The Trouser Refashion Swap

Buckle up, You. It’s round two of the Refashion Swap! The gist: myself and nine other talented sewists draw someone to sew for within the group, all starting with trousers as our muse (remember last time it was button up shirts?). We refashion the pants and make a DIY for all of you, send the pants to our partner, and then next week we model what was sewn for us! Fun! So today will be a trouser-refashion palooza– be sure to check out what everybody came up with (can’t wait to see myself!)

Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking

Miranda of One Little Minute

Melissa of I Still Love You

Liz of Cotton & Curls

Krista of Lazy Saturdays

Kelli of True Bias

Kate of See Kate Sew

Jennifer of Grainline Studio

Carrie of This Mama Makes Stuff 

 I was lucky enough to sew for my good friend Miranda, but I’m not gonna lie, at first I felt pretty bone-dry when it came to inspiration for refashioning trousers. I had just never looked at a pair of trousers and been like oh man, these babies have so much potential! So I put it off til last minute, and came up with a boxy top that featured the fly as a neck zipper. It was kinda boring really, and I wasn’t super excited about it. But proceed I did, and once I bought the trousers I started to get excited about where the design was going and how it seemed to really fit Miranda’s modern, perfectly minimal, and casual style.  First of all, I was always planning on using the pant legs as the sleeves, but when I came across these trousers with a cuffed pant leg, I was super stoked by how marvelously and simply altered the pants would translate into my cuffed sleeve design. And then second–my favorite design feature, the waistband collar–was a totally epiphany. I sat there half way through construction wishing upon a star that I had some way to add a cowl or stand up collar to the neckline. My original design just begged for the something like that, and I was stumped as to how I could do it realistically and simply. And then I happened to glance into the garbage where I had tossed the cut-off waistband, and had a flash of straight-up inspiration to make the waistband a bold collar that is  both unique and classic at the same time. After that it just all came together like a dream, and really truly, I love how it turned out.  I can’t wait to see it on her!

Get set:

  • thrift some trouser slacks.  Details to look for are

               -fabrics that are less stiff, and have a soft hand–almost drapey.

               -look for that pant cuff.

               -the larger the better, more fabric means more freedom.

  • 1/4 yard of an alternating color to add some punch! I used a really buttery, matte, chartreusey”silky solid” from TwinkleAnn’s that worked brilliantly. Stay away from heavier fabrics, it will change the look of the collar, making it much more stiff.
  • matching thread (for both the pants and alternating fabric is ideal)
  • measuring tape, quilter’s ruler and yard stick if you have them.
  • 2 coordinating buttons.
*Note: this tutorial may look a little daunting, but the construction is pretty straight forward. I wouldn’t make this your first project, but if you know the basics then you’ll be just fine. 

G0! (be sure to read through instructions before you begin! )Attack those bad boys with the scissors! Cut off the waist band, being careful not to cut through the bulky waistband seam.

Tie a few sturdy stitches on the top of the zipper so you don’t lose the pull.

Measure about 14″ from bottom pant hem and cut. Set aside, these will become the sleeves. 
Seam rip the side seams,as well as the inseams. Trim off pockets on front, and cut just below back welts on back.
Trim off the curve of the crotch on back, making a straight if not slightly concave curve. I serged the edges and then used a normal straight stitch, but you can just strait seam or serge it, whatev is good.

Repeat with front, starting right up at the bottom of the fly, and sew straight down (or slightly concave) again. Press you front and back pieces well, but be sure not to set your iron on too high a setting!! Slacks tend to get shiny if you burn them!Ok, here’s the most tedious part of the project: seam rip the waistband facing from the self. There will probably be several layers, remove them all.
Take a moment to get a few measurements. Measure a)from center points of your clavicle muscles across your chest. b)around your bust, add 5″. c)from clavicle muscle to fullest point of bust.  d)from fullest point of bust to high hip, or wherever you want the shirt to hit, add 1″.  and e) measure around high hip and add 6″.

On FRONT, take measurement A and center it over center seam on top edge and mark on either side.  Measure down center seam from top measurement B and mark. From that point, center measurement C over center seam and mark on both sides. From that point on one side measure down E and mark on both sides again. Now connect the dots, cut from point to point, and you should end up with something like this.  On the raglan edge, make a subtle S curve as seen here. 
Now use your front as a pattern for the back and cut exactly the same, except make the back maybe 1.5″ longer. Now arrange your sleeve underneath the raglan edge so that the top sleeve edge extends 4″ past top front edge, and the outer outside sleeve fold is at a 30 degree angle from raglan edge. If you don’t have a quilting ruler to measure this, then just try to match it as closely to the picture as you can, it will probably be fine. Now at this point you may need to take in the width of the sleeves. Mark how much you need to take in. Unpick the bottom cuff enough to take it in, and then replace the cuff as was. Now it should match up like so, and trace the S curve of the raglan edge onto the sleeve. Now you want to reflect that curve onto the sleeve as shown here. On top sleeve fold, Make a subtle curved dart to provide a good fit. The dart will likely not be right on the seam, but don’t worry about it, it won’t really show. Press.
Insert the sleeves, RST, and pin along both sides.Pull the sleeve right side, and press well. Cut the neck opening so that the back is about 2″ higher than the front, and is nice and rounded. Measure the waistband so that it’s  the same length as the neck opening,

and stitch RST. I had to go BACK and do this, but make sure this seam isn’t straight, but curved in so that TOP edge is smaller than bottom. This isn’t the best picture, but you’re just going to taper it in from bottom to top.  

Measure a strip of alternating fabric to match the waistband (width and length–you’ll repeat the curved seam in the center so that it tapers in towards the top), pin, and stitch, sewing right on the previous seam crease. Flip right sides out, and press.

Sew the ends and turn right side out, and press.Remove (seam rip off) the fly facing, and then cut a new one with alternating fabric (using the facing as a pattern), and pin and sew the curved edge. Flip it to the right side, and then slip stitch remaining edges under.
Pin and slip stitch an alternating strip of fabric to the opposite fly side as well. Sew the waistband to neck opening, RST, and then flip it right side out, and fold the facing under and pin it just over the seam. Press and admire.

Hi-low your bottom edge by cutting like so,

and then hem.
Cut 4 tabs from alternating fabric measuring 2X6″. Add a small square of interfacing to one end.  Sew tabs around three edges, and flip right side out.  Sew a button hole on center end, and then hand stitch open edge close.
Sew tab to inside sleeve seam 4″ from edge.  On right side, sew coordinating button right under stitching.  Well hello, Fabulous. 



Heh heh, so I totally didn’t mean to post this last night!! My hub did it on accident, and I didn’t realize until you commented and I was like whah?!?!? Oh well! And thanks for the compliment!!


I love this! I was looking at the other refashions in this swap and was slightly disappointed that nobody had refashioned trousers into a top… and then I saw yours. It’s lovely! The collar has to be my favorite part. =)


this is absolutely genius. i just found this from c&c, seriously. i agree with jen. you win hands down. one of the best refashions i’ve ever seen.


This looks absolutely amazing! I love refashions and do them all the time. Seeing your trouser makeover just got me jealous and asking “why didn’t I think of this?”. You rock!


This looks so amazing! And it’s such a surprise, I would never have thought of making a shirt from a pair of pants (rather the other way round). I have to try it myself. Thanks a lot for the tutorial!


I am pretty sure my chin hit the floor! What an amazing refashion. You have some crazy talent! Great job


That is crazy good! I had to click “read more” to figure out how you did that. I am so glad I met you this weekend! It went by so fast for me. I hope to see you next year.


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