City Gym Shorts for All Ages

I have enough expired memberships under my belt to finally admit that I am not a gym person. Although you may not find me sweating on an elliptical, I haven’t completely abandoned the idea of a workout regimen. I’ve just redefined the whole concept!

My StairMaster is countless flights of stairs scattered throughout my daily subway commute; my weights come in the form of two wriggling girls (often carried up the aforementioned stairs); and my hot yoga is just about anything I do in New York’s sweltering summer heat. My gym is the city itself, and my gym clothes are these City Gym Shorts!

Designed with a classic tulip hem and an easy elastic waist, these shorts have all the comfort and ease of traditional exercise gear but with way more style! I used Robert Kaufman’s Chambray Union in Slub Indigo for the back, a fabric that is soft, comfortable and so versatile it was easy to match it with a range of prints in Liberty of London’s exquisite Tana Lawn.

With so many beautiful Liberty prints to choose from and with sizes for kids and women, it looks like my sewing machine may be getting a workout too! -Corinne



  • 1/2 yard of Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn Classics. We used, shown above from top to bottom, Katie & Millie Peach, Strawberry Theif Gray and Lodden Lavender.
  • A free Kids' City Gym Shorts Template available here.


  • 1/2 yard of Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn Classics. We used, shown above from top to bottom, Katie & Millie Peach, Strawberry Theif Gray and Lodden Lavender.
  • 3/4 (3/4, 3/4, 1, 1) yard of Robert Kaufman’s Chambray Union, Slub Indigo
  • A free Women's City Gym Shorts Template available here.



  • To fit ages 2 (3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10, 11) with finished waist sizes 19 (20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25) inches in circumference


  • To fit hip sizes 33-34 (35-37, 38-40, 41-43, 44-46) inches in circumference


Pre-wash all fabrics before starting.

For the sake of clarity our instructional photos use Robert Kaufman’s Botanics + Architextures in Tangerine Hatches, a fabric with a clear right and wrong side, for the front panels (instead of the Tana Lawn). When you are working with a fabric without a clear right or wrong side, choose either side as the right side for the first seam and follow this precedent for all subsequent steps.



Front Pieces

Use the prepared Template to cut two Front pieces from the Liberty. Cut one Front with the right side of the fabric facing up and one with the wrong side facing up. The two Front pieces should be mirror images of each other.

Back Pieces

Use the prepared Template to cut two Back pieces from the Chambray Union. (If you are using a fabric that has a right and wrong side, be sure to cut the pieces as described above so that the two Back pieces are mirror images of each other.)


Cut one 4 ¾-inch wide piece for the Waistband from the Chambray Union. For Kids it should measure 23 (24 ¼, 26 ¾, 28 ¾, 30 ¾, 32 ½, 33 ½) inches long; or for Women, 36 ¼ (38 ½, 41 ¾, 45 ½, 48) inches long.

Bias Strips

Cut two 1 5/8-inch strips on the bias from the Chambray Union. For Kids each strip should measure at least 30 (33, 36, 39, 42, 45, 48) inches long; or for Women, at least 48 (50, 53, 56, 60) inches long.

You may need to piece the strips to get the appropriate length. For detailed instructions on how to piece binding strips, please visit our Making Bias Tape Binding Tutorial.


Cut the Elastic. For Kids it should measure 19 ½ (20 ½, 21 ½, 22 ½, 23 ½, 24 ½, 25 ½) inches; or for Women, 30 (32, 35, 39, 43) inches.

Piece the Front and Back Pieces

With right sides facing, stack the two Front pieces on top of each other. Pin along the concave edge of the inseam.

Sew along the pinned edge with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Sew along the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch.

Press the seam to one side.

Repeat with the two Back pieces.

With right sides facing, match up the short crotch ends of the Front and Back along the raw edge, making sure that the center seams line up, and pin in place. Sew along the pinned edge with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

Sew along the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch.

Press the seam to one side.

Attach the Binding

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, use the 18mm Bias Tape Maker to press the bias strips into single fold bias tape.

Fold in half lengthwise, aligning the folded edges and encasing the raw edges. Press.

Pin the bias tape around the outside edge of the shorts, following the raw edge all the way from the top corner of the Front side, around the bottom hemline, and up the Back side, or vice versa. Use one strip for each side. With the right side facing up, sew the tape to the shorts with an edgestitch, making sure to catch both sides as you stitch.

Sew the Side Edges

With the right sides of the Front and Back both facing up, bring one Front side edge over one Back side edge so that the two bound edges are stacked on top of each other. Push the outer edge of the front about 1/8 inch towards the Back so that the sewn line of the Front bias tape runs roughly through the center of the bias tape on the back.

Working from the waistline down and using the line of stitching on the Front bias tape as a guide, sew the Front to the Back along this side edge. stop sewing when you reach the top of the curve of the bottom hem. Backstitch at the end of the seam.

Repeat with the other side.

These are now the Shorts.

Sew the Waistband

Fold the Waistband piece in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and press to create a crease. Open up the fold. Now, fold the two long raw edges in towards the wrong side to meet at the center crease. Press the folds. Refold in half lengthwise, aligning the folded edges and encasing the raw edges. Press again.

Open up the folds at the two short ends. With right sides together, stack the ends together, matching up their raw edges. Pin in place. Sew along the short edge with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.

Press the seam to one side and sew it down with an edgestitch.

Turn the Shorts inside out.

Open one side of the waistband. With the right side of the Waistband facing the wrong side of the Shorts and matching up the seam of the Waistband with the center seam of the Shorts Back, pin the open raw edge of the Waistband to the raw waist edge of the shorts.

Sew the Waistband to the Shorts with a roughly 1 1/8-inch seam allowance, using the crease as a guide.

Now, turn the Shorts so that the right side is facing out. Fold the Waistband over the Shorts' raw waist edge and pin in place.

Edgestitch along the bottom of the fold of the Waistband, leaving a 1 1/2-inch gap.

Attach a safety pin to one end of the Elastic. Insert this end into the gap. Pull the pin through the Waistband, exiting out the other side. Make sure not to pull the Elastic's other end into the channel.

Checking that the Elastic isn't twisted, overlap the two ends by 1/2 inch. Sew the ends together widthwise with a zigzag stitch.

Tuck the Elastic into the Waistband and close the gap with an edgestitch.

Your shorts are ready to wear!

Click here to add a comment

46 Responses to City Gym Shorts for All Ages

  1. emily p says:

    These are fantastic! I have been looking for something like this to use my herring bone chambray and pajama shorts too ! Thank you!

  2. Lena says:

    Oh these are lovely. I love the tulip hem, I have been looking for that type of gym short but have not found something cute. Now I might just have to make them myself.

  3. Katie says:

    Love these shorts!! This may be a silly question, but do you need more fabric for the front because you waste some in making them a mirror image? Just wanted to make sure the measurements were correct because it seemed counterintuitive to me. Thanks!!

  4. jessica says:

    so sad, yet another pattern not big enough for this fat girl :(

    • Anni says:

      to increase the size of the pattern all you need to do is cut the pattern pieces up the middle and add a couple inches of fabric to each one. (or a few inches depending on size) where the pattern is most straight, I chose right after the tulip edges. I only needed a couple extra inches of wiggle room, but the pattern still looks great and I love them.

  5. YES I am done with the gym!!! This year I've finally embraced it and my OB says it's called "integrated exercise!" YES IT IS. I am definitely going to make these shorts. Yours are so fetching.

  6. purl bee says:

    Hi Jessica-

    We're so sorry you don't see your size here. We really strive to include people of every size in our patterns but unfortunately for free patterns like this one it's not always possible to go as small or as large as we'd like. If you wouldn't mind perhaps you can email me your size and what kind of patterns you like to sew? My direct email is molly AT purlsoho DOT com. It's great for us know know what sizes our readers are looking for for future designs.

    Again, we really apologize if you felt left out by this pattern and we will certainly keep your comments in mind as we move forward.

    Thank you-


    ps- Another commenter recommended The Prefontaine shorts pattern by Moxie, which comes in larger sizes. I accidentally deleted the her comment but here is the link (and thanks to whoever left the comment!):

  7. Tina says:

    Thanks for the pattern, I can't wait to make these!

    However, it would be really useful if you could put a 1"x1" square somewhere in the pattern schematic just to make sure the printout is the correct size. Printers have a habit of re-sizing things!

  8. CW says:

    This are so fantastic! I want to make ten pairs like these. Right now, I'm sitting in my sewing room working on pair #1, a pair done in blue gingham and a solid blue back. I'm imagining all kinds of possible fabric/trim combinations…

  9. Cyrena says:

    This is exactly the shorts pattern I have been looking for! I am a bit larger than the largest size but I think I can adjust it to fit. Perfect for "integrated exercise" this summer…

  10. Cheryl says:

    That is so nice of you to Molly to reply to Jessica. Very sweet.

  11. StaceyZ says:

    These shorts are fabulous. I would love to make them in the Robert Kaufmans Chambray Union, Slub Indigo that you show above but I am not seeing that exact fabric on your site through the link. Is it under a different name? Thanks.

  12. Ashley says:

    Ooo, another pattern added to my to-do list :) Will be making these for the kiddos and myself. Thanks!

  13. Katie G says:

    Question! I have some pre-made bias tape I'd like to use. How would that affect the yardage needed for the back/waistband fabric on the women's version?

  14. purl bee says:

    Hi StaceyZ-

    We have sold out of that fabric but we have more on order. If you'd like you can email customerservice AT purlsoho DOT com and they will email you when it comes back in stock.

    Thanks so much for getting in touch!


  15. purl bee says:

    Hi Katie-

    I still think you should get the full 3/4 yards of the back and waistband fabric to be safe since the waistband take up such a large portion of the fabric and I'd hate for you to run out.

    Thanks so much for your question!


  16. sandra woods says:

    These are fabulous. Great styling and great use of Liberty. So often patterns are shapeless and look homemade. These are a home run and very fashion-forward.

  17. {leah} says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Totally making! ^_^

  18. purl bee says:

    HI Katie-

    I'm not sure if I fully understand your question but the amounts listed in the materials section are correct. A half yard of the Liberty of London for the front section of the shorts is enough!

    Please let me know if you have any more questions.


  19. purl bee says:

    Hi Tina-

    Thank you so much for this great suggestion! We will be adding a 1-inch square for scale in future patterns.
    We would like you to send you something as a thank you! Would you mind emailing me directly (Molly AT purlsoho DOT com) so we can arrange that?

    Thanks again!


  20. brandy says:

    i’m not sure if anyone else had this problem but when i print out the pattern pieces, the straight dotted lines do not print. the curved part of the dotted lines print and the rest prints as well. i’ve tried printing on two different computers and two different printers with the same exact problem. i’m not sure why this would happen. :(

    • Nicole says:

      Yes! I have the same problem, plus they do not print out at the right size. It’s always smaller even though everything else I print out is normal.

    • Corinne from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Brandy –

      I am sorry the pattern template is giving you trouble. I have printed it out on a couple of different printers here without any trouble, but it sounds like you are not alone in this problem!

      I am sending you a modified version of the pattern now with thicker lines. Hopefully this will help!


    • Erin Waters says:

      Yes, mine is doing the same thing. I have tried to fix it but i can’t get any straight lines to print. How might I go about requesting the modified format with thicker lines (and did that one print for you?)

      • Corinne from the Purl Bee says:

        Hi Erin –

        I am sorry the template is giving you problems as well! I am happy to send you the modified version of the pattern, though one of the previous commenters did still have problems printing it. I suggest trying to print using a different printer as well if it continues to give you trouble.

        Thank you! I will email you the modified version shortly!

  21. Molly Brizgys says:

    I love these! how about a male boxer short pattern/tutorial. i would love to make my husband a bunch of boxers from your beautiful and soft fabrics.

  22. Sawyer says:

    These are the cutest shorts I’ve ever seen. Where do you find your fabrics?

    • Corinne from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Sawyer –
      I am so glad you like the project!

      All of the fabrics that we used are listed in the Materials section at the top of the pattern. They are all available for sale at the Purl Soho shop.


  23. Alison says:

    Love the pattern easy to make.

  24. Claire says:

    Thank you so much for this pattern. I’ve just made some for me and I’m about to make some for my daughter now. :)

  25. joy hoover says:

    Thank you so greatly for this pattern and for making it free!! Wow!! As a pattern designer myself, I know firsthand how much work and organization this kind of thing takes! Amazing work, beautiful pattern directions and pdf! I cannot wait to get started on shorts for myself and my sons! Thank you so sincerely!


  26. ohjennymae says:

    i love this pattern and made some velveteen shorts for myself with no problem. the pattern for the kids waist band and bias tape includes 6 different measurements, but there are 7 sizes. i’m not sure if i’m just missing something or if the tutorial is missing numbers. help!

    • Corinne from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi ohjennymae –

      Thank you for writing in! Yes, the measurements for the Waistband and bias strips for the size 11 years in the Kids pattern were missing from the tutorial. Good Spotting! The numbers have now been added.

      The Waistband should be cut to 33 1/2 inches and the bias strips should each be at least 48 inches long.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions while you work!

  27. Juçara says:

    Obrigada por postar esse modelo tão versatil e bonito, muito legal, adorei esse City Gym Shorts.

  28. Trisha says:

    I love this pattern! Cannot wait to make them. I am washing fabric as I type!! Thank you so much for sharing. My 13 yr old is so excited!

  29. Natalia says:

    Hi! I am so glad I finally found this pattern for my girl. Will make these as soon as I get the fabric. Thanks so much!

    Nat (from Argentina)

  30. Pingback: Sewing Adventures: City Gym shorts for kids | Measure Twice Cut Once

  31. thea says:

    I am wondering if in your new website format you still have the link to change the tutorial into a printable format. This is more of a general question about your but i am trying to print the gym short instructions.

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Thea-

      Unfortunately the new format does not have that option. We are working on it but in the meantime we recommend that you copy and paste the pattern into a word or text doc and print, or save as a PDF, from there. Sorry this isn’t ideal.

      Thanks for getting in touch!


  32. Catherine says:

    Wondering how I find the pattern to download? I would really like to make them but just unsure how to find the pattern?

    Many thanks

    • Molly from the Purl Bee says:

      Hi Catherine-

      The instructions for this pattern are not available to download however the template for it is. You can find the templates linked in the “Materials” section of the pattern. If you’d like to save the entire pattern as a PDF we recommend that you copy and paste the pattern into a Word or Text doc and save from there. We know this isn’t ideal and are working to convert many of our patterns into printer friendly PDFs but in the meantime this is the best solution.

      Thanks so much for getting in touch!


  33. Rachael says:


    I also had the problem where the pattern wasn’t printing properly and being impatient I didn’t want to wait to make these! I realised that on the print screen (where ALL the lines are still visible) that the scale was correct so I simply used a ruler to measure and draw in the straight lines that were missing on to the printed out pattern pieces!
    It sounds a little funny but it works! haha
    Thanks for the awesome pattern!


  34. Irene says:

    Thanks for the free pattern! I just bought a sewing machine and found your pattern. First try and it works! So happy with it! I made it with leftover batik cotton.

  35. camelia says:

    Hi, Thank you so much for the pattern.
    I had the same problems with the printing, tried 3 times with no succes getting all the marks ,at the end what did work was to save the pattern on the computer and then print…like a charm :).
    Thank you again,

  36. camelia says:

    I tried to leave yesterday a message but it did not work. I had also problems with printing but after saving the file first on my computer and from there printing the problem was solved,
    maybe this can help other people that experience the same problem.

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