Okay, I’m not happy with the quick photos we’ve taken of these shorts, but I’m pretty much over the shorts as well, so I figured I’d post this with bad photos instead of not posting it at all.

Grey Papercut Pleated Shorts: Side


The Papercut Patterns Pleated Pants/Shorts, in size XS. Most reviews say that these run very large and to make the smaller size if you are between sizes, or even to size down by a size or two. I’m rather confused by that. I believed those people at first and, considering my measurements are between sizes XXS and XS, I made my first toile up in a size XXS. I wouldn’t have been able to zip those shorts up! So I made another toile in size XS and that one fit me well enough out of the envelope that I decided to make a hopefully-wearable toile out of some “real” fabric.

Grey Papercut Pleated Shorts: Front


For the main fabric, I used about half a metre of the grey cotton gabardine that was left over from my Cooper backpack. I had bought as much as the pattern said I needed and then ended up using less than half of it. I was annoyed about that at the time because I didn’t think I could make anything useful out of the remaining fabric, but these shorts have proven me wrong. In hindsight, this was a pretty bad fabric choice. The gabardine is too lightweight and wrinkles like crazy, which really highlights that the shorts aren’t fitting quite right.

Grey Papercut Pleated Shorts: Back

For the waistband lining and the front of the pocket bags, I used some scraps of bright green quilting cotton that I had lying around.


  • I redrew several of the pattern pieces. When I made my first toile, I thought that I had been inaccurate when tracing the pattern because the pattern pieces didn’t fit together perfectly. After tracing another size and having the same issue, I have concluded that it’s very unlikely that it was me. Whatever it was, I was unhappy with this, so I adjusted the pieces to make them all fit together correctly. I thought that I might want to make several pairs of these shorts (and also the pants variation) and I really didn’t want to fiddle with non-matching pattern pieces every time.

  • I lengthened the legs of the shorts variation by about 4cm. The original length is very short (and I’m not particularly tall or long-legged).

  • I French-seamed the pocket bags. This was a bit of a fiddly job with the 1cm seam allowance and I’m pretty sure my pockets are now slightly smaller than intended—but that’s a price I’m happy to pay for French-seamed pocket bags.

Grey Papercut Pleated Shorts: Inside

  • I slip-stitched the inside of the waistband by hand. I suck at stitching in the ditch and prefer to avoid it whenever possible.

What I struggled with

  • Step 8 of the instructions talks about the “left trouser side”. The diagram next to it shows the right trouser leg. I had to cross-reference the Thurlow instructions to figure out which side I was supposed to work with for the next few steps. For future reference: They mean the left side; the written instructions are correct, but all of the diagrams from Step 8 onwards are mirrored.

  • The waistband, as always. I have no idea what it is, but I’m always having issues with waistbands. I tend to mix up what goes where and I often have problems with the bulk. I usually follow Lisa’s excellent tutorial, but since the construction order of this pattern is highly idiosyncratic, I decided to try and follow the instructions to the letter and see how things go—at least for this first attempt.

What I want to do differently next time

I’m not sure I’ll make another version of these, since I can probably find a pattern that looks more flattering on me right out of the envelope. I still like the idea of the pleats, however, so if I wanted to try and make these work, the following are the main things I should pay attention to.

  • I should probably remove the seam allowances from the pattern pieces, or change them to 1.5cm. I prefer patterns without seam allowances because they’re just a lot easier to adjust, and they let me choose my own seam allowances. I would really, really have preferred 1.5cm for these because I like flat-felled seams on trousers/shorts—but I wasn’t brave enough to attempt those with 1cm seam allowances.

  • The fit isn’t perfect. It’s reasonably good, considering I haven’t made any fit adjustments at all. I’m particularly impressed with the fit in the back. No swayback issue! These already fit better than most ready-to-wear trousers I’ve ever owned, at least in the back. Still, the fit isn’t quite as good as I’d like. The curve at the hips isn’t right for me, there’s a little extra fabric there. I could use a little more room for my “protruding derrière”, which currently pulls the side seams to the back a bit. And the front waistband is a little loose and the front crotch slightly baggy, which looks even worse in a wrinkly fabric. So if I make another version, I’ll have to tweak the pattern somewhat.

  • I would definitely use a sturdier fabric. A medium- to heavyweight denim would be lovely.

  • I would probably assemble the next pair in a more traditional construction order. I’m not quite sure what the benefit of this pattern’s very odd method is supposed to be. It worked fine overall, but I haven’t really discovered any particular reason why this method is superior, so I would probably go back to what I’m used to.

Photos of me taken by my boyfriend.