Sew a Great Pair of Pants with BurdaStyle

Hello from BurdaStyle! I'm Mandie, the community manager for DIY fashion destination I'll be popping in from time to time with the scoop on what's new on our site. This week, we're taking a look at sewing perfectly fitted trousers.

Stitching up a pair of pants can be a daunting project for many sewers. Beside the challenges of attaching waist facings, sewing in pockets, or tackling a zip fly, there's the struggle to cut and sew the perfect fit. It's so easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new pattern and end up with a garment that's just a centimeter or two away from fitting to flatter.

This tutorial by BurdaStyle's Meg Healy shows you how to solve a sewer's nightmare: you've finished a beautiful pair of pants, only to zip them up and find the waist is too tight. Learn to add much needed room to your garment, and disguise the extra fabric as a design element.

Here's Meg…

I recently made a pair of pants with the waist facing sewed in and everything, but they were too small on my waist! Sure, I tried them on a couple times in my sewing process, but when I was 100% done sewing I eagerly zipped them up the waist was too tight. This can happen for several reasons; you didn't preshrink your fabric, you didn't sew exactly on the seamline (overestimating the seam allowance), or simply just cut the wrong size pattern (oops). Here I will show you how I inserted a piece of faux leather into the waist so it looked like a design detail. I love my perfect fitting and edgy result. This technique will only work on a garment with no side seam pockets, or zippers.

First I measured 13" along my pant side seam (this measurement can vary depending on how much width you need to add, I was adding only 1 1/2" at the waistline). Put a pin at this marking.

I flipped up my waist facing and stitch ripped down my side seam to my pin. Then I took my pants to the sewing machine and backstitched to secure the end of the seam.

I gave my pants' seam allowance another press under the steam iron to keep them pressed to the wrong side.

Now I took my piece of faux leather and drafted my inserts. I drew a line 13" long (or as long as you measured down the side seam). I wanted to add 1 1/5" width to each side seam at my waist so on either side of each line I marked 3/4". Then I connected these marks with the end point. From there I added 1/2" seam allowance to all the edges except the waistline.

I cut the pieces out and then with my tracing wheel and ruler I marked the 1/2" seam line on the inserts. This makes it really easy to match up when sewing into the side seams. When working with faux leather you don't need to use tracing paper! The plush nature of the fabric will allow the tracing wheel to just mark small dots.

I sewed a stitching line at the top edge of each insert (this is the top of the waistline).

Now I carefully matched up the folds of my pants' side seam with the seamline of my inserts. If you have waist facing don't start the insert at their bottom edge, instead you need to match up the top of the insert with your finished waistline. I started sewing the side seam to the insert about 1/8" away from the fold all around, and pivoted at the bottom point of my insert.

To finish it off, I folded back the facings and hand stitched to the allowances of my insert. Now I have a cool detail on my pants that makes them look edgy and fit perfectly!

Meg's technique can give new life to all those almost perfect pants wasting away in your closet. Don't wait another second to wear this skinny jeans!

Want to see how to sew a pair of pants from start to finish? Download your copy of the BurdaStyle Pattern Kit of the Month, featuring the essential Pencil Trousers. This special kit includes a timeless trouser pattern, step-by-step tutorial, detailed videos on stitching the zip fly with waist facings and adding leather embellishments, a styling guide, and a discount to designer fabric store Get yours now for only $29.99!

Happy sewing!


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Easy Sewing Projects, Pants