Pleated Thurlow Shorts: How To!

My love for the Thurlow shorts is endless! Today I want to share an easy mod with you that will change up the look of these shorts.  Front pleats!

thurlow shorts with pleats

Don’t be intimidated. I’ve taken lots of pictures of my pattern modifications so that you can create this look too! Let’s get started. First up, materials needed:

pattern drafting tools for adding pleats to shorts

You’ll need your right front and left front pattern pieces, a ruler (or two), scissors, pencil, tape, drafting paper (I use kraft paper), and pattern weights! Wait… am I super Canadian because I use hockey pucks at pattern weights?

For now we’re just going to use our left front pattern piece. It’s exactly the same as the right front, except it has a tiny extension at the center front. See?

pointing out right front

Now let’s trace this piece onto our drafting paper. I just laid it out flat and traced with my pencil, making sure to transfer my notches and grainline.

trace thurlow shorts right front for adding pleats

Now is when our right front piece comes in. Lay it on top of your paper, with the right side of your tissue pattern piece facing down. Trace the center front line and notch. I like to add a little note for myself that says “cut here for right front, wrong side up”.

trace center front of thurlow shorts

Then we’re going to mark where we want our pleats to go. I’m a size 14, and I decided to place my first pleat 3 inches in from the center front, and my second pleat 4 inches in from the center front. This is in no way a science! You can decide where you think your pleats should go, or how many pleats you want.

Now we want to extend those marking all the way down to the hem, keeping your line parallel to the grainline.

extend pleat markings to the hem

Then cut out your pattern piece, and slice along your pleat lines so that you have three pieces. Like this:

slash along lines

We’re going to create our pleats now! I wanted the pleat depths to be 1 1⁄4 inch, so the space between each piece was 2 1⁄2 inches. I started with a blank piece of drafting paper. I like to trace two perpendicular lines, like an upside down T, and start lining up the pieces that way. This way I know that everything will be square from the hem.

add paper in between pleat slashes

Once that’s all taped together, I trim down all of my excess paper except for the top portion.

trim everywhere except for top edge

Since the top of the pattern piece is not at a right angle to the grainline, I like to trim off the excess paper after I’ve folded my pleats. So next we fold our pleats! I use pins to keep them in place.

pin pleats in place

We want our pleats folded as shown, with the excess paper towards the center front, and the fold facing the side seam. Now we can straighten out our top line, and trim the rest of the excess paper off.

And voila! Be sure to add notches at your fold lines so that you know where to fold your pleats, and you’re done!

finished pattern piece with pleats added

Here’s a photo of the shorts on:

pleated thurlow shorts on

And a close up of our lovely pleats!

close-up of pleats on thurlow shorts

Recognize the fabric? It’s from Télio. Tasia plans to use it for a Minoru jacket. I liked it so much, I picked some up too!

So that’s it! A simple way to create a new version of the Thurlow shorts. Happy sewing!

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16 Responses to Pleated Thurlow Shorts: How To!

  1. LLBB July 22, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    Cute idea! 10 years ago I was sure I’d never wear pleats again, but I’m pretty sure they’ll creep back in my wardrobe soon :)

    • Caroline Amanda July 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      I also felt that way years ago! But pleats seems to be back and I’m liking them! :)

  2. didyoumakethat July 22, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Oh wow. I’ve made an elasticated waist pair of short shorts for lounging in the house, but this would totally give me a pair to wear out and about. I am SO having a go at this! Thank you.

    • Caroline Amanda July 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      Thanks Karen! Really looking forward to seeing your version!

  3. Katherine July 22, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    I am a recent convert to the cult of the Thurlow. I bought them when they first were released, but all the details (especially the fly front) and pant-fitting-issues terrors kept me intimidated. . . Well I finally got over that trepidation and I just made a pair this weekend (out of a brilliant linen-cotton mix in a crazy bright tomato-red) and THEY’RE AMAZING! They fit beautifully right out of the package (no weird redrafting of crotch curves to worry about!) I have two other pairs all cut out and ready to sew (one is a total rip-off of Lladybird’s lovely black gingham shorts, the other’s a chambray is some indefinable khaki-gray-tan colour that is just lovely in person) and I’m daydreaming of sewing them up. . .

    I love this pleated variation and I’ll have to bookmark this tutorial for future reference :D

    • Caroline Amanda July 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

      Awesome, thanks Katherine! So glad you gave the Thurlows a go. You might have noticed, I’m totally obsessed! Happy sewing!

  4. Corinne July 22, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    I LOVE the pleats and I can’t wait to try this – thanks for such clear instructions! The other idea I’ve been toying with is lengthening the leg slightly. I really want a pair to wear to work but I won’t get away with wearing the legs at pattern length. So now I have two variations to try!

    • Caroline Amanda July 22, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

      You’re welcome Corinne! Glad you enjoyed the tutorial. I think a lengthened thurlow short would be great!

  5. Stephanie July 22, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I’m definitely going to try this sometime!

    • Caroline Amanda July 22, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

      My pleasure! So glad you enjoyed it :)

  6. Sally July 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    So adorable! Definitely will be trying this soon :)

    • Caroline Amanda July 22, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      Yay! Looking forward to seeing your version Sally. Happy sewing!

  7. Amanda July 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Oh wow, hockey pucks as pattern weights!! This blog just elevated itself to a whole new level of super coolness. I love it. And nice job with the shorts, still need to make myself a pair!

    • Caroline Amanda July 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      Thanks Amanda! It’s lucky I didn’t show the “right side” of those hockey pucks. They have stickers of vintage Canadian hockey players on them :)
      Hope you find the time to make the Thurlows, you won’t be sorry!

  8. meganleiann July 23, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    This is adorable! I love that you have a more trendy and funky style compared to Tasia’s classic or vintage style. It puts a new spin on patterns and makes them so much more versatile! Since you started posting I have already re-thought the Renfrew. Now I’m rethinking these! Have you made any Cambies?

    • Caroline Amanda July 24, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

      Thank you Megan, that is such a great compliment. I’m so happy that I’ve inspired you to re-think things a bit. I have made a Cambie! I’ve been meaning to photograph it, so I’ll make a point to do that!