Maternity dress pants conversion tutorial

Maternity dress pants are very expensive. And most women will wear them maybe four or five months of their pregnancy and then never want to see them again. If this is your second or last like mine, or if you’re an, ah, older mom you want stylish, professional clothing but you probably don’t want to invest a lot of money. If you’re bored with your wardrobe, you can make these in about 20 minutes (I did two pair in about 35 minutes), not including the time spent shopping.

This is based in part on a couple of other great maternity pants tutes that show altered jeans and cords. Same principle except in this one, I retain part of the fly front and remove the excess zipper.

1) go to your local goodwill or thrift store or consignment shop.

2) pick up one or two well fitting pairs of dress pants. You should be able to get them on over your hips and thighs, but not button them. You may be able to zip them up an inch or so. That’s OK. Quality varies – I found a pair of gorgeous Ralph Lauren wool glen plaid trousers at my local goodwill for $3. I found some nice poly-wool dress pants for $2.

3) $5.37 later, two pairs of pants are in my hand. It was literally left over from my lunch out that day.

4) Measure your hip level, holding the tape measure under the baby (about where the baby ‘crease’ is) This is the maximum width that you’ll need your lycra/knit fabric to be for the stretchy waistband. Then, measure 12″ (a foldover band for earlier in your pregnancy, a foldup band for later) of length of the folded band (my measurement of the folded band was 17″ x 2 = 38″. Use a stretchy knit fabric with lycra.

5) Serge the short end of the band, right sides together.

6) fold over the band turning it right side out so the serged seam is at center back and inside. Try on the band. It should now be 6″ tall. The folded edge should be at the top. The band should be snug. If it’s even a smidge loose now, it will be too lose once you start wearing the pants. Go tighter if you need to by serging more off the short end you just serged.

7) Once you like the fit of your band, serge the long edges (it’s now a tube) to keep them together. This helps when sewing it to the pants.

7a) There’s a great tute here called Stretch Fabric Waistbands about making banded waists on various sewing patterns, and you can see how they work after pregnancy (but not on a front-only cutaway waist like these). To make those banded waists like in the PDF tute, you would cut away the top pants equally from the top, not just the waistband of the back and a deep scoop in front. The deep scoop makes the ‘baby pocket’ as I show at the end of this tute. This Stretch Fabric Waistband tute is great for making some transitional clothing.

8) Put on your pants. Pin where you are able to zip them up to and take them off.  Lay your pants on a cutting table or your dining room table. Cut off the pants back waistband, but no more. You can save the tag if you want to save your cleaning/laundering instructions as you do this and serge it in the back waistband as you serge on the band. Then, chalk a nice curve from the sideseam down to the pin where you marked the zip point and back up to the other sideseam where you cut off the back waistband. Cut along this line.

8a) If you’re altering pleated pants as show in my example, you will need to sew the pleats down before cutting as shown in the example drawing and photo above. Simply thread your straight stitch machine with coordinating thread, and sew the pleat down from the right side, using a lockstitch on the bottom end to keep the pleat closed. This keeps the fullness of the legs but doesn’t add it to the waistband (where it would distort the fit of the pants under the belly). Pleats are a design feature, NOT a way to accommodate a belly, pregnant or not!

Pants cutline mockup

Pants cutline mockup

9) You will cut through the zipper. You MUST remove the zipper to serge the pants, but at this point it should be only about 1″ long and very easy to remove with a seam ripper. pin and then hand stitch the fly opening closed now.

10) Quarter the band by dividing it into four equal marks – center back, center front, and sideseams. Pin at each point.

Band quartered, pinned and stitched to waistband of pants

Band quartered, pinned and stitched to waistband of pants

Placing band and pants right side together, band seam at center back, pin the band to the pants at the CB, CF and each sideseam of the pants. The band will have to stretch to fit the pants when you sew.

11) Placing the fabric of the pants down against the serger’s feed dogs, start serging just past your CB pin (so you don’t run over your pin) and stretch the top layer like mad, carefully lining up the pants raw edge with the serged edge of the band. You are edge serging, not really taking off too much of either pant or band.

12) as you get to another pin, remove it before serging. Then stretch top layer, matching up the pants raw edge and continue serging to the next pin before removing it. Once you’re all the way around, fold up the band. If you did get a pucker or fold, remove the serging and about 1-2″ on either side, reserge, stretching to fit the band to the pants.

Stretch the top layer to meet the pants underlayer between pins as you sew.

Stretch the top layer to meet the pants underlayer between pins as you sew.

Waistband front close up

Waistband front close up

13) voila! nice dress pants in about 20 minutes, and for $5.37! (or whatever you paid for the pants)

Finished pants. As you can see, sewing a straight band to a deeply curved seam leaves a nice pocket for the baby belly!

Finished pants. As you can see, sewing a straight band to a deeply curved seam leaves a nice pocket for the baby belly!

Coming soon, an updated tute showing how to enclose the stretchy waistband between the pants and lining, if you’re using lined pants! Very neat look inside, but tricker to sew, since the stretch is the inner part of the sandwich!

About ann

I'm Ann. I've been sewing since I was 9. My first project was a denim wrap skirt. Thrifting is a way of life for me - both eco-chic and financially savvy.
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