Thursday, March 21, 2013

Derby Shorts

If you're here, you know that we derby girls luuuurve our booty shorts. Whole brands have been built on them, in all shapes and sizes and styles. I particularly like the look of Iron Doll's ruched "Lift & Separate" shorts, but at $30 a pop and me a newbie a coupla hundred into gear already, it's not happening any time soon. I am, however, crafty, and as the mother of two girls, yes I have sparkle spandex laying around the house. So of course I googled "DIY Lift & Separate shorts" and was surprised to not find anything. And so here I am.

Before picture of my ass -- I mean shorts.
Before - Pancake Ass!
After picture of my ass- I mean shorts.
After - Lifted! Separated! Ruched!

Today's post is going to be a simple DIY, turning regular old $10 spandex booty shorts from a dance supply store into a ruched style similar to Iron Doll's. I'm probably going to fancify these up another day, and I also traced them to make some from scratch!

What you need:
  • Spandex shorts, a size or two too big if you have a choice
  • 3-5" of 1/4" wide elastic, the stretchiest you can find. I found that the clear plastic elastic was stretchier and less bulky than the regular white braided elastic, and the white elastic I had was stretchier than the black elastic I had.
  • 1 to 1-1/2 yds 1/4" wide ribbon, cord, or 1/2" wide strip of scrap spandex

  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine & thread (sorry, I know. I have an idea for hand sewing, but I haven't tested it yet.)
  • Tapestry needle or safety pin or pencil or skewer

The first thing you want to do is turn your shorts inside out and find the back seam. If there's a tag sewn in the seam, cut it out, but don't cut the stitching.

Next, fold the shorts in half at the seam, so the seam is free from any other fabric. Pin one end of your elastic to the top of the seam just under the waistband. Set your sewing machine to a medium zig-zag stitch and tack down the elastic by sewing back and forth in place a few stitches. Remove the pin, and lower the needle into the fabric.

Now, grab the elastic an inch or so below the sewing machine foot, and stretch it as far as it will go. It will get skinnier. If it breaks, just start over and don't stretch quite so far (only the flimsy plastic elastic sometimes breaks). 

I grabbed it here...
And stretched it to here!

Okay, so this is the hardest part. Line up the stretched out elastic over the seam allowance. Grab the waistband of the shorts behind the sewing machine foot, and start sewing the stretched out elastic down onto the seam allowance. I don't have a photo of this because it takes two hands. Keep sewing until you run out of elastic or the seam starts to curve, indicating it's turning into the part that's between your legs. Clip the elastic and threads, and- voila! You have back seam ruching!

This is where it helps to have shorts a size or two big- the looser they are, the more fabric you have to gather up and give you the ruched look. Be warned, too; booty shorts sold at dance stores run small. At 5'1" and 118 lbs not very many people would classify me as a large, but these shorts were a medium and didn't have much room to ruche.

Now for the easy part- the side ruching. Turn your shorts right side out and lay them flat as you would wear them, with the seam in front and the sides folded. Make tiny (really, tiny) snips about every inch down the side fold. The ones in the photo below are a little big.

The beauty of nylon/spandex is that it doesn't run or fray, so those holes are just fine like that. Cut your ribbon/cord/fabric strip in half. Now thread it through your tapestry needle and, starting at the bottom and leaving a tail, weave it in and out of the little holes. Wen you get to the top, go around the waistband and weave back down through the holes again. You could also just as easily poke the ribbon/cord/fabric strip through the holes with a pencil or a skewer, or pin a safety pin to the end and use it to weave through. Repeat on the other side.
Bottom up


Come around the waistband and back down

All the way back to the bottom
When you're done it will look something like this

Once you have done this, then tighten the sides as much as you'd like. I had to fiddle with my strip of fabric to make sure the sparkly side was out. Tie knots at the ends of your strings if you want.

And you're done! Don't they look so much better? I couldn't get a very good photo from the front, so I'm going to show you my ass again.

What's next? I prefer a wide waistband, so I'll probably replace the thin elastic waistband with a wide spandex one. I might also add a little length to the legs with a contrast band to complete the look.

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