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Project Fifty One: How to Restyle a Pair of Adult’s Trousers to fit a Boy

May 10, 2011

As I have mentioned before, I have a lot of sisters, and one of the perks of having many sisters is that you get to swap clothes a lot. One sister in particular, has a bit of a clothes obsession and is often bringing me bags of her rejects to rummage through before she takes them to charity shops. Last weekend was one of those occasions, but this time as I rummaged through, instead of looking for clothes for myself (I have too many already and am trying to cut back), I was looking for fabric, and particularly for fabric I could use to make clothes for the boy. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a pair of lovely grey and white striped tailored trousers, from Topshop, rejected because they were too big, but the perfect thing to restyle into some trousers for the boy.

So, without further ado, let me present you with my second project for the Kids Clothes Week Challenge: adapting and changing these women’s trousers into trousers that would fit the boy. I am pleased to announce that the task was a lot easier than I had imagined, and this would also work perfectly for adjusting trousers, shorts and skirts for anybody. I know I have a few pairs of trousers that are just a little bit too big and would fit perfectly if only I got round to adjusting them like this! I’d imagine you could also use this method to alter trousers and jeans from baggy or loose-fitting to skinny jeans styles.

Here’s what I did, and what you need to do if you want to restyle a pair of adult trousers to fit a child (or even just adjust a pair of trousers that are too big for you):

  • First, pick apart the stitches attaching the waistband to the trousers at both sides and the back, where the two trouser legs meet. You need to pick apart enough of the waistband so that you can take in as much trouser leg as you need to. This will depend on how much you are shrinking the original trousers. In the boy’s case, I needed about four inches of waistband exposed at all three sites.

  • Next, lay the trousers out flat and place some trousers that fit the child on top, matching the waistbands, so you can get an idea of how much trouser leg you need to remove. Pin or draw lines that follow the child’s trouser legs on the original trousers.

  • Now, sew along the line you drew or pinned, in order to adapt the trouser legs and make them smaller. Once you have sewn a new seam, cut off the excess fabric.

  • Cut the bottoms off the trouser legs so they are one inch longer than the child’s trousers you are using as a size guide.

  • Get the child to try on the altered trousers. This is your first opportunity to see how much more tweaking will be needed to make the trousers fit. Pin or mark how much more of the trouser legs you need to take in, and sew again.
  • Once you have done both outside legs, you need to see how much needs to be altered around the seat of the trousers to accommodate a smaller bum than originally intended. This is why you needed to unpick the back of the waistband where the trouser legs met. With the trousers on the child, pin or mark how much you need to take in to make them fit snuggly. This might be easier done with the trousers on inside out.

  • Stitch along the inner seam from the top all the way round to the crotch, taking in less and less (rather like you would when sewing darts), so that your stitching meets up with the original stitching where the inner leg seams meet the back seam. You may also want to take in a little of the inner leg seams at this point. I took in only a quarter of an inch here. How much of the crotch and inside legs you need to take in will depend entirely on the size of the original trousers and the size of the child the trousers are intended for. In my case, the original trousers were women’s hipsters, so they didn’t need too much altering in the middle and inside leg to fit a tall 8-year-old boy. Just follow the original seam stitches and you shouldn’t go too wrong.
  • Now, try the trousers on the child again, still inside out. Depending on the fit of the trousers you may need to add some darts at the front and the back. In my case I added two darts at the back to ensure a better fit and follow the curve of the lower back up to the waist. I included the waistband in the darts otherwise the waistband would have gaped at the top. As you can see from the photo, I added the darts after sewing the waistband back together, but in retrospect, it’s probably easier to sew the darts in first, before closing the waistband up.

Gaping waistband

Darts in place to fix the gaping

  • Now you need to sew the waistband back together. First, cut the waistband open where you unpicked it from the leg fabric. Depending on how much of the trouser leg you took in, you may want to cut off some of your waistband. I cut off about half an inch from all three sides. Now topstitch one end of the cut waistband back in place with the trouser leg fabric sandwiched inside (as it was originally). Fold over and press the other side of the waistband to give it a folded edge that overlaps the edge you have sewn back in place. Sew this back in place, sandwiched over the other end of the waistband. Topstitch along the bottom of the waistband where it joins the trouser leg and then up the waistband to close it. Does that make sense? If not, maybe the photos make it clearer:

  • Once you are happy with the fit of your waist, you are ready to finish off the trousers by hemming the legs. Get the child you are making these for try on the trousers and then fold and pin the hem to the desired length. I like a double fold on my hems so that no raw edge is exposed. Once you have folded and pinned, take the trousers off the child and press and then sew the hem closed using a stitch of your choice. I just do this on my machine with a topstitch setting, but I know some people prefer to handstitch using proper blind hem stitches.
  • Now sit back and admire your clever handiwork!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2011 10:13 pm

    I am going to be really cheeky and ask if you’ve any ideas on how to turn a pair of ladies trousers into the tapered leg style thats popular at the minute. I really like this shape and was looking at some of the trousers I had thinking could they be adusted at the leg to get this shape? Tell me to buzz off if you want to!!!

    • May 12, 2011 3:28 pm

      ooh mumofalltrades I think that would definately be possible! As long as you can unpick the stitches that attach the outside legs to the waistband. you can then adjust the shape of the legs of the trousers by sewing a new seam along the outside leg seam, and then you can also take in the trouser legs on the inside leg seam from the bottom hem to the knees so that they are tapered and tighter fitting. Does that make sense?

  2. May 14, 2011 9:56 am

    another awesome project. Well done. I’ve taken the last 2 days off the KCWC because life is a bit insane but I’m glad to have achieved some things. I love all your projects for the year – it’s so cool!

  3. butterflyexperience permalink
    May 15, 2011 8:05 pm

    Fantastic, loving your blog

  4. May 16, 2011 6:18 pm

    yes I think I follow you! I must have a go


  1. How I Got on with the Kids Clothes Week Challenge 2011 « so resourceful

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