kcw project 5: classic picnic shorts

DSC05418 don’t mess with liesl, that’s all i have to say.  today, i am the proud survivor of liesl bootcamp, having successfully completed my first oliver + s pattern.  i first saw these shorts popping up in blogland last summer, and had them mentally bookmarked (life was so hard before i found pinterest). in my recent sewing shopping spree, i selected a few o+s patterns along with my ample fabric purchases, and a majority of my cutting leading up to kcw included these patterns.  for months i’ve been admiring their design and reading about the impeccable quality of the product and garment, the clarity of the patterns, the innovative techniques, etc.  needless to say, a lot of anticipation had built to finally MAKE one of them.


wow.  i already know these are the best made shorts bean will ever own, because there is no way i would shell out the amount of money it would cost to purchase a similar pair that someone else made.  the degree of detail involved is like nothing i’ve ever sewn.  i purposely made them loose because ideally, she will wear these until she’s 16 (actually, they seem to fit perfectly right now).  i’m not an expert seamstress by a stretch, but i’ve made my share of shorts…i cut out the pattern pieces and i had no idea what on earth i was looking at until the second to last step of construction.  seriously.  i needed a key to figure out how to properly mark and cut the pattern (i previously treated dots and notches as optional), and the instructions are in paragraph form with diagrams.  undoubtedly, i prefer more vs. less information, especially for something totally unfamiliar, but i had to read each step at least 5 times, sentence by sentence, and often aloud to myself to really intuit what to do next.


while this level of involvement rubs the sewing-from-the-hip part of me the wrong way to a small degree, i really can’t argue with the finished product or the process.  i didn’t have to rip a *single* seam, and believe me, a lot of seams were sewn.  for how complex it was, to me this speaks volumes about the clarity of the instructions.  with other, more basic patterns, i am at a place where i can alter things here and there at my convenience or desire, and the garment will turn out fine.  but i will always shut up and listen to liesl!  there is no room for alteration or improvement on her patterns…they are already flawless.


the denim looking fabric is actually a yarn dyed essex linen, so more flexible and breathable than denim, but still pretty sturdy.  the accent fabric is a quilting cotton from joann’s, which i selected because something about it is reminiscent of my grandparents’ house growing up…i can’t quite put my finger on it…a throw pillow?  a blanket?  an article of clothing?  can any rahmans confirm or deny?  anyway, when bean saw these, she said, “oh, those are BEAUTIFUL!”  and immediately after, “but where are the pockets?  where are the pockets, mom?”  evidently, the pattern *could* use some improvement.


also, this awesome little sport is obviously tiring of the photo shoots.  fortunately, that can easily be remedied by some ducklings (the promise of which bribed the above photo shoot to begin with).


and so, while i’m overall really pleased with my first foray into o+s, i’m at a bit of an impasse with what to tackle next for kcw.  everything else i have cut is also o+s, but honestly, i need a break from that level of concentration, particularly since me and the little guy are feeling under the weather.  maybe tomorrow’s post will be a recipe for soup…

DSC05467seriously, these two sometimes kill me with their cuteness.

24 thoughts on “kcw project 5: classic picnic shorts

  1. OH MY GOD. You are cracking me up right now! To this day I still treat notches and dots as options and you would think I would learn my lesson by now. HA! Bad habits are hard to break. I too would read instructions aloud AND multiple times, thinking to myself, “Am I retarded?!”. Oh dear friend, you are not alone!

    On the other hand, these shorts look amazing. I’ve seen these all over and I just LOVE them. Love-love-love!!!

    • well, i will continue to treat them as optional on patterns that are not o+s. have you used one before? if you do not follow every instruction perfectly, you will be totally lost and have no choice but to backtrack. no fudging here (at least for newbies like me…you probably could figure it out!). i’m used to a little room for error…this hurt my brain! but they really do fit perfectly.

      • No, I have yet to try O&S one day. After seeing your shorts, I just might break down and buy the pattern. It’s so cute! For me, after the first try, the next pair is always easier. Oh no… even old farts like me have trouble. You can ask my older girls. I’m like the dad on the Christmas Story who grumbles every explicative in the book when I mess up. I know… *BAD MOMMY*. I was commenting on another blog that I think it’s time for “MCW” (Me-Clothing-Week), no? It’s “Mommy time”! *doin’ the Hammer dance*

      • yes, when i recover from this week, i imagine at least one more pair of picnic shorts might be in order. they are so well made and fit her great. as for selfish sewing, i don’t know how to sew a thing for myself (actually, i think i never have), but i can’t resist a good sewalong if you organize it…

  2. Ashley I enjoy reading your blog very much! Your projects and photography (and models) are fabulous. You have inspired me to get my sewing machine out. I have only made some pillows (I mean two pillows) for Zahra’s bed. Hugs to the kiddos and you.

    • hi runa! thanks so much for saying hello! my mom told me you read the blog but it’s always so nice to hear from people personally 🙂 i’m just *thrilled* that you are sewing! that is awesome! i would love to see the pillows you made for zahra. the kids are so excited to play with her when they come to michigan. and yes, the modeling certainly enhances the sewing…

  3. I LOVE everything about this. The fabric choices here are so beautiful. (Why don’t I have any essex linen? Because the entire internet apparently does and I am burning up with envy!) Your top-stitching looks so even too. Wonderful, wonderful work. (Though I am dying to see the inside. It’s my only quibble!)

    • ha! top stitching is relatively even, but mostly just blends in well 😉 the inner waistband is really nice–has some of the accent fabric, interfacing to keep the flat front flat and and way to make the gathered back that i’ve never seen before. two seams are pinked…wish i had a serger and knew how to use it (i’m taking a class next week!).

      • Well done! I am a serger wimp (it moves too fast and has a knife!) but I agree that it makes finishing seams snappy. You’ll like it! And maybe I wouldn’t be so intimidated if I’d taken a class. That’s really smart!

    • thanks, marta! you really can’t go wrong with these patterns. and the top that comes with it is super cute, too, but it’s long sleeved and a bit too hot for that here. maybe for kcw in the fall!

  4. Oh, don’t be intimidated by your other O + S patterns! The class picnic shorts are definitely challenging the first time or two. They are like origami! You can’t envision the end product any where along the way until, suddenly, you’re there! They aren’t all like that, promise.

    • hi kitty, thanks for the encouragement! that is good to hear, since i got 3 other patterns! origami is the perfect way to describe how these shorts come together. the whole time i was sewing them i was envisioning them backwards, or sideways, or something. then when you fold the front and back together in the FINAL step, and only then, i was like, ohhhhhhhhhhh, i see it! working on another one (or two) before kcw draws to a close!

  5. Pingback: kcw project seven and eight: more oliver + s! |

  6. Pingback: kcw spring 2013: wrap up | kids clothes week blog - kids clothes week blog

    • thanks, lindsay! i too was in awe of the construction…that liesl is very clever. i bought the pattern thinking i would lengthen them for my son, but after making them, i realize o+s patterns are really not meant to be fiddled with. it would probably take me years to figure it out!

  7. Pingback: classic picnic shorts |

  8. love, love, LOVE these! The fabric combo of chambray with that floral is spot-on perfect! I hope that your little bean will still be able to wear them this summer:)

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