Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tutorial: how to shorten the rise in your 6 year old's pants

Recently I pulled out all the rubber maid tubs with winter/school clothing in them. This is almost as good as Christmas for the kids (and me.) I went through and pulled out all the jeans. Everyone was well supplied except Pumpkin Pie. There were 6 pair of long pants that fit her in the waist and the legs were more or less the correct length. However, the rise each pair was so long that the crotch was hanging down near her knees. Obviously this wouldn't do.

After thinking about it, I decided to try and shorten the rise myself--since if I ruined the pants, nothing was lost--she couldn't wear them anyway.

If these were homemade pants, I could just cut off the waist. But these pants had little pockets and fake flies sewn in, so cutting inches off the top wouldn't work. I googled around and couldn't find anyone who had done this (and blogged about it).

So here is what I did. My first try, I cut too much and sewed more than would have been necessary and then took out too much fabric and created leggings. Pumpkin Pie refused to wear them. You get the benefit of version 2.0. Yay for you :)

#1 Start with a pair of pants/jeans that do fit properly. Lucky for me we had one. They were GAP jeans in a size 6 regular.

Here is a comparison of the khaki's I'm modifying and the GAP jeans. You can see the difference in rise length.

#2 Turn the good fitting jeans inside out and fold them in half so you can see the curve of the back crotch/rise seam. Fold them as close as you can on the seam lines. Lay the pants on a piece of heavy paper and trace around them. I had brown paper this time. My favorite paper to use is wrapping paper that has the grid lines on the wrong side. I used an orange crayon to trace around them. You want to get as accurately as possible the waistline, crotch curve, and hip line of the pants, as well as the taper from the curve to the legs.

#3 Fold the jeans in half the other way to get the front crotch curve. Trace as in step 2.

#4 cut out the two pattern pieces you just created. label them front and back, although the back is the one with the larger curve--if you forgot to label. :)

#5 Take the pants to be altered and turn them wrong side out. Trim off the inseam from about the knees up. Trust me, you do not want to be trying to match the bottom hem and fixing the crotch. (version 1.0, remember) If the pants you are altering already have fairly narrow legs, you may want to unpick the seam instead of trimming it off. Your call.

#6 Fold the pants in half so that the front rise is on one side. I took a pin and placed it in the side seam to keep the pants from shifting because of the elastic waistband. Match your homemade pattern to the side seam and trace a new crotch seam onto the pants with your orange crayon. ***Do not be tempted to match up the crotch and trace a new side seam.*** (version 1.o, remember?)

Plus at the super cool Fashion Incubator Blog you can see a great explanation of why that won't work. Don't blame me if you loose a couple hours there reading all about why jeans don't fit anymore. Loved that blog!!

****note: I found that this resulted in taking about an inch out of the waistband as well. Just follow the line up to the top and don't worry about it. I didn't cut the waistband until after I had re-sewn the line.

Back to Pumpkin Pie's Pants

#7 LEAVING A SEAM ALLOWANCE OF 1/4-1/2 inch, trim off the excess crotch fabric--don't cut through the waistband yet, either. Put the pants in your sewing machine and sew the new crotch seam on the crayon line you traced. Sew it again for reinforcement. Now you can trim off the extra waistband material.

#8 Fold the pants so that the front crotch is out. Line your front pattern up with the side seams and draw your new crotch. I found on the pants I was doing, all I needed to do was take off the end and taper the legs in. So I didn't have to resew the front rise. That was good because the fake fly probably would have gotten in the way.

#9 Open up the pants and line up the opening in the inseam. Pin this carefully. If one side is longer than the other, check your crotch lines and trim a bit.

#10 Sew up the inseam and reinforce--I used a serger-like stitch on my machine.

Rejoice in your thriftyness and have your child try on her new and improved pants. :)

Okay, they could have been taken up even a little more. Next time I be more careful in the pattern tracing stage. Let it be a lesson to you.

Here is a comparison of the two pants after Altering the khaki pair.


  1. I am super impressed with your thriftiness. I think I would have given up.

  2. OMG! Thinking it was impossible and have to take son's pants to a seamstress all this time? I've been searching the net for some time almost giving up. This just made my day.

    I'm a beginner, but I can follow instructions. I'm going to give this a try today with son's new school pants!
    Thanks so much!

  3. Best answer I got. Most said cut the excess from the top - obvious - or take the pants to a tailor. I started with pants I don't care about, and the result was fair - but I see what I did wrong. Now I can work on a pair I will love with a shorter rise. Even for a sewer, it can be a bit confusing. I would not start with new pants.

  4. Thank you for letting me know what I was doing was right. Been sewing for years but doing alterations for yourself is a bit hard sometimes. Thanks so much. Good bless, designsbilorij