Three fixed, four hemmed

I’ve come to (begrudgingly) accept the gaping waistbands of most store-bought pants. I also fully understand that (annoyingly) most store-bought clothes must be altered before I can wear them. (Also, my mirror could use a little Windex, I know.)


But tell me, am I the only one who sees a gazillion poor choices all rolled up into one crappy pant over here? Poor choices above and beyond gaping waistbands and simple alterations.

  • Flap pockets for the bum-endowed.
  • Flap pockets which don’t lie flat against the body.
  • Flap pockets which have hidden swaths of fabric and a button, to ensure that they stick out regardless of ironing, flattening, patting (by you or others), etc.
  • The button and its fabric encasement? Yeah, you can’t operate that while wearing the pants, unless you have spider-like fingers (or have had a drink or two).
  • This monstrosity attached to a thin, summer pant, thus defeating the flowing, carefree silhouette.
  • All covering up back pockets sized to fit a credit card and a pocket mirror, nothing more.

So, yeah. Out went the button, and the extra bit of fabric. Then I stitched down the flap pockets and put some elastic into the waistband.


Better, no?

And since I shop just like Norma does, I fixed up the navy pair, too.

Followed by eliminating the drawstring in the brown counterpart to the taupe pants I showed you a few weeks ago.

By the way, those (identical) brown and taupe summer pants? They also had flap pockets at some point, with velco, no less. I stitched those down as soon as I got them.

And then I hemmed four pairs of pants.


Wide-leg Mimosa jean trouser from Lucky Brand Jeans. Love. Which of course means, discontinued (bastards!).


Classic Rider from Lucky. A little more slim through the hip and thigh compared to Easy Rider, and a little more flattering on the belly, since it’s zippered (as opposed to the Easy Rider, which is button fly). My new favorite. I may have been about ¼” too ambitious in hemming this pair, but they’re perfect for flip-flops and flats.


The ‘before’ photo is more of a work-in-progress, so please use the pant leg without pins for reference. Another ridiculous item from the GAP, though it didn’t need any elastic in the waistband or flap-pocket removal, thank goodness. These super lightweight, wide-leg denim pants came with an itsy-bitsy 3/8″ rolled hem. Of course it looked ridiculous and didn’t give the leg opening any movement or substance. Since I needed to shorten them anyway, I gave them a nice 1.5″ blind hem. Much better.

I didn’t manage to take a ‘before’ for these cotton pants. The only pair left in my size was “long” so I chopped off, like, 3 inches. I trust you to use your imagination. Amazingly, other than the length, this pair fits great!


58 thoughts on “Three fixed, four hemmed

  1. Bertha

    I too am bum-endowed, and those flappy butt-pockets that curl up immediately after washing and NEVER flatten out again are my biggest pants-related peeve in life! I never thought to remove the button and stitch them down! I never use the back pockets! Perfect solution!!

  2. Amy

    I find it endless irritating that you spend big bucks for clothing that you have to alter! Grrr. Nice job, though – and great suggestion to just do away with the back pockets that you don’t use anyway.

  3. Marie

    Great job—I hear you, oh bum-endowed (as am I). Another great tip: stitch down those side pockets too. Sometimes those are right at the side of the pants on the seam and make for a “wide load” look. Anyway, what’s with the pockets except for show-that’s what we carry handbags for!

    Good fun!

  4. Kate


    Can you come fix mine now? 😀

    and note: The flappy butt pockets are bad for everybody… trust me :p you had the best solution and you did such a great job.

  5. Wanett

    I had on a pink pair from the gap just like these today. My pocket flaps were rounding corners minutes after I was. It was ridiculous. Don’t get me started on the front pockets sticking out to the side once you squeeze the hips in there.

  6. teopea

    I was shopping for jeans at a jeans specialist store recently (which was a soul destroying affair and did not result in a purchase). The only thing I found amusing about the whole process was the notice stuck to the mirror in the changing room offering alterations – for money, of course. I can’t decide if this is a good thing that people who can’t alter their own clothes have the option of having their clothes fit them, or an admission that they don’t make clothes that fit people! I wonder what the statistics are on that – how many women actually find trousers that fit without alteration?

  7. Amanda

    hah, JUST TODAY i was bemoaning the flappiness of my rear pocket flaps, and decided i was going to sew them down! stupid flaps.

  8. Kate

    teopea–I did! Once. Levi’s 518’s, superlow. And you’ll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands.

    But the other 99% of the time, I agree with you completely 🙂

  9. Deborah

    Another “bum-endowed” one here. I always sew down those flaps, and I also cut away the “pocket” fabric on the inside. I need NO extra bulk, and usually that fabric gets all wrinkled up and lumpy while pants are being worn. I also sew down side pockets, since they almost always stick out as well. Great job with your sewing.

  10. anna

    i wish i was ambitious as you for altering pants. as i am bum-endowed as well and have short legs buying pants is a nightmare. surprisingly, target has decently fitting pants.

  11. Katy

    I wish I was as proficient as you are at altering. I have 3 pairs of husband’s trousers and 4 of my skirts to hem, we are more of short-legged people rather than bum-endowed here, which is a pain to shop for as well.

  12. Kristin

    I shop like that too! Not that much for trousers (because, let’s face it, when is there ever more than one pair that fits in one shop at any given time that doesn’t cost a fortune?!), or skirts (they all sort of fit if they’re cut the same way), but shirts! Long-sleeved, short-sleeved, no-sleeved. I recently bought about 15 t-shirts (with stuff printed on them so they’re not quite identical, but very nearly so. All have the same style of picture and it’s only slightly changed in each of the shirts) for about £3 each. Awesome.

    Elastic in the waistband. I can never be bother, I just wear belts instead. Always.

  13. Andrea

    It´s really wonderful, that the problem with the pants seems to be an international one. Here in Germany it´s the same. You were very busy. I prefer to buy a new pair of Highheels insteed of shorten the pants ;))

    Greetings, Andrea

  14. Kate/Massachusetts

    doh! I never thought of sewing those suckers down and removing the extra fabric! I resent having to alter expensive clothes that SHOULD fit for the cost of them. rant.

    How do you sew elastic into the waistline?

    Do you have access to any FabricPlace stores? They offer customized patterns through a bodyscanning company from Canada. My sister loves having patterns that fit her perfectly. I don’t remember the name of the company though – something like Unique Patterns. Give FabricPlace a call for info if you are interested.

  15. andrea

    nice work. too bad i can’t use these modification ideas. my problem is my waist is bigger than what it should be for my rear end. so i end up with baggy bum area. any ideas on how to fix that? i will worship you forever if you manage to get that one fixed and show us how! =)

  16. kozykitty

    I, too, am very bum endowed. I must thank you for introducing me to True Jeans over a year ago. When I was in MA last summer, I fit tested there and bought 3 pairs. I’ve since come to trust them and mail ordered 3 more! I also used the elastic in the back waist trick. I have found that Target sells some nice pants and capris in different fits (they have one that is a little more curvy–you can find the info on their website). Just a tad of elastic in them works like a charm! I’ve gotten some great slim fitting black pants there!

  17. Natalie

    Next time you add elastic to a waist, can you show us how you do it? I think I need to jump on the elastic bandwagon! (To get pants to fit around my hips/stomach, I have to buy them huge in the waist, so there’s a whole lot of extra space.)

  18. sara

    Hmmm. I have no bum at all. My Bum is actually in my belly. Wonder if I can transfer it to my bum….

    I am mad impressed by your ability to make clothes fit well.

  19. sue Treiber

    you rock, plain & simple!

    I hate the length of pants, and I am 5’8″!

    Those pocketlets should be banned. They flatter no one!

  20. kris

    this is fantastic! Can I talk you into a tutorial on how to put the elastic in the back of the pants? please???!!!

  21. BunnyQueen

    I’m with you on the pants pockets issue. My personal pet peeve, which I rarely encounter now that I am done with jobs which require a uniform, is shirts with a big patch pocket. I’m a DD cup, so I really, really don’t need the neon “look at me” sign that these pockets create. In that particular job, our pants had no pockets (to discourage theft), so the only place to put any lunch money was in the chest pocket, making one side lumpy. Attractive. 🙁

  22. Kim MacKenzie

    Pant shopping, blah! Good job on the alterations. I would like to complain about you choppin’ the longs up, but I can’t! I need extra long! At 5’10” I have a 34″ inseam, try finding extra long LOL! Needless to say my store bought pants can only be worn with flat shoes, no heels.

  23. SarahA

    I love the Editor pants at Express for their curvy fit and no flap pockets or those side pockets that gape no matter what you do. They’re very light weight, too. I hem every pair I’ve bought from them because the short is 1/4″ too short.

    I also like their jeans. They are the first pair of jeans I’ve every owned that actually fit.

  24. Plain Jane

    I bought a pair of Gloria Vanderbilts that are way too long. I’m at that 5’4″ height between petite & average, but I’ll swear that they’ve increased the length of the average ones since I bought my last pair several years ago.

  25. Rita

    Hi Kathy,

    Petaining to pants pockets with flaps, here is another idea.

    This will be good for people who don’t use these pockets, we are kind of stuck, they come on most pants these days. I cut off the flap, but leave on that nice horizontal welted seam, and just sew shut the pocket. So it does not draw attention to that area, and looks really clean. I do it to all my pants. Rita

  26. Rita

    Hi Kathy,

    Petaining to pants pockets with flaps, here is another idea.

    This will be good for people who don’t use these pockets, we are kind of stuck, they come on most pants these days. I cut off the flap, but leave on that nice horizontal welted seam, and just sew shut the pocket. So it does not draw attention to that area, and looks really clean. I do it to all my pants. Rita

  27. Lora

    What a clever idea!! I have two pair of capri’s that have funky button butt pockets…. I carry a purse..who needs a pocket!! Off to rip, seam and sew!

  28. Lillie

    You are my hero. Do you anything special when you hem jeans to keep the washed-looking part that you normally sacrifice? I hate to lose that part, so I usually don’t buy jeans that need to be hemmed. Consequently that narrows my choice of jeans substantially, being 5′ 2″.

  29. Janis

    I am continually irritated by the pockets that aren’t meant to hold more than a credit card or a q-tip. Either make useful pockets, or don’t even put them on!

  30. Jean

    I bought on sale some Talbots slacks that have annoying butt flaps. What designer in his/her right mind would put flaps on the rear of a plus sized pair of slacks? I’m going to razor the flaps out from under the welts and make some belt loops out of them. Another peeve that–no belt loops. A good idea here; I’m going to stitch the welts closed and cut out the pocket.

  31. TracyKM

    Oohh, I have a pair of lightweight pants with a similiar pocket that annoys the crap out of me. Plus, there’s belt loops on the front that stick out. I keep meaning to stitch them down. I love the elastic idea. To fit my belly, the butt is usually too big and will gape. So I tend to by them a little too small; now I can buy them to fit the front and put in the elastic! Cool!

  32. tien

    and what about pants without pockets at all.

    I went shopping yesterday in my great Big Sizes shop, and all they had were linnen and cotton pants without pockets !!! Where do I keep my housekey and carkey, hanky, cellphone when I’m visiting a factory for work. No bags allowed inside.

    But then the H&M: much cheaper and 2 cotton pants black and white with pockets!

  33. Jadielady

    I’m also bum endowed, and kinda chunky, but for some reason pants that fit in the store fall off when I get them home. I don’t get it.

  34. EmmyS

    Actually, butt flap pockets ARE good for some of us! My butt is wide but flat. The pockets add some depth to make it seem a bit rounder and more in proportion.

  35. EmmyS

    Lillie: I’m 5’5″, but have short legs, so petites are too short in the rise and regular are way too long in the leg. I found a great article about how to hem jeans so that you don’t lose the faded part at the hem:

  36. Laura

    Ooh! What a great idea. I never thought to sew those abominable pockets down! I never use them anyway… And I’m mightily impressed with your mad sewing skills!

    (One of the first things I’m doing with my brand new paycheck from my brand new job is taking a sewing class!)

  37. Norma

    You’re a genius. I wish I could master the sewing machine.

    It’s too funny and timely, your comment that you shop like I do…..just today I went back to a store to get a second pair of sandals, in a different color, like a pair I bought last week. When you find a good thing, you gotta jump on it!

  38. Nancy

    What I’m trying to figure out is why do they put fake flys in women’s pull on pants….

  39. Suzanne V. (Yarnhog)

    I don’t suppose you want to come alter all my pants? San Diego is beautiful this time of year…

    I also suffer from waistband gap. Eddie Bauer recently came out with a new fit (the “shaped fit”), in which the waist is one full size smaller than the hip. Perfect for me, but limited styles. I don’t sew, so altering my own waistbands isn’t going to happen. But it never occurred to me that I could sew down those infernal flap pockets that I hate so much and never use. I think I can manage that!

  40. Gabriella

    Great idea with the elastic! Do tell how you do it, please. I sometimes sew darts at the back waist, but it gets bulky.

  41. Allison

    I too would LOVE to see how you put elastic in the waists…… or other ideas for gaping waistbands. I have a big problem with that, and generally do not buy or try on flap pocket pants because of the flappage. But maybe I would consider some on clearance now…..

  42. Snowbird

    The alterations came our great! It’s amazing what a little needle and some thread can do. Just what you had to do to all those pants makes shopping for me a nightmare.

  43. Snowbird

    The alterations came out great! It’s amazing what a little needle and some thread can do. Just what you had to do to all those pants makes shopping for me a nightmare.

  44. Laura Neal

    I have no idea who invented the flap pocket but, they need to be shot! They only make your butt look bigger with that damn flap back there! I cringe when I see girls wearing those flap pockets on their jeans and pants, don’t people realize how much bigger their butts look because of that damn flap?

    What ever happened to a simple pocket on the back of jeans? They didn’t add, they didn’t detract and they actually were able to hold something.

  45. Emily

    If you DO want to use the pockets occasionally, those little sew-in snaps work great, too. I put one on each corner and just snap them closed (you could do one in the middle, too, if the existing fastener isn’t close enough to the edge to prevent the middle from flipping up). You can still get into the pocket if you need to, but the stupid wrinkly flap stays in place. Hate those things!

  46. cactusneedles

    I just want to say thanks as you inspired me to “fix” some shorts I had that gapped in the back (they were on the way to the “out” pile). You’ve saved three pair! Thanks for the idea!!!

  47. Earin

    After much frustration I no longer buy pants/shorts/capri. I had a girlfriend fit a pattern to me and I use that over and over. They fit my high bottom, short legged, no waist self like a dream, I can get a variety of looks and fabric weights and I am a happy camper. I never, ever put pockets on the back either and I can make up a pair in a few hours!

  48. carol

    I absolutely detest pant shopping. Everything gaps over the back. when will pant makers realize that most women have a bum?

  49. Gina aka SleepyEyes

    Amazing alterations! I have to say that I can never find a pair of pants that is the just length (I’m 5’2″ on a good day)…even in short/petite. They just don’t fit well. I envy your talent and skill with sewing and fixing up your own clothing. Wanna do mine?? LOL!

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