How to Sew Pants

People starting out in DIY fashion tend to be intimidated by pants, thinking they’re best left to the experts. But they’re actually pretty simple and make an excellent first project. Of course, if you’re working with denim or leather, that’s another matter—most people start with simple lounge pants or pajamas. Because they’re looser, you don’t have to be as precise, and you’re working with light, manageable textiles. Learn how to sew pants with this step-by-step guide.

Start by making your pattern. Lay out your fabric and fold it in half, with the wrong side up. Take a pair of jeans or jammies in a comfortable size, then lay them out flat over your fabric with the back seam along the fold. Pull the crotch back so it doesn’t bunch up. You should be able to see the seam from the waist to the ankle on either side. Trace around the pants with some chalk, staying two inches away from the top and bottom edges and half an inch from all other edges. Repeat to create the other leg, then cut around the line, making sure not to cut the fold.

On both legs, straight-stitch the edges from the crotch to the ankles. Remember, your fabric should be inside out. Do a zigzag stitch on the raw edges—it may seem unnecessary, but it reinforces the straight stitch and keeps them from getting undone in the wash. Next, straight-stitch the two legs together, starting at the bottom front side of the crotch up to the waist. Do the same at the back, then zigzag stitch the edges as you did with the legs.

For drawstrings, mark a point about two inches from the top to the middle seam, then mark another point an inch and a half to wither side. Mark a vertical line about one inch long on these points—they should be three inches apart and the same distance from the middle. Use a buttonhole stitch to finish these holes, or use your machine’s buttonhole setting. Again, zigzag-stitch along the raw edge of the waist.

Fold the waist at the two-inch mark, then straight-stitch across it. If you have buttonholes, make sure they are above the stitch. Slide in your drawstring—sticking a safety pin on one end should make this easier.

Finally, turn the pants inside out and try them on so you can decide on the length. Mark where you want them to end, then cut two inches below that point (if it needs cutting). Zigzag-stitch the raw edges, fold them up to the two-inch line, then turn them wrong-side out again. Straight-stitch about half an inch above the raw edge on both ankles, making sure the stitches are even. You can stop there, or add embellishments such as patches, side panels, and ruffles.

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