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Rita- Pleated Shorts- Late 30's-40's Style

(3 reviews) Write a Review


"Rita" Pleated Shorts- Late 1930's to Early 1940s Style

with Narrow or Wide Waistband and Optional Detachable Suspenders


An original Wearing History design, this pattern was inspired by vintage mail order catalogs and magazine images from the late 1930s through the mid 1940s. 

These classic shorts look like a mini skirt but are actually shorts!  Perfect for summer days, and a great modest and flattering solution for your hot weather wardrobe.

These shorts feature three box pleats at the front, three box pleats at the back, a side zipper, and a narrow or wide waistband.  When choosing the wide waistband option you can also add detachable suspenders!  These shorts hit at the natural waistline (not low rise- "high waist" by modern standards).

These shorts are meant to have a vintage cut with a bit of an updated fit, including a higher rise (crotch length) than vintage shorts, but a longer rise than modern shorts.  It's a happy mid-point that I think you will like!  Although these shorts were inspired by late 1930s to mid 1940s images, these can easily carry you into the 1950s.  By lengthening the rise of the shorts and the length they can work for mid 1930s styles as well, when done with the narrow waistband.  

These shorts make a great base for your creative embellishments.  Add decorative buttons at the front for a sailor style, add piping to the high waistband and embroidery for a western style, or play with your designs in the form of appliques or fabric paint.  They're a fun and playful addition to your wardrobe.  Make multiple pairs that are styled differently to keep your look unique.

This pattern includes step-by-step instructions compiled and illustrated by me, as well as cutting charts for 45" wide fabric.  Blog tutorials for pleating and zipper insertion are coming up after the pattern release!

These shorts look great in printed or solid cottons, linens, and rayons.  These work best for dress weight or mid weight fabrics.  They have a lot of "swing" to their movement!

If you make a matching blouse this will make an adorable playsuit!  **No blouse is included in this pattern. You will recieve a pattern for the shorts only.  I suggest the Smooth Sailing Blouse or the the Sunkissed Sweetheart tie top as adorable companions to these shorts. 


Please order pattern by measurements (given in inches).  

If between sizes, order the next size larger, as my patterns include less ease than most commercial patterns, and it is easiest to take in a garment to fit where needed, rather than having to add to it to make it larger.

All Sizes Below Are Now in One Pattern Pack


Size 24" Waist 26" Waist 28" Waist
Waist 24 26 28
Hip 33 35 37


Size 30" Waist 32" Waist 34" Waist
Waist 30 32 34
Hip 39 41 43




3 Reviews Hide Reviews Show Reviews

  • 5
    Outstanding shorts

    Posted by Maranda borgerding on May 24th 2020

    If I must admit I was a bit intimidated by the peats at first but the pattern and directions were straight forward and clear. They came together very easily. There will be many pairs of the Rita shorts being added to my summer wardrobe.

  • 5

    Posted by Mrs Hude on Apr 13th 2016

    The pattern was fairly easy to follow, even for an occasional (and kinda newbie) sewer like me. I went ahead and folded the pattern pieces (printed on strong white bond paper- btw), so I could have a good visual of how the pleats went (and they came out great!). I made a couple of mistakes along the way (laying out your pieces as Lauren suggests in the instructions is wise! Don’t just gloss over that & think you have the idea, like I did! Thankfully I had plenty of fabric. Oh- and making a muslin mock-up is a big help!), but any problems were from me being me, and not for lack of direction! In fact, she has very through zipper insert instructions which were helpful too.

    More on these shorts and pictures of the pair I made can be found on my blog:

  • 5

    Posted by Stephanie on Apr 13th 2016

    These shorts are so fun! They swish fabulously when you walk. The construction was straight forward and the directions were easy to follow. If you are between sizes (especially the hip), definitely go with the larger size. Choosing a too small size will make the pleats flare out way too much.

    Vintage shorts/pants can be intimidating because of the crotch area. This pattern is not one that you’ll likely have problems with. The rise is definitely longer than modern bottoms, but still very comfortable. After having to take out as much as 3″ out of the rise of vintage shorts/pants, this pattern was quite refreshing.

    You will not regret making these cute shorts! I already want a few more pairs! Pictures and a longer review can be found here:

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