Waist Not, Want Not

What do you do when you buy new jeans, give them to a seamstress to hem, and a year later pick them up to find nothing has been done?

My friend did just that and now she needs not only the hems shortened 2 inches but the waist enlarged 1-2 inches as well. OK, now I hear you all moaning and saying, jeans waistbands cannot be lengthened or altered as they are in one piece….BUT…let’s get creative shall we?

First I cut 1.5 inches off the length knowing that I could open up the previous stitched hem and find another 1/2 inch inside…a bonus when you need it! Now let’s start on the one pair that needs only one inch…well it might as well be 5 inches for the messing around but here goes. I start with this scene and seam:other-side-beforeThis is the right side that I will not be opening up. On the left side I am cutting right through the waistband to the side seam double stitching. Then I remove 2 rows of that topstitching and allow the side seam to open to a wedge. A patch is inserted, one side sewn to the raw edge and the other side just tucked under the folded edge of the previously top stitched seam edge.1-new-wedge

The only issue is what to do with the remaining raw edge on the waistband…well I just zigzagged over it to flatten it and re-stitched the double row down the side seam. Not too bad so far…but wait…what about the inside? Well, the patch folded over the top and flipped down at an angle inside so it was hand sewn to secure the edges and then the waistband topstitching was done to finish.2-inside-wedge

I am lazy so I fill the bobbin with thick jeans thread and sew from the wrong side using regular poly thread in the top spool. Then when I get to the end where it joins the old thread, I don’t back tack and make a clump of thread, I stop, cut a long tail and use the poly thread to pull the jeans thread to the wrong side of the garment and tie them together with a surgeon’s knot and snip off.

The other pair of jeans was needing 2 full inches but there were 2 sets of sewn down pleats so we could “borrow” from one, flatten it out and gain the inch on each side…OK Mrs. Mole…what happens to the waistband? Well remember I had to cut another 2 inches off the hems and I had a nice piece to attach at center back. Yes, I had to remove the entire waistband and release all the belt loops from the pants body but this is not so bad.1-waistband-patch3-front-pleat-removed

The other issue with these pants was the zipper was broken…brand new but broken so it had to be completely removed and replaced…heck, the waistband was already removed so at least that was the first step.4-back-of-zipper-flap Then baste the new zipper to the over flap for double stitching on the right side.5-other-side-of-zipper Open the slot between the two edges on the under flap and slide the new zipper in there to be top stitched down.

6-new-zipper-basted Then tuck everything down inside and do that double curved top stitching around the fly to make it look like the original and attach the waistband again. OH…almost forgot…to reduce bulk my client wanted me to remove the pockets…quite a frequent request so I serged off the inside pockets and stitched the openings closed.2-remove-pocket Belt loops were re-attached using a small straight stitch, not a bar tack…who needs bulk?

Last pair of pants were standard ladies pants from Kohl’s Apt 1 brand. They needed 2 inches to the waist as well and guess where I found it? The waistband was more like a man’s so it could be let out all in one seam but when I opened it up I was surprised, well not really, to find the center back seams were sewn way off…can you see?1-wasitband-difference2-inside-waistband But now they are equal on the raw edges…yahoo!3-opened-up-and-basted

You never know what treasures you will find in RTW…small joys for the seamstress.

Wishing everyone happy sewing times, only small problems and better weather for our friends on the East coast of the US…wrap up or stay in and sew!

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26 Responses to Waist Not, Want Not

  1. Sewbussted says:

    Great and very creative saves. Good info to store away for possible future reference.

  2. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Rhonda…your Monday post was so filled with great ideas for new fashions! http://www.rhondabuss.blogspot.com/2014/01/monday-morning-inspiration_20.html

  3. Bunny says:

    Great job on all the pants! You have just tackled my most heinous of alterations. A round of applause for Mrs. Mole!

  4. symondezyn says:

    Hehehe your waistband trick in the white pair is what I just had to do in a skirt I’m making because I totally buggered up & sewed one dart instead of two, and needed to enlarge the waistband to compensate – it’s not a bad solution; hardly noticeable if it’s pressed nice and neat, it looks like a design feature! LOL

    That’s a wow on the last pair; amazing how often stuff like this ends up in RTW – kinda makes me feel better about my sewing imperfections; at least my seams are even!! LOL

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Amanda, a design feature is what i was going for…most waistbands in older women get covered up with a blouse hem not tucked in anyway. We are human, we make mistakes as RTW shows even in a factory.

  5. Lynda says:

    As usual, fantastic job. Reminds me why I have boycotted RTW altogether! I still am going to do my sleeve/jacket and send them to you, but it will be a bit. Thanks!

  6. mrsmole says:

    It’s just one way around a tight problem with pants that have a rivet button and no seams. There might be others to find and save. Looking forward to seeing your jacket sleeve issues, Lynda.

  7. Gjeometry says:

    Wedges! Pretty ingenious! But, remove the pockets??? This is blasphemy! LOL. I am always trying to find ways to ADD pockets to every garment I own. Nobody can take my pockets away from me!

    • mrsmole says:

      OK Catja…pockets are nice but have you ever wished the pockets didn’t show through light pants like white or cream? Most of my clients want all the pockets sewn shut and removed and then they get hooked and want pants to feel that flat all the time. I was taught that pockets make a woman slouch so never put your hands in them…stand up straight, and as I age, I realize this helps keep the double chins and saggy boobs in a more flattering position…ha ha.

  8. Mema says:

    Wonderful. I like your “tales from the SEWING STUDIO” so much.

  9. June says:

    Which is easier to alter – pants that fit at the hip and need enlarging at the waist or pants that fit at the waist but need the hip area taken in? I’ve been shopping (unsuccessfully) and seem to gravitate only to pants that fit at the waist but sag under the bum and have too much fabric at the hip. I was reading about alterations here – http://artisanssquare.com/sg/index.php?topic=4380.msg69664 – and comparing with what you did above, and I’m not sure which is harder to do.

    • mrsmole says:

      OMG June….after reading that long list of all the steps to make RTW pants fit…i was exhausted and it didn’t take into account that jean seams are double stitched and/or flat felled…I think i would rather do my alterations…at least you can see right away what needs to be done and if you get lucky you will find pants with a huge center back seam that is the easiest of all to let out. One woman commented that in the end you cannot really see your own behind so all those handy dandy steps might just not all work. My alterations rely on having a swatch of fabric to work with so it you did not have a piece of the same fabric from the hem shortening that would force you to do the artisan square sequence. So many brands now have stretch waistbands like NYDJ and even Lee and Wrangler and Gloria Vanderbuilt make women’s pants with forgiving waistbands…keep looking before you have to do major surgery on a pair of new pants!

  10. sewruthRuth says:

    Or just buy pants that fit????

    • mrsmole says:

      Sometimes that is harder than you think if your waist is close to your hip measurement. Finding RTW fabric that stretches is a good compromise but most manufacturers use fitting models that have smaller waists that their bust or hip measurement so it is a longer hunt for the best pair. Medical issues, bloating, post surgery swelling, all sorts of things beside the normal wear and tear on women’s bodies can affect fit as well never mind the ever present high hip-low hip issues. Working with many women from 30-90 can turn up a host of problems in search of a solution…it’s a good day when it can be as simple as tweaking a waistband…thank God! Your Jungle January garments are a hoot especially the two right legged leggings!

  11. The stuff you discover once you open those seams, right? 🙂 It is never boring

  12. Fabulous tips! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Pella says:

    Once again, you’ve done the impossible!

  14. mrsmole says:

    Thanks Pella, I value your comments and experience!

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