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altering kid’s shorts or pants

RJ1 | Posted in Fitting on

Hi everyone!

Finally, my baby is going to school.  She is very excited about having many new friends to play with and the thought of wearing an uniform.  The problem is that she is too thin and short for even the smallest size pants.  Her waist is only 19 inches and the smallest size pants has waist size 21 inches.  When she tried on the shorts, it just dropped down and dangerously hung on her body and shorts looked like a pair of pants on her.  I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry-laught because she looked really rediculously funny, cry because I didn’t know what to do and her school will starts in Sept.  I would really appreciate if anyone could give me some points on altering the shorts/pants.  Thank you!


  1. sanderson | | #1

    'spenders work?...

    As a mother of skinny boys I do feel your pain.  My baby is 6'8" with a waist of maybe 30.  They don't make that size, either.  I told him he'll have to wear kilts until he gets enough meat to bother putting trousers together.   Most pants can be tightened with a dart sort of seam in the center back;  most men's pants are designed with this seam for altering. 

    1. kai230 | | #2

      most men's pants are designed with this seam for altering. 

      OK, this gives me an idea--how about looking for pants in the boys' sections? (They're often less expensive and better made than in the girls/womens' sections--at least for some adult pants you can go by waist and inseam.)

      The other things I first thought of were velcro tabs if you think she'll expand into them before she grows out of them, or adding belt loops (I like the suspenders idea very much--it was quite the rage w/little ones a few years back, but I'm not up-to-date). You could also look for elastic and drawstring (my fave) waists. I was also super skinny and so fortunate to have a Grandma who sewed practically in her sleep.

      One other thing. Unless times have changed, you might want to see if there are certain outfits she likes on classmates that she might want, instead of trying to fully outfit her ahead of time.

      Edit: Well, heck, I went back and saw these are uniforms. Sheesh. I used to wear them in the marching corps and the school's supplier had a tailor. See if the school will allow belts or suspenders, but it seems to me if they require a uniform that doesn't fit, they should find a way to make it fit.

      On the tailoring note, our skirts were supposed to be 18" (or something) from the floor. On the short girls, these were like mini-skirts; on me, it came just above my knees!

      Edited 8/12/2003 1:05:05 AM ET by kai

  2. marijke | | #3

    My skinny daughter is still in preschool, but without a belt, her jeans won't stay up either.

    If your daughter is wearing a prescribed uniform, you might try making a slit in the inside of the waistband, insert elastic, and close again (perhaps with a small patch of matching/coordinating fabric. It probably won't show much when she wears the skirt.

    A variation of this is something I saw at GapKids this summer: a buttom-hole like slit on the inside of the waistband (harder to create on RTW than before the item is sewn together) and elastic with buttonholes (don't think this is too hard to find). Sew a small button to the inside of the waist and pull the elastic to where the skirt fits comfortably and button it. Makes for a waist that can be adjusted on a daily basis, if needed.


    1. anneelsberry | | #4

      I was going to suggest the GapKids pants, too. Might be worth it to buy a pair to use as a pattern. Think I saw they were on sale for $19. DS is very tall and skinny, and those pants are about the only way I can get him dress pants that are long enough but don't hang down around his knees.

    2. RJ1 | | #5

      Hello everyone!

      Thank you, ladies, for all your precious suggestions.  It's time like this that I wish I were a skilled seamstress.  I've been looking at the pants for several days now trying to figure out how to reduce the waist size without making it look strange.  Even though the whole pants itself is really much too large,  I don't think I could cut every seam line and make the pants smaller proportionately.  The pants already has elastic stitched three lines on the back of the waist.  That's the reason why I have been looking at the waist without action. (If only looks can kill, it'll be finished 3 times more. Ha!) I'm afraid once I cut open the elastic that I couldn't stitch it back.  I like the idea of putting an elastic band with buttom hole on it.  I just wonders since the pants already has gathering at the waist will the elastic band reduced the waist size effectively.

      I'm thinking about cut the side seams but the front has two pockets.  If I only cut the side seams at the back portion fo the pants,  would it look very strange?  So, now you know what I mean by wishing to be a skilled seamstress. 

       By the way, does anyone know how the red word "unread" works?  I have already read the message but the word "unread" is still there.  I don't want people think that I don't treasure their opinion.  Thanks!

      1. kai230 | | #6

        The "unread" thing is not working consistently (if at all). They are working on a fix, and will announce it.

        Good luck on the fitting solution.

        I like the idea of putting an elastic band with buttom hole on it.  I just wonders since the pants already has gathering at the waist will the elastic band reduced the waist size effectively.

        I'm betting it would, but I just thought of something else if it doesn't or it makes it look too bunchy. What about an inside belt made of velcro, and stick the matching part to the inside of the waistband? That should add enough bulk, and hold the pants up.

        1. RJ1 | | #7

          Thank you, Kai.  I have already bought a roll of velcro.  Can't wait to try it.  Thanks again.

          1. sarahkayla | | #8

            My ds is tall enough for a size 8 and is a 4 in width. He wears suspenders with his uniformand is forbidden to leave the house not wearing a belt or suspenders.. he is prone to flashing.

            with a girl you can have her wear a skirt and replace the elastic with a smaller one.. ( a full pleated skirt works better than full trousers do on a boy)the uniform jumpers will also be more forgiving of her slight build. Some brands are cut slimmer than others.. i have found french toast clothing to be skimpy (if high in poly) Old Navy sometimes carries slims in uniform clothing.. it isn't as well made as Gap but it is easier on the wallet and is all cotton. H&M occasionaly has clothing that can pass as uniform clothing and is cheap to boot.

            summers are easier.. he can wear the shorts I've made him (some of themn he has worn since he was three or four (he is now 7)

            best of luck...

            sarah in nyc

          2. carolfresia | | #9

            I know that syndrome. When my son was 4 or 5, he wore a new pair of jeans (no elastic at all in the waist! What a big boy!) to the grocery store. At one point he was lagging behind, and when I turned around,  he was standing there with his pants around his ankles. I don't think there was ever a time in my life when I didn't have enough hips or derriere to support even a loose waistline. I ended up making suspenders becuase I couldn't find any to buy.


          3. bellefille | | #10

            I am a self-taught seamstress.  If it were me, I would take the pants to the fabric store and find a fabric as close as possible to the uniform ones and sew some new ones in a size that would fit.  We're talking first grade here--if they looked like the "real" ones, I don't think anyone would say anything.  They'd take one look at your grandchild's waist and applaud your creativity.  By next year those uniform pants will probably fit!  Good luck!

          4. sarahkayla | | #11

            Well - now that summer is over I had to go pants shopping again for my DS... grrrrr.. if only they made size 5 in super long... I was lucky enough to find lovely twill for $3 per yard at Paron on 40th street. so one pair of pants is nearly made and two more are cut out... It is a liz claiborn twill - much nicer than what the usual uniform pants are made of.. tho my tailoring leaves much to be desired...

            sarah in nyc

  3. SewTruTerry | | #12

    Your message brought back such memories for me that I am having trouble seeing the screen I have been laughing so much.  I too was at one time that skinny and also wore a uniform to school.  In first grade my mother took in a pleat the size of the Grand Canyon (or so it seemed at the time). Each year the pleat got a little smaller until 8th grade when I was finally going to be able to wear the skirt without a pleat and they changed the uniform on us.  And yes it was the same uniform skirt for all eight years and that skirt was the smallest that they made.  I only wish that I still had that little waist.

    But another suggestion that would not involve opening of any seams would be to hand stitch a piece or grosgrain ribbon in a matching color inside the waist band that you could also run the elastic with the button holes through.  You could also add buttons (say 5 of them) around the inside of the skirt or pants and add matching buttons to the shirt or blouse that she will be wearing and solve 2 problems at once by preventing the blouse from untucking.  Just some thoughts.

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