How to Sew Pants

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Sewing your own pants allows you to customize the fit, which can be very useful but also a bit challenging. If you have a basic pants pattern in the right size, you can adjust it to match just your size and style. You can make the pants taller or shorter, wider or narrower, and add features such as cuffs, belt loops or extra pockets.

Things You'll Need

  • soft measuring tape
  • pants pattern
  • fabric
  • matching thread
  • zipper or elastic
  • scissors
  • straight pins
  • iron
  • ironing board
  • sewing machine

Sewing Pants

Measure the fullest part of your hips and waist (or the area where you want the waist of the pants).

Pick a pattern that matches the size and style of pants you want. Since patterns often use a different size system than store bought clothes, make sure to compare your measurements to the size chart on the pattern. If you’re between sizes, go with the larger size.

Buy pants fabric, using the guidelines on the pattern envelope to figure out how much fabric you need. Make sure to note whether the fabric you want comes in a 44 or 60 inch width, and whether it has a nap, or print that needs to be cut in a certain direction for each piece.

Buy matching thread, a zipper, elastic, buttons for the pockets or any other notions you need to complete the pants. Many fabric stores sell zippers especially made for use with pants or jeans.

Cut out the pattern pieces for the pants, using the cutting line for the size you need. If your measurements are two different sizes, such as a larger size in the hips than the waist, you can customize the fit of the pants by cutting the lower part of the pants in one size and the top in another, gradually transitioning between the two sizes as you cut the pattern.

Cut each pattern piece along the lengthening or shortening lines to make the pants taller or shorter, if needed. Cut away or fold up the paper and tape it in place to make the legs shorter, or add strips of paper to make the legs longer. Be sure to include enough extra length for the hems.

Adjust the width of the pant leg openings if desired, to make them wider or narrower. Adjust the height of the waistband to make the pants sit higher or lower on the waist.

Follow the cutting guide in the pattern directions to pin the patterns to the fabric and cut out the pieces. Make sure to place any patterns on the fold that need to be.

Sew the pants pieces together, following the pattern directions. Be sure to try on the pants before hemming them, so you can adjust the length again if needed.

To add cuffs to the pants, cut two strips of fabric, each long enough to wrap around the lower part of the pant leg plus 1/2 inch, and twice as wide as you want the cuffs plus 1/2 inch. Fold each strip in half and stitch along the edge opposite the fold. Turn the cuff right side out, then press it flat and sew the short ends together. Turn the seam to the inside of the cuff and stitch each cuff to the lower edge of the pant legs, taking care not to sew the pant legs closed.

To make belt loops, cut strips of fabric 1 inch wide by 3 inches tall. Fold each strip in half and stitch along the edge opposite the fold. Turn the fabric right side out using a small safety pin and press it flat. Turn the short edges under 1/2 inch and press them flat. Zigzag stitch the folded ends of the loops to the waist of the pants.

To add a back pocket cut a piece of fabric 1/2 inch bigger all the away around than you want the finished pocket. Turn the edges of the pocket under 1/2 inch toward the wrong side and press them flat. Place the pocket on the pants and topstitch it in place, taking care not to sew the pants shut.

Tips & Warnings

  • When making adjustments, remember that you only need to add or subtract a tiny amount from each piece. For example, if the pattern has two front pieces and two back pieces and you want to make the pants 1 inch wider, you only need to add 1/8 inch to each side of each piece.
  • Use caution when working with scissors, pins, irons and sewing machines.

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