Tutorial: Making Bell Bottoms From Regular Pants

I meant to post this last week, but got caught up in sewing.  So here’s a quick tutorial from my 60s Flower Child outfit from 2 weeks ago.  I’m going to show you how I made regular pants into bell bottoms.  It’s super easy and you can do this for kids or adult pants to add a little extra flare.  Get it!??  Wah waah.

This could be fun for a hippie costume or if you just like wide leg pants!  Here’s what you need:

Pants (you’ll want to use something that is pretty fitted on top, baggy pants won’t look as good)
Fabric for the inset (either a decorative fabric, denim, or something that will match your pants if you want a less noticeable look)
The usual sewing necessities (sewing machine, scissors, thread, ruler)

First, you want to hem up the bottom of your inset fabric.  To figure out how much fabric you’ll need to hem, just decide how wide you want the bottom of your inset to be (my little toddler pants insets were about 4 inches wide) and then double that (because you’ll need two) and always add a couple inches for good measure.  I skipped this step because I left the bottom of my pants unhemmed, but if I had, I would have hemmed about 10 inches of my inset fabric.

Then, cut the outside seam of your pants up to the point where you want the pants to start flaring out, usually right below the knee.  I just cut as close to the seam as possible on one side, and then cut up the other side of the seam and trim the seam to remove it.

Now we’re going to cut 2 triangles from our inset fabric.  The hemmed side will be the bottom of triangle (again, I didn’t hem, so just pretend :)).  You want your triangle height to be about half an inch taller than the cut you made in your pants’ side seam.  I cut about 8 inches up the pant leg, so the height of my triangles are 8.5 inches.  As for the width of the bottom – that’s up to you.  The wider the triangle base, the wider the flare.  You decide!!

Now it’s time to sew!  Line up one side of the triangle with one cut edge of the pants, right sides together.  You want the bottom seams lined up.  Pin and sew starting from the bottom with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (my inset fabric looked the same on both sides, so there was no “wrong” side, but make sure your fabric is wrong side facing up).

When you open it up, it should look like this on the right side.

Now turn your pants inside out and line the other sides up, right sides together.  Pin and sew.  You want to try and get your seams to meet in the middle at the top of the triangle.

When inside out, your pant leg should look something like this.

Turn the pants right side out and iron.  Repeat with the other pant leg and you’re done!

I hope your little hippie enjoys their pants!!

Tutorial: Easy Pants Cuffs

For my last week’s Project Run & Play outfit for Boys Week, I wanted to make some pants with a cuff.  At first I was thinking about making fully lined pants with a fold up cuff, but I decided to simplify and just make a fold up cuff to attach to the bottom of the pants.  It’s a super easy way to add a fun accent or add length to pants that are a bit too short.  I thought I’d show you how I did it.

First, start with a pair of pants, either an already finished pair, or if you’re making pants you can stop before hemming the bottoms.  You want the length of the pant legs to be about a half inch longer than the final desired length of the pants.  If you are trying to lengthen pants, don’t worry.  Start with what you have and you can add the extra fabric to the cuff.

Cut two rectangles out of your cuff fabric.  Your rectangles will need to be twice the width of the pant bottom plus 1/2 an inch for seam allowance.  The leg openings here were about 4 inches, so I doubled that and added 1/2 an inch to get 8.5 inches (the fabric here is more like 9 inches because I usually cut extra, just in case).

The height will be twice the desired cuff height, plus 1/2 an inch.  I wanted my finished cuffs to be about 1.75 inches, so I doubled that and added .5 to get 4 inches.  If you are making cuffs to lengthen pants, you’ll want to add more fabric depending on how much longer you want your pants to be and how big you want the cuff to be.  You might have to play around with the measurements a bit.  I always cut my fabric big and then trim away what I don’t need later. 🙂

Fold your fabric in half, so that the short ends are together, right sides together and sew along the short ends using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Now you should have a tube.

Fold the top half of your tube down so that the right side of fabric is showing on both the inside and outside of your tube and press.  If your fabric has a top and bottom like mine, you want to make sure the print is facing the right direction and the folded part of the tube is on top and the raw edge is on the bottom (you may need to flip your tube inside out).

Now, with the folded edge still on top, insert the cuff into the pant leg.  Line up the side seam of the cuff with the inner seam of the pant leg.  The right side of the cuff should be facing the wrong side of the pants.

Line up the bottom of the cuff with the bottom of the pant leg and pin all the way around to hold the cuff in place.

Sew the cuff to the pant leg using a 1/4 seam allowance.  You can also serge or zig zag the edges here for less fraying and a cleaner look.

Pull the cuff out of the pants and fold them up.  Press and you’re done!!

Imagine the possibilities!  Now you can spice up just about any old pair of pants!  Have fun!

Sew & Tell: Seersucker Tie Front Pants

What kid doesn’t need a pair of seersucker pants??  These are your standard pants with an elastic waist.  I added a tie with two belt loops to add a little extra touch of character.

These are our new favorite lightweight pants for Yuki to go running around and exploring in.  They are nice and roomy in the legs so she can move freely.

Does your kid need a pair?

Sew & Tell: Tucker’s Suit

Friends of ours are taking their 8 month old son to a couple of weddings on the East Coast in October and they wanted a baby friendly “suit” for him.  I’d never made anything like this before, but I love trying new things.  Here is the finished outfit!

I made the vest from a pattern I purchased on etsy and the pants using this tutorial from made.  The part I had the most difficulty with was finding the fabric.  I wanted something that looked suit-like, but was machine washable and dryable – incredibly important for anything coming within a couple feet of a baby!  This is a MUST for most of my projects and ruled out any wool or wool blend fabrics.  I also didn’t want it to be too thick or stiff so lil Tucker, who is starting to crawl, would be free to move.  Lastly, I didn’t want it to look too old for a youthful guy like Tuck.

What I ended up getting was a polyester fabric from Fabrix in the Inner Richmond.  This place can be great.  It’s like shopping at Ross or a thrift store.  You have to dig and dig for something amazing, but when you find exactly what you want, it’s like striking gold.  And generally it’s very very inexpensive.  Most of the time I walk out empty handed, especially when I’m looking for something very specific.  But if you are just looking for some fun and cheap fabric, I highly recommend it.  I found a bunch of great suit-like fabrics that are all polyester (machine washable) and I’ve already made a wallet for Hideko and I can’t wait to make some vests for Yuki!

The best thing about this project is that it forced me to make buttonholes.  Up until now, I’ve avoided them completely by using zippers, snaps, and button loops.  But for a vest, it was unavoidable.  I found the buttonhole foot, read the instruction manual for the sewing machine and . . . I could not figure it out.  For the life of me.  I could not get it to work.  So after trying about a hundred times, I gave up and just made the buttonholes with the zig zag stitch.  It’s essentially the same thing.  Maybe I’ll figure it out someday, but for now, this will suffice.

But wait, there’s a surprise bonus . . .

A necktie!  I haven’t talked to Tucker’s moms about this, but I couldn’t resist adding this little accessory.  I don’t even know if he’ll wear it with the suit, but that’s ok!  He can pair this tie with any outfit, even just a t-shirt and jeans, to add a little character.  I used this tutorial from Very Homemade.

Hopefully we can get a picture of Tucker looking dapper in his new outfit.  I’m afraid he’s going to steal all the attention at these weddings – he is one of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen!

Well, as you can see, I’m still a beginner and I use other people’s patterns to make a lot of my stuff.  As I gain more experience, I hope to come up with my own projects and patterns to share with you guys.  Until then, I’m so grateful for the wonders of the internet and all the generous people who share their stuff with the world.  Thank you!