Elizabeth from Mamma Can Do It has a free baby shorts pattern and tutorial for you in size 18 months! You can try down- or up-sizing the free pattern, or check out the full version with the link below. Elizabeth has a large selection of patterns in her shop, including lots of cloth diapering resources. Elizabeth also has a busy blog (where you can learn how to recycle another t-shirt into a matching top to go with your little one’s new shorts!). Hop over to Mamma Can Do It to look around, and take a peek at all of our tutorials for babies and kids for more summer fun.

I love making my baby clothes, and with summer here a shorts pattern seems like it should be the next sewing pattern on the list!

My son loves to run around in a diaper (or none at all), but I’m not sure that my neighbors appreciate that. I need to at least get him in a pair of comfy shorts that I can whip up in no time. Frankly, he’ll probably stain and tear anything that I make for him. I combat my inner “freak out” by making him plenty of shorts out of free t-shirts!

The pattern I have for you today is from my favorite collection. It’s super easy and you can easily recycle t-shirts into a pair of shorts for your baby. Newborn-36 months are the sizes that I typically offer in the patterns I sell, but this one only includes the 18 month size. Feel free to use it as you wish, and be sure to check out my other sizes in the full version.


  • T-Shirt
  • Thread + Sewing Machine
  • Elastic (the pattern calls for 1/2″ but I used 1″ for this tutorial. It’s easy to change it up.)
  • Printable Pattern Pieces

Step 1: Decide what shorts pattern you are going with. I include a “comfy” size and a “slim” size. The pictures of Elijah are wearing the slim (and he isn’t very slim!). It’s a little snug on his chunky tummy, but I like how the knits fit with the slim size. The comfy size is perfect for woven fabrics, especially if you use cloth diapers (like I do), which take up more room.

Once you decide which pattern you are going with, print it out, tape it together and place it on your t-shirt like this:

Step 2: Cut around the pattern piece. You are actually cutting two pieces that are mirroring each other; by leaving the t-shirt intact, you can easily accomplish this.

Step 3: Flip the bottom of each leg inward, toward the wrong side of the fabric. You are going to hem this first.

Step 4: Iron the hem into place.

Step 5: Sew the hems into place by sewing 5/8″ from the folded edge. There will be little tags on the ends and that’s okay. You want to sew with a walking foot if you have one as it makes sewing with knits so much easier. Sew with a zig zag stitch or an elastic stitch so it will stretch a little.

Step 6: Place the two halves on top of each other, with the wrong sides facing together.

Step 7: Sew the “front center seam” and the “back center seam” 3/8″ from the edge. This is best done with a walking foot, and a zig zag stitch or elastic stitch.

Step 8: Adjust the shorts so the center seams are in front and back. Line up the leg holes and sew the inner legs of the shorts. Sew 3/8″ from the edge.

Step 9: Cut off the tags on the inner leg area.

Step 10: If you read the printable PDF version of this freebie, I do this differently. Because I added extra length to the waist height, you can adjust the height to suit your needs. Today, my needs were to use the 1″ elastic that I had on hand, rather than the 1/2″ that the pattern tutorial suggests. I also prefer to use a wider elastic in my waistbands with bigger babies.

Today I folded the top of the waist band over about 1 1/2″.

Step 11: Then I sewed the folded edge into place. This successfully makes a casing for elastic. In the back I left a 2″ opening to “fish my elastic” through.

Step 12: Then use a large safety pin attached to one side of the 18″ of elastic (this diaper pin is my favorite for this job!), and threaded it through the casing. I made sure that it was not twisted inside the casing.

Step 13: Overlap the elastic on top of itself 1/2″. Sew the overlapped portion to keep it together.

Step 14: Pull the waistband snugly and use your fingers to evenly gather the shorts around the waistband. Tuck the band into place inside the 2″ opening.

Step 15: Sew the 2″ opening closed. I was so excited to try these on Elijah that I completely forgot to take a picture of this step! You can view it in the printable tutorial here.

I hope this tutorial helps you get your baby summer wardrobe full and that you are able to recycle some t-shirts of your own. Happy sewing!