Our family likes to bike. Now I’m not saying we’re out there in our matching biking outfits on the road every day, but when it’s nice, we like to get out and ride the rail-trails and we also take our bikes on vacation looking for new trails. If we’re just going for a short ride, I don’t usually bother with padded shorts, but for longer rides, they are nice to have. We do a 20 mile ride for farmland preservation every summer, and for that ride, you definitely need some extra padding.
If you have ever bought a pair of padded bike shorts, you know that they don’t come cheap. My last RTW bike skort cost me about $80, so now that I’m more comfortable sewing my own clothes, I wondered if I could make my own. I googled “how to make your own bike shorts,” thinking maybe someone had a pattern or tutorial already out there. However, I was super happy to find that I could BUY a replacement chamois (shammy) that you just sew right into your shorts! How cool is that?
At Aero Tech Designs, they have a nice selection of chamois pads that range in price from $9.99 to $29.99 and that offer different options/sizing, including women and youth pads. You can view all they offer here. I decided to try the Women’s Ventilated Fit and Trim Cycling Pad – Sew In Chamois. This was in the middle price-wise ($14.99), and had pretty good reviews.
For my fabric, I wanted something lightweight and stretchy that still provided good coverage, so I used black nylon spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics. It has great weight and drape for the skirt part, and the shorts offer enough coverage under the skirt. It’s also moisture wicking and antimicrobial, so perfect for workout/athletic wear. Phee Fabrics offers this fabric in other amazing colors, but I went with plain black, as I have a lot of bright tops that I want to wear with my skort. I used the Shenanigans Skort pattern from 5 out of 4 Patterns.
The chamois comes with instructions for adding it to your shorts, but let’s walk through it together! If you are making your shorts, like I did, then I would recommend getting them assembled up until adding the waistband. You are going to need room to maneuver, and leaving the waistband off helps. You will need a ruler and a sewing machine that sews a zig zag stitch. You will also need straight pins. LOTS of straight pins.
First you will find the center front and back of the pad (mine was marked with notches), and then measure up 4″ from the center FRONT (the smaller part). Mark this spot on your chamois.
Place the chamois into your shorts and match the spot you marked with the center intersection of your shorts (mine was at the side points of the gusset). Pin in place in the center of the pad, and then pin the sides, pulling the shorts material taut as you do so.
Next, you want to pin the back of the chamois. Lay it inside the shorts, but then move it down about 1.5″ towards the front and pin the back center. The pad will be buckled up slightly. This will allow the pad to “bend” to match the crotch curve once sewn.
Once you have the back pinned, lay the front of the pad into the shorts, pull taut, and pin the center front. You should now have 5 points pinned.
You will now pin the rest of the pad to the shorts, pulling the fabric taut between each point. I used a lot of pins for this part! Once pinned, check to make sure that the pad is aligned (look at it from the outside…does it seem like there is an equal amount of pad on both sides of the seam/gusset?). If all looks good, you will start sewing the pad into the shorts using a zig zag stitch. You want about 12 stitches per inch. I left my length on the default (1.4 on my machine) and set the width to 6. I also used my walking foot for this. You will want to keep the fabric taut while stitching.
Once you have stitched the pad into place, check and see that everything looks good. My machine is finicky, and didn’t want to sew the foam, so I had some skipped stitches. I went around again to make sure it was secure.
And now you are done!
Mine may not look as good as a professional pair, but since this is my first time trying, I’m happy with them! Also, when you put them on, it all smooths out, and they are actually really comfortable. And the best part? I made these for less than $30, which includes the pad and all the fabric to make my skort. #winning
You should now feel ready to tackle your own pair, and maybe I’ll see you on the trails!