Friday, March 19, 2021

How to Alter Women's Scrub Pants

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I've recently begun volunteering at an organization that requires scrub pants. I wasn't particularly interested in sewing my own (maybe after I get a feel for what I want) and needed them quickly, so I ordered some from Amazon. What a weird experience! After years of making all my own clothes, I can't remember the last time I wore pants that weren't custom made to my body. I panic-ordered the size I thought would be close and hoped for the best. 


When they arrived, they fit my hips well but not my waist. They were also a touch too long. I didn't have time to send them back so I decided to alter them myself. First up, the waistband elastic needed to be shortened to fit more tightly on my waist.


I found the seam on the waistband (on my pair, this was on a side seam) and got out my seam ripper. I carefully opened the seam on just the waistband, so that I could access the elastic inside.



Once the seam was opened up, I gave a big yank on the elastic to pull it out of the waistband. No dice. It turned out, the elastic was sewn all along its bottom edge (you can see the line of stitching on the above photo). Whomp whomp. This meant that I could not shorten the elastic without ripping out the stitching all the way around the waistband. If you're trying to alter your pants, hopefully you don't have the same problem!

Like a lot of other mending or alteration projects, this one required some outside-the-box thinking. I decided to insert a second piece of elastic into the waistband, right on top of the old one. I held up some 1/2" elastic around my waist and cut it to fit, using the amount of stretch I desired for a snug fit.


Using a bodkin, I inserted the new elastic into the hole and threaded it all the way around the pants. I pulled out the ends and clipped them together in preparation of sewing them. Normally, I would sew these together by machine, but for the purposes of this post I wanted to show that it could be done without a showing machine.


Taking a strand of polyester thread (don't use dusty vintage cotton thread, it will break!) I doubled it up and tied a knot at the end. A quick X shape was sewn through my overlapping elastic ends and I was done.


Using the same needle and black thread, I then sewed the waistband hole closed.



Now that my waistband fit properly, it was time to tackle the length. Since the fabric was lightweight, I decided to fold up the original hem once and sew it down. No need to rip out the hem, re-measure, etc. as I only wanted to shorten it slightly. 



A quick trip through my sewing machine and I had a new, even sturdier hem. 

Have you altered ready-to-wear pants? If you'd like to learn how to sew, check out my post on the Best Beginner Sewing Books. If I can teach myself, so can you!

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