Green Marlene Shorts: 2-challenges-in-1

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-01 TitleI’ve wanted to make a proper pair of trousers or shorts for a very long time. I’ve avoided making them because I was discouraged by all the talk about how hard it is to fit them properly. Which is silly really because I prefer to wear trousers or shorts for everyday wear; but it is really hard to find ready to wear (RTW) trousers/shorts/pants that fit well; being a pear/cello shape I always end up with waistband gaping at the back.

I have made basic elasticised waist shorts before, but they don’t really count, I wouldn’t wear them in public. This pair of shorts is a combination of a pattern I’ve had for ages, some fabric that I’ve had in my stash for a long time and two online sewing challenges that serendipitously aligned.

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-02 Hanger FrontInspiration

Trouser month for the Curvy Sewing Collective’s Season of Separates was just what I needed to bite the trouser sewing bullet. I have a few trouser/pant patterns in my pattern stash, but thought it would be best to make my first pair of proper trousers from a pattern drafted for plus sizes, so I chose BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers 03/2013 #140A.

I had some green broadcloth in my stash and it just so happened that green (with some rule bending) is one of colours I could use for The Monthly Stitch Solid Colours challenge. So, I could do a 2 challenges in one garment combo. Bazinga!Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-03 Hanger Back


BurdaStyle – Marlene Trousers 03/2013 #140A

My BurdaStyle account tells me I’ve had this pattern since August 30, 2013 and have had this pattern stuck together probably since the end of 2013 so at least I didn’t have to do that. I probably would not have made these this time around if I had had to stick the 28 pages together.

Sidenote: I’m so anti-sticking-pdf-patterns-together that I trace patterns off the pages once I’ve stuck them together. I just don’t want to have to print and stick all those pages together again if I muck up and tracing doesn’t take that long. Am I alone? Do you trace? Or do you just cut right into those stuck together pages?

Pattern Adjustments

For the toile Cut a size 52 (US20); shortened trouser legs to notches; was intending to grade from a 48 at waist to a 52 at hip, but I’m glad I didn’t. For the toile I removed the pockets.

ETA (27Feb2015) I forgot to mention I changed the front waistband from an overlapping two piece waistband to a single piece cut on the fold.

When I tried the toile I was happy with the length and only needed to make waist adjustments in the back. I took total of 4cm out of the back waistband/trouser pant to remove gaping. After fitting the toile I redrafted pockets to have a different opening shape and to made them deeper.Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-04 Pocket & ZipI’m probably going to do a Behind the Seams post to show the pattern adjustments.


  • Green cotton broadcloth bought from Spotlight a long time ago.
  • Black cotton lawn scraps for pocket facings
  • Interfacing from stash for waistband
  • 20cm black dress zip
  • Thread

The pattern called for an invisible zip at the centre back, but I didn’t have one on hand so just did a centred dress zip. I didn’t have much matching thread so where I could get a way with it I just used a dark grey colour and where the thread showed I used the matching thread in the needle.


I constructed the pants so that I would be able to tweak the fit in the side seams at the end if I needed to. The insides of these trousers aren’t the prettiest, but I’m still confident they will hold up ok when I toss them in the washing machine.Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-05 Inside FrontI’m going to do a Behind the Seams post for these because the post becomes way too long if I details everything here.

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-07 Details
The order I constructed the shorts in meant that I had to sew the inner leg seams after they had been joined at the crotch. This meant I had to ease the back seam into the front seam and that caused me a bit of trouble so as I was sewing the inner leg seam I was wrestling with the fabric to try to ease the fabric. I must have been wrestling a bit too hard because as I was sewing my machine made a “thunk” sound and I managed to bend a needle. It could still sew after replacing the needle so I carried on sewing to finish this project, but it is making a strange scraping sound so I have taken it to get serviced and fixed.Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-06 Inside Back

Changes I made this time

  • Shortened to just below knee length
  • Drafted a different pocket opening
  • Drafted the pocket to be deeper
  • Took the back waist in

What I Like

  • I like the shaped waistband because it sits nicer than a straight waistband
  • I also really like how the interfacing I used makes the waistband feel really sturdy
  • The fit through the thighs is airy, good for warm weather
  • I really like this colour
  • Starting with a plus size pattern meant I didn’t have to do a heap of grading or pattern adjustments
  • And of course I looove me some pockets! My phone won’t be falling out of these trousersGreen BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-08 Front

What I don’t like

  • They are a little too loose through the waist
  • The fabric is too light for shorts
  • There are some drag lines at the front
  • The pocket openings are a little too big
  • The back darts are not smoothGreen BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-09 Back & Side

Changes for next time

  • Get a closer fit through the waist
  • Use a heavier fabric
  • Try a big tummy adjustment
  • Attempt a pocket stay
  • Make the pocket opening smaller
  • Sew the back darts with more of a curve to smooth them out
  • Use an invisible zip & interface seam allowance around zip


Pattern BurdaStyle – Marlene Trousers (Plus Size) 03/2013 #140A – stash $5.40
Fabric 2m x Green cotton broadcloth from Spotlight – stash
Scraps black cotton lawn – stash
  • Medium weight interfacing – stash
  • 20cm black zip – stash
Time Estimated 10.5 hours (* $17-ish Australian minimum wage)
Pattern adjustments – 1 hour
Cutting and sewing toile – 2 hours
Cutting and sewing final garment – 7 hours
Hand sewing – 30 minutes
Total $183.90

Most of the cost was time. I’m glad most of the materials I used where from the stash. I wasn’t going to include the price of the pattern, but then decided that I should because I’ve not used this pattern before (I’m pretty sure this the first of the many BurdaStyle patterns I have that I’ve used).

Final Comment

All in all, I am very happy with my first effort at making ‘proper’ trousers. I am really happy with the pattern I chose and would recommend it to others.

I am a little disappointed with the fit of the final trousers as the toile fit me a bit better, but I think that’s down to the fabric I used in the final version.  Looking at the photos, the proportions are little off, they could be a little shorter, but I like the length anyway.

As critical as I can be about the things I make I have to ask myself – “Would I find something that fits me like this in RTW?”. The answer is always no 🙂 So in my books this is a pair of shorts worthy of a fist-pump.

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-12 Fist Pump

So, do you have any trouser fitting quirks?
Have you ever made shorts/trousers/pants?
If so, do you have any tips?
If you haven’t sewn trousers, why not?
Have you ever used a BurdaStyle pattern?
Let me know in the comments, I love reading them 🙂

Until next time,


P.S. I thought I’d include a lovely goof-face photo for you. I recently bought a wireless camera remote and am still working out how and where to hold it when taking pictures. So at the moment a lot of my photos are like this 🙂

Green BurdaStyle Marlene Trousers-Make It Nifty-11 Goof

12 thoughts on “Green Marlene Shorts: 2-challenges-in-1

  1. Pingback: Solid Colours (with Miss Bossy): Green Marlene Shorts | The Monthly Stitch

  2. Great shorts. I have used a Burda Style leggings pattern but it really cemented my dislike of printing out patterns. The pattern itself was really good though. I am scared stiff of making *proper* trousers. I did make a pair of shorts when I was at school but they split up the back when I was doing PE. The shame. Kind of scarred me for life. 😉

    • Thank You K.

      Funny you mention splitting pants, these shorts did start splitting up the back the first day I wore them. :O Lucky they were only small holes.
      Oh well, I’ll just have to re-sew the crotch seam and perhaps double sew the crotch seam here on in for safety 🙂

  3. Pretty successful smart shorts, I think you’re being a bit over picky on the drag line question, its not bad enough to notice without being told to look for it imo.

  4. Hahaha, Vanessa, you’re too funny with the fist pumps!! 🙂 I love it!

    These shorts came out great, despite the minor fit issues. This is exactly the style of shorts I like the wear in the summer – the longer length is so much more comfortable than short shorts, and I don’t have to worry about flashing my pasty white legs all over town, LOL. I’m glad this project was such a stash-buster for you too. Your labor hours are always worth it when you have a custom-fit garment at the end!

    • Thanks Carolyn,
      I fist pump, because an ‘air-high-five’ would just look weird 🙂
      I’m not a short shorts fan either. I do love a good stash busting project (totally an excuse to go and buy more fabric/notions, right?)
      You’re absolutely right about the custom-fit. It’s nice to wear shorts that don’t ride up or down or pull or tug or gape. *Sigh of satisfaction*

    • Haha, thanks Linda. I just had to include a picture with my confused face. Just keeping it real 🙂
      I hope you don’t have to re-print/tape/cut too many PDFs. I’m pretty sure I’d just throw my hands in the air and give up if I had to go through that twice for a pattern.

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