Tutorial: Turning Regular Jeans Into Maternity Jeans

I don’t know about you, but I hate maternity jeans. With a passion. I went through two entire pregnancies never finding a pair of jeans that actually fit well. Somewhere was always saggy and baggy and just looked awful! I would get so frustrated because I was already as big as a boat, and now I had to look like a sloppy boat!

My husband and I just found out that we are expecting baby number three, and this time I was determined to fix all that I found wrong with maternity pants. Here was my criteria:

1. They needed to fit. I am really petite with narrow hips and I’m really short, smalls never fit me.

2. They needed to have a better belly panel. Commercial maternity jeans have this terrible polyester elastic type panel that is hot and sweaty and itchy. I hate it!

3. The panel could not be dark. The dark blue panel makes it impossible to wear light colored shirts without looking silly because it shows through.

4. They had to last through the pregnancy. Every brand I have ever boughten have worn thin to the point where I could see through them in just one pregnancy! I hate having to buy a whole new wardrobe every pregnancy.

Set with all my guidlines, I searched the web for what to do. I first came upon REALLY nice maternity pants that looked great! They, however, cost $115…yeah right. Somehow in my searches I ran across a few tutorials explaining how to turn regular jeans into maternity pants. I had NO idea that was even possible!!

Finally a solution!! I could find the perfect pair of pants, and make them exactly how I wanted them!!

All right, now to explain the the process. This will be detailed, so bare with me.

The first step is to find a pair of jeans that you love. My goal was to save money, and I also didn’t want to cut up a perfeclty new pair of pants, so off to the thrift store I went. You want to look for a pair of jeans that fit through the hips and thighs without being buttoned. Make sure you love them and can move well in them, the further along you get, the more range of movement you’ll want! I found an awesome pair of Ann Taylor jeans for $8! They were petite so the length already fit, no hemming needed!

Second step is to find fabric for the waist band. This I also did at the thrift store. You’ll want to look for a stretch tank top that is tight around your waist. This part is very important, which I learned making my first pair of pants. I wear an xs shirt size, but all I could find were smalls. I figured it would work fine since my tummy was expanding, IT DIDN’T! Buy a shirt at least one size smaller than you wore pre-pregnancy, two sizes smaller if you want your pants really tight, not what you currently wear. It needs to be tight enough to hold up your pants.

All right, now for the cutting! First, go ahead and cut out the zipper in your jeans, being careful not to knick the fabric. Sew closed the opening. Now lay your jeans flat on a table, and draw a cirved line cutting the front of the jeans about halway down the zipper, angling up towards the waistband.

This was the first pair that I made, and they did not turn well. So to make it actually work, do not cut your jeans this low! Right below the belt loops is perfect.

You will not be cutting the waistband in the back at all, you just need to angle the line up to the top in the front. Now go ahead and cut along your line, making sure to cut the rivets off since sewing machines can’t sew through metal.

This is what your pants should look like now, EXCEPT the waistband in the back should still be intact. Your pants need that stability to stay up! Learn from me and avoid cuttig it off 🙂

Now for the elastic waist. Cut your tank top right underneath the armpits straight across. Now you should be left with a tube.

This is what you should be left with

Turn the tube inside out so the seams are on the outside, then fold in half so the seams are now encased on the inside. The top and bottom hems should be touching, with the seams on the inside.

Your waistband should now look like this. The raw edges of the seams are inside, the top of the band is where it is folded over, and ther bottom is where the two edges meet. I’m probably not explainig it well, but think of the waistband on yoga pants. It should look like that.

Now you need to find the middle of the front and back, and of the two sides of your waistband. It’s easiest to fold it in half and put a pin there. When all your pins are in, they should be evenly spaced around the waistband. Now we need to pin the waistband to the pants.

Turn the waistband upside down, so the raw edges are facing up, and slide it onto the jeans. I’m going to post a picture right after this so it will make sense, but bare with me. The waistband should be on the outside of the jeans, and the raw edges of the waistband should be meeting the raw edge of the jeans. Line up your front pin with the zipper, your back pin with the belt loop in the middle of the back of the jeans, and the side pins with the side seams of the jeans. All you need is these four pins in, and we can start sewing!

This is what your jeans should look like after they are pinned. All the raw edges are pinned together, and the top of the waistband is actually pointed downwards. Your waistband should be much tighter than this one.

Now to sew! With 1/2in seam allowance, sew the waistband to the jeans all the way around. You need to strech the waistband to match up with the jeans. I find it easiest to start sewing just 1/4in or so, right after you back track, and then stop with the needle INSERTED in the fabric through ALL layers. This is key! Then place your right hand at the next pin, your left hand pulling the fabric behind where the needle feeds the fabric through the back of the machine, and strech the fabric out. Sew until you reach your right hand and repeat, all the way around the jeans.

And your done! You just made your very own maternity jeans in less than 20min!

This is what your jeans should look like! No, I don’t actually tuck my shirt into my maternity pants, I just wanted to show you the waistband 🙂

You can fold the waistband down earlier in pregnancy, or towards the end if you don’t like waistbands on your gigantic belly (like me)

And now for how I ACTUALLY wear them 🙂

Seems pretty easy right? And these are SO much more comfortable than anything you can find in the store!

Now I’ll post some close ups so you can see what the band should look like after you’re finished sewing.

The front should be slightly curved to accomodate your growing belly

The waistband should be left intact in the back for more stability. Without it, your pants will fall down.

And the back should look like regular jeans!


Feel free to get creative with this! Find fun patterns for the waistband or bright colors. You can use capris, shorts, jeans, skirts…whatever you want! These will also be great right after you have the  baby, because, let’s face it, we still need the elastic!



About alixwhenlifewaseasy

Hey all!! I am a stay-at-home mom of two beautiful little girls, Bella and Charlotte. My amazing husband is currenlty in the Marine Corps Reserves and is working on his BA in order to become an officer. We live in Colorado and love it here!!
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2 Responses to Tutorial: Turning Regular Jeans Into Maternity Jeans

  1. Lisa says:

    Alix!!!! This is sooo terrific!! Great tutorial and great photos! You should pin this to pinterest… you will get a gazillion hits. Great job!

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