I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all

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I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, sewer, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all, blogging, Costumed Beagle enthusiast. I am not always pleasant, although through intensive cupcake therapy I have learned not to throw knives at people anymore.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Skinny Your Pants Tutorial

So you all know I've been converted to skinny jean in the last few months, but I'm a girl on a budget and I  cannot switch up my wardrobe at the same pace as my fashion sense.  But then I remembered "Hey!  I'm a sewing wizard!"  and there is no reason why I can't do a little pants conversion.  Whilst doing this I was brought back a few years when we used to "peg" our pants (soooo dating myself) and while much of it was pants origami, I had several pairs that I sewed as I tight as I could and still get my foot through.

But then I thought "Hey!  Why not take your sewing magic to the world?"  So I've put together a simple tutorial on skinny pants magic.  It really isn't too hard.  And when you're done, it is like you were visited by the pants fairy.  And who doesn't like that?


 Step 1: Go find your pants.  This is important.  Do NOT skip this step. Try them on and see where you'd like the pants to begin to taper.  This is usually right around the knee. Mark with a safety pin.

Step 2: take another pair of already skinny jeans that you like (If you have some) and measure across the bottom to see how big they are.  This pair measures about 6 1/2" across (or 13" around).  I know I can get into these and I like how they fit, so this is a good size for me.

Step 3: Take the jeans you want to alter and turn them inside out and lay them flat.  Measure across the bottom to see how much you'll need to take them in. I needed to take these pants in about 2" (or 4" around).
There will be a seam on the outer leg and a seam on the inner leg.  Lots of jeans have seams that are flat-felled (I'll show you one in a minute). On this pair of Target jeans the inner seam is flat-felled and the outer one is just regular with the serged edge.  I started with this seam because it is easier.  I will take in the pants more on this side. (You can take them in all the way on this seam, but the pants might fit weird--I'll show you a pair I did that to next).  I decided to go in about 1 1/2" on this seam.  Starting at the hem, making sure they are even at the bottom,  pin all the way through so that the front and back of the pants are pinned together, angling up toward the spot at the knee where your safety pin is.

Step 4: Once you have it pinned, start at the bottom and follow your pins until you meet the old seam--if you are careful you can angle it so then you can sew right on top of the old seam for a 1/2" or so, so that the new seam will disappear into the old one. 

Step 5:  Try them on.  Mine were still a little loose at the ankle, so I decided to take them in on the other seam as well, but I didn't want to take it all the way up as high as the other leg, because I have a pretty healthy calf and it was just right.  I marked the point just under my calf that I wanted the other seam to angle up to.

Step 6: 

Laying the leg flat again, you can see the inside of the flat-felled seam opposite my new seam.  You'll also notice the leg front and back are different widths.  I'm going to take in that little bit of fabric just to right of that seam.  You can't take a bulky seam like this in the same way.

Step 7: Matching the hem at the bottom I am going to let that seam be 1/2" away from the fold (the way it wants to be) and pin the two sides together.  As you can see from the picture above, the seam is pretty straight, but I want to angle it, so I had to shift the fabric, so it would angle.  Make sure even as you manipulate the fabric that you keep it pretty flat so you don't get tucks in it when you sew.

Then I will sew right on the edge of that fat seam (which is about 1/8" away from the original stitching line on the right side of this seam, making sure to angle up and blend my new seam off the edge of the pants (not into the seam) as best I can.

Close up

From the Outside.  If you can sew right up against
that other seam, you won't see it.

Step 8: Finish.  Try them on again and make sure you like the fit.  If everything looks good, repeat on the other side.  To finish the seams, cut away the excess fabric leaving about 1/2".  Then you can serge it, or just run a zig-zag stitch along the edge.  If you don't feel like it, you don't have to do anything, it will just fray a bit.

After.  I didn't do these very tight.  They are pretty
stretchy, so I probably could have taken them in
a bit more.

Here is a second pair of pants I did.  These are actually new twill pants, about $8 on the clearance rack at Target.  I decided to only take these in on one side instead of doing the two seams.  They were a slightly different shape, so I tapered them differently.

I took the angle from the inner lower thigh and continued that down through the knee (they were really loose through the thigh) to the size that I wanted them to be just below the calf and then took the seam straight down so the pants would be the same size through the whole ankle (they were also a little long, and I like the slouchy look around the ankle but thought they'd look better if the seam were straight).
I marked and pinned them and then tried them on, and they were perfect at the thigh & ankle, but a bit snug through the calf.

So I change the angle just through the calf area leaving the top and bottom the same.

It is a bit hard to see in this picture, but that is my actual stitched seam just to the right of a blue pencil marking line.

The after and the before.
Pretty cute, right??

Tip: After you stitch one side and trim it off, you can use the piece to mark the other side so you get the angle right.  Just make sure that you sew about 1/2" (or whatever seam allowance you used).

Congratulations!  You now own fashionably skinny pants.

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