Trouser Refashion Swap: Riding Pants with Zipper Hems

I am so excited today for the second Refashion Swap! In this fun swap, a group of ten awesome sewing bloggers from around the country were assigned partners to refashion for. We each started with a pair of trousers and that was the only requirement! (In the first Refashion  Swap, we used button-up shirts.) Today each of us is posting the full tutorial for our refashion, then on Monday we will each post photos of us wearing the refashion that was made for us. Be sure to check in today with all of the other bloggers to see what they came up with.

The ten refashionistas for the Trouser Refashion Swap are:

Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking

Miriam of MadMim

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 refashioned for darling Suzannah of Adventures in Dressmaking. If you don’t know her, you should. She has fantastic sewing skills ( I love her recent Kate Spade inspired dress), and a knowledge of commercial patterns that boggles my mind. In her weekly sewing circle, readers ask all sorts of sewing questions, and Suzannah gives tips and advice. It’s awesome. On top of all of that, Suzannah is the fastest email returner in history! Seriously! I am never left hanging, wondering if she got my message or not. This is an amazing quality in an online friend, wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, Suzannah described her style as preppy and classic (with some romantic and vintage twists!) I bounced around a couple ideas, then we settled on this: classic riding pants with zippers a the ankles. I think these pants will be amazingly versatile! They are a soft, stretchy blend, will be easy to wash and wear, and will be easy to dress up with a blouse and heels, or down with a tee and tennis. I love them and almost made her a different pair after these were finished so I could keep them  and think they will look awesome on Suzannah!

I began with a pair of stretch trousers from Banana Republic. The quality and fit of the waist and thigh were great, but the details and boot-cut leg put them into the refashion pile. This was the perfect time to pull them out and work on them! I am going to break the refashion down into sections, to make it easy to follow. On the waistband, I removed the button and double belt loops (double, that’s weird, right?!) and swapped in a sleek hook and eye closure. On the inside of the upper leg, I added a traditional-style riding patch. Originally, this would have been cut into the pants to offset the seams from the pressure of the saddle, but since it is just for looks, I added it as an applique. Finally, I slimmed the lower legs down to skinny, and added exposed zippers at the hems. These are probably my favorite part, and I kind of want to add zippers to all of my pants! 

We’ll begin with slimming the legs. You’ll need the measurements for the thigh, knee, calf, and ankle to get an accurate fit:

1. Turn the trousers inside-out and measure down to the knee from the waistband. Mark with a pin.

2. At the knee, measure half of the knee circumference, and mark with pins.

3. Do the same for the calf and the ankle, then connect the pins with a straight edge ruler. I used this Jacquard auto fade pen to draw my line.

4. Add 1/2″ on each side for seam allowance, and cut.

5. With right sides together, stitch along the inside edge, stopping about 10 inches from the hem. Leave the outside seam undone for now.

Adding the Knee Patch

1. Starting about 1″ below the knee level, draw a cone-shape (I started a few inches too low the first time, and ended up moving it up to 1″ below the knee”

2. Using a similarly stretchy fabric as your trousers, cut two of the patches, adding 1/4″ for folding.

3. Clip the round end to the fold line

4. Fold all of the edges in 1/4″ and press.

5. Pin the applique onto the pants, centering it over the inside seam. Stitch in place as close to the edge as possible.

6. Repeat the steps for the other side. Make sure the patches line up!

Inserting the ankle zipper (I used this awesome tutorial to figure out how to do this):

1. Cut the hem to about 1″ below where you want the final pant length.

2. Measure your zipper (I used metal) and mark where you will need the bottom end so that the zipper pull lines up with the pant hem.

3. Cut on the diagonal to the side seam stitching.

4. Iron both sides of the side seam so the folded edges meet on the side seam. This is where the zipper will lie.

5. Open the edges up, showing the cut corners.

6. Place the zipper face down on the end with the zipper tails lining up with the cut corners, and the end of the zipper just over the sewn edge of the seam.

7. See how the end of the zipper lines up with the side seam? Now stitch along this edge, holding the zipper end in place.

8. Open the zipper, and using a zipper foot, sew the zipper tape to the pants as close to the zipper as you can.

9. When you turn the zipper right side out, you should have a pressed edge of fabric butting up to the exposed zipper teeth, and no stitching showing. Repeat with the other side of the zipper, then with the other pant leg.

The hem:

1. Your zipper pull should line up with there you want the final hem to be.

2. With the pants right side out, fold the hem up to the desired length. Pin  and stitch along the edge beneath the zipper pull, being careful not to catch the zipper tape in the seam.

3. Flip the hem under, leaving a neatly finished seam below the zipper. Slip stitch the inside hem in place.

The waistband

1. Cut off the button, being careful to not cut the fabric of the pants. Cut the overhang 1/2″ from the line of the fly.

2. Unpick along the waistband enough to flip it inside out to sew.

3. Flip the waistband inside out and stitch 1/2″ from the cut edge. Clip the corner.

4. Turn right side out and press. Topstitch along the waistband seam to secure. Hand stitch one or two hook and eyes to secure the waistband.

5. Unpick the belt loops.

6. Slip stitch the waistband back in place where you unpicked from the belt loops.

Done and done! I can’t wait to find another perfect pair of stretch trousers to make myself a pair of riding pants! They’re pretty on trend right now, and awesome. I can’t wait to check out all of the other Trouser Refashions today. I’m also really excited to see Suzannah in these pants on Monday!


  1. Posted September 26, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Yep, love. These look impeccable, and I’m just so excited to see Suzannah rock them in her smoking bod!! Could I ever work something like this??

    • Miranda
      Posted September 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Mim. I think they will be great on Suzannah. You could totally do riding pants! Maybe darker brown stretch cord? Yes.

  2. Posted September 27, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    I LOVE how these turned out! I can’t wait to see how they fit!

    • Miranda
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      They fit me perfectly…which may or may not be a good sign:)

  3. Posted September 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    These are great. Love the ankle zips!

    • Miranda
      Posted September 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Carrie! They are my favorite part!

  4. Posted September 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Love them! Especially the zippers! So cute 🙂

  5. Posted October 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    I love these! This is such a genius idea. May I ask where you found the patch? I would like to make some too. 🙂

    • Miranda
      Posted October 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Kara! The patches are actually just cut from a different pair of stretchy pants, but any material would work, just as long as it has similar properties to the pants you are adding it to. Good luck!

      • Posted October 2, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Thank you! I assumed it was some sort of suede patch.

  6. Amy
    Posted June 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    If riding pants are “in”, or were at the time of this post, I’m set haha. I actually ride horses and have a couple pairs, but I love the idea of turning regular pants into something that reflects my style.

  7. imdb
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Awesome refashion! Inspires me to refashion SEVERAL pairs of pants 😀

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