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Help altering pants legs

JunkQueen | Posted in General Discussion on

Please don’t laugh at me. My mind just won’t get around this problem today. I have a pair, well two pairs actually, of brown pants that have very wide legs. I look a lot like a really large tree stump when I wear them since I lost my girlish figure. Anyhow, on to the current problem. Is the best way to slim those legs down to take equal amounts from the outer and the inner leg seams? It’d be wonderful if I could just stick it in the serger and follow the inner seam, but I fear the outer seam line will not hang right.


  1. ohiostar | | #1

    If you can, get someone to help you "pin" the seams to the size you want and then evaluate the grain and the hang of the pants. It may not be possible to do this. Are the pants new? Are they cotton, or denim or poly knit?, Do they have a waistband or an elastic waist? Too many variables to just say yes or no. Hope this helps

    1. User avater
      JunkQueen | | #3

      Neither is new, new, but new enough that I'd like to alter then enough to get more wear out of them. One pair is 98% cotton and 2% Spandex. The other pair is 63% Polyester, 33% Rayon, and 4% Spandex. They both have waistbands, the top of which rest just at the bottom of my waist (about an inch or two above the belly button). No elastic. Both have front zippers and back pockets with flaps. The polyester pair has front slant pockets. The back of the leg is wider than the front on both of them. Incidentally, hubby just informed me one pair was gray, not brown. I have to say I agree with him. I bought them when I had cataracts and EVERYthing was viewed through a yellow haze...... I thought my hair was still ash brown with ash blond highlights. Turns out the blond I was seeing was really gray. Seriously.Thanks for the suggestion. I can get hubby to do the pinning for me. Surely I can trust him. I've let him perm and color my hair before. Last Monday was our 46th wedding anniversary, so he well knows the consequences if he messes up. *grinning*

      1. Cityoflostsouls | | #10

        I can't let this pass.  I have always told people they could buy my hair color at Walmart and I thought I was being honest.  I recently had catarract surgery and find my hair is white but tell me why mayonaise now has a pale pink cast to it!!!  That I don't understand.

        I tried to buy a neat pair of jeans at the Big R today marked to $5.00 (a great price for them) but I have recently (finally and at last) gained 5 pounds which is a dress size for me and I couldn't quite wear them and no altering is possible for too small!  All my RTW has an extra size built in since I have been too thin to look good in anything.  Just happy I am now filling them out.  Really is giving me an incentive to make something really nice for myself.  I have some beautiful material in my stash.

  2. Palady | | #2

    >> ... equal amounts from the outer and the inner leg seams? ... <<  My thought is doing this might well affect the drape.

    Would it be possible to safety pin new inner & outer leg seams and try them on?  The safety's would allow for making adjustments if necessary.  Mark where you have the pins.  then open the seams accordingly.

    In my experience, sometimes a "back" is wider than a front, so it's unlikely taking the same amount in each seam will get you the result you hope for. 

    The formula of taking-equal-amounts in every seam works only if the fashion is near straight lined.  With wide pant legs, the widening may vary considerably in the "back."  Though each leg might be addressed the same way.

    Do let us know how your project results.




    1. User avater
      JunkQueen | | #4

      Thanks for the suggestion. I'll enlist hubby's help in a few days, and see what I can do. I'll let you know how it goes.

  3. Tatsy | | #5

    The formula I've heard is half as much off the inseam as the outseam. That may be a good place to start, then see what changes need to be made. Also make sure you have enough room in the front to bend your knee and don't cut anything off until you've basted the seams and sat down. Leg room eliminates a lot of fitting issues in back and front.

    1. Palady | | #6

      >> ... enough room in the front to bend your knee  ... <<   EXCELLENT reminder!!

      Sometimes this ease need is overlooked.  In the elbow of a long sleeve as well.


  4. Susan -homedecsewing | | #7

    I am an expert at alterations, but always in a hurry when it comes to my own clothes. My favorite trick is to set the machine stitch really long and just baste  the side seams, try them on and see if its right, then sometimes the inside needs a little , maybe not.I often lay a good fitting favorite pant on top of the ones I want to take in, mark with chalk, then baste with that long stitch.and try them on before cutting away extra fabric. Good Luck,And we won't laugh at you, we all love to help ! Susan

  5. woggy | | #8

    I have read many times on PatternReview that if you want to change the shape of the leg to take in the same amount from the hem to the knee on the side seam and inseam. If you don't, the leg can twist on you.Woggy

    1. User avater
      JunkQueen | | #9

      I've just spent several hours doing maintenance on my computer files in the hopes of "fixing" whatever the problem is that is keeping me from being able to reply to Gatherings messages. Hopefully, this one will go through. If so, I hope other members know I'm appreciative of all their suggestions.Thank you for yours. It makes sense to my left side dominant brain....

  6. zuwena | | #11

    I am going to weigh in with just a little bit of advice.  From the knee down to the hem, which should be basically a straight line (unless the pant is intended to be flared) you should take in equal amounts on inseam and outseam in order to maintain the centering of the crease lines.  Also, as someone has mentioned, it should help to prevent twisting of the pant leg.

    Above the knee to the crotch line, you need to see whether 1) there is excess that can be removed from the outer/side seam line.  If so, then be sure the draw the new seam line to blend from him to knee.  (2) whether the excess is in the back seat area or the  front to determine where to focus your attention.  In most cases, it will be around the area of the back thigh.  The excess will need to come out along the inseam in back because if you take it from the front inseam you will get a pull that causes a stress fold across the front thigh.  Hope this is helpful. Z

    1. User avater
      JunkQueen | | #12

      Very helpful. Thank you. I had to delay the alteration, well, because life got in the way. Soon as I get the first one done, I'll post it. I do appreciate all the advice I've gotten for this wonderful group of women.

  7. Teaf5 | | #13

    When altering pants to fit, I turn them inside out before pressing the seamline and then putting them on and pinning new lines.  Generally, I only take in the outside seams, but I'll take in the inside seams if I also need to get rid of some crotch depth.

    After pinning the new line, I use a yardstick and chalk to mark straight lines down from the hip point, and then I, too, stitch with a very long basting stitch to make sure!

    1. woggy | | #14

      Teaf5,One has to be careful about turning pants inside out and putting them on for alteration - one hip could be of different size causing the pant leg to not hang properly once they are put on correctly.Woggy

      1. Teaf5 | | #16

        Good point! I'm lucky in that I'm very symmetrical, but I still have to account for ease because the seam allowances will create some bulk when the slacks are turned the right side out.

        1. User avater
          JunkQueen | | #17

          Because I always like hearing the outcome of procedures where suggestions have been offered here, I am posting this. I had to put the alterations on hold at the time the suggestions were offered. Then, the first of July, I lost my sweet husband, and I've since lost even more weight. The pants in question will likely go in the donation bag. Nevertheless, I hope others were able to use the posted information.

          1. Gloriasews | | #18

            Oh, JunkQueen, I'm so very sorry for your loss.  Losing a dear hubby is devastating!  It changes your life & your future unbelievably.  I know what it's like & I send you a hug. 

          2. miatamomma | | #19

            As someone who is in 50+ years of a marriage that was made in heaven, please know that my heart and many other hearts are aching for you and your family.  Much love and hugs to you.


          3. Teaf5 | | #20

            Deepest condolences on your loss--please know that a whole community is here for support and communication.

          4. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #21

            I appreciate all your kind words. Of course I miss him terribly. It's as if part of me is gone, and it is --- we were married more than 46 years. Thank you for caring.

          5. Crazy K | | #22

            Please accept my sympathy.  Being a 'senior' and a DH 12 years my senior, the thoughts cross my mind.......the 'what ifs'.........

            My heart goes out to you.  I'm newly married in comparison........22 yrs. this marriage......but we go and do nearly everything together..........


          6. jjgg | | #23

            Oh, JunkQueen,
            I am so sorry to hear about your loss, I just lost my brother August 1st, but that is nothing like losing a husband of so many years,

          7. KharminJ | | #24

            Dear JQ ~

            Please know that you have lots of love, support and understanding here!Bright Blessings on this new stage of your life ~ Kharmin

          8. User avater
            Sewista | | #25

            So very sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you.

          9. sewelegant | | #26

            I too am so sorry to hear of your loss, especially when you always had such nice things to say about your dear husband.  My prayers will be with you in hopes that you will be able to accept this with dignity and grace and come out an even better person. 


          10. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #27

            Dearest Friend, My deepest sympathy in your time of loss. (((()))) I wish I had known sooner, so I could have been there for you. Cathy

          11. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #28

            Thank you.  All of you.  I'm sort of past the numbness now.  We'd known his time was limited for a while and prepared as best we could.  I'm realizing all the small things he did every day to make my life easier, as well as learning the big things he did to make this transition easier for me.  Most of all, I've been amazed at the lives he touched from all walks of life.  The outpouring of love and admiration has helped sustain me.  Just this past weekend one of his duck carvings was anonymously donated to and auctioned by The Safari Club for their scholarship fund.  He would have been so proud as he often donated his carvings to various groups to be auctioned. 

            I don't mean to be maudlin.   Hope it doesn't come across that way.



          12. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #29

            No, not maudlin. Just a proud woman who grieves her partner. That is allowed. And there are many shoulders here, and arms to comfort. A burden shared is a burden lessened, my friend. Cathy

    2. jjgg | | #15

      Generally, when altering pants that are too big in the seat, waist and legs, I take them in in the center back, and then the back leg portion of the inseam only. I leave the front leg the way it is. This is usually the standard alteration on men's pants.

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