Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tackling the Pants - Finally (a tutorial)

I am tall.  Not as tall as some of my basketball friends, but taller than most women.  And all the sleep pants they make come halfway up my calf!  It really irritates me.  So I hit upon an idea. I would take huge pants and cut them down to my size!

I found some 3XXX size men's sleep pants on sale at Target for like $8.  These were sleep pants made from like t-shirt material, soft and stretchy, I hate flannel because it is too hot to sleep in, even in the winter. Just give me more quilts!

First I asked Frank to help me.  I put the pants on inside out and gave him a pin cushion.  I simply asked him to pin the pant legs near my legs.  Well, he could not grasp the concept.  He stuck me 14,000,000 times.  So I rethought my method.

Henceforward, the Grey is the pants I want to cut down, the Black is the pattern.

Here is what you do if you are single and have no usable husband. Lay the Grey pants out on your bed atop your favorite quilt.  Take a pair of Black pants that fit you like you love, and lay them on top.  I put them equidistant from either side, but i will show you something different at the end.

Pin a seam line down the sides of the Grey pants.  I pinned about 1/4 inch away from the Black pants because I wanted it just a slight bit larger than my leggings.

Put the pants on inside out and see if that is going to work, if no adjust your pins in specific areas that need it.

Unless you are experienced at this, I suggest you get a cheap pair of pants and test your skills until you gain confidence. 

So here I am sewing a straight seam down the line of pins.  I was using my walking foot simply because it was already on there, and I am lazy, but I was kinda glad I had used it. 

 Don't sew over your pins!  Take them out.  Go slowly and keep the layers of the fabric flat, it will want to move and shift on you a bit.  Don't worry, this is not hard.

However........ it seemed like everything was going wrong.  I ran out of two bobbins.  I had stuck them in irregardless of color and because i was too lazy to run up new full bobbin. 

Obviously everything I own quilting-wise was on the edge of  the table because i dropped and/or knocked off a million things.  And McGee was waiting to carry about half of them away, so I had to keep getting up to retrieve my stuff.

Eventually had to run up a new bobbin.  My trusty workhorse  of a machine just quit.  The foot pedal would not work.  So I unplugged everything, cleaned out the foot pedal, pushed in all the plugs.  Nothing.  I took the machine out of its hole (amid the dust and fabric clippings - my  mother is turning over in her grave about now.)  Pushed those plugs in, nothing.  Finally I noticed the bobbin had become dislodged from the shaft it was spinning on to refill.  Whew, machine did NOT die.

Frank came in to vacuum up the crap and sucked up two empty bobbins and my little screwdriver.  

 But after finishing the one leg, I tested the result and liked it.  Here you can see the before and after.  Much better.  If you like this, do the other leg.  If you don't, adjust your seam line in some way. 

Stretchy material needs to have some special handling though. 

I set the machine to stitch a zig zag stitch and ran a line of stitching over the straight stitch.  This will allow the line of stitching to give and reduce breakage on knit fabrics.  There is a special stitch but I will deal with that later.  If you have a serger, you can go set it up and do it here.

Trim your seam.  Knits will not fray like cottons, but still give it about half an inch of fabric.

Here is the result.  I had to take this picture myself since Frank seems  unable to press a button and get an automatic camera to focus..........

I had a second pair to do, but this time i was more confident about the result.  So I just did the zig zag stitch without the straight stitch first.

Some machines, most machines actually, have what is called a stretch stitch or knit stitch.  It i a modified zig zag stitch.  This one goes sideways and then slightly backwards.  the one on my other machine was different.  Look for something similar to zig zag in your options, but a regular zig zag will work fine as well.

I was having so much fun, i decide to redo a pair of stretch denim capri pants for the cruise.  Manufacturers think my legs are huge!  But because of the massive amounts of walking we do, my legs are pretty well muscled and lean.  (can't say that of my mid-section though!)

I like the pants but the big wide legs make me feel like a funky old woman and not the vibrant old woman I am.  

The outside seam had a detail I wanted to keep so I only shortened the inside leg seam.  If you do this on jeans often there is that french seam.  You can cut it out or just adjust from the  opposite seam.  Your machine will probably not sew over that type of thickness, so be careful when you are working around it.  Needles break and fly.

Cut down!  Now I have a modern looking pair of capris -- free!

Now to check out the rest of the closet.......Although i think most of everything in there is too SMALL rather than too LARGE........


  1. OMG I know these people! It is almost like I am there. Sorry but I am just laughing at you two!

  2. Isn't it a wonderful thing to know how to sew!

  3. Thanks for posting this diy tutorial! And too funny about your husband's help. Yet, I wouldn't have had your great idea of using another pair of pants to gauge the correct size otherwise:)

  4. Oh my goodness - too funny! I glad to figured out a way to do your alterations.


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