Refashioning garments, which is the process of altering clothing for different uses, is gaining in popularity with seamstresses who enjoy making unique fashion statements. Pants, one of the more expensive and time-consuming articles of clothing to sew from scratch, are a popular choice for refashioning, particularly when altering a pair of men’s pants to fit women. While the alteration process on a pair of pants may seem complicated, successful pants refashioning can be accomplished by even novice seamstresses.
Try on the pants to determine where the alterations need to take place. The pants should fit well through the widest part of your lower body. For most women, this will be the hip area, although it may be the waist or thighs.
Remove the waistband of the pants by using the seam ripper. Start on the inside of the waistband, removing the stitches that hold the inner portion of the waistband in place. This will open up the waistband, so that you can see the stitches holding the outer portion of the waistband to the pants. Remove these stitches with the seam ripper, so that the waistband comes free from the rest of the pants.
Try on the pants again, this time with the wrong side out, and pin the pants along the side seams so that you get the desired fit. Sit down while wearing the pants to make sure they have enough ease in them to be comfortable.
Adjust the top of the pants so that the waistline is level from the front to the back. Mark with pins any areas that may need to be trimmed before reattaching the waistband.
Sew the side seams and trim the top of the waist, if necessary. Remember to leave a ½ inch seam allowance at the top of the pants, to be used for reattaching the waistband.
Remove the button(s) from the waistband, and turn the waistband piece inside out. Pin the waistband to the necessary length, measured by holding the waistband against the newly sewn waist of the pants. Pin the waistband end right-sides together, in the same manner that the end of the waistband was originally sewn, remembering to leave enough length to allow for the overlap for the buttonhole.
Sew the end of the waistband, trim the excess fabric, and turn the waistband right-side out.
Pin the waistband to the pants, right-sides together, matching ends and allowing for the buttonhole to overlap so that it matches the button. Sew the outer portion of the waistband to the pants.
Fold the inside of the waistband over the seam you just sewed, and pin in place. Hand sew the inside of the waistband down to the seam allowance of the pants.
Reattach the button(s) removed earlier.
Try on the pants to determine the correct hem length. If adjustments need to be made, undo the original hem with the seam ripper and pin to the desired length. Hand sew the hem in place.
If the pants have a low crotch, you may need to adjust the rise of the pants as well. The easiest way to achieve a good fit is to pull the pants up until the crotch fits the way you want, then re-pin the sides and the waist of the pants. You will need to trim the top of the pants off to accommodate the excess fabric that results from raising the pants beyond your waistline.
Take care when trying on garments with straight pins in them. You may need a friend to help you with this process, so that you don’t scratch yourself.
Kelli Nottingham has been a freelance writer for more than five years, with published works on topics ranging from international travel to home decor DIY projects. A graduate of Duke University and the University of Colorado, Nottingham holds degrees in anthropology of religion, with a focus on religious ritual. She is also a recognized professional speaker with national experience.