Shweshwe Coachella

Coachella shorts by striped swallow design, south african shweshwe cotton
Here’s a simple, satisfying project: a couple weeks ago, before the Southport dress I recently posted about, I made myself a pair of Coachella Shorts. The pattern is by Striped Swallow Designs, and I purchased my PDF copy from, here.

I used some shweshwe  fabric that my friend brought back from South Africa for me. It’s a bit heavier than a quilting cotton, and was super stiff before I washed it, but softened up quite a bit in the wash, and seems to be getting softer with wear. I really like it, and wouldn’t have cut into it for casual shorts like this, except that I’m sure I still have enough left over for a dress.

I really like the pattern, it makes great comfy shorts which you could just as easily wear out or to bed. I went camping soon after I made them, and spent most of the weekend in them (yes, sleep tested!). I’m certainly not going to be running off to the bar in them, but they feel perfect at the beach, in my apartment (when I choose to wear pants…), and running out to the store. I’ve mostly worn them with an untucked tank top or a loose woven top, but I wore them tucked in here so that you can see them properly.

Coachella Shorts by Striped Swallow Designs in South African Shweshwe cotton
The pattern comes with a lot of variations. I cut the slim fit, which comes as separate pattern pieces to the relaxed fit variation. I haven’t made the relaxed fit, so I can’t compare. I will say that the measurements for each size are given as a range, and if you’re at the upper end of it and making the slim fit, size up. My hips are 44 inches, but the muslin I made in size XL (43-44″ hips) was unwearably tight. For the real thing I made a size XXL and the fit is okay.

The pattern also comes with low, mid and high rise options. High rise is supposed to hit right at your belly button. The instructions advise using the height two sizes down if you’re under 5’3. I’m 5’2.5 (clinging to that extra half inch!), but I wanted them a bit higher, so I only went down one and used the size XL high rise height. They actually ended up well over my belly button, and sit at my natural waist, but feel like they want to go higher and are only chilling there because it’s the narrowest part of my torso. Next time, I think I’ll use the size L high rise height, so they’ll sit more nicely at my natural waist.

Another note on pattern options– I used the 4″ inseam length. There’s also a 2″ inseam length– but I certainly don’t want these any shorter than they are now!

Finally, I left off the trim because I didn’t have anything appropriate, and I just wanted something basic and versatile. I know, the fabric isn’t exactly “basic”, but it’s the closest I’ve come to sewing something plain since last year!

Coachella Shorts by Striped Swallow Designs in South African Shweshwe cotton
Speaking of fabric choices, does anyone else feel like sewing has really helped to solidify their personal style? I used to wear more diverse clothes (and far more solid colors) because, being bigger, I’d settle for anything that looked reasonably good. I couldn’t be too fussy. But now, since I’m the one choosing the fabric, I don’t have to accept what I’m offered by the shops. There are so many beautiful fabrics out there, and the only limitation to getting them on my body is money, time, and my own skill. And so, over the past year, my wardrobe has been slowly but surely filling up with fabrics I specifically chose myself, and a trend is making itself apparent. The colors are almost entirely purples and blues, often with splashes of yellow, and a couple of greens. Almost everything has a print. It’s funny but I now look at my wardrobe, and really see a reflection of my self (whatever that means). I love it so much that my store-bought clothes have been relegated to the closet, while the me-mades are hanging in full view on an open rack.

I’ve decided to embrace my love affair with prints. I used have very low self esteem and wanted to avoid any “out there” clothes which might call more attention to me, but here in Korea, everywhere I go, people stare. As a chubby blonde in a rather un-multicultural society, I have zero hope of ever blending in here, regardless of what I wear.  So I may as well wear what I really want to wear. In this way, the impossibility of conformity is actually really liberating. These days, more than ever before, I’m dressing for me! However, I still do need and want a few more plain basics… so I guess these shorts are a jaunty step in that direction.
Coachella Shorts by Striped Swallow Designs in South African Shweshwe cotton