Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elastic Knit Waist Jeans Conversion

I will admit that I'm somewhat of a prude.  I seriously dislike the current styles for little girls.  I don't feel like girls' jeans should be made "low rise".   Butt cracks are not cute, regardless of age.

Finding pants for my little gal is very hard, even without the current style.  She has inherited my husband's side of the family's shapely rear end.  We have to go a few sizes bigger than what she should wear to be modest.  The low rise drives me crazy.

I saw some knit waist jeans on the Justice website and thought I'd try to copy them.  This is what I came up with:

I will tell you how I did it but here's my disclaimer.  My mother is a beautiful seamstress that taught sewing and sewed professionally for years and years.  I am not.  I am a HUGE frustration to her.  I don't follow any rules when I sew and tend to cut first, measure second, if at all.

If you are the type of person who knows how to change your presser foot for the different stitches, who actually uses the patterns you collect, who takes pains to match your thread to your material and who knows what that little wheel thingy is used for, please don't read this unless you are prepared for my shoddy, winging it, MacGyvering way that I do things.  It didn't turn out pretty but it works, is comfortable and is covered by her shirts so we're happy.

So here goes!

I found a pair of jeans that fit her great in every way except for the length and her waist.  They're Goodwill jeans so they worked great to experiment on.  I also found an old knit tank top that I've outgrown (*sigh*) and was willing to sacrifice.

I first cut the zipper out of the jeans.

Then I cut the waistband off.  I used the belt loops as a guide and cut right below them.

Sew up the space where the zipper was.

Then I chopped off the bottom of my tank top.  I eyeballed it but would guess it was about five inches.

Pin the cut side of the shirt, right side, to the wrong side of the jeans.  You might need to gather it a little in the back if the band is wider than the jeans.  Don't pin the side with the hem of the shirt. . . you will use it later to save yourself a step.

I sewed the back on, pinned the front and then sewed that.  It was easier than pinning the whole thing and sewing it in one swoop.

At this point, fold your knit in half and pin to the front of the jeans.  Sew but leave the side open to put your elastic through.  Cut your elastic, thread through, sew and sew the opening closed.   I also hemmed the jeans to shorten the length to what she needs.

That's it!  Like I said, it's not very pretty.  I would bet that a person who actually knew what they were doing (and paid attention to their mom when she was trying to teach them) would do a much better job than I have but they fill a purpose and serve our needs.  I do like the purple on the top, though.  When she's wearing them you can sometimes see the purple when she stretches up or bends over.  Because I used the original hem on the tank top, it looks like she's wearing a purple shirt under whatever she's wearing and that's what you're seeing.  She loves them because they pull on and off very easily.  I like them because they don't show crack!

If I do it again:

Unfortunately, I will end up doing this again because it worked out so well.  I hate sewing!  This is what I'd change:

1.  I'd make the knit part a little bigger. . . probably an inch.  I like my little girl covered!  I will have to tack in the elastic, though, if I do.

2.  I might try a drawstring instead of the elastic.  I would need a really strong knit, not tank top knit, to do this.


  1. Thank you- This is a wonderful tutorial! I am constantly in search of jeans/shorts/skirts/etc with knit waistbands. My 7 yr old daughter has Down syndrome and due to fine motor issues, she has a hard time with buttons...plus the knit stays up on her belly better. I'm excited to give this a try...Or I should say I'm excited to have my mom give this a try since I don't sew. ;)

  2. As an experienced seamstress, just let me say first that you did a great job of explaining how to do this!!! This is exactly what I need for an older lady I know who can only use one arm, she can't zip and button her jeans without her husband's help. She asked me if there was a way to alter her jeans so she can pull them up when her husband is not around, at public restrooms. She cannot afford to buy maternity pants, but this is perfect, exactly what she asked for!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. It doesn't matter what your sewing experience is...I like your creativity that lets you solves problems. I definately use this fix for my jeans and other pants. Thank you

  4. Finally! Somebody who hates sewing as much as I do and still manages to get things fixed up. I, too, was a disappointment to my mother and older sister who are artistic, creative, and perfect seamstresses. I, on the other hand, have "git 'er done" attitude. Kudos to you.

  5. LOL you sound like myself... cut first then measure.. I did this for my baby boy, I have so many jeans but hate pulling them up over his big diaper butt, so I wanted to do this. first jeans fail, but I like the idea of getting rid of the zipper, it just got in the way... So hopefully the second time it will go better... :) Thanks for the tips!

  6. You did a great job!!
    What I suggest, when you make your next pair, is to cut the knit--even T-shirt knit--four times bigger than the height you want it to end up as and fold it over double when your sew it on.
    Then, insert your elastic and tack it through all the thicknesses at the sides.

    Thanks for the fantastic idea. My daughter has sensory issues, doesn't like jeans, and clothes are getting harder to find for her.