I made the bottom of the pocket pointy.  For the plaid shorts in the photos above, I made regular rectangle pieces.)




Sew 2 of the pocket flap pieces together, with right sides together, along the sides and bottom.  Do the same to the other 2 pieces and then clips the corners a bit so that they lay flat after turning right side out. (Tutorial here.)




Then turn the pocket flaps right side out, iron flat, then stitch around the side and bottom edges.




Now, fold under the top edge of the flap and attach the flap to the back of the shorts.  Do the same with both back flaps and make sure they’re centered on the back of the shorts.




Now you can add buttons ( don’t bother with a button hole) and stitch the flap right down to the shorts or you can add velcro underneath so that the flaps can open and shut.  Or you can leave the flaps alone and keep them loose like I did with the plaid shorts above.




And that’s it.  Your shorts are complete.


Now make 3 more pairs for this hot summer heat.






. . . . . . . . . . . .
This post is sponsored by:


Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
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  1. Silvia says:

    Ashley, tu eres la mejor!!!!!
    Gracias por el tutoríal!!
    Yo tengo 4 varones!!!

  2. Sherry says:

    This tutorial makes me want to sew every article of clothing I have! I’ve been obsessed with sewing these days and I’ve been looking for an easy tutorial on how to add pockets to shorts and your tutorial is simple to follow. Thank you for this! <3

  3. Lucy Mills says:

    Thanks! This is a great tutorial!

  4. tyler says:

    hi i am trying to make shorts and i am 12

  5. Judith Nyasah says:

    I loved your tutorial, it was easy to follow. You are a life saver, keep up the good work

  6. Elisa says:

    cool tutorial i like so much!

  7. delphine says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I’ve used it to make a short for my 5 years old and I just made another one for my 3 years old. It is just a beginning!
    So nice to find great clothes for boys ((-;

    Bisous from France –

  8. Alea says:

    Thanks so much! I used your very descriptive pics and a pattern from another site and made cute pirate’s pants for my kids. You really helped me.

  9. Maree says:

    Dear Ashly,
    I am from Maldives and I came across your website about 3 months back and you know what? Your makeit-loveit website has been my favorite since then. I have a 2 1/2 year old boy and the tutorial about the shorts with front and back pockets has been the best so far. Thank you so much for the easy to follow instructions… I look forward to more of your easy to understand tutorials. You are so talented and I just wish we could meet some day to have you personally giving me stitching lessons :) Thank you so much!!!

  10. Lisa says:

    I LOVE this! I don’t have the time to make them! But I am definitely keeping this blog!

  11. Miss Mouw says:

    My first sewing project – WONDERFUL instructions. My shorts turned out adorable! I found some clearance fabric and ended up making them for about $1.00. I have a ways to go on my stitching skills but my son is only 1 so I’ll have years of practice ahead of me. THANK YOU for sharing this! I’m ready to make a matching pair for myself now :)

  12. Niki says:

    So being a definite NOVICE seamstress…I am totally intimidated by my sewing machine and really anything related to sewing. I re-purposed a super long curtain to 2 shorter ones a couple weeks ago…was SUPER proud. LOL i’ve made my boys some neckties for Valentines day, and now REALLY want to make these shorts, however I am unsure about 2 things. I apologize if my questions are a bit dippy, but I am just winging it in this department and just don’t know yet. How do you use 2 needles at once? and…why do you need to zig-zag/surge the bottom of the leg is you’re going to stitch along the bottom anyway? Thank you for the explicit tutorial, the shorts are adorable…so is the model ;-)

    Greetings from St.Louis!

  13. Maria says:

    I just completed these shorts! They came out super cute! Thanks a lot for this tutorial. I had so much fun making these and will also make a pair for my other son, and maybe even for myself with little adjustments.

  14. Kathy Alberson says:

    Love these little short. I have a couple of grandsons that just might need some shorts for this summer. First I’ll have to knock the cobbwebbs off my sewing machine.

  15. MW Handmade Designs says:

    Love it!
    I have been adding patch pockets to the fronts of my little boys pants because I didn’t realise it was that easy!!! Will be making pockets for the pants patterns I have!!! So cute!

    1. christi says:

      oh, I have a new favorite page, indeed!!! those plaid shorts for boys are SO SO cute, I seldom come across clothes for little boys (not toddlers). I LOVE THESE! thank you so much for sharing, I have been feeling guilty that my daughter has been getting all of my sewing attention, now I am going to try to make these for my son! THANK YOU!!! ;o)

  16. NoShow says:

    let GOH’….GOhD’ iz’ ABLE!!

  17. Lauren says:

    Where did you get the cute fabric?? I’m always looking for the patchwork fabric and can’t seem to find any! Thanks!

  18. abby says:

    this is a great tutorial! Those shorts look great. It’s so hard to find people making boys things out in the blogosphere.

  19. Mameelynn says:

    So cute!!! I think I might have to run to my Joann’s and get a bunch of this fabric. I wonder if it would be to much if I make matching shorts for my two boys and their dad and then cute skirts out of it for baby girl and myself. We do all need something cute for the 4th… could this be too much to get done by Monday?! I guess we will see!

  20. Kim says:

    I love your tutorials, and was wondering if you ever did one for toddler pajamas? I am in desperate need of some summer pjs for my 2 year old. And I’d love a simple pattern. Any suggestions?

  21. Jenifer H. says:

    I just bought this same fabric last week and made cargo shorts for all 3 of my boys. I love that you added pockets to yours! So cute! Thanks for the tutorial. I’m going to pin this one and make some more shorts next month.

  22. Katie says:

    Super cute shorts! I bet they are even cuter in person! :) Now if only I had a sewing bone in my body…or a sewing machine. Oh, and I read you recently moved to Colorado. Anywhere close to Parker? If not, you should consider heading this way. Just sayin’. :)

  23. Rhoda says:

    These are so cute! Love your blog. Found it a couple of days ago! I don’t have boys but have plenty of friends that do! :) I’ll be passing this one along! :)

  24. Gisel says:

    wow u u make things so simple makes me want to try everything on here have a long to do list but cant wait. im expecting a little boy so i get excited everytime i see u do a boys tutorial :)

  25. Alice says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. My grandsons want G-Maw to make them some bou shorts because I made the granddaughters some. You have the best tutorial for making them with pockets I have seen. I even have some fabric awaiting being made into shorts. I am excited about using your method and will start asap. Thanks!

  26. Amy says:

    I love this tut! I’m in the process of repurposing my son’s pants into shorts right now. I’m right there with you on the unpacking. We moved a month ago and I still have random boxes left to unpack. My husband’s way of trying to make it go faster is by dumping the whole box in the middle of the room. He knows the mess drives me nuts and I pick it up and put it away immediately. I HATE it! I’d rather it stay nicely packed in the box!

  27. Tari says:

    What a great tutorial! As for unpacking.. I’d take a room a day and just bust through it and then reward yourself with something more fun. If you find you have more motivation for more rooms (especially if the original room is small) then go for it! But remember you’re still mom, so it might not happen as quickly as you might want. Good luck!

  28. Yelena says:

    How many yards of fabric did you need for the shorts?

  29. Yelena says:

    These are fantastic! Thanks for the easy tutorial. I am definitely going to give it a try… its always hard to find matching clothes for 4 boys 18m – 7 y/o. Now I can just sew them myself:)

  30. louise says:

    ADORABLE! And I love the fabric as well! I’ll have to give these a try.

  31. Mindy says:

    love that he likes to try on momma’s latest projects :)

  32. Lisa says:

    Oh my gosh, these are so darn cute! Loving that plaid fabric too!

  33. Teri says:

    I loved this tutorial and was thinking of making them for myself! However, I’m 4 months pregnant right now and I can’t seem to find many knee length shorts!! Any tips on adjusting them for a small (but growing!) belly?

  34. sindy says:

    adorei seu tutorial, achei simples e completo. Parabens!!!Beijos do Brasil!!

  35. Annie says:

    Fab tutorial, just the kind of details that I’m looking for to finish off some denim pants that I’ve made for my little man using old jeans of mine. Thanks!

  36. Jenny - Seamingly Smitten says:

    Great tutorial! Thanks for putting that together! I have that same madras plaid and I am now excited to use it! My little boy would love these, and I’ve never known how to add those hidden pockets. You’re a genius!

  37. Michelle says:

    Great tutorial! Pinning it now :)

  38. sarah says:

    I’ve been wanting to make some simple, linen/cotton, shorts for myself. Would this same process (minus the pockets and flaps) work for female grown up shorts? :-)

    1. Ashley says:

      Yes……it would! You go for it!!

  39. Dawn says:

    These are perfect!! My 4yo has to wear khaki uniform shorts to school in the fall and these totally solve the “I can’t button/unbutton my own shorts when I’m in a hurry to get to the potty” dilemna. Usually we just search for hook fastened shorts, but these are even better! Now to find some khaki material – and some time.

  40. Rozy says:

    ohww thank you!! i’d always wanted to do boys project but couldn’t find an easy one.
    Thanks a lot!!

  41. Sarah says:

    This is like the best tutorial I’ve ever seen! I feel like I’ve already made the shorts just by reading this!!! :D

    Thanks for all the amazing information and detail!! Will definitely be referring to this for my wee one!

  42. Emily says:

    I am so in love with the fake zipper look and the back flap pockets. Great fabric choice too!!

  43. April says:

    Great tutorial! I love the plaid! My local fabric shop has some I have been wanting to make some shorts for my boys from…but like most of the things on my to sew list, they haven’t gotten made yet….

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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