Paperbag Pants Shorts Hack

Hi friends! It’s Lakeisha, and today I am going to show you a few easy modifications I made to the Paperbag Pants pattern in order to make them into shorts.

I recently received a yard of scuba fabric from Amelia Lane Designs and immediately upon opening it, I knew I wanted them to be Paperbag *something* lol! I knew the Paperbag Pants fit me well, so I dug through my pattern stash for it. Though I can usually get a pair of pants for myself from a yard, I didn’t account for the waistband, sash ties, and pockets, so I was a little bummed to see I didn’t have enough fabric. Some quick thinking brought me to my new Paperbag Shorts. All you will need for this modification is the Paperbag Pants pattern, a ruler, pen/pencil, and some scrap paper. An additional thing I tried was adding elastic to the pocket seam in hopes it would eliminate gaping, so 1/4” clear or regular elastic would come in handy there.

For starters, you need to decide on an inseam. I know the shorts I typically buy in stores offer 3.5” or 5” inseam, so I figured those would be a good starting point. I settled on sewing the 5”, but my pattern piece has measurements for both in case I make another pair in the future and want to try it. Measure your inseam (blue line) and draw this line all the way across the front and back pants piece.
Because I like to save my patterns even when I make mods, I just folded the back of the pants up in a pleated style and taped the excess out of the way. If you already have the pattern printed, you don’t need to reprint it for this :) 
Next, you will need to tape some scrap paper to the outseam of the front and back pieces. Because these pants are tapered and I wanted a looser fit on my thigh, I added some extra space to the outseam. This does not effect rise or anything, it just provides more space at the hip and loosens around the thigh. How much or how little you add here will have an effect on that. I do caution you that making too drastic of a change to the front pant may result in needing to reshape the side of the pocket, as well (which wouldn’t be hard, just an extra step). I did not have to modify it all for the amount I added in. There is no exact science to this part, just draw a subtle line to extend the width of the hem. I ended up adding about an inch to the front and and inch and a half to the back at the bottom hem.

Now this next step was purely experimental, but I actually was pleased with the result it provided. I’ve noticed that a lot of these style pockets tend to gape open during wear and that bothers me. I was reading up on it and came across an article on adding twill tape to the pocket seams of trousers to eliminate it. Since these are knit, I figured trying the same method with elastic might provide a similar result! I cut a piece 1/4” elastic that was 1/4” shorter than my pocket seam and stretched it to fit. 

After sewing the pockets, I went back and serged the elastic on the seam. I suppose I could have done this initially, but it seamed easier to do it afterwards. If you are worried about bulk, probably use a zigzag stitch to attach, but I had no issues. I topstitched the pocket after these photos. The elastic only subtly pulled the pocket opening, but I was really pleased with how they didn’t gape during wear!



I followed the rest of the pants tutorial to complete my shorts and I really love how they turned out. The modifications, though not scientific in nature, were super easy. Paired with this scuba fabric, I’m so happy to see my vision come true. Isn’t that the great thing about sewing?!


I hope you’ll use this tutorial to make your own Paperbag Shorts! If you do, I’d love to see them in our Facebook group! Until next time….

(Written by Lakeisha Webb)


7 comments

Great tips. I’ve been eyeing this pattern and now I know I def need it!

Cheri August 18, 2020

This is awesome! I have to do it myself <3

Else Eriksen July 06, 2020

This is awesome!! They look great on you!

Natalie Collazo April 02, 2020

Thanks for the tutorial on these shorts. I really like easy un-scientific mods. that are easy to understand. All your photos were very well done.

Sherri April 02, 2020

I love this! I love the pocket elastic add too!

Jeannie April 02, 2020

Those are really cute! Thank you for the tips!!

Cindy April 02, 2020

You definitely did a super job on the shorts. They look wonderful on you! I got some tips I’ll use.

Jacque March 30, 2020

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