Channelling Your Inner Tailor 2 – Adjusting Trousers (Post #125)

So I’ve been channelling my inner tailor by sewing buttons into the waistbands of a number of my trousers to enable me to continue Enjoying my Trouser Braces. However, this has been child’s play compared to some of the other challenges that braces have thrown up.

Having pursued a policy over the last two decades of buying trousers one size larger than my waist, taking up wearing braces has created some challenges. Like my post on Shoe Sizes I have noticed that trousers sizes can differ significantly. So I am a 34 waist but buy 36 waist trousers. Some of these trousers are slightly loose around the waist, but fit nicely if worn on the hips. These create no problems if worn with braces.

Others, however, are larger and are not only too large for the waist but also for the hips. These needed to have the waist adjusted before they can be worn with braces. With a belt they could be cinched in but without it they are just to loose around the waist. This is a job that I’ve been meaning to get around to at some point anyway, but the braces brought this to a head.

Waist measures 37 in despite being size 36
Waist measures 37 in despite being size 36

However, I decided that I wanted to get this done whilst I was off over the Christmas period and wondered to myself whether I could do this on my own… So I had a go.

Two of my worst offending trousers were among my In Between Trousers collection. Even better, they were ludicrously cheap; they cost £11 between them. So I figured even if I ruined them completely the risk was pretty small. I wouldn’t have dared to try this on more expensive suit trousers, for example.

My first attempt was with a pair of burgundy chinos.  I needed to lose about 2 inches from the waist. The three simplest ways of adjusting the waist of trousers are at the side seams, the rear seam, or by inserting some darts in the waistband. The trick is to find a seam that has single rather than double stitching so that the new seam looks the same as the original. One additional thing to watch out for is to ensure that the waist adjustment does not require any adjustment to belt loops.

Pin before sewing…
I chose to go for the rear seam as that meant adjusting the waist at a single point only.  If I went for side seams or darts I would need to adjust the waist, either at each side seam, or on either side of the rear seam.

The amount by which I could reduce the waist was limited by the amount of space between the rear belt loops. My first attempt didn’t make a large enough adjustment to the waist so I had a second go which removed almost entirely the space between the rear belt loops and effective made them a  double loop adjacent to one another above the new rear seam. This was much more successful at adjusting the waist to my size.

Emboldened, I decided to have a go at my navy chinos next.  They were both a little large at the waist and a little long in the leg. Unfortunately, my navy chinos have a belt loop right over the rear seam which meant that I would need to remove the loop if I wanted to adjust it in the same way I did the burgundy ones. I didn’t fancy that  More complicated, the side seams were double stitched so I couldn’t put a single seam there.

From flat front to pleated front chinos
From flat front to pleated front chinos

So it would have to be darts, but I was foiled again; the only place I could put darts would run into the rear pockets, so this was a no go. Then I had a brainwave: I could put darts at the front of the waistband and in so doing change the trouser from a flat fronted to a pleated front pair of chinos.

I am really pleased with the results. I only intended to adjust the waist by 2 inches but took closer to 3 inches out instead by mistake. So the trousers fit a little more snugly than intended. One happy consequence of that error is that the trousers now fit at the waist rather than the hips which means they are no longer slightly long in the leg.  They now fall perfectly.

1.5 inches on each side was a little more than I intended
1.5 inches on each side was a little more than I intended

There are one or two more trousers in my In Between Trousers collection which need adjusting but they are too complicated for me to attempt with my limited skill. They will need someone who actually knows what they are doing, partly because they will need at least 2-3 inches taken out of the waist and because the trousers have double side and rear seams which make adjustment more complex.

My local Timpson dry cleaners offer an adjustment service, which I confess I have never used. Interestingly, they also recommended a local lady who offers an adjustment service from just £7. So I might just be taking those one or two pairs to her.

image copy

Thanks to adopting trouser braces, a number of my trousers have been  adjusted to fit me far better than they did previously. The braces are are proving to be the gift that keeps on giving…


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