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Whit's Knits: Baby Shorts


These cotton shorts are wonderful, not only for their vintage style, but also for the flexibility of the fit. The ribbing and elastic waistband allow the garment to grow with the child, useful first as bloomers over diapers and then later as regular shorts.

These are quick and easy to knit. Almost no seaming! I think I've found my new baby gift standby!






The Pattern



10 stitches = 1 inch in unstretched 1 x 1 rib with larger needle

Finished Size

To fit baby-toddler: 18 inches around hips, unstretched, and adjustable elastic waist. 

1 x 1 Rib

The entire pattern is knit in a 1 x 1 rib:

*K1, p1, repeat from * to end of round. 

The Legs

With Color A and the US #1, 12 inch circular needle, cast on 80 stitches.

Place marker, and join for working in the round being careful to not twist the stitches.

Work 5 rounds of 1 x 1 rib.

Changing to US #3, 12 inch circular needle, work 3 rounds of 1 x 1 rib.

With Color B, work 2 rounds of 1 x 1 rib.

With Color A, work 2 rounds of 1 x 1 rib.

With Color B, work 1 round of 1 x 1 rib.

Cut the tails and put all the stitches on holders or a spare circular needle.

Make another leg the same way, except do not cut Color B's tail at the end. Leave the second leg on the US #3, 12 inch needle.


Joining the Legs

Using a Cable Cast On, cast 10 stitches on to the second leg. (Please check out our new Cable Cast-on Tutorial if you need some help.)


Place a marker, and with the same needle that is holding the 10 cast on stitches, work the 1 x 1 rib around the 80 stitches of the first leg.


All 170 stitches will now be on the same needle.


Again, using a Cable Cast On, cast 10 stitches on to the right needle. And with the right side facing you, join the legs by knitting the first stitch of the second leg.


Continue the 1 x 1 rib to the marker. You should have 180 stitches total.

Knitting the Body

Changing to the 16 inch US #3 needle, work the 1 x 1 rib in the following stripe pattern (starting from the bottom):


Note: I carried the cream color up the inside of the bloomers and the yellow from the first stripe to the second, but, otherwise, I cut the tails of each color when I finished its stripe.

Repeat the whole pattern 1 more time, and then work three more rounds with Color A.


The Waistband

Changing to the 16 inch US #1 needle, work 8 rounds of the 1 x 1 rib.

Purl 1 round.

Work 8 more rounds of the 1 x 1 rib. Cut a 36 inch tail. 


Preparing the Elastic

Cut the elastic so it is 18 inches long.

Mark 1 inch from the end of the elastic and fold the elastic in half so one end overlaps the other to the 1 inch mark. (Make sure the elastic isn't twisted!) Pin it in this position. 


By hand or with a sewing machine, sew a rectangle around the edges of the overlap. 


Hemming the Waistband

Thread a tapestry needle onto the long tail of yarn from the waistband. Insert the tapestry needle into the first stitch of the knitting needle as if to purl.


Remove the stitch from the knitting needle and pull the yarn fairly tight.

Arrange the elastic band so that it is running along the inside of the waistband. Then, sew under the purl bump that is fourth from the Color B round. Make sure it is also directly in line of the stitch you just removed from the knitting needle. Pull tight.


Remove a stitch from the knitting needle again.


And now sew under the knit stitch that is fourth from the Color B round and is also directly in line of the stitch you just removed from the knitting needle. Pull tight.


Repeat these step until you have removed all the stitches from the knitting needle. Be careful to always bring the yarn over the elastic so that it is simultaneously getting sewn into the hem.  



To sew the crotch closed, thread a tail from edge of the opening onto a tapestry needle. Sew under the knit stitch that is right below the cast on edge.


Sew under the knit stitch directly across from that one. 


Then, crossing to the other side, sew under the next purl bump right below the cast on edge.


Sew under the purl bump across from that one, and continue back and forth across the whole opening.

Use tails to sew up any holes that may be left at the corners of the opening.


Sew in all the tails that remain. And finally, attach the button to the front of the waistband. (I like the button, in part, because it ensures that the "jog" of the striping will always be worn to the back.)


Reader Comments (18)

my only concern with the button is that the baby could pull it off and put it in his mouth....otherwise, lovely project!
July 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary Beth Klatt
Could a relative newby to sewing make these? They look easy, but I just want to make sure I won't be over my head!
July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPumpkin Girl
These shorts are the cutest things.
I will trying knitting them for my daughter.

Thanks Purl Bee for all your creative ideas!
July 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnna Nikolaus
Hi Pumpkin Girl,
These shorts are knit rather that sewn. A newbie to knitting could make them but will require some patience and attention to detail. If you're in NYC feel free to stop by our shop for guidance if you need it.
Good luck!
July 8, 2008 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
hi! this pattern is cute! is the gauge knit flat or in the round? :-)
July 8, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterathena
One suggestion, substitute a wool or cashmere yarn and you could use this as a water resistant cover for cloth diapers (the natural lanolin will repel moisture)!
July 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenna
Awesome! I've been a long-time subscriber to Purl Bee but time constraints never allowed me to check out your free patterns (I know, shame on me!). But kudos to whomever has articulately outlined the instructions and inserted super sharp and clear instructional visuals. These are the best! And trust me, I'll be more mindful from now on to check out the patterns.

SUGGESTION FOR MARY BETH KLATT: Instead of using a button, perhaps knit a bobble. It will be "baby safe" and can be most attractive if you knit it with an intermixture of all three colors.
July 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
I believe the gauge is incorrect-it says 10 stiches per inch? Very cute project, Would love to make one for my grandson.
July 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElena
Hi Elena,
The gauge is correct although it does seem like a lot of stitches! The reason its 10 stitches per inch is that it is an un-streched rib stitch. Thanks for your comment!
July 23, 2008 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I love this! I'll have to run to the yarn store now. My husband won't be pleased I found this, but Oh well!! Thanks for posting this pattern. Do you mind if I link your page in my blog?
August 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha
This looks great, and easy to adapt for other sizes. My 2-mo old nephew is still too small for 0-3 mo clothes, and has been stuck in onesie type outfits, but now I can make him some quick and easy shorts. Thanks so much!
August 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKathie
How do I "join for working in the round" as the directions tell me to do?
March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEve
I'm really confused about the gauge for this pattern. The websites I've checked all say that Rowan cotton glacé knits at 6 stitches per inch w us 3-5 needles. How do I get the 10 stitches per inch gauge this pattern requires? The closest I can get to this gauge is 8 stitches per inch with us 3 needles in a 1 very fine weight wool blend yarn. Help!
March 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEve
Hi Eve-

It sounds like you're doing your gauge swatch in stockinette (knit one row, purl one row.) But the gauge for this pattern is in a 1 X 1 rib. Please try the gauge in the rib and let us know if that solves the problem.

Thank you for your question!

March 4, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi Again Eve-

Joining in the round is when you knit into the first stitch you cast on thus joining all the stitches on your circular needle into a closed circle. I know it sounds confusing but it's not hard. I would suggest that you google "joining in the round" and watch a you tube video that demonstrates it.

Thank you for your question!

March 4, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Hi, Molly. Thanks for responding. I knit my gauge in rib as pattern requires: knit 1, purl 1, etc... The most stitches I can get to an inch with a "1" very light weight yarn is 8. From what I gather about Rowan Cotton Glace, it is a sport weight, much heavier than a 1, which seems to suggest I'd get fewer stitches per inch, not more. How can this pattern work with this yarn? Thanks, Eve
March 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEve
Could this be my gauge problem? The unstretched rib hides half the stitches. So when measuring the number of stitches per inch, double your count since the stitches that don't show (in the valley, so to speak, of the rib) are there, but are unseen. I can easily get 5 stitches (x2 = 10 total) per inch with a sport weight yarn and size 3-5 needles.
March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEve
Hi Eve-

Yes, it sounds like you figured it out! That's the tricky thing about counting stitches in rib- I'm sorry I didn't think to mention that before.

Good luck with the project and thanks for letting us know you solved the problem!

March 6, 2013 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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