W.I.P. Wednesday : Sewing Childrens Pants, A Tutoral

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At long last…I know I said I’d post this forever ago, but did you know that the most cutting-edge scientific research suggests that time is elastic, not linear, so really, this post is right on time!

This is so easy to do that I feel a little silly writing up a tutorial post on how to sew a basic pair of children’s elastic waist pants…but the thing is, that even though I find it all so obvious now, I sure didn’t the first time I had an inkling to sew the Guppy a pair of pants all by myself! If there’s one thing I have learned from 6 years of studying literature, it’s “deconstructing” – taking it apart, to better see how it’s put together. That’s basically what I did with a pair of Guppy’s too small/too stained pants one day, and it all became clear…not the meaning of life mind you, just how to put together a quickie but nice pair of pants for a little one.

So here we go : pretty please let me know if anything is unclear, or if you’re an experienced stitcher and have any shortcuts or suggestions – I’d love to add them to the post.

Please keep in mind that this technique will work well for children up to about a size 4 to 6ish – because it’s an elastic waist and there isn’t any real curve to the legs it could get clumpy and get wonky in a larger size. That being said Guppy (age 4)  is now wearing size 6 pants but she’s a tall, skinny fish, so it’s still working out just fine for us.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED :

  • Fabric for the new pair of pants. Be sure to pre-shrink it (wash, dry & press)
  • A pair of pants that currently fit the child in question
  • Aprox. 1/2″ wide elastic for the waist & the child’s waist measurement
  • pins, thread, a chopstick or bobkin, masking tape, etc.
  • Some groovy music in the background.
  • “right side” has nothing to do with Republicans, the UMP or The Force. It means the printed side of your fabric. When I say “wrong side”, it just means the inside of your fabric, basically what your knees look at all day.

FIRST :

Fold the pair of pants in half length-wise (so the back pockets are touching) and lie them on your chosen material (which has been folded in half, right sides together.) You can either trace a line around the pants here, or just pin them. Then carefully cut out your fabric. If you’d like the pants to be longer or wider, cut/draw accordingly. Don’t forget to add a little extra fabric for your seam allowance. I’m pretty conservative (nervous about messing up) so I tend to go large on the allowance, about a quarter to a half an inch. I’d rather leave more and trim it off later. You’ll need to leave a good 1.5inch allowance for the waist (you’ll be folding that down to insert your elastic!).

Now do it again. In the end you should end up with 4 pieces that look something like this :

First

I know, bang-up brilliant photographing stripes on stripes. Please, call the fashion police on me right now!

SECOND :

Now take two of your four pieces and match them up, right sides together so they look like one piece. Here’s what they would look like right before matching them up:

2nd

Now flop those babies together and your going to sew from the crotch (I know, you hate that word, but that’s life kids) to what will be your waistband. When you’re done it should look like this :

3rd

See how it looks like a half of a pair of pants already? Nifty, huh? Now you go and do the very same thing with the remaining two pieces of your pants-puzzle. When you’re done, match up the two pieces (which once were four…it’s all about unity here people), right sides together, like so:

4th

Now, if you have really good vision or a very big screen, you can see that the insides of the legs have been pinned together. I suggest sewing up one side of one of the legs, bridging the crotch (meaning keeping sewing joining/across the crotch), then sewing down the other leg. Now go plug in your iron.

If you’re freaking out because nothing seems to be matching up just take a breath – it’s ok. Use your waist as a guide and keep that as even as you can – uneven leg lengths can be fixed easily at the end, and even leg widths can be easily fixed by moving your seam in or out a little. These are elastic-waisted kids pants – little mistakes aren’t going to show, and you’ll be a pro by your second or third pair so don’t sweat it!

Have you sewn up the insides of the legs? Good, now sew the outsides. See how easy that was? Now let’s finish these babies up by working on the waist. Fold it down about 1/2″, iron your fold quickly to keep things neat, then fold down again 1/2″ and iron again. Now pin. You could probably fold down a little less here, but I like to use 1/2″ wide elastic for my waist, so this is what works for me.

5th

Next you’re going to sew around the waistband, with about a 1/8th seam allowance, being sure to remember to leave a few inches (or centimeters, whatever) for you to insert the elastic. This is very important that’s why it’s in bold! It’s easy to forget to do this when you’re phone is ringing and your daughter is singing “Hallo Spaceboy”* at the top of her lungs next to you (and she only knows the refrain). Or whatever. Just don’t forget, or keep a seam ripper handy. Or both.

This is what we’re going for :

6th

NEXT :

Grab your chopstick (unless you have a bodkin, then you’re just lucky I guess) and place the elastic on one end, like, ahem, a helmetish. Then put masking tape over that, giving it a sort of “rocket ship” type of look. It would be so much easier to describe this if I had a broom handle and this was sex-ed, but it’s not, so just look at the picture :

chopsrt

Now just insert this into one side of your waistband and run it through, feeding as you go. Don’t forget to fix the stray end of elastic or it’ll finish in there with everything else. Go nice and slow here because you don’t want your elastic to get all twisty in there. Once you’ve fed it through, sew the ends of the elastic together, overlapping them for strength. I usually sew back and forth a few times. Then close the little gap you left, being careful not to catch the elastic in your stitches.

tada

And here you go, a very snazzy pair of cotton/linen blend pants made from gifted fabric from the SIL. Wish I had enough to make a pair for me! And yes, that is a huge, ugly, black thread hanging from the leg because I haven’t sewn the hems on the legs yet! I made these while Guppy was napping, and tomorrow I’ll have her try them on and adjust the length. For the final leg hem just fold like you did for the waist : fold once, then iron, then fold again. How much? Depends. If you want a more mod cuff you could fold and inch or more, really.

I hope you were able to follow along and do hope you give it a shot. It is so easy, and really doesn’t use much fabric, especially for wee ones under 3. Again, comment or email if you have a question – and send me a link if you give it a try!

A warm welcome to all our new Wipsters! If you’d like to join the Wipster list, just send me an email. The W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool just keeps growing – don’t be shy! Those photos are there to inspire, and we would love to see what you’ve been up to. Think of it as your parents’ fridge : a safe and loving place to highligh what you’ve been working on (without the strawberry jam stains on the door).

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*Is it just me or is David Bowie getting even sexier? I really need to work him into W.I.P. Wednesday more often. So glad Guppy has good taste in music!

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16 thoughts on “W.I.P. Wednesday : Sewing Childrens Pants, A Tutoral

  1. you are too awesome, Shelly! i love the pants & the tutorial is perfect! brilliant idea on the deconstructing – i never would have thought of that.

    hope you’re having a super stellar weekend! yay!

  2. well done fishy… i’m thinking right now about all the obnoxious fabric i could use to make mr guava a really ridiculous pair of pj’s… heheee… **Guava chortles mischeviously**… “but I worked so hard, and pricked all my fingers, and made those especially for YOU to wear when your family comes over for the holidays!!!” [insert welling crocodile tears here...] MWHAHHAAHA….

  3. I did it Shel! I made a pair of lightweight hiking pants using your tutorial!!! Now all I need to do is hem the bottoms. It took me two tries to get the seam allowance correct (the first time I couldn’t get the pants up over my knees!). I feel like a silly granny with elastic-waisted pants, but whatever, this is the first time in years that a pair of pants fit decently!!! Thanks so much for sharing this information!!!

  4. I really hate that word crotch! Aren’t pants just the most satisfying fun things to make! Lucky for me eva is still wearing pants, Lucia wont look at anything that’s not pink or a skirt and Siena, well Siena is a tough nut, let’s just say that!!

  5. Love the pants. I need to make some for the boys. I have some really cute “Three Stooges” material. I am finally getting settled so I can start WIP again.

  6. What a super tutorial Shel! I’m shorter than heck and am considering making a pair of these for myself (because I also lack style, I don’t mind the elastic waste much). But, one question: what do you mean by bridge the crotch? Thanks!

    Guppy is lucky to have a mom who whips up cool pants for her!

  7. The choptick trick is neat! It must go much faster than the safety pin my grandma used to use for that purpose – she has the patience of an angel!
    Guppy’s pants are really cute. You did a fabulous job!

  8. quite the talented seamstress you are. i tried making a dress once, and it turned out like a bathrobe gunny sack. i stick to sewing crafts… but you’ve got some skills!

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