Hello CSC! Every year right before summer (in either hemisphere), the question pops up in our facebook group or elsewhere in the community:
How do I keep my shorts from riding up?!
As people who sew, we are in a unique position to do as much as we can to adapt our shorts patterns and prevent this from happening. Today, I will cover some tips to help prevent your shorts from riding up.
I have to put a bit of a disclaimer above this, though, because sometimes you can try all these methods and your shorts may still ride up…and yes, that is super frustrating BUT ENTIRELY NORMAL. First off, this is NOT a weight issue. There are a ton of people with this problem no matter their size and if anyone ever tries to tell you differently please do not listen to them. Secondly, the reason it happens is because our legs are super flexible and meant to be able to bend and move and keep us mobile. Guess what? Shorts are just a tube of fabric and not really flexible unless they are made of stretchy material. When we walk or run, especially, our legs move around and bend and have a greater range of motion than the tubes of fabric we stuff them in. As someone with a dangerously large range of motion in their legs (thanks EDS!), I can attest to trying a million things and still having the issue but in no way am I going to stop wearing shorts. The fabric will generally ride up to the crotch area because that is where there is room to accommodate it. Our legs yearn for freedom to move and will try to rid themselves of the tyranny of clothes at all times. In other words, legs are like little toddlers that just want to run around naked and be freeeeeee. Parents, you get this. Luckily, our legs won’t cause a big mess like a toddler. 😉
Tip #1: It’s all about the fit
No matter your size, if your shorts don’t fit correctly, they will likely ride up.
Some things to pay attention to:
- Does the back side fit properly? Are there “smile” lines at the back crotch or is there pulling across the back or up towards the crotch (like in the below picture of me)?
- Does the front crotch fit properly? Is there a bunch of fabric pooling or do you have “camel toe”?
- Do the thighs fit properly? Are they too tight? In general, loose at the thighs is okay (because your legs are able to be as flexible as they need to be) but that really depends on the person and where the hem is sitting (see more on this below in tip #3).
- Does the waist fit properly? Is it too loose? Or too tight? Is it sitting comfortably or is it bunching and pulling your shorts up with it?
Here are some great tutorials and lists for fitting recources for pants that can be translated to shorts:
- TROUSER TRAVAILS: HOW I LEARNED TO FIT PANTS TO MY UNIQUE BOOTY
A solution that has helped me is to taper my shorts from the crotch to the hem so that they can’t ride up. Tapering means that your tube of fabric isn’t actually big enough at the hem to go above your thigh. Of course, all bodies are different and, if your leg isn’t smaller where your hem is or that isn’t comfortable for you, this solution won’t work for you.
Tip #2: Fabric choice
When choosing fabrics to make your shorts out of, it really does depend on the pattern. However, fabric with a bit of stretch in it helps a lot in keeping your shorts in place. In general, a thicker fabric will stay in place a bit better as well. Denim with stretch is a pretty good choice for shorts.
Tip #3: Length
Most of the time, the length does a lot to keep shorts in place. A longer bermuda length short (with the hem just above the knee) helps keep the shorts in place a lot easier than a short hem that ends right at where your thighs touch. Having a bit longer of a length means the shorts act a bit more like pants would.
Tip #4: Bring on the Reinforcements!
- You can use some “boning” in the seam allowance of the inner seam of the shorts to keep them straight and prevent them from riding up. No Riders or just some regular plastic boning can be sewn in or ironed into the seam allowance. If you are using your own solution, use a bit of plastic boning like corsets and enclose it in a softer material or even in bra wire channeling. Be really careful about making sure the boning is enclosed and won’t rub you the wrong way since that area will get some high friction.
- Wear some bike shorts underneath. I know this doesn’t seem like a great fashion choice, but having spandex shorts underneath means that even if the shorts do ride up, you are preventing chafing.
- Elastic in the hem. If you want to avoid the bubble shorts look, you should probably only use this solution on shorts that are a pretty close fit in the thigh. The elastic helps them stay in place a bit better acting like a garter belt for your shorts hem to stay in place. Want a really cute look? Try elastic lace at the hem. It could peak out beneath the hem and really look cute as well as being functional.
Tip #5: Chafing creams and etc
We’ve written a post on anti-chafing solutions before so if your shorts do ride up, your thighs aren’t hurting a bunch!
Tip #6: Embrace it
Going back to my disclaimer above, maybe after you try all these things, your shorts are still riding up. Why not embrace it? Proudly walk, run, or play with no care about what your shorts are doing. Confidence itself is an amazing thing to show the world and when you walk with your head up and your shoulders back and your confidence shining all over, who cares about people’s ridiculous judgements? If you are comfortable, it doesn’t matter.