Pattern Reviews

Sew Long Summer with a Pair of Wardrobe By Me Cargo Shorts

Wardrobe by Me Cargo Shorts in orange poplin

Hello and welcome to Petite Font! I’m Paulette. If you’re new here or came by through another blogger’s Sew Long Summer post, welcome! I talk sewing, and sometimes, beer and lifting, too. If you’ve always been here, then you know you’re in for a good time!

So…what is Sew Long Summer? This is my first time participating, but it’s a fun way to say “sew” long to one season and welcome in the next. From host Melissa Evans behind mahlica designs:

It’s all about getting those transitional wardrobe pieces ready; finishing up all those things we meant to make this summer; and well, basically whatever Sew Long Summer means to you.

And if you like participation challenges, we have a Social Sew, too. Share what you’ve been making to say “Sew Long Summer” with the hashtag #SewLongSewcial18 to be entered into our random drawing. Details below.

Here at Petite Font we’re talking shorts. Specifically cargo shorts. For men. Not exactly transitional wear, but I live in Los Angeles where we have enviable weather all year long, and so shorts are also fall seasonal wear. And part of the “uniform.”

Right off the bat, I want to dispel the unkind and dated belief that cargo shorts are unfashionable. The Male Fashion Advice sub-reddit and fashionistas around the globe will all have you believe that cargo shorts = fashion death.

Why? Because fit.

And pockets. Because no one is allowed to have pockets, apparently. See: almost all RTW women’s clothing.

Let’s back up. Maybe you are unfamiliar with this cargo short look. They are simply shorts that have extra patch pockets on the side of the legs so a man can carry extra “cargo” as in the picture above. (There are also full-length pants versions.) And therein lies the problem.

Here’s an example of the prevailing opinion on cargo shorts (emphasis mine):

Cargo shorts ruin your silhouette. They either make skiny (sic) guys look bulky in an unwanted way, or bulky guys look gargantuan. In the world of MFA they also pair poorly with everything this sub is about. Many of the items you will see boasted about the most tend to be good picks for many looks. A nicely fitted pair of shorts can be worn with a t-shirt and sneakers or dressed up appropriately with a casual (?) button down and some boat shoes.

The argument is that when it comes to the dastardly cargo shorts, men tend to choose baggy ones and then stuff their pockets full, literally weighing themselves down with crap that bulges out of the pockets and makes them look bigger than they really are.

But what if I told you there is another way? What if I showed you a way to have both your cake AND eat it too? Yes, my pretties. You can have both a tailored look AND POCKETS!

Wardrobe by Me agrees that a man should be allowed his extra pockets and can have them in a tailored silhouette so he doesn’t look like a clown wearing a diaper. They released their simply named Cargo Shorts (aff link) earlier this summer, and I immediately bought them.

See, El Husbando loves his cargo shorts. Sadly he does have a baggy pair that don’t do him much justice (especially since he’s been hitting the gym pretty hard lately *swoon*). However it’s his body and I don’t dictate what he wears. But he did ask for a pair last year when we were piecing together his #menswearmakenine choices, so these became the perfect summer wardrobe staple.

Cargo Shorts Version A has an interesting reinforcement around the legs and up the butt area which Ryan didn’t want (and was just one more thing to sew…). So I made the version without that but still kept the side patch or “cargo” pockets (which you can leave off and have a simple tailored pair of shorts in Version B). The pattern includes faced front pockets and welt pockets in the back, which I had never made but was excited to try. It’s a nice elevation from the more casual back patch pocket, furthering that coveted tailored look.

When discussing colors and length, he wanted something in the dark red/rust family and I suggested something a little shorter than his baggy pair. Those have a 10.5″ inseams. I figured about 1″ shorter would still be long enough to be comfortable for him, to which he agreed, and magically the WBM shorts have a 9.5″ inseam!

I found the rust colored fabric at Michael Levine. It’s the Maxima poplin, which is a heavier poly-cotton blend than their Ultima poplin, though I found both good for bottoms (and they’re shelved next to each other in the store, and virtually indistinguishable from each other). I used the Ultima for my Lander shorts, though ironically (coincidentally?) mine is named rust and his is cinnamon!

Here’s the side by side color comparison. His is on the bottom, mine is on top.

Sizing him was fun. I had made him one muslin in size 34 but in the month between his measurements and the finished muslin, he had lost an inch in his waist (must be the gym). I recut a size 33 and the fit at that size was spot on.

I’ve reviewed the general Wardrobe by Me PDFs before, but note that this one is a paper monster. There are a LOT of pieces. The pattern totals 27 pages but I needed all of them, despite not making the butt reinforcement. There are 15 pieces total, including the lining-only and interfacing-only pieces. 8 of the 15 pieces require interfacing, so set some time aside for this!

I had gone into this project pretty confident about it, but there is a reason that it is rated a 3 out of 4: it is not an easy project. I will admit that these instructions were a tad over my head for the things I had never done before. WBM has fully illustrated line drawings and straightforward wording, but they do not hold your hand with the tricky details. So for the process of welt pockets and fly zipper instructions, I did use good ol’ Google for additional help and cobbled them together okay.

In the end, the finishing is less than perfect. I really struggled with the welt pockets. And missed the part where they should be topstitched. I accidentally did that AFTER sewing the pocket bag, which sews the pocket shut. Oops. Ripped out the stitching and they look like this:



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A post shared by Paulette Font-Erato (@pfont) on

I also didn’t fully understand the process for sewing the tucks on the side pockets…which actually allow the pockets to expand. So in doing it wrong, I actually eliminated the possibility of them bulging. Win?


And he likes them! And he doesn’t look bulky in the wrong places! And the next pair will be more perfect!

How do you feel about cargo shorts on me? Do you disagree with my take, or have a completely different opinion? Let me know!

Now it’s your turn! Join us in posting our Sew Long Summer makes and let’s all say hello to the next season together.

To Enter

Please tag your sewing project with #SewLongSewcial18 on Instagram or facebook. You can also leave a link in the comments on the mahlicadesigns intro post. Please limit your entries to items you’ve sewn between Sept 10th and Sept 28th 2018. Winners will be notified and announced shortly thereafter.


Continental US participants will be entered to win a $20 store credit from Simply by Ti Fabrics. All other participants will be entered to win a pattern of choice from DG Patterns.
We can’t wait to see what you’re making! The full tour includes these talented sewists, so I hope you’ll follow along this week.

Blog Tour

Monday, Sept 10th
Sewing A La Carte
Tenille’s Thread
A Custom Clothier
Made for Little Gents
Miss Marah Sewn
Tuesday, Sept 11th
Manning the Machine
Sewing Vortex
Crafting Fiend
Wednesday, Sept 12th
Auschick Sews
Aurora Design Fabrics
My Heart Will Sew On
Vicky Myers Creations
Thursday, Sept 13th
Flaxfield Sewing
Sewing with D
Musings of a Seamstress
Make it Sew with the Bear and Pea Atelier
Petite Font You’re here now!
Friday, Sept 14th
Sewing à la Carte
Sewing by Ti
Stitches by Laura
Sewing with Sarah
My Sewing Roots
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