How to Fix Your String Bean’s Pants

Lily has always been scrawny. At one point, she was 90th percentile for height and 5th percentile for weight. Here she is at nearly 2 years old, falling out of a size 18 month bathing suit and flaunting her model thin body.

Trust me, we feed her. A lot. Of junk food. She’s just naturally thin– which I guess is something that will work in her favor in the future. For now, while it’s adorable, it’s also kind of a headache. Infant and toddler clothes come in standard pant sizes with only one length and width.

Baby clothes are designed for kids who have bellies. When you have a toddler with a tiny waist, most pants just don’t work out for her.

Finding a pair of pants to fit her waist is almost impossible. To fit her waist, most pants become shorts.

To fit her long spider legs, the pants end up having too much extra material in the waist.

The pants look ok when she tries them on– just a little big. But the next thing you know she’s run across the room and her pants are around her ankles. Or best case scenario: A whole lot of diaper ends up showing.

For a long time, I didn’t know what to do about this phenomenon. Then someone suggested I alter her pants or HAVE them altered. Both ideas seemed absurd. I had no idea how to sew. I mean, fancy sewing for me means unevenly hand-stitching a popped seam. And paying someone to alter 14ish pairs of baby pants, 90% of which I bought for $3/each used, was absolutely out of the question.

In the end, I started crudely altering Lily’s pants myself, and you know what? Even though I can’t sew they look so much better. I’ve had a lot of non-sewers with skinny kids who had been resorting to dresses and tights ask me how I do it.

I don’t do anything fancy. I just sew a seam from the top of the pants to the bottom of the elastic panel/belt line/whatever it’s called.

You don’t have to be too precise about how many inches you take the sides in. There’s a lot of elastic in baby pants, so it’s really hard to go too tight. If you DO go too tight, you can always take the stitches out and make the alteration smaller.

Sewing in the sides like this leaves little tabs on both hips. One of my friends claims they are wings and Lily is about to take off flying! Most of the time, though, you don’t even see the tabs. Her shirt almost always covers them up. Even when her shirt doesn’t cover the tabs, her little hips are only about a foot off the ground and it’s almost impossible to SEE them unless you are eye level with them. I suppose you could anchor the tabs to the side of the pants, but I’ve never attempted it because it’s so hard to see them.

Can you see the tabs in this picture? No? Go crudely alter some of your kids pants!

The solution has worked great for us over the years. I’ve altered dozens of pairs of Lily’s pants and she is always happy to not have pants fall to the floor.

I don’t do this as often as I used to because in 2T and up you can find SOME pairs of pants that have adjustable waistbands– but often even those don’t get tight enough for my scrawny girl. Besides which, buying adjustable waistbands only really limits the wardrobe. So, every time she changes sizes, out comes the needle and thread for at least a few pairs of pants.

I’ll probably be in the sewing business until she hits Juniors– until then, my girl is going to be able to fly those little tab wings on the side of her pants! But those little tabs will be our little secret.

So, if your kid is as skinny is mine is and you’re wondering how you’ll ever find pants that fit, quit searching and get out your needle and thread. I have absolutely no sewing skills. If I can do it, you can do it! Tabs and all! Our kids can go flying together.


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