Monday, August 23, 2010

Altering HeyDay Trousers (with Coupon!)

I know you all love the 40s-style swing trousers from HeyDay Vintage Style. But did you know that they're also super easy to alter to get a custom fit? Designer Shona Van Beers uses a classic men's tailoring technique: the back seam extends up through the waistband and has a wide seam allowance, allowing it to be taken in or let out easily. Shona was kind enough to send me a pair of her trousers in black. Like many women, my hips are a bigger ready-to-wear size than my waist. But it's easy to alter this style of trouser to fit perfectly. Just start with a size that fits you in your hips; for me, that's a UK size 14. Here's how to do the alteration! (And see the bottom of this post for a discount on HeyDay trousers.)

Put the trousers on and pin out the excess fabric at the back waistband.

Measure the amount taken out. Mine was 1/4" on either side of the seam. (This is my second alteration on these trousers so the tailoring needed was minimal. For my size 14, I ended up taking out an 1-1/2" at the waist, all told.)

Take out the pin. Here's the inside of the trousers. See the wide seam allowance at center back? (Sorry about the blurriness! Hopefully you can still see what I mean.)

Rip out the stitches holding the waistband down around the center back seam. (Ack! Blurriness! Sorry!)

Fold the center back seam allowances together, so that you're looking at the center back seam.

Now draw in the amount you need to take out with chalk, tapering down to the end of the wide part of the seam allowance.

Unpick the seam and pin it together.

Take the trousers to your machine and stitch down the chalk line, ending and back stitching when you connect with the remainder of the seam.

Now press the seam open on both sides of the trousers. It's a good idea to use a silk organza press cloth, as shown, to prevent making shiny spots on the fabric.

Now press the waistband back down and pin it into place from the outside of the trousers.

Go back to your machine and stitch in the ditch of the waistline to secure the waistband back into place. I use an edgestitch foot for this to get right into the ditch.

That's it! You now have a pair of trousers that fit you in the waist and the hips—what a novel idea!

 Now, as for that discount! Shona is offering you all 10% off a pair of her fabulous HeyDay swing trousers. Just enter the code GGBS0810 at checkout. It expires September 30th, 2010. I've personally got my eye on this tweed pair for fall. Aren't they smashing?

Thanks to Shona for the coupon and her continued support!


  1. It's good she makes her trousers this way. For me it's no use though, the difference between my waist and hips is to much, it I had to take it all in I would create corners in my waistband. Better to make my own trousers.

  2. Wish that making well fitted pants was that easy. Agree that it's a way to start if there's not too much difference. I've done it this way for years, but it definitely was not enough to get well fitting pants.

  3. Yay! I love that feature on mens trousers (pants). When I was a poor University Student a looonnng time ago, I used to buy second-hand mens trousers from the charity shop & take them in just like that Gertie! (Except I didn't know about stitching in the ditch & just did the best I could sewing it all by hand LOL!)

    I think this might be the way for me to sew my waistbands + back-centre-seams on my homemade trousers (as & when I'm brave enough to tackle them) then when I *ahem* gain/loose a few pounds in weight I can adjust the trousers quickly & easily myself :)

  4. Nice easy tutorial. The pants are so cute. I am a big girl, though. US size 18. I don't think I can pull those pants off. Also I hold a lot of my weight in my belly area. I guess this one is just not for me.

  5. I just discovered your blog and I am SO HAPPY! I love your style, your expressionism, and your love of all things vintage. And I appreciate your matter-of-fact-ism. You are darling and I can't wait to continue following your blog!!

  6. Gertie, this is exactly how we construct and alter pants in the Hubbard Street Dance Co costume shop! I just did this to a pair of pants earlier this week! Being easy to alter is required since sometimes pants get switched around among dancers and if we can construct one less pair of pants all the better on a tight schedule!

  7. May have to contact them and see how much alterations can be done - I really like that tweed pair also. BTW, the pink glasses look great!

  8. You look amazing in your trousers.


  9. I sure wish women's ready-to-wear pants were made like mens, with the wide seam in the back. It would have life so much easier letting out a pair of women's pants.

  10. I live your top, Gertie! Did you sew it?

  11. Ooh - those are wonderful those trousers. I don't think I took them in when I last looked at the Heyday website (it was definitely summer then!). Thanks to both of you for the discount too; after discovering the moths had totally and utterly chewed to bits my only decent pair of wool trous in the course of last summer - I think I now have an excuse to replace them!

    Thank you also for your very useful alterations guide. I'm now cursing having [guilty confession!] sent some replacement wool trousers my aunt gave me to the charity shop because they were just so all round large. Not sewing at the time (beyond taking up the hem - perenial chore of the 5"3!), I wasn't sure what to do.

  12. Gertie, are these easy to let out as well? I have a few that are just a little tight in the waist but fit perfectly in the hips that I'd love to alter to fit me just right. Thanks for the 10% off coupon, that is definitely going to get used!

  13. Miss Emmi: absolutely! It works both ways. Isn't that awesome?

  14. Oooh, great! I know what I'll be doing this weekend then! Thanks so much for this helpful guide.

  15. Another tip for those with a very narrow back waist - if you unpick more of the waistband it's also easy to make the darts larger, so if you need to take in the waist a lot it gets more evenly distributed. I did this to my Heyday trousers in July (first time I successfully altered a pair of rtw trousers) and promptly got pregnant. Now I'm wondering if I'll ever fit into them again - I had to alter so much I trimmed the excess fabric off.

  16. I wish more women's RTW pants were constructed that way. Life would be so much easier. Then again, I might not be as inspired to sew my own.

    BTW, you look fabulous in the new glasses!

  17. Great tutorial!! Very easy to follow. I have so many pants I need to do this to. Looking now to see if they're constructed like this...
    Thank you!!

  18. Gertie, I tried the coupon code and it isn't working! :(

  19. Miss Emmi: Oh no! I'm checking with Shona on the coupon code. More to come!

  20. Emmi and others
    The coupon needed a tweak on the website and it should be working now - sorry about that! It was our first time having a multiple person code.

    I am thrilled you like the trousers, and great tutorial Gertie.


  21. I tried to order the tweed trousers today and the code won't work. :(


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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