Transform Jeans into Maternity Jeans

UPDATE on MATERNITY JEAN Design….

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OK – so after the ‘jury’ is in when I presented DD with her favorite jeans back to her (those on the right), after my ‘maternity modification’, I guess I didn’t read my notes quite right, and curved the maternity stretch panel down too low.  Though she agrees with some of the longer tops, it will be just fine, I also wanted to ADD to this post with this additional ‘input’ from the Mama-To-Be.

You can see the quite drastic difference in the front crotch length above between the jeans she purchased at the left, and the ones I adapted for maternity at the right.  It all comes down to how long the gal will be wearing her tops.  I guess I’m just ‘old’ and feel all the VERY revealing tummy-hugging tops are not flattering or in good taste (especially for my daughter as a 2nd grade teacher) …thus my directions below.  However, if you or your ‘Mama’ prefer a less low maternity panel, you should just not cut the lower curve as in my directions.

I will say, however, that my daughter has NO distance between her bust and her waist, so the regular back waist of the ones I adapted for her is really much more comfortable.  Between you and me – I think she’ll like ‘my version’ just fine.  🙂

On with the Original post then…..

Yeah – so Dear Daughter can’t find maternity jeans that cost less than $100.  Sewing Grandma-to-be to the rescue!  Laying in bed thinking through this process, it came to me:  Buttonhole Elastic.  This great stuff is found in toddler pants for easy adjusting for tummy growth – so why  not in maternity wear as well!  Shazammm – and daughter agrees.  We are both thinking…perhaps a maternity line of patterns is in my business future.  From this Grandma’s viewpoint, the industry really needs some fashionable, cute maternity styles that do NOT reveal everything.  Just sayin’….

Follow these quick & EZ steps to transform your favorite jeans into ones that will GROW with you – thanks to:  BUTTONHOLE ELASTIC!!

Gather Supplies:

  • 3/8 yard of swimwear lycra/nylon or a very 2 way stretch fabric with Lycra for the maternity ‘panel’
  • 3/4 yard buttonhole elastic 
  • polyester thread
  • jeans that fit your legs
  • flat head screwdriver and needle nose pliers (to remove pocket rivets on jeans)
  • regular sewing supplies and machine

Step 1:  Cut out Panel Area from Jeans

After measuring the one pair of maternity jeans she had, I had some ‘reference measurements’ to go from.  The center front crotch seam – below the zipper was left at about 3.5″.  I drew an arc up to the side seams, to about 1″ below the pocket rivet. Take a deep breach and CUT this right front out, starting a generous 1/2″ towards the front of the side seam, right through the waistband, and then down to 1/2″ ABOVE the arc line drawn.  Cut TO the center front.

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Flip the other half under, below this half.  Use what you just cut as a guideline along which to cut the other side identically.  We’ll now refer to this as the ‘Crescent Hole’.

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Step 2:  Remove Pocket Rivets

Honestly, this is about the hardest part.  From the WRONG side, dig the flat head of the screwdriver below the flat side of the rivet and bend up the edges until you can get hold of them with the needle nose pliers.  PULL with all your might, and get that rivet OFF.  It will take some doing, but you can do it.  Check out You-Tube for more how-to’s, but that’s really what it amounts to..working from the WRONG side, and really working at it.

Step 3:  Cut Maternity Panel to Fit

jeasn5      jeans5b

Mark the center of your  maternity panel by folding in half.  Make sure that the greatest stretch is going horizontal, across the jeans from left to right.  Tuck this piece below, into the crescent ‘hole.  Mark the top cut edge of the jeans ‘Crescent Hole’ with a marker.  You only need to do 1/2 of it, as the next step is to fold the maternity panel in half, and cut the lower crescent and side shapes. To allow for a 1/4″ seam, cut 1/2″ BELOW the marking you just made along the lower curve of the maternity panel.  At the top, allow an ADDITIONAL 1″ of height at the side seam, then as you cut across the top of the panel, arc UP towards the center as seen in the photo at the right below.  In the right photo below, that is a center FOLD at the right side of the maternity panel.  Cutting up higher at the top at the center  will add more LENGTH at the center front.  Bumps require LENGTH to go over them, so as the baby bump grows, you’ll have the additional length (plus the stretch of the 2-way stretch fabric) to accommodate the growth.

jeasn6                jeasn7

Step 4:  Stabilize & Clip Side Corners, Pin & Stitch 

The only tricky part of inserting the panel are those pesky lower side corners.  Those are what we call in garment sewing ‘Inside to Outside Corners’.  They’re EZ if you just follow these steps:

  • Stay Stitch 1/4″ from the cut edge. down the side, then around the bottom for a couple inches, pivoting at the corner.  CLIP into that corner, right up to the stitching as shown in the photo below.  (You can also trim any pocketing close to the side seam.)

jeans9      jeasn11

  • Flip the stretch panel down, right sides together at the bottom of the Crescent Hole.  Match center of the maternity panel to the lower center crotch seam, and the lower ‘corners’ of the panel to that clips you just made.  Pin, and stitch with a 1/4″ seam.  You’ll be stitching down one side, pivoting, then around the bottom of the Crescent Hole, the pivoting and going up the other side seam.  Check your stitching from the right hand side.  You should have 1″ higher maternity stretch panel at each side seam than where the jeans top waistband is.  This excess height will turn down to become the ‘casing’ for the Buttonhole Elastic.
  • Assuming that all turned out great, go back and STITCH AGAIN to reinforce.  I actually used the triple straight stretch stitch on my machine to really secure this well.  That stitch goes forward 2 stitches, then backwards 1 stitch, etc.
  • If you have a serger, serge this seam.  If not, just zig zag with a big, wide zig zag – just to make it look nice inside.  Otherwise, it’s not really necessary, as the denim won’t ravel that much, and knits don’t ravel at all.

Step  5:  Secure Elastic & Create Casing

Secure one end of the Buttonhole Elastic to the side seam at the back waistband height as shown in the photo below at the LEFT side seam.  Stitch back and forth several times to insure that this will NOT come loose.

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Flip the excess height of the maternity stretch panel down, over the elastic.  You should have about 1″ to turn down.  Pin it down, over the elastic.  Stitch with a very narrow width (like .5 or 1.0 width) and 3.0 long ZigZag Stitch, run just a bit inside the cut edge of the turned down raw cut edge.  Do NOT stitch through the elastic, but let it just ‘be’ in the ‘casing’ you are creating.  The idea is that this elastic can be pulled as tight or as loose as needed as the baby grows by just changing which buttonhole is secured to the button that comes in the next step at the RIGHT side seam.

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As shown in the photo below, I stitched this button on using my sewing machine so that it is VERY secure.  To create some ‘shank’ or play in it, I stitched over a fat needle laid as shown in the left photo below.  Consult your machine manual on how to sew on buttons by machine.  I rarely use this function, but for very SECURE stitching where it won’t be seen, this works perfectly!  See how the buttonhole in the elastic can be secured around this button.  LEAVE as much of the elastic as makes sense hanging free inside the jeans, so as the baby grows, it can just be adjusted to looser, according to needs.

jeans18     jeans19

DONE!  Check this out…and smile at the $$$$ saved!  

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5 Responses

  1. Linda says:

    Your instructions and photos are fabulous! Can’t wait to try it. Just need a grandchild!

  2. Linda Doran says:

    Your instructions and photos are fabulous! Can’t wait to try it. Just need a grandchild!

  3. Margaret Emery says:

    Any reason why you didn’t take out the side seam and stitch the panel to the side seam, instead of “a generous 1/2 inch towards the front of the side seam” – other than that is lots easier to cut in front of the seam than ripping the side seam?

    • admin says:

      You are a smart gal – that is exactly the reason I did it as I did: to not have to get into that seam and all that involves. Do whatever you think might work for you = that’s the great thing about sewing!

  4. Ann S. says:

    Back when I was expecting my child in 1970 maternity jeans were almost unknown. I bought maternity panels & converted my pre-pregnancy jeans. Women were always asking where I got them.

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