No Time to Waist

Last week I said I would share some waist alterations… so let’s go!

In a past post I have altered winter pants by moving zippers and letting out pleats, re-used fly guards and doing odd things to enlarge the waist area by 3- 4 inches. In winter pants you can get away with a bit more than summer linen pants but there are some sneaky things to try.

The first couple involved removing useless wide belt loops, opening them up, ironing them flat and using that scrap for the inside waistband patches.all Here are 8 pair of pants that need the same alteration as the wearer needs extra space for an implanted nerve stimulator box at her waist area under her skin. The first 2 pair have a cut-on waistband with a facing so we can let out front pleats but need a patch inside: old-yellow-wide-belt-carrieold-yellow-open-pleatold-yellow-patchesnavy-belt-loop-removednavy-pleat-opennavy-patches The next 2 pair I used one pocket to make a center back patch on a normal waistband:lime-missing-pocketlime-missing-oiutsidelime-patch

Then I repaired what the client had done by sliding a wide elastic into the folded over waistband to give her some ease…imagine just cutting into your waistband and leaving it open! gold-elastic-insert These next black linen shorts had the front pleats reduced by half and the waistband removed and repositioned with a small patch to extend it and a new button and buttonhole:


The next black pants had the pleat opened completely:black-open-pleat black-opening and the hook and eye just moved over 3 inches leaving a small under-flap. So most of these required the waistband to be removed, all belt loops removed (my option and choice) and all topstitched down again. But one pair, and 3 others in the to-do pile do not have extra fabric anywhere….and they will get the knit wedge treatment:pinstripe-knit-insert The knit is some swim suit knit from JoAnn’s and it is just placed in the  opened side seam and stitched down. The top edge is folded over to match the facing edge and left since it does not fray or ravel. It’s not pretty on the inside but my client went nuts when she tried them on and wanted all her pants done this way. The swim suit fabric has great recovery and comes in lots of colors and since all of her blouses hang loose, they will cover up the addition.

Now for a zipper trick I promised…over 20 years ago I went back to college to get my fashion design degree as a “mature” student. Just before graduation we were offered a spot as an apprentice in a factory in the area. Many students opted for companies like Jantzen that made knits and swimwear or St John’s Knits (before they joined Escada) with very high end knit clothes but I chose a small bridal gown factory near the shopping center called South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. All gowns were designed, cut and sewn in-house by 3 seamstresses; the owner and one women overseer from Vietnam and a woman from the Philippians (I meant Philippines as one reader corrected me). To start with there were NO PINS and no instructions printed anywhere…you learned to use your nails as pins/tools and and watch and learn and sew damn fast. No ripping out was the order of the day and I learned one trick that I use even to this day about zippers.

Now we all were taught to sew the overlap from the right side…right? Great, nothing like sewing blind…ever wonder why there is a woven line down the edge of a zipper? It’s for the seamstress to use as a guide!!! We inserted lots of regular zippers and invisible ones without special feet, just a narrow presser foot and holding the teeth flat. We never pressed them flat like they tell home sewers…who has time? But the trick in regular zippers, like normal, is the stitching is done 1/2 inch away from the folded edge and it is calculated on the wrong side.stitch-zipper The zipper teeth are laid 1/4 inch from the folded edge and the stitching is done 1/4 inch away from the teeth using the woven line in the zipper as a guide. The cool thing is…as with bridal and beaded fabrics and lace and braiding…all that is under the foot and the needle never hits that stuff or stops from the bulk. Of course, you do have to remove any BIG beads in the line of stitching beforehand and replace them but you would have zipper-edgedo that anyway. Here you can see my red thread marking the new folded edge and white basting thread I used so the bride could try on her new tighter back gown before I attached the zipper by machine. So fellow sewers…be brave…try out something new from a factory and see if it works for you. On regular non-lumpy bumpy fabric is works great as the added feature is the feed dogs pull the eased fabric of the right side nice and flat with no puckers top or bottom.

This week I’m afraid my post is lacking any humor that you all comment on when recommending me to others but maybe seeing wider waistband pants and zipper tricks makes up for the lack of laughs…thanks for dropping by!

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22 Responses to No Time to Waist

  1. Kathleen says:

    Love your blog!
    I wonder if that woman from the ” Phillipians” knows St. Paul! Lol!

    • mrsmole says:

      Maybe I will correct that…OK…that’s your laugh for the day….thanks Kathleen! ha ha That’s what happens when I blog instead of sew every night at 4 am.

  2. Bunny says:

    True confessions here: I did that knit thing on a pair of jeans that I bought too small but were otherwise perfect. No one knows but me! How lucky this young woman is to have you able to rework her clothes to accomodate her health issues. I can see an entire market just in that niche.

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Well, waddayaknow? I had no idea that’s what the woven line down the zipper was for. Thanks for sharing this! One of the reasons I always prefer to put zips in by hand is precisely because I HATE sewing blind, which always ends up looking terrible. Brilliant!

  4. Beth Galvin says:

    I like that idea of the knit wedge – putting that one in the mental filing cabinet. And the zipper, that is how I was taught, to use that guideline on the zipper tape. Thanks for the photos. Also – I love my old Singer zipper foot, the slim one that slides from side to side. Couldn’t sew without it.

  5. Sandra says:

    Okay, number 1: I never knew what that woven line on a zipper was for; thank you. Number 2: You are more than amazing; today’s example of the many and varied places you find a bit of fabric here and a bit there so that you can make these adjustments. Wow. Just wow. I’ll never look at a skirt or pair of pants the same way. Thanks!

    • mrsmole says:

      Most of my clients want to borrow fabric from the hem or cuffs but now you know about more place…I mean do women really need a fly guard if they wear underpants…I say no. Who needs a left sided pocket? Only left-handed folks and belt loops…so archaic. When was the last time you saw ANYONE wearing a belt? We are actually paying for things we don’t want or need, Sandra.

  6. Carolyn says:

    I’m with Beth – that knit wedge idea will be saved for future use! Thanks for another awesome post!

  7. Susie says:

    I think I would have missed the Philippians, had it not been pointed out.

    It is funny how people will “make due” with cutting open a waist band and leaving it be. My daughter’s employer had to institute a rule that employees couldn’t tear their belt loops off their pants to avoid wearing a belt. That would never occur to me. At least I would try a seam ripper!

    Don’t underestimate the usefulness of your tips. They can be just as interesting as your high maintenance clients!

  8. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Susie. Some days I just feel I have to toss in regular clothes to break up the wall of white that is my life.

  9. I hadn’t thought of pilfering the buttonloops, flyshield and pockets for fabric to make patches for waist expansion…very resourceful!

  10. The swimsuit wedge is an inspiration – so simple it needs to be pointed out to you. Thank you Mrs Mole!

  11. mrsmole says:

    Ha ha…it took a bit of rummaging through boxes of scraps to find it but it sure was perfect and knowing that Jo Ann’s carries more of it makes me smile. You have lots of knits that have good recovery too, Kim…lucky you when you need the same fix! Thanks for dropping by!

  12. birdmommy says:

    That wedge trick is fantastic! I have pants that fit well through the legs but need a bit of tummy room. This could put a lot of them back in circulation…

  13. mrsmole says:

    And not cut off YOUR circulation…great for sitting and eating…good luck!

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