You probably read the title of this post and thought, “This doesn’t apply to me. I can’t sew. I could never do that.” If you haven’t read my sewing post, here, I’d recommend a read! Sewing takes a lot of practice, but I promise if you can sew a straight line, you can alter a pair of pants. I recommend buying cheap pants or shirts at Goodwill to practice on. Or what about cleaning out that old t-shirt drawer and using those for practice? This is a great way to save money and practice your sewing technique at the same time.
I found these cute track pants in the Old Navy clearance section for $13.49. I loved the way they looked but didn’t love the fit. They were a little too baggy in the legs which left me feeling frumpy. Not a good thing! The fabric is thin and lightweight, meaning it’s easy to alter. A simple seam transformed my little bargain from frump to classy in only forty five minutes.
The biggest thing to remember when taking in pants is you want to do it on the inside seam, not the seam on the outer part of your leg. A great tip is to try your pants on inside out. Once you’ve done this you will see the inside seam has a serger seam. A serger seam is that clean line that you see on the inside of any garment you own. Serger seams come from an actual serger machine, rather than a sewing machine. It would be comparable to a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine. Grab your fabric chalk or fabric marker (make sure it’s washable) and hand draw a line, while wearing your pants inside out, to mark how much you want to take them in. Once you remove your pants, keep them inside out. Lay them flat on your sewing table with the front of the pants on top. Make sure the inside seam is smoothed out and even the entire length of the leg. The outside seam may not look even when you do this, but you need to forget about that seam for now.
You can then place your pins on that chalked line and use this as your line to sew. What I did, because the fabric is so lightweight, I folded and then pinned the inside serger seam over about ½ inch and used that as the line for my presser foot. This worked great in keeping a clean line and was the perfect amount to take in. When you are tailoring, another great tip is to use other items of clothing that fit you well. I laid a pair of skinny jeans on top of my track pants to line the bottoms together. I feared I would take in too much of the track pant around the ankle and my foot wouldn’t be able to fit through the hole. This is a tip I hope helps keep you from pulling out the ol’ seam ripper. Anytime I wonder about a sizing issue, I pull out a comparable article of clothing from my closet, that fits me well, and line it up with the item I’m currently tailoring
I then sewed a straight stitch starting at the bottom of the pant up to the crotch section. You can do a longer stitch length, so it’s easy to remove if you took in too much. Once you've completed both legs go ahead and try them on. If the new seam works for you, I would then go over it with a smaller zig zag stitch to help hold it tight. If you have a serger, this is a great time to do a clean edge. My serger is still in it’s box...from Christmas (shhh..don’t tell Nathan). I’m petrified of the thing. Soon I will be conquering this fear. Promise!
You'll notice I kept my track pants with a little give in the legs. I think this is what makes track pants such a necessity in any working girls closet. Not only are these super comfy, but they have a little bit of a baggier look to them rather than a tight, slim fit. Maybe we can call them the sister to the M.C. hammer pants. Stay tuned next week for my day to night look wearing this splendid find!
Helpful Tips for Tailoring a Pair of Pants:
1. Try your pants on inside out. Pinch fabric on the inside seam to see how much you need to take in and make marks at each pinch. Do this down the entire inside seam.
2. Lay your pants on a flat surface and create a line connecting each mark using your washable marker. This line should go directly from the bottom hem to the inside of the crotch.
3. This step is optional: Fold over the inside seam, so that the fold is the actual line you've drawn. Pin this down. This will make it so there isn't much excess fabric on the new inside seam. This also helps create a perfect line for you to follow with your presser foot.
4. Pin along the line you drew or your fold, ensuring your inside seam is smooth and even. I then laid a pair of skinny jeans on top of my track pants to ensure my bottom seam was at a width to fit my ankle.
5. Sew along this line using a longer stitch length. (This will be easier to take out with a seam ripper if in fact you sewed them too small.)
6. Try pants on to ensure it’s the fit you want.
7. Once you’ve tried them on, sew using a zig zag stitch along that same stitch line using a short stitch length. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. (A zig zag stitch will hold better than a regular stitch.)
8. Cut off excess fabric.
9. Pick out the perfect outfit and strut your stuff!