How to Make Dress Pants

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Whether you want dress slacks for the office or dress pants to wear with an evening jacket as an alternative to a skirt, making your own dress pants will let you choose just the style and fabric you want. For dress slacks, you’ll want to choose smooth but sturdy fabric such as polyester blends, twill, gabardine or wool, most likely in conservative colors such as tan, navy, black or gray. For evening wear, you’ll want to make dress pants from fancy fabric that matches your top, such as satin, rayon blends or even silk. Dress pants for evening wear look good in a variety of colors, from basic black to bright red or pale pastels.

Things You'll Need

  • Pants pattern
  • Fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Zipper
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Dressmaker’s chalk (optional)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine

Choose a dress pants pattern that suits the style you want, comes in the size you need and has all the features you want, such as pockets or belt loops. You may find dress pants in several places of the pattern catalog, such as the skirts/pants, suits and evening wear sections.

Buy fabric for your dress pants. The pattern envelope should list how much fabric you need, whether the fabric comes in a 44- or 60-inch width or if it has a nap. Many dressy fabrics don’t have a print, but they do have a thread pattern or shine, so when it doubt, use the “with nap” guidelines and cut all the dress pants pieces in the same direction.

Pick out good-quality matching thread for the fabric, and other any notions you need, such as fusible interfacing or a zipper. Polyester thread is a good choice for many dressy fabrics.

Cut out the pattern pieces using the size line you need. Carefully transfer any markings on the patterns, such as the placement of pockets or the zipper, to the fabric using pins or dressmaker’s chalk.

Adjust the patterns if needed to make the pants taller or shorter. Most patterns have lines where you can cut or fold the pattern and tape it to make it smaller, or add paper to make it longer. Make sure to leave extra length for hemming the leg openings.

Fold the fabric and cut out the dress pants pattern pieces, following the layout guide in the pattern directions. Make sure to place any pattern piecess 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.

Tips & Warnings

  • To hem dress pants that won’t be washed too often, you can use strips of fusible web instead of stitching. This will keep the fabric smooth and stitch-free.
  • Use caution when working with scissors, pins, irons and sewing machines.

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