DIY: Lengthen Your Child’s Pants
I’ve always been a total tightwad and pretty hardcore DIY, so other than the fact that my pension basically hit the floor last year, I’m remaining chill even in these trying economic times. One of the total tightwad/hardcore DIY activities that I enjoy doing at the beginning of every season is taking a look at my little girls’ wardrobes for the upcoming months, passing down what’s ready to be passed down, altering what can be altered to make it more seasonally appropriate, mending anything that’s torn or stained, and lengthening anything that my girls have grown out of.
Admittedly, I just love to sew for my kids, but even if you don’t, this method of lengthening your kiddo’s pants will give you months more service out of pants that are too short but still fit fine in the waist, and it really is quick and pretty easy. Of course, get ready to do it again in just a few months, because kids? They grow like weeds.
Measure your kid. You will need: pants to be lengthened; fabric scissors or rotary cutter; tape measure and/or ruler (ideally, a clear ruler and a gridded cutting mat); fabric of comparable weight to your pants fabric; sewing machine with an appropriate needle inserted.
1. Put the too-short pants on your kiddo, and measure the distance from the bottom of the pants to the length you want them to be–typically hitting at the top of the foot or the bottom of the heel, depending on the style, but the perfect pants length is really up to you. Shoes matter, so you may want to do this with shoes on. Add 1 to this measurement (to allow for seam allowance on both the pants and the replacement fabric) this is the width that you’ll need of replacement fabric.
2. Lay your pants out very flat, and figure out where you want to crop your pants. The beauty of this method is that we won’t be adding in our additional fabric at the bottom of the pants, where you’ll have to worry about cuffs and hems and it’ll totally look like a mend, but in the middle of each leg–seriously, I promise it’ll look cute. If the knees of the pants are worn or torn, you can just cut them out at this step, too, if you don’t forget to add the additional length to your replacement fabric. Otherwise, just pick a spot about halfway up the leg, at least a half-inch below the bottom of any pockets. Crop your pants at the knee
3. Measure up from the bottom of each leg of the pants, and slice them cleanly in half at exactly the same spot on each leg.
4. Measure the width of the pants leg where you sliced it, multiply by 2, and add a quarter-inch seam allowance–this is the length that you’ll need of replacement fabric. If your pants aren’t straight-legged or you’ve cropped out a torn or worn patch, you’ll need to measure the width of the pants at both the upper and lower cut, and the top and bottom lengths of your replacement fabric will likely be different.
5. The fun part is picking your replacement fabric. It should be approximately the same type as the pants–denim, fleece, whatever, but the color or pattern is up to your imagination. I’ve had a lot of success cutting replacement fabric out of otherwise unusable or discarded articles of clothing, and fabric remnants, especially of home decorating weight, are also good options.
6. Cut two identical pieces of replacement fabric, with the width measurements from step one and the length measurements from step four. Sew each piece, right sides together, into a tube and lay it flat up to your pants to check that it’s the correct width and diameter now.
7. Right sides together, sew your replacement fabric to the top half of your pants, then sew the bottom half of your pants to the replacement fabric. The only tricky thing here is to make sure that you line up the side seams of the top and bottom halves of your pants–if they don’t line up the pants will still work, but they’ll look messy.
You’re done! But do your pants still work? They do.
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By Julie Flinn, EcoChild'sPlay