Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Make (AND TAILOR FIT!) Your Own Maternity Pants

Okay I know there are a number of tutorials out there on this subject already, but seriously, making your own maternity pants is such a great opportunity that I feel we should leave no stone unturned!

Why make your own?
First of all, if you are trying to save some cash on your temporary wardrobe, this is an outstanding way to do it!
Second of all, even if money is no object, making your own maternity pants allows for you to completely stay true to your unique fashion sense as you transition through this phase of life.  No more making due with what's available, or pining after the designer super-expensive maternity jeans you know would be nuts to pay for!
Third of all, if you are like most women I know, finding the perfect pair of jeans to fit your exact figure is hard enough when you're not pregnant, so it can be next to impossible at times when you are relegated to maternity sections that can be overly generic in sizing --- particularly if you are quite tall, short, curvy, not curvy.... you know, all the stuff that normally makes jean shopping trying.

That said, I think all women should have the opportunity to have custom maternity pants.  So, even if you don't sew, I bet you know someone who does!  And if you show them this tutorial, bring them your supplies, and perhaps a nice thank you gift, I bet you will find yourself in some stunning personalized attire!
{Hint: Bartering (skills, or time, or objects) with friends is such a great way to nicely, fairly, and cheaply help each other out!  For instance, I have sewn for both baked goods and couponed items --- worked out great on both ends of the deal!}

How to do it.

First let's look at a pair of maternity pants.
All they are is a normal pair of pants, with a mock fly and a stretchy panel for the waist.

Having lived through one pregnancy and now part of another, I personally believe in having only full panel pants.  They save me time, money and closet space.  If your pants fit right (and they will, because I will show you how to make sure they do), you can wear them even if you are not pregnant and they will stay up.  Full panel pants will last all the way to the end of a pregnancy without getting too tight or causing a weird indent half way up your bump (as short waists can do).  And they are the perfect after-baby-is-here transitioner!

So what do you need?
  • A pair of normal pants you really like on you (you don't have to be able to button them, but should be able to zip them up a pinch).  And please make sure you are okay with permanently turning them into maternity wear! They should have lycra/spandex in their fabric blend. This makes it so they will be able to expand a bit, as your hips inevitably will. Plus it's just more comfortable!

And here is where my tutorial veers off the beaten path of maternity pants tutorials...
  • A handed down or thrifted pair of maternity pants with a full panel waist that you can take apart and steal the belly panel from.  

I know there are other tutorials showing you how to use new material to create the panel, but here's how I see it: Those nylony full panels are magic!  I did a lot of research and could find nothing that compares to them, sooo if you can't beat em, join em!  Or umm... "steal" them.

In my belly-experienced opinion, Motherhood Maternity makes the very best panel out there, so I try to always thrift their brand in order to steal their panel.
At my local thrift stores, I can get maternity pants for $3...so I'm paying $3 for the band.  Not too bad.
(And when I get a nice pair of jeans to alter from the thrift for $5 or less... I wind up with a pair of maternity jeans for less than $10.  If you compare that to the average new {not designer} maternity jeans price of $40, that's pretty awesome!)

Now I should say that it is a great idea to try to buy the maternity pants (for stealing the panel) in your size, or close to it.  BUT you can go bigger in any brand, because we can take it in.  AND in regards to Motherhood Maternity panels, I'm fairly certain that you can get away with any size because they are like wow-magic-stretchy and seem to have endless give, but I haven't truly tested this.  So if in doubt aim close to your own size.

And one more thought on the panel:
When you buy maternity jeans usually the panel is navy or nude.
I've decided it's nice to use a panel in an actual color like black, brown, or grey.
And that's because on days where you don't want to where the panel pulled up, you can wear it folded down.  If it's a color it just looks like a shirt layered under what you are wearing.
But it's up to you what color to use.

  • Also some thread.  You want to match the pants, not the panel.

Now that I've stated all that...
Here we go!

First, you need to remove the panel from the maternity pants.
You can use a seam ripper (which I like to do, because I'm crazy.  It's really tedious!)
Or you can just cut it off really really close to the seam.

Here's what you get.

Now take your regular pants...

...and mark where you will be cutting the waist band.

Here I tried on a pair of maternity shorts over my pants and traced the line.

But you can also just trace down below your belly freehand...  
...or use the pair of pants you stole the panel from as a guide to trace onto the regular pants.

(On this pair of jeans I was able to leave the back uncut, because they were low rise. On another pair of jeans, I cut all the way around from front to back. Its really up to you which way you go, just make sure it kinda resembles the original pair of maternity pants.)

Next, cut out the zipper.

Sew the fly shut.

 Cut the top part of the waist band off  --- along the line you marked.

At this point I like to sew along the top edge of the pockets so they stay put and don't get in my way later.
This step won't be sewing the pocket closed from use, it just holds it in place now that it's been cut off from the waist band.

From here you can simply add the band on and be done.
scroll down to my optional fitting guide to get your pants extra awesome!

To put the panel on:
Pull the panel down around the pants and align the raw edges. 

(Store-bought maternity pants have the seam on the panel facing in, towards your belly.  
The seam is barely noticeable on there, but I like to put the seam facing outwards so that if I fold the panel down, the seam is now showing it's good side, making it look more like a shirt layer.)  

Pin it evenly around the whole thing.

Sew the layers together.

I go around a second time to make sure everything stays secure.

 And now you have personalized maternity pants!

Here you can see the seam I had to make on the back of this panel.

It was a less-stretchy-brand panel, from a pair of pants that were too big for me.  
Sooo I just folded it over on itself and zig-zag-stitched along both parts of the fold to make it work.  
(It would have looked better with black thread, but I was lazy and used the navy I was matching to the jeans.)

Now for the tailoring section!  

How to super fit your maternity pants:  
You can do this same thing to store bought maternity pants as well.  It's amazing!
You don't need to take off the waistband, just do these same steps with it attached. (Stop sewing when you reach the band.)

Your pants should stay up and fit regardless of belly size.  If they are droopy to start with, they will always be droopy.  If you take them in, it makes a world of difference.

{True story: I made those skinny jeans with the black panel a couple months before I got pregnant, and I liked them so much --- and they were fitted so well --- that I wore them on many occasions totally-not-pregnant!  I just folded the panel down and enjoyed the awesome look and comfort, and no one was the wiser!  Well until now, as I give away my secrets!}

To do this next step, try your pants on inside-out.
Here you can see see how the waist band is floating away from my waist-hips.
(This is a common problem for me, a lady with a booty.)
We are going to fix the fit so that it's just right!
How you will pinch in your pants will vary depending on your shape.

So pinch in where it's loose to make it shape to you.

 And pin it in place, on either side.

For me and my shape, the pinning usually stops a few inches down from the waist.
For a friend I did this for we went nearly to her knee.
It varies on the person.
(Which is what makes this tailoring so awesome!)

I took an old eyeliner and marked what will be a new seam by tracing where the pins are.

Trace both sides of the pins.

Take off the pants and sew down your line.

Try the pants back on and marvel at how they are now perfect!

 No more gaping!

 Now sew your band on.

 Check out your totally store-bought-looking tailored pants!

Enjoy the awesomeness!
(Note the band is folded down and that it just looks like a second shirt!  Sweet!)


  1. You are amazing! I am not pregnant, but these pants with the full band look so comfy and easy that I am going to begin looking for maternity pants now and make these sooner rather than later. :) I'll be prepared and comfy!

  2. At what point could you do this? Just wondering about how you know how much your hips will increase. How much stretch should be in the jeans? I am just a couple weeks in, and I know I can't do this yet, just wondering for later. thanks for the great post.

    1. Well, its kinda hard to say. It depends on how badly you want to make sure they fit the entire time. Waiting longer of course is your best bet. It also depends on the pair of jeans. I have some jeans with NO give at all. And some with TONS of stretch. And every women is different. I know my hips grew by three inches over my pregnancy, which for me had all happened by 26 weeks.
      Hope that helps a little. If you make these out of really cheap jeans, you may like doing a pair to as soon as your jeans feel tight, and then make another if those get tight. I got mine at the thrift store it was like a $6 investment.

  3. I bought a pair of maternity pants that was slightly too big because they were literally the only ones I could find at a reasonable price after looking at 5 stores. Anyhow, the band is too big and droops down. Do you think I can do the fold over and zigzag on it without unattaching it from the pants. I'm really a beging sewer so I want to keep things simple.

    1. Well, you could, but if you don't you'll get some bunching where it meets up with the pants. It might not matter, if your shirts are gonna hide it. Or if you want a more smooth finish, (and the pants part isn't too loose) you can just use a seam ripper to open up a few inches of the seam between the band and the pants, then fold it over to make it smaller and do the seam, then close up the spot between the band and pants again with just a basic seam. it shouldn't be too much harder to do. Good luck!! Hope it works out for you!

  4. This tutorial was perfect! I found a $5 pair of thrifted maternity pants, used the panel and put it on a $5 thrifted denim skirt! Perfect denim maternity skirt (which is SO hard to find!) Thanks so much!

  5. Yeah! You just saved me so much time. Thank you.

  6. This is really tremendous that the way you desceibe. This information is so much more than I needed!keep it up .
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  7. What a great post! I'm a petite woman and wear petite sizes almost exclusively when I'm not pregnant.This tutorial was so perfect. I will try to make maternity jeans in my home. I love your post. Thank you for sharing this post.

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  9. what a great tutorial, now I can have my own pants


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