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April 27, 2015

how-to // alter pants (straight leg edition)

If you’re like me, you have clothes in the back of your closet that don’t fit quite how you’d like. I guess I should have said “If you’re unlike me” since people come is a variety of shapes & sizes, & that’s why clothes don't fit universally on everyone. I’ve had these pants for a while & kept meaning to do something about their awkward fit. They were too long & too baggy for my taste, but they fit really well in the waist. I’ve been putting together potential interview outfits while in the midst of job-seaching & I finally decided to do something about these baggy slacks. 
This method of alterations is just like the skinny jean tutorial, only we’ll be tailoring these into more of what’s called a “cigarette pant." It’s basically a straight leg, but unlike the traditional cigarette pant I won’t be making the legs as short. That being said, these pants came up few inches since they were too long, & we'll cover that alteration as well. Knowing how to alter pants is a great skill to have since not every pair of pants is going to fit everyone exactly the same way. 
This method of alterations works well if the pants fit in the waist. If you're trying to bring in pants that are too big overall, a belt can help the extra space up top. The waist band is a tricky thing to alter without taking the pants apart completely, & if your pants are way too big overall, you may as well start from scratch. If you have trouble finding pants that fit your body shape, always opt to purchase pants that fit in the waist. The length and fit around your legs are the easiest points to tailor to your body.

To do this alteration, you'll need:
  • Straight pins
  • A sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Matching thread (preferably of a strong weight)
Step 1. Find Your Fit | Put your pants on inside out. Button them at the waist & make sure they’re sitting on your body where you would normally wear them. Next, pin along the sides of your thighs, knees, & the widest point on your calves, bringing the pants in to fit your body. This step is easier to do with a buddy, but not impossible to do on your own. Since this is a straight leg alteration, it's not necessary to pin all the way down the leg. Pin down to the widest point of each calf. Make sure you leave about 1/2 inch of wiggle room between each pin & your leg. If your pant material is stretchy (a.k.a. contains a fair amount of spandex), you can pin closer for a more fitted look.
Step 2. Taking Them In | Take your pants off carefully - watch out for the needles!. With the pants still inside out, sew a straight stitch from the top of the pant leg to the bottom cuff. Begin your stitch line along the original seam line, meeting your newly pinned line. When you reach the last pin marking the widest part of your calf, sew straight down to the bottom cuff. Backstitch at the start & finish of your seam. Do this for both sides of each pant leg. 
Step 3. Check & Check Again | Turn your pants right side out, & try them on! As you can see mine didn’t fit right on the first go. That’s totally okay. If you don’t get it right the first time around, put your pants on inside out again, re-pin & re-sew. Always start each new seam along an old seam to avoid puckering. There’s no need to rip out the old seam & try again, just add to. 
Step 4. Find Your Length | When you're satisfied with the fit of your pants, you can cut off the excess fabric about 1/2 inch away from the seam. 

[Note: As you can see, I did not cut off the excess fabric. It's because I'm finicky & worried the skinny-fad will soon die out & baggy will be the new black. If you're altering pants for a growing child you can leave the excess fabric too for future letting-out.]

Put your pants on inside out & turn the bottom cuffs up to the desired length. I would recommend doing this step with shoes on so you get a feel for how they'll look in real time. Pin in place. 
Step 5. Finish The Cuff | Take your pants off, leaving them inside out. Do any readjustments to your cuff pinning to ensure the cuff is even all the way around. Sew a straight stitch along each cuff, sewing it in its new place. Backstitch at the beginning & finish of each new hem line.
Step 6. Press & Party! | Don't forget to iron your pants! If you opted to cut off the excess fabric in Step 4, press your new seams open. 

Hey-o. These pants are interview ready!


P.S. Now that you've got a stylish interview outfit, time to polish that resume!

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