Despite that, I think I’m going to share a tutorial for this anyway since it’s such a simple project and useful skill. This can be used to modify your day-to-day clothes, or even to help create some costume pieces (such as Julia’s black and green drop pants that I made last October).
Like it or not, pants have the annoying tendency to shrink eventually. Sometimes, the shrinkage makes them too small to even wear. But other times, the shrinkage just makes them too short to wear as, well, pants. So what happens? That nice pair of jeans or khakis ends up living out a lonely life in the back of your pants drawer, as you would never wear them again since they are too short. This happened to two nice pairs of work pants I bought last fall, and I eventually had to replace them in early spring since my socks were showing.
So today I decided to breathe some new life back into them and make them wearable again. I decided to make them into capri length pants, which extends about an inch below the knee on me. Variations on this would be to create capri length pants a bit above the knee, crop pants which are a few inches above the ankle, or even shorts, which can be anywhere from modesty mid-thigh to scandalously scanty (though I’m not sure how this technique would work for scandalously scanty, as we’ll be measuring from the bottom of the pants up, and the pants change shape drastically around the butt line). ^.^*
What you need:
Pants, pins, pencil, ruler, either a needle for hand sewing, or a sewing machine, thread in the same color as the original top stitching, scissors
I began by putting on the pants in question (a pair of gray khakis) and standing in front of a mirror. Determine where you want your capris (or crop pants, shorts, etc.) to end up, and place a pin an inch below that spot to mark it. Next, lay your pants out nice and flat on a table or board, smoothing them down and squaring up the original hem to create a nice flat, even surface.
I used my cutting board to measure here, but a ruler works fine, too. Determine how high up on the pants you placed the pin, and using either the hem to measure from or the cutting board, make a mark for your cutting line with a pencil. Use a couple of pins to pin together the two sides of the fabric so it won’t slide around when you cut it.
Do the same thing on the other side, and then use nice, sharp scissors to just cut the pants straight across. You should now have something that looks like capri pants. Remove the pins. If you want the edges of the fabric to look more rough, at this point you could just leave the pants the way they are, wearing them and washing them like normal. Eventually they’ll fray, though depending on the type of fabric you’re using this either might, or might not be attractive looking. I wanted to wear these to work, so I wanted to finish off the edge for a polished look.
Begin pinning your new hem. Since we cut the pants an inch longer than we wanted them, turn them under a half an inch, and then another half an inch to seal up rough edge. Continue by pinning all the way around the openings of both pant legs.
Now it’s time to sew! If you are sewing by hand, at this point you would just make a nice, neat whip stitch along the inside of the pants (so it would be hidden). But for the sake of time–and the fact that I don’t like to hand sew–I used my machine. You can use any color bobbin thread you want, though you might want to use a darker color for darker top stitching and a lighter color for lighter top stitching. Then, do your best to match your top stitching thread to the original color of the thread used for the pants. This will make it look like it was there all along! Use a regular sized stitch length (nothing too small, as you’ll notice jeans and pants and usually sewn with a 12 point stitch length or longer).
If you have a plastic cover on your machine that you can remove when you sew sleeves, now would be a good time to remove it. With the pants turned right side out, begin top stitching over the inside seam of the pants leg. You don’t need to backstitch at this time. You might need to help the machine a little as you run over the original seams, as they can get rather thick. But otherwise, don’t pull too much on the fabric. If you do that while top stitching, the two sides of the fabric might not match up. Keep an eye on your guides to keep everything as even as possible as you circle around the pants leg (I like to line my presser foot up with the edge of the fabric). When you get all the way around the leg, you will run over your original sewing. Now, you can back stitch to make sure it’s not going anywhere. And, you’re done!
Some variations on this project, though the length is certainly a good one, might be to un-stitch some of the pants seam to create a cute little slit that runs up (make sure that you somehow either turn or finish the edges). You might also try attaching trim or ribbon to the the hem to add some flair. Or, for a Gothic-Lolita look, maybe try creating your own drop pants by finishing off the cut bottoms of the pants and then adding straps to re-attach one to the other.