flannel pants

21 June 2007


I bought these grey flannel pants at MUJI when I lived in London. They saw me through two winters, toasty warm. I haven’t worn them in 6 years, but I can’t bear to throw them out. I still love the fabric, but the cut is very 90’s. Look how long the crotch seam is.


I wanted to drop the waist down, but, women’s pants with pockets being an endangered species worthy of conservation, I wanted to keep the pockets. This is how I did it.

the makeover

I measured the full length of the crotch seam (26″); and did the same on a similar pair of pants with a lower waistline (21″). So I had to lower the waistband by 2.5″ all the way round. (26 minus 21 = 5 divided by 2 = 2.5)

Measuring down 2.5″ from the waist seam, I drew a line around the pants. I unpicked and removed the waistband and then the pockets.

One of the pockets

After ironing the pockets, I made a template of the pocket shape, and traced it onto the pants at the new waistline, adding a seam allowance.

Then I took a deep breath and cut around the pants at 1cm above the new waistline; cutting out the new pocket shapes too.

new pocket
here is the new pocket shape. The faint pink line is the new waistline marked with tailor’s tacks

I re-attached the pockets, sewed up the side seams again and topstitched to match the original.

new pocket1
(pinned and ready to sew)

(in place and topstitched, and tacked shut to keep it in place while doing the waistband)

the OH-SHIT! moment
At this point I was feeling pretty smug about my success so far. I was mentally composing a triumphant blog entry and imagining the praise that would gush forth from the internet in awe of my genius; when I yanked the zip up, forgetting that I had cut through it. The zipper pull came right off the tape, and as I grabbed at the pants, the two sides of the tape split apart.

I slumped to the floor, depressed at the prospect of unpicking the whole fly area and inserting a new zip when I was 5 minutes away from a new pair of pants.

But! All was not lost! I worked out how to get the pull back onto the tapes, like this:

zip trick

the makeover part ii
Once the zip was fixed, I was back on track.
The original waist was on the waistline, so the band wasn’t shaped, and it was too short for the new waistline.

I cut the original waistband in half, and re-attached it starting from the front.

Then I took the bit of fabric removed from the back, and cut and sewed a little insert waistband to be attached at the back. I was able to shape this a bit so that it curved inwards towards my back. I slip-stitched it to the old waistband, again shaping it inwards a little. Once this was in place, I stitched-in-the-ditch and topstitched the waistband as per the original pants.

(I took no photos till the end because after the zip fiasco, I was afraid of losing concentration)

pants all done



pants fater

They feel so much better! The waistband doesn’t sit entirely flat, but I think I can live with it.


2 Responses to “flannel pants”

  1. sewjenny said

    wow! you are a sewer extraordinaire! congratulations!!

    glad your internet access is back and you’re posting again – I’ve been visiting lately to see what you’ve been making and sad to see nothing.. until today!


  2. Sandy said

    Wow – great job on the pants – I would have been way too intimidated to even try and your’s turned out fabulous!

    About 12 years ago I was living in Sydney for my job and actually lived right down the street from the Glebe market – glad to hear that it’s still going on!

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