Toddler shorts with room for fluff (18-24 mo)

I was searching for a good, free shorts pattern for my daughter, and fortunately, I found exactly what I was looking for stylistically in the Zuzzy Box Pleat Shorts, and the pattern was written for her current size! Unfortunately, they did not accommodate my daughter’s fluff butt very well at all. Through three iterations, I moved from using the pattern back to drafting my own back pieces (back and a back waistband) to go with the Zuzzy Box Pleat front. I’ve now made five pairs, and the last three have been PERFECT. I’m including a free version of the back pattern piece that I created here. The only change you’ll need to make to the front piece is to curve it up 1/2″ as you approach the side seams so it matches the back piece. Head over to the Crafting Zuzzy blog for the original pattern and the front piece after you read through my review and modifications!

Please note: I did not include seam allowance on my pattern piece. There are two reasons for this: 1) the Crafting Zuzzy pattern uses 3/8″ seam allowance, which I rarely use for anything else, and 2) not including seam allowance allowed the pattern piece to fit on a single page, and I know that will make it easier for all of you at the printing step.

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Zuzzy Box Pleat Shorts Pattern Review

Other than not fitting over a fluff butt, the shorts turned out great, and the pattern was easy to follow. I did notice a few mistakes and/or changes I would make:

  1. The front waistband pieces are too long. They do not take into account the fabric that is folded into the pleat. If you’re making these using the back I designed, you can make a continuous waistband, and then this is irrelevant, but if you’re making the original or just want side seams, then it matters. Just measure the actual length you need before you cut them.
  2. I don’t think the instructions included the proper length for the back elastic. I went with 7.75″ after some trial and error. Braided elastic is best, but I only had knit elastic, so that’s what I used for my first three pairs.
  3. I do not recommend sewing the front pieces together at the center front all the way to the top until after you’ve attached the waistband (or you may not want to sew them all the way up at all. I prefer to stop about an inch from the top (and then the seam allowance). I don’t think the author did sew them all the way up, but I didn’t see in her instructions not to do this, and on my first pair, I had to pick out the top of the seam.
  4. I do not recommend topstitching the faux fly until you’ve attached the waistband. Just sew the front pieces together until you reach ~1.5″ from the top, and then press according to the instructions, and pin the fly in place until you’re finished.
  5. This one is just a tip – if you’re using a serger, I recommend trimming 1/8″ off of the center seam before you sew it rather than using the blade on your serger to trim it off as you go. You’ll need to pivot, and you’ll need to stop partway through and finish it later, and it will just turn out better if you trim before starting and disengage your blade.
  6. This one is also just a tip – if you have a side seam, you need to press your side seams toward the front. I always press to the back unless otherwise instructed, and doing so makes the elastics bunch in the seam. You can probably figure this out on your own, but I’ll save you the trouble!
  7. You may want to add a stabilizer (like interfacing) at the center front where you’re going to attach your button or snap.

I know that seems like a lot of criticisms, but my points #3, 4, and 5 all relate to the same steps of the tutorial, and my #6 is just a tip!

My alterations to the original

If I were to make the original pattern to go over underwear (or maybe a disposable diaper, though I feel like it might still be too snug), I would keep everything the same except two things:

  1. The length – I shortened the inseam by 3/4″ because I was sewing for a short and stocky 15 month old, and the original length would have put the tighter band right below her knees.
  2. The size of the cuffs – the pattern calls for 12″ cuffs (11.25″ after sewing them in a circle), but my daughter has very chunky thighs, and the 12″ cuffs restricted movement, so I bumped them up to 14″.
  3. The entire back – outlined below!

How to make the fluff accommodating version

  1. Download the original Box Pleat Shorts pattern from Crafting Zuzzy. You’ll only need the front piece. Curve the pattern up 1/2″ as you approach the side, as I did in the picture below. Keep the tutorial open in another window, as I’ll refer to it often. No need for me to reinvent the wheel when she already did it so well.
  2. Download and print the Bobbins of Basil Fluff Butt Short Back pattern piece. Make sure you print the pattern full scale – do not fit to page. If your printer cuts off the bottom of the shorts, just lengthen the inseam to match the Zuzzy pattern or to be whatever length you want (keeping in mind that you’ll be adding the cuffs).
  3. Add your desired seam allowance to the back piece. If you want to match the Zuzzy Box Pleat front, add 3/8″ all the way around.
  4. Cut your pattern pieces: 2 shorts front (Crafting Zuzzy), 2 shorts back (Bobbins of Basil), waistband pieces (either one continuous piece – 27″ x 3.5″ or three separate pieces – 7.5″ x 3.5″, 6.2″ x 3.5″, and 14.8″ x 3.5″), 2 leg cuffs (12″ x 2″ or 13″ x 2″ if your baby has chunky thighs like mine), and a 7.75″ piece of 1″ elastic.
  5. Press 1/2″ under on each end of the continuous waistband (or on one end of the front waistband pieces), and press the box pleats into place.
  6. (Optional): add interfacing along the inside front of the waistband.
  7. Sew the center front and faux fly according to the tutorial on Crafting Zuzzy, with my corrections listed above.
  8. If you’re not doing a continuous waistband, attach the front waistband pieces according to the tutorial on Crafting Zuzzy.
  9. Sew the center back seam.
  10. If you’re not doing a continuous waistband, attach the back waistband piece. You will need lots of pins to fit it properly along the curved back.
  11. Sew the side seams. If you’re not doing a continuous waistband, press the side seams toward the front. If you are doing a continuous waistband, it doesn’t matter which way you press the side seams.
  12. Attach the continuous waistband now. You’ll need to use a lot of pins along the curved back to make it fit properly.
  13. Anchor the elastic along the side seams. If you’re doing a continuous waistband, refer to my picture for where to tack down the elastic. If you are using separate waistband pieces, sew the elastic to the seam allowance.
  14. Fold the waistband over and sew it closed according to the Crafting Zuzzy tutorial.
  15. Sew the inseam.
  16. Sew the leg cuffs to form circles.
  17. Gather the leg holes. Spread the gathers so they fit the leg cuffs AND so the front and back are the same width. The back will be more gathered than the front. Attach the leg cuffs and finish according to the Crafting Zuzzy tutorial.
  18. Add your button and buttonhole or snap to the center front (I use snaps). This is where a stabilizer will come in handy.

Some helpful photos of the process:

center front sewn – upper part is just finished along the edge, not actually sewn shut
center front and center back finished, interfacing and pressing on waistband, and leg cuffs finished
using lots of pins along the back curve

elastic attached – the stitching doesn’t show from the outside
The finished product!


Enjoy! I hope to use my back and pair it with a self-drafted front, and I’m hoping to attempt grading patterns with that so I can share them with you all 🙂


2 thoughts on “Toddler shorts with room for fluff (18-24 mo)

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