I have always been afraid to alter a pair of pants—I always have a vision of me sitting down in public and rrrrrRRRIPP! There go my new seams. But recently I found a tutorial on Pinterest that made me think, “OK, maybe this can work!” (I apparently forgot to pin the tutorial I looked at, but there are a bunch if you search for “skinny pants diy.”)
My subject for this project was a pair of gray dress pants I’ve had in my closet for longer than I can remember. I got overzealous to start the project and forgot to take a before photo, but just imagine the floppiest possible wide-leg dress pants from 2002 that are also 3 inches too long and you’ll have the right idea. The pants have a pattern that I’m not sure how to describe—I’ll call it teeny tiny houndstooth. My goal was to take these floptastic pants and turn them into chic slim-leg pants I could wear to work.
The first step was to turn the pants inside out and mark where I wanted to new seams to be. To do this I took a pair of pants that had a fit similar to what I wanted, turned them inside out as well, and laid them on top of the dress pants. I lined up the outside edges of both pairs of pants and marked about an inch outside of the inner edge.
To mark my seam I used a white art crayon I had leftover from college, but tailor’s chalk or a fabric pencil would be the traditional seam-marking media. One thing to note is that these pants already fit me well in the waist and hips, so I only needed to alter the legs.
After I pinned the pants, I tried them on inside-out to check the fit without messing up the pins. Trying things on when you’re altering them is important! When I had the pants on I realized I needed to continue pinning all the way up to the crotch. (I had originally thought I could end my seam mid-thigh, but it looked totally bunchy and weird.) You never know what you’re not going to realize until the pants are on, so don’t skip this!
Once I had all the pins in place for a good fit, I used my sewing machine to create the new seam. I used a standard straight stitch. First I sewed along the line where I had pinned, then tried the pants on again (this time right side out) to confirm the fit. After that I sewed a second straight seam about a quarter of an inch outside the first seam. This reinforces the seam to prevent that rrrrrRRRIPP! moment.
Make sure your second seam is outside the first seam. If you put the second seam on the inside, the pants will suddenly be too tight! After putting in the second seam, I tried the pants on again just in case, then trimmed off the excess fabric.
My pants now had slim legs but were still way too long.
To fix the length I followed general instructions for hemming a pair of pants. This was my first attempt at hemming, but there are tons of online tutorials and YouTube videos that explain how to do it. Basically you fold up the hem to where you want it, pin it, make sure it’s the same length all the way around, then use a slip stitch (also known as a blind stitch) to hand-sew the new hem.
The whole project took maybe 4-5 hours spread over two days. As usual for me, much of that time was spent re-pinning. Once you start actually sewing, you’re in the home stretch!
Here’s the finished product:
I’m jazzed about how these turned out. Before when I wore these pants I felt like I was 15 years old and had come straight out of the juniors department. Now they’re modern and work appropriate!
Have you ever been brave enough to alter a pair of pants? After the success of this project I’d definitely be willing to try it again.