This is an old tutorial I wrote almost a year ago as a guest on another blog (under username coquiainjelfire). I am reposting it on my blog here in an attempt to inspire myelf to write and post more tutorials on this blog.
We all have them. Those jeans that we USED TO be able to wear. Those jeans we WISH we could still wear. I admit I am guilty of keeping a bunch of jeans I wore in college. Ten years and two kids later, and there is very little chance that I will ever be able to wear them again, even if they were, by some odd chance, to come back in style again.
Since I have serious problems getting rid of perfectly good clothes, there is a simple solution: make the jeans fit by adding a side panel that provides a little more room. Let's start with the jeans we are going to refit.
Cut all of the stitching on both sides from the beginning of the waistband to the hem. At the hem, tear out the stitches a few inches to either side of the seam and unroll the hem around the outseam.
At this point, measure the outseam of the pants INCLUDING the extra fabric from the unrolled hem, but NOT including the waistband. This will be measurement A.
Then, try on the pants. Yes, post rip. Now you can get them on. The way I like to do this is by running a belt through the belt loops and tightening it so it hits at my waist.
Straighten out the jeans so the seams are in the right place and measure how much space there is between the outseams. Measure in a few different places along your hips, thighs, and waist, and be sure to measure on both sides. One measurement will be the largest. Use that one to give you an idea of how wide your side panels will have to be, as you can see in my picture here.
Note: this is a good time, if you want to, to add any appliques, embroideries, or other embellishments to your jeans.
Now, you know how large the side panels of your pants will need to be. (A long, by B wide). The easiest way to do this is to cut a single piece of fabric to that measurement. I, however, tend to prefer to make a patchwork panel for the sides of my jeans, so that is what I will be showing.
Once you reach the hem, you may have some fabric left--cut that off straight across. Then sew on the other side of the panel, again with the jeans on top. Stop right before you hit the waistband on the way up, pull the elastic through the casing, and sew everything together. It should look like this when you are done:
Repeat with the other side.
Once the side panels are all sewn in, I like to finish the seams. This will keep them from unraveling. I have a serger so I just serge the edges of the seams, just as they were before I ripped out the side seams of the jeans. If you don't have a serger, you can zig-zag along the raw edge, or you can use an over cast stitch if your machine has one.
To troubleshoot length: If your jeans are NOT the correct inseam length, there are a few ways to work through this. If the pants are too short, measure how much additional length you need. you can either cut off the hem, and sew a length of fabric onto the bottom for this extra length as an easy fix, or you can use this more complicated method: After opening the outseam, but before measuring for the needed length of the panel, cut the measurement of the additional length you need above the hem plus one inch off the hem off the jeans. For example, if you need 3 extra inches, cut your jeans off 4" above the factory hem.
With the jeans open, sew a strip of fabric that is the extra length you need plus 1" for seams onto the bottom. Then sew on the hem of the jeans. Finish the jeans as above.
Try on your new jeans and give yourself a pat on the back.
Two additional trouble shooting tips:
1. If your jeans are tapered at the ankle, you can counter that by tapering the bottom of your side panel so the bottom of your jeans is nice and straight...and along those same lines, if you like flares, just flare the panel as much as you want. Above all, feel free to experiment!
2. If you are getting too much fabric at the hip, where your legs start, you can taper your panel slightly along the "front seam" of the panel from about 1/2 way down the thigh upwards to the hip, and even through the waist to have less fabric. (By slightly I mean MAYBE a total of 1/2 to 1 inch TOTAL by the top of the taper.) A lot of jeans tend to be snugger in the hips and rear end than other pants, so the extra fabric may not give yout he look you prefer. This is an easy fix that you can decide whether or not you want by trying on the jeans before finishing the edges and hemming. I have jeans that I have both ways, depending on how the jeans were sut in the first place.
Another great thing about these jeans: If you get tired of the way they look, or if you lose or gain weight so they no longer fit again, you can just rip out the panels and start all over again! Good luck and Enjoy your new wardrobe!