Monday, June 2, 2008

How to take in dress pants (properly!)

Now, after my first how-to post, this is my first post of something I learned how to do! Hoooooray! (Sorry the actual posting of this is a couple of days late. Self-imposed deadlines are, shall we say, deadly? Also, sorry about no photos, they're on their way! I'm having technical difficulties with Blogger picture uploading. Maybe my next learned thing should be "how to upload photos when blogger won't let you!"?)

Last summer I bought this really cute pair of dressy capri pants when I was in Montreal. They were on sale for $10 and (bonus!) my parents were paying for them so I'd have office-appropriate clothing. Unfortunately, I didn't get myself a job until the weather had turned very chilly. Also unfortunately, in my excitement for the cheap price of the pants, I didn't really pay attention to how low they were sitting on my hips. Very low. They were too big. Now that it's warming up again, I needed to learn how to take them in properly so they still fit right and look gooooooood.

Step One: Gather Materials

-Sewing machine & thread that matches your pants
-Seam ripper (not scissors-- a seam ripper will make things a kazillion times easier for you. Trust me, I've tried using scissors when I couldn't find my seam ripper, and OY!)
-Scissors (maybe, good to have though)
-Pins
-The pants

Step Two: Try on the pants

Try on your pants to see how much they need to be taken in. Up to 2 inches should be doable without affecting the overall fit.

The best way, I have now learned, to take in pants at the waste is at the centre back seam, not the side seams where pockets and bad proportions can get in the way.

Just pinch the top of the pants until they sit where you want them to on your hips. It's probably a good idea to mark the spot, either by sticking a pin there, or with fabric pencils (if you have them). Might be helpful to have a friend help you out with this one. Mine only need to come in the exact width of my finger, so I'm opting for being lazy and not marking the spot.

Step Three: Seam-Ripping

Use your seam ripper to remove the stitching on the centre back seam on the wasteband, and a little ways down the back. How far you go depends on how much you need to take in. Be careful (seriously, very careful!) when you do this. Make sure you're not ripping your fabric, especially if your pants are tweed like mine. This is a bit of a headache.

Also a bit of a headache is when your dress pants have lining like mine. Take the stitching out on the lining too, a little further than you did for the outside fabric.

Step Four: Sewing

Match up the right sides (by "right side" I mean the side that faces the outside) of the pants where you just ripped the seam out. Pin it so they don't shift around while sewing, using straight pins.

Tip-ola: Proper pinning technique has the pins perpendicular to the edge of the fabric so that if you run over it with your sewing machine you don't break a needle. (Also pin the lining out of the way if you need to.)

Now it's time to sew. For real. Big step. Make sure you know what you're doing before you do it, because while it's possible to rip out your seams and start again, it's really annoying and could damage your fabric. If you're nervous or unsure, handstitch it loosely first, try them on again to make sure they're good, and then sew over it.

Start sewing at the spot you marked (I didn't mark a spot because I needed to take it in exactly the width of one finger, so I thought I could handle that.) If you are in any way unsure of how much you should be taking them in, it's MUCH better to err on the side of too little. If you take them in too much you have to rip out seams and start over. If you take them in too little you just have to re-sew.

Taper off slowly towards the original seam. Be careful not to go back too quickly, because then you'll just have a bump, which is not a hot thing to have right on your bum.

Step Five: Try them on

Try on the pants. Do they fit? Does your bum look as sexy as it truly is? If somethings sticking out strangely then you need to smooth out your transition to the original seam.

If they're too big then take in a little more. If they're too small then enjoy spending your evening ripping out the seam to start over. (Okay, it won't actually take the whole evening, but it won't be fun!)

Step Six: Trim That Thang!

Once they fit well, trim away the excess so that it's not adding extra bunchiness and volume to your rear end.

You may also want to finish the seam with a zig zag stitch, depending on what kind of fabric you're working with.

Step Seven: Lining (boo!)

If your pants are lined, time to sew that shut.

Here's where I got lazy. The "proper" way at this point would be holding it shut and hand-sewing so the seam is invisible. It can be done, it's a lot of work for something that's on the inside of your pants.

I just pinched it closed and sewed with the machine. Creates a visible seam, but I'll deal.

Step Eight: Flaunt 'Em Baby!

Your stylin' sexy new pants are done! You have fixed them all one your own, aren't you proud? Put them on and flaunt that sexy DIY rear-end of yours!

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