Boy sewing, Pattern Review

Dragon Shorts (to go with a dragon shirt, of course)

** Disclosure: This post contains Blank Slate Patterns affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own!

Yea!! I FINALLY made J a new pair of Big Island Board Shorts!  I tested this pattern a couple of months ago when the Blank Slate Patterns Summer Vibe collection was released.

Summer Vibe Collection from Blank Slate Patterns

My failure to blog my original pair of BIBS (Big Island Board Shorts gets really long!) was not because I didn’t like the pattern.  To the contrary, I think this is a great pattern, and J loved the first pair that I made him.  He wore them so much that they were quite literally ripping at the seams.

No, my complaint about my first pair was the fabric.  The recommended fabric for this pattern is polyester microfiber, or boardshort material.  The problem that I ran into was that my local fabric shops don’t carry boardshort material, and because of the quick turnaround required for testing, the fabric I ordered wouldn’t arrive in time.  So, I went with plan B and picked up some polyester nylon at Joann’s for that first pair.

The nylon was sufficient to make a pair of test shorts, and J loved that I had made them blue.  But, in my opinion, the fabric was not great, and for that reason alone I wasn’t thrilled with that first pair.

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
Big Island Board Shorts. With dragons

These, however, are made from proper board short material from the Fabric Fairy.  And dragons?  I mean seriously, how awesome is that for a 4-year-old?

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
BIBS Back view

This pattern is an easy sew.  The construction is straightforward, and the use of bias tape gives a nice, retro feel to it.  I like that it uses a separate waistband, since that provides so many more options for modification.

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
And they move well!

Specifically, the modification that I made to these shorts — adding front pockets.  J loves to carry things around in his pockets, and the BIBS as drafted include only a back patch pocket.  That back pocket was almost completely useless for J in his first pair of BIBS, so this time I added the front pockets.

Adding front pockets is such an easy modification, particularly if you already have pocket pattern pieces that you like.  For these, I used the pockets from the Clean Slate Shorts, and widened and deepened them by about an inch so that his cars won’t fall out of his pockets at school.  Adding these did not impact the rest of the shorts construction at all.

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
Front pockets and inside finishes.

The other modifications I made were on seam finishes.  As I’ve mentioned before, J is really hard on the seams in his pants and shorts, so I’ve started reinforcing and doing nice finishes on his things.  For these, I flat-felled the inseams, and then encased the crotch seam with bias tape.  I also used bias tape to bind the pocket pouches.  Isn’t the inside pretty?

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
The inside.

I omitted the optional liner.  J has about 4 pairs of swim trunks from last summer that still fit him, so I didn’t really anticipate him using these for swimming.  And I didn’t feel like trying to make bias tape out of proper boardshort fabric, opting instead for storebought.

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
Big Island Board Shorts

Pattern: Big Island Board Shorts by Blank Slate Patterns

Size: 4T.

Fit: Perfect.  I guess it’s no mystery why I love Blank Slate for kid patterns — they fit my kids perfectly, with only minor changes to the length of the waist elastic.

Fabric: Chinese dragons boardshort fabric in the blue/black colorway from Fabric Fairy.  For the binding, I used storebought bias tape in turquoise.  It was almost a perfect match!

Modifications: I added front pockets and omitted the back patch pockets on this pair since J loves his front pockets!  This was really easy to do.  I used the pocket pattern pieces from the Clean Slate Pants/Shorts and deepened them a bit so that J’s stuff is less likely to fall out.

Physical pattern: PDF pattern, but it’s not overly burdensome.  There are only 4 main pattern pieces (5 if you include the optional liner), so it’s not that much to piece together.


  • Another really versatile pattern from Blank Slate.  These are designed to be swim trunks made with boardshort fabric and a mesh liner, but can easily be turned into a pair of easy retro shorts simply by using a different fabric.  How awesome would these be made out of athletic mesh for a pair of baller shorts, or a great print tempered with solid bias binding?
  • Easy construction.  The bias binding eliminates the need to hem or finish the outseams and is a really easy technique.  It would probably be faster to simply hem and sew a traditional outseam (since the bias binding requires two passes at the machine), but they would lose that retro look.


  • Lack of front pockets.  It would have been an easy thing to add and it seems that most kids are way more into front pockets than back ones.  Though on a pair of swim trucks, it probably doesn’t matter much and they are easily added!

Overall grade: A.  Great pattern and it’s nice to have a boy swim trunk pattern in my stash.   Someday J’s behind will be big enough that he’ll need new swim trunks, and when that day hits, I’ll be ready!

And N was outside with us when we were taking pictures of these shorts, and her getup was just a hoot.  I couldn’t resist a few pictures!

Creative Counselor: Big Island Board Shorts
All decked out and taking baby for a ride.

0 thoughts on “Dragon Shorts (to go with a dragon shirt, of course)

  1. Wow, your makes are looking so professional! The insides are as amazing as the outside! These are very cool, I love the color and the dragons 🙂

  2. How do you do it all? I’d love to know your secret. I am trying to figure out how to get back to sewing because my little keeps eating away any time I have.

    Those shorts look so so good. As did Albert’s pants. Your sewing skills are amazing. Everything you make looks so darn professional. Kudos!

    1. No secret, really. I sew when the kids are asleep. For me that generally means at night since J doesn’t nap anymore. When he still napped I would sometimes sew during nap times.

      There are some things that I can do while the kids are up and playing, like trace patterns or cut fabric so sometimes I’ll take advantage of 30 or 40 daytime minutes on the weekend to do that. And J is old enough now to sit with me in my sewing room while I sew and N naps. But I never turn on a machine or the iron while she’s around.

      I tend to cut multiple projects at a time so I always have a pile of WIPs going at any one time! But when I don’t have much time to actually sew, I tend to just buy fabric, so my stash is ridiculously huge, and I have more patterns than I will ever realistically sew.

      I completely understand the struggle to find the time for “you” time with kids! I didn’t really start sewing until N was about 2 months old, so I can only read with envy about the kid-less folks, or those whose kids are older, who can spend a whole weekend sewing if they want.

      Littles are such a huge adjustment. Just give yourself time, don’t beat yourself up over it, and try to remember that “you” time really is important, and you’ll figure it out.

      And thanks very much or the sweet compliment 🙂

  3. The shorts look great and I love the seam finishes you used inside! I’m too lazy to use pretty seam finishes. Maybe when Henry is older and actually cares! I love the dragon print you chose!

    1. Thanks! I didn’t do nice finishes when J was Henry’s age either. He didn’t care and he wasn’t THAT hard on his clothes then. Now it’s a different story — if I don’t reinforce and finish those crotch seams, he’ll rip them up within a couple of weeks!

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