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Add A Drawstring To Pants

Plus Optional Elastic

drawstring pants

Super Comfy Pants

A drawstring adds style and is easy to add.

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There are several uses for these instructions:

1. If your existing pants have a waist that is too high for your sense of style and comfort, the waistline can be altered using these directions (if the waist is high enough).

2. Alter the waistline of an existing pattern.

3. Add a drawstring to pants that are made from a pattern that doesn't call for a drawstring.

It's easy to add a drawstring to elastic waist pants. An elastic waist adds comfort; lounge pants or pajama pants need elastic. Outer wear, comfy pants can use an elastic waist as well. A drawstrings add interesting detail. The loose elastic with drawstring creates a very comfortable fit. Or, the elastic can be eliminaed altogether.

Alter An Existing Pattern
If your pattern has a waistline that is higher than you like, it is possible to make the pants hang lower. Just trim an inch or two off the top of the pattern.

NOTE: The back and front might need to be lowered by different amounts. For example, you might take 2" off the front and only 1" off the back (or leave the back as is). When I altered the pattern for this pair of pants, I took more off the front than the back due to the design of the original pattern. I don't want my pants too low in the back, but I like them to ride lower in front.

Assemble the pants the way you usually would, but stop before hemming under the waist. Elastic waist pants are usually made by just hemming under the waist and running elastic under this self made waist band.

Understanding Construction Of Pants

Refer to Pajama Pants Pattern for full instructions on altering and constructing pajama / lounge pants.


Sewing Supplies: scissors, quilting pins, large sewing ruler, fabric marking pencils, seam ripper, flat shoelaces (or your cord of choice - long enough that total length reaches around the waist plus has enough to tie - shoelaces can be sewn together), 1" or 3/4" elastic for waist (I prefer 1")

hint: quilting pins are easier to use than regular pins; a tupperware box works well as a supply box.

These instructions are assuming you are hemming under 1.25" for the waist band (3/4" for elastic to slide through plus the 1/4" turned under again). If you are omitting the elastic, you only need to turn down the top about 3/4" - just enough to run the ties through.

Always iron between steps.


start project 1. Start at the point where the pants are assembled and you are ready to finish the waist. NOTE: Trim the top of the waist area as needed on the front and back (see notes in first paragraph above). If you need 2" off the front and 1" off the back, cut evenly across the back to the side seams. Then, gradually increase the width you are cutting off from each side seam to a total of 2" at the front center seam.

buttonhole 2. Serge or hem under 1/4" around top of waist. Fold under the waist band 1.25" and iron all the way around. This will become your waistband. Place a pin on the center front, at the bottom of the waistband, going through only the top fabric (to mark the bottom of the waistband). Unfold. On right side of front of pants, make two buttonholes - one on each side of the center front seam, vertically centered between the top (ironed fold) and bottom (marked with pin) of the waist band. The buttonholes should be small, but large enough to pull your shoestring through.

3. Snip open your buttonholes.

4. Fold the hem back under and stitch it down, leaving a 1" opening in the back to feed the elastic through.

5. Elastic: Steps 5 & 6 are optional. You can omit the elastic.
Cut your 3/4" elastic to the correct length for your waist (I always measure it exactly to the waist, then add about 1/4" for overlapping ends when they are sewn together - this is a personal preference as to how "tight" you want it). NOTE: For "low slung" pants, the elastic must be the correct length to fit around the area where the pants will be worn - between hips and waist.

6. Run the elastic through the waist band. Then, stitch together the two ends of the elastic. Stitch the opening of the hem.

7. If using shoelaces: cut one end off of each shoelace. Stitch shoelaces together at open ends. String the shoelace through the buttonholes, going in one and exiting the other. If using cord: cut cord to desired length and feed it through the buttonholes, going in one and exiting the other.

NOTE: You can use fabric rather than a shoelace or cord. Cut the a fabric piece about 1.25" x a length that is needed (approximately 2x the waist length). Press under the two short ends 1/4". press under the two long edges 1/4". Fold the piece in half lengthwise and press. Topstitch around the 3 open edges. Run the drawstring through the openings in the casing and then tie a knot in each end of the drawstring so it doesn't get pulled back through an opening.

It is easy to pull your drawstring through the casing if you attach a safety pin to one end. Push the safety pin through the hole and then push it through the casing by pushing it from the right and pulling it from the left. You can feel the safety pin through the fabric. Remove the safety pin once the drawstring is through the casing.


finished pants

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