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Today’s refashion is pretty gender-neutral. I’ve got these on my middle daughter here, but this method could just as easily be used to make a pair of trousers for my son. In fact, I’ve used this method to turn a pair of women’s black dress pants for my oldest daughter, when she was a toddler, and I can see myself doing the same to make my son a pair of affordable Sunday slacks I haven’t invested enough time or money in to be afraid of him trashing.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably got some clothes around that just never fit right, or that were well loved but just aren’t wearable any more. There are a few common solutions – jeans into shorts. T-shirts refashioned and redecorated. Or even – gasp – just giving things away, which I often do, but sometimes things aren’t even give-away-able. In my house we tend to ruin pants in such a way that most of the leg is actually fine, but the pants are just toast and can’t be used for shorts.
For example, if you manage to rip them in the inner thigh or across the crotch or butt.
Thankfully, this particular pair of jeggings wore out when I was getting back INTO my van at the oil change place. Like, laughing hysterically with gratitude most of the way home type thankful, because the thigh just BUSTED open. But I digress. I’m not here to discuss my brushes with humiliation, I’m here to discuss refashioning.
More specifically, today’s post is about taking a pair of old jeans, trousers, jeggings, leggings, or even an old skirt – anything with a finished hem – and turning it into a finished looking pair of pants for your little one. In my example I did the 30 minutes or less version, but if you were to put pockets on the bum, even fake ones, this could be taken up a few more notches yet and still be saving you time, money, and effort over buying or even sewing from scratch.
This is another example in a cream coloured pair of pants, refashioned from women’s khaki trousers. They took about 15 minutes, made in a leggings style with elastic waist, but you’d never guess that from looking at them. The professionally finished and often slightly distressed or stylized hem of the original pants is the biggest factor in that.
To do this, you’ll need to start with a pair of pants and a pattern. You can trace your own pattern, or you could buy a pdf. Some I’ve heard nothing but good things about are the Hosh Pants and Skinny Jeans for a closer fit and Clean Slate pants for a looser fit. (not affiliate links, just honest truths.) In the photo below I’m using my own leggings pattern for Olivia, and a leggings pattern will work as well, but you’ll need to add in a lot of ease if you’re using a non-stretchy material or a little for a stretch denim like I am in the tutorial.
The first thing you want to do is grab a seam ripper or a pair of scissors and open up the pants on the inside seam and lay one leg out flat.
Next, lay out your pattern piece on the first pant leg. If you have a seam on the outside of the leg, you want to center your pattern based on that. I’m known for my extreme professionalism as far as pattern weights are concerned (These are mason jar lids and a book, I’ve also used things like a Little People castle in the past.)
My home made leggings pattern did not have a hem allowance, but if yours does, you are going to want to subtract that length from your pattern or your pants will be too long. You don’t need to add a hem in later, remember? You’re going to use the one that’s already there!
Cut around your pant leg, and then repeat on the other side. Flip your pattern over when you’re cutting the other side. That gives you the left and right legs with the appropriate front and back. Because I’m using stretch denim with a legging pattern in my example, I cut extra ease. If you’re using a pants pattern, that’s totally unnecessary.
From here on you’ll just be following your pants directions as usual, outside of the fact that you will not need to sew up the hem. If you’re using a self drafted pattern, then my preferred method is to sew both pant legs inseams, then turn one pant leg right side out and place it inside the other so they are right sides facing. Sew up the crotch seam. Finish your waist, whether by making a casing and threading an elastic to it, sewing an elastic to it and then flipping that inward, or creating a waistband and sewing that onto the pants.
Whatever your finishing method – and if your child always wears their shirts untucked like mine, it hardly matters as long as it stays up – your pants will be finished in a fraction of the time that it looks like it took. “Wow, you made those yourself?!” pants in “Did you make those yourself?” time.