Friday, June 6, 2014

Pleated to Flat Front Pants Tutorial

I figured out how to do something new this week. Something useful and practical.  Something I searched and SEARCHED the World Wide Web for a tutorial on, but found nothing.  I did find lots and lots of people like me, searching for instruction on this matter, but no one had answers.  

So I feel it my public duty to share what I learned: 

How to Convert Pleated Pants to Flat Front Pants
{{I would be ungrateful if I didn't thank my neighbor for asking me to try this on his pants. 
I warned him they had a high likelihood of being ruined in the process.  
But he was done with the pleats, and I was game for trying.}}

Here are the pants with the pleats. I personally am not totally anti-pleat. 
But I definitely prefer the more modern, flat front look. 

Step 1: Begin by (CAREFULLY) ripping out the seams along the waistband where the pleats meet the band. Take this from the inside pleat (the one close to the zipper) all the way to the pocket. 
You may need to go through 2-3 layers of liner if you are working with suit pants.  
Rip out the seams holding the pleats in place. 

This is what it should look like. 
Notice how the front side of the pocket is completely unattached from the waistband.

Step 2: Rip out the seam below the pocket along the side of the leg down about 10 inches. (Don't rip out the topstitch on the pocket itself). 

Step 3: (Sorry for the fuzzy pic). Cut the pants just inside the topstitch on the pocket front. Take this cut down to the end of the the pocket where it meets up with the side seam.

This picture shows the cut  along the front of the pocket and how it meets up with the side seam.

Step 4: Pull the excess fabric (made when when you took out the pleats) and wrap it around the pocket edge. Carefully smooth this as you pin it in place. Pay attention to the grain of the fabric (it helps that most slacks have lines), so no lines look goofy.

Step 5: Sew along the edge of the pocket to create a new top stitch.  You will have several inches of extra fabric inside the pocket. Trim this to about 2 inches and serge or zig-zag sitch the edge to prevent fraying. 
Step 6: Make a cut perpendicular to the pocket on the excess fabric right at the base of the pocket. I started with about 2 inches and adjusted as I pulled and pinned the area below the pocket into place (coming up in the next step).

Step 7: Turn the pants inside out and pin the excess fabric left from the pleats below the pocket in a smooth transition toward the knee. Watch the grain of the fabric so no abrupt transitions are made as you pin.  Turn the pants right side out before you sew to check that the transition from the base of the pocket along the outside seam is smooth.  
You do lose some width in the thighs with this alteration. Most pleated pants are, by nature, a bit baggy in the thighs and the width lost isn't a problem, but be sure to try them on their owner before you sew up that side seam. 

Here the pants are inside out. See how much extra fabric there is below the pocket? This the transition you will be making smoother through good pinning and a smooth seam. This is a good time to have the owner of the pants around to try them on (don't let them get poked by pins, though!). 
Once it looks good, sew it in place, meeting the base of the pocket with the long side seam. 

Step 8:  Turn the pants back right side out. Hand sew a 1/4 inch whip stitch at the base of the pocket to fix it in place against the inside of the pocket bottom.  I forgot to do a close-up of this step, so you are left with a zoomed-in picture. Hopefully it will suffice. 

Step 9: Once you have done steps 1-8 on both sides of the pants, pin the top back into place and get out your needle and thread. Hand sew an invisible stitch along the base of the waist band (and the base of each of the belt-loops).  A simple explanation of how to do this is found here

Step 10: Welcome to the 21st century!!  Clean lines and a tailored fit!  You did it!

My neighbor modeling his new look next to his little lady. :)

This post is partying at these link-ups. 

Say G'Day Saturday


Mandy's Recipe Box
Show Stopper Saturday @ Will Cook for Smiles
Thrifty Thursday
My Repurposed Life
Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest


  1. I am quite anti-pleat! There have been so many times at thrift stores I've passed up pants because of the pleats, I'll have to try this!

  2. Thanks for sharing at the Say G’day party. I’ve just pinned your post to the Say G’Day Saturday Board. This is a great tutorial!

    Hope to see you again this weekend!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  3. Wow! That is pretty neat. I don't know if I would have the guts to try to do this! Great job! Thanks for linking up with Idea Box! :)

  4. Thanks for the sewing tips! Thank you for linking up to Idea Box!

  5. This is awesome! I loathe pleats in pants. I never thought to remove them. Great tutorial!

  6. Thank you for sharing! If I want to slim the pants besides removing the pleats, should I rip out the seam below the pocket along the side of the leg all the way down to the bottom or should I rip out the seam for the inner side of the leg?

    1. If you are only slimming below the pocket (and not around hips), I would take in the inner side of the leg. Taking in the outside seam should be done from the waist down, which would also narrow the hips. I hope this is helpful!

  7. Thanks for this tutorial. I was able to convert pleated pants from a suit ($25 from Savers). They look so much better now.

  8. Thanks for sharing this post on tips on how to master in tailoring trousers with plates the right way. This is extremely helpful. Will like to read more from you.

  9. Can you give me an estimate of the time required to start and complete the job? Thanks for the post?

  10. Can you give me an estimate of the time required to start and complete the job? Thanks for the post?

  11. You are a FANTASTIC tailor! How much would it cost?