Monday, June 3, 2013

A Quick Fix for Cheap Pants!

Okay, so after I finished that quilt project I was totally on a high. I admit I've been doing a lot of crafts lately-- sewing mostly but I've been branching out into knitting and of course creative baking/cooking. Most of the time things come out okay. Maybe not amazing but serviceable or edible but nothing special (certainly not worth blogging about....). The quilt project was notable for several reasons but chiefly because a) it turned out the way I planned   b) I didn't have to go back to the craft store for additional supplies  c) I didn't have to rip out any seams or stitches.

In general, I think I've more successes than failures but there are still plenty of flops, for sure. I've bins of fabric, patterns and a half knitted pillow currently mocking me. Not to mention the 5 pints of strawberry "topping" I made and canned 3 weeks ago that was supposed to be jam. So when all the stars align (and the fabrics, too) I rejoice and do the happy craft dance!

That being said, I was excited to get started on the next project. However, I really felt like I needed to get some of my backlogged utility sewing out of the way before I could "play". Our littlest one is still in his crib and is a thrasher/kicker so we zip him into a sleep sack instead of blankets most nights. His fleece sleepsack (already a hand-me-down from brother) has gotten a lot of extended use. The zipper on that thing actually wore out. Rather than buy a whole new sleep sack, I spent $2.29 at Wal-Mart for a replacement zipper and spent a day ripping out the old one and sewing in the new.

The other utility sewing project I had put aside was a pile of pants. If you are like me, you have found that the cheapest pants & shorts out there are all elastic waisted. This may not be a problem for you but I have two boys with very narrow waists. One is just a skinny twig, the other is small with no noticeable butt what-so-ever. I have actually had both boys run and/or crawl out of pants that have just slipped past their tiny backsides. At home its merely annoying but at school or out in public this could be a bit embarrassing. I have actually seen my older boy try to run across the school play-yard while holding his pants up with one hand. Its just not a good thing!

Here is my quick fix solution. You should have a "tailored" pair of pants in 10-20 minutes (depending on your sewing savvy). In addition to fixing kids' pants, this will work on any elastic waist pants.

Before (pants A)
After (pants A)

Before (pants B)
After (pants B)

Elastic (I like 3/8"), estimate 12" per pant/short
2 or 3 safety pins
sewing scissors

1) Looking only at the inside waistband of your pants, determine the sewing pattern used. Usually its either a top line of stitches and bottom line of stitches with the elastic in between or sometimes there is a third line of stitches down the middle as well. You can use this method with both but its a bigger hassle with the 3 stitch type and you might need to use 2 smaller elastics instead of one larger. In my examples, you can see the tan pants have two lines of stitches and the grey ones have 3. In the grey ones, I actually only used the top channel and decided that one piece of elastic was enough for me.

2) Carefully cut between (not through) the top line of stitches and the bottom line of stitches on the far left side and far right side ONLY on the inside fabric of the pants.

3) Attach one safety pin to end of elastic. Starting at one end (doesn't matter which) thread elastic down center channel until it exits out the opposite hole. BE SURE NOT TO LET END OF ELASTIC GET LOST INSIDE WAISTBAND!! I recommend NOT pre-cutting the elastic so you'll have extra slack to hang out the hole. If you do have a short piece, when it seems like its getting near the end, pin the end to the opening with one of your extra safety pins. Sometimes they have sewn the middle of the waistband down and you can't pass your safety pin all the way across. In this case, cut an additional hole near the center of the waistband and follow the remaining instructions. Then REPEAT for the other half of the back waistband. (That's what I had to do for the grey pants)

4) Using your needle and thread, carefully sew the safety pinned elastic end to the pants. Don't sew too near the end or the elastic can sometimes unravel. If you sew similarly to attaching a button, you'll be in good shape.

5) Gently but firmly tug the unattached end of the elastic until the back of the pants has tightened to your desired tautness. In my situation, this pretty much meant I was taking up all of the slack and stretching the elastic to about 80% capacity. You don't really want to get to 100% because the constant strain on the elastic will cause it to snap or wear out more quickly, and you'll just have to do the whole project over again.

6. Use one of your safety pins to attach the tightened elastic to the pants. Sew down this end as you did for the first one. Cut off any excess elastic. Check fit of pants at this point.

7) If you are satisfied, close up the holes you cut in the pants. It doesn't really matter what the stitching looks like since this is the inside of the waistband that no one will likely ever see. If it really bothers you, you can always use an invisible stitch or use a sewing machine to embroider over the whole mess.

And now that I've finished my chores, I'm off to work on something a little bit more interesting!! I've got the sewing bug right now, so expect a few more fabric based projects (at least until my attention wanders... again!)

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