Introduction: Rainbow Rick Rack - 1/2-Hour Shorts Upgrade

About: My aim is to help you upcycle, remake, or sew! Or if you don't want to sew but would like to support artisans who do, visit my Etsy store: EmeraldRainbowProjct

This is a super easy project that is good for a beginner sewist. You'll go from plain shorts to happy & colorful in about 1/2 an hour. My daughter loved these shorts! Just a couple years later and she has outgrown any kind of flowers appliqued to her clothes (and the shorts) but would like another pair with just the rick rack - now we are talking about a 10-minute project.


  • Shorts (or pants, skirt) to embellish. White, black or denim is best.
  • Rainbow Rick Rack - 3-4 yards, depending on how big your shorts are
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scrap of fabric larger than the flower you want to make and in the same color as your shorts. I used a flannel scrap.

Step 1: Sew Rick Rack to Shorts Hem

For best results, pin rick rack to the shorts before sewing. I skipped this step and had to go back and seam-rip and re-sew a couple small lengths where the rick rack slipped away from the shorts.

Start by placing the end of the rick rack near, but not on, the inseam of the shorts. This way it will hide the rick rack seam but not add bulk to the area which could lead to chafing.

Then switch from thread that matches your shorts to thread that matches the color of the end of your rick rack. Zig-zag stitch over these raw ends so they don't unravel. Remember, this spot is near the inseam and won't show when worn.

Step 2: Sew Rick Rack Flower

Start with a large piece of cotton scrap fabric as your base that matches your shorts. Lightly draw a circle on the fabric with pencil as big as you would like your flower. This will define the outside perimeter of your flower. Tuck the raw end under and begin tucking and sewing your rick rack on your circle.

With each turn, make sure your needle remains in the down position and then you are safe to lift your foot without causing the fabric to jump. Remember, this doesn't have to be perfect to look beautiful - much like a real flower. (If it is easier to see it done, you can click on my video at the end.)

Keep making your way around the circle, each row spiraling inward and hiding the stitching line of the outside row.

When you get to the very center, you should still have plenty of length but now you can determine where to cut the rick rack. Give yourself enough length to tuck the raw edge under before completing the center sewing. I used orange thread and it worked out great since it was camouflaged in the center... if I would have used blue and didn't like how the center stitching stood out, then I would add something like rhinestones or a covered button to hide it. Or you can just stop your sewing on the machine just short of finishing the center and hand sew the center down in order to avoid stitches showing in the middle.

Step 3: Hand Sew Flower on Garment

Cut away the backing fabric so that it doesn't show. Then hand stitch the flower in place making stitches all the way around the flower in places underneath the rick rack petals so the stitching doesn't show.


Show me or tell me what you have done with rainbow rick rack! I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. I seriously want to put it on everything - that's how cheerful it is. Wouldn't it look great peeking out from the inside of jeans pockets? Another bang for little effort.

Here's the video tutorial if it is easier to watch than to read:

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