Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DIY: Oversized Chinos to Slim Chinos

I decided to finally do a "tutorial" since I long promised on my previous journal and I thought this was a great opportunity. In this first and new "tutorial" I will attempt to show you a way to fix your pants and Oxford shirts (or any other "top") that might need some serious fitting. I understand that you can take your pants or any other item to a professional tailor where he will tear them apart and give you a completely new awesome pair of paints, but if you are like me, and if you are as "thrify" as I am, you will understand how much you can be saving by fixing clothes (how mother of me is that) or anything in general yourself, specially when you find something you can't resist leaving behind. In general, what I wish to get across is that you do not need to buy all of your chinos from GANT or J.Crew for a good fit (I'm referring to other men who can't afford these brands at the moment), same with Oxford shirts (next tutorial) as long as the parts you can't fix fit perfectly. I must state, that I'm in no way a professional tailor and/or  never have taken any classes in the field. All I know is either from watching my mom since I can remember or pure experimentation and long-after success gathered from making mistakes. These are my methods of fixing menswear, and if you have other methods you wish to share, don't hesitate to let me know.

Above is The Final Result  (right click to enlarge)

Now, I understand that not all of us (specially being men) have access to a sewing machine, which I highly recommend you getting your hands on one, even if it's "feminine" but the benefits you get from one will make you forget about it.Thanks to my mother and her sewing machine, I have successfully fixed pea-coats, jeans, pants, shirts, t-shirts and even leather jackets (serious talk, brothers) to my slim-fit likes. Now on to the good part.
If not stated enough, my "addiction" with Goodwill's Clearance Center has not stopped in the last weeks. I went back a couple of weeks to see what I could scope and only came back with a few items, including these chinos. They are George, which I assume are from Wal-Mart ( I know, you are already rolling your eyes and thinking about closing this tab) but the color and fabric really called me, specially worth around .16 cents, so I decided to take them home and see what I could do with them since these chinos had three things that I look for in most pants: fabric, great color and a flat front. I have a pair of chinos that are a bit lighter and a bit more "formal" if we could call it that, that I have fixed already, but I've been looking for a pair of chinos in this exact fabric and color. When I got home I took a much closer look at them and noticed they were not only 4 sizes bigger than my size but also very wide. I tried them and I felt as if I was wearing elephant leg chinos.
Before: I feel like such a geeky dad wearing these like this.
Tools needed:
1. Sewing machine.
2. Seam Ripper (believe me, you will need this)

  1.  Try them on and decide whether the crotch length is fine or also needs works. If you feel like the butt area is very loose, you can take in from the crotch and it will give the butt area a more flattering fit. I prefer to wash all of my clothes (specially thrifted) first and see how much the drier has shrink them in case they were previously dried with cool air only.
  2. After deciding whether you need to work just on the crotch and inner seams or just the outer seam (outer leg), you are ready to mark away. To mark the crotch, you will need to follow the leg arch, pretty much what you will do is  follow an "A" direction as it is show in the picture. You can try using a pair of pants you already own but chances are that they will give you odd measurements.
  3. Start by marking and sewing little by little if you are a beginner. It is always easier to keep taking in more, than to unsew and re-mark.
  4. Make sure that inner seams meet parallel to each other so the both the "butt" and crotch seams are connected and the fit won't be distorted.
  5. Once satified with the inner area, work on the outer seams. Remember to start gradually meeting your markings closer to the original seams as soon as you start approaching the side pockets/hip area otherwise not only will your pockets will become smaller and harder to put in your hands in, but your hips will look out of proportion. 
  6. You might need to repeat step three until your pants are starting to get the fit you are going for.
  7.  Since your pants are now slimmed, chances are that they will appear to be longer. You can do two things: leave them like so (depending on what shoes you plan on wearing them with) or do a hem.
  8. When satisfied with the fit, simply cut the inside remains. Depending on the fabric your pants are, chances are that they might fray and you can simply do another stitch over the fraying area to prevent it In my case, I let them fray until they don't fray anymore and simply cut the loose threads.
Also, I mentioned before that these pants were "four" (felt so much bigger) sizes bigger than my original size which meant that I had to hold them and even stick out my stomach to prevent them from falling during the "shoot." You can always wear a belt but if you plan to tuck in your shirt or prevent the bagginess that a belt could create when wearing over-sized pants, you can simply switch the button closer to the left. When doing this, take the loop hole side (left side) and gently bring it to the right and find a point where the front still maintains its shape. In my case, I have placed a dot where I will be replacing the button to show you how "discreetly" I've moved it. Don't try doing this if your pants are seriously way much bigger than your original size or if you want your pants to have an extra skinny fit. For a skinny fit, it is recommended to stick to your size or even one size bigger to prevent the "parachute" effect.

It is important to let you guys know that I'm wearing the exact same white Oxford shirt in both the before-and-after pictures, and that shirt has been fixed due to a "fashion" emergency that needed me to wear a clean crisp white button-down. I planned on showing you how to fix a shirt on the upcoming tutorials using this exact same shirt (because it was such a good example) but I have a couple of shirts laying in my closet that need some fixing that I will use for the upcoming tutorials. Also, if I haven't stressed this enough, I'm not stating that I know everything there is to know about menswear (hence my tailor vocabulary) and these DIY projects are mostly aimed to fellow gentlemen like myself who are not able to always afford the jeans from the places we want. This will save you a money guilt trip if you decide not to wear them ever again.

NOTE: pictures taken in different days.

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