DIY Maternity pants

How to turn any pants into maternity pants //

A good pair of maternity jeans are an absolute necessity for your pregnant wardrobe – unfortunately, the bad ones are pretty bad and the good ones can run close to $100. The good news is that you can easily make your own by altering a pair of existing jeans or pants.

What you’ll need:

  1. An old pair of pants or jeans that you’re willing to cut up
  2. Some wide waistband elastic. I prefer elastic that is 2-3 inches wide, but that can be hard to find, and 1 inch elastic works just as well
  3. Scrap jersey fabric (you could even get creative here and use an old tshirt or something.

Here’s what you do:

    1. Cut off the waistband of your pants. I carry my babies very very low meaning that I have some maternity pants I’ve never worn because the crotch is simply too long. So I cut the front of my pants much lower than the back to compensate for this. (In fact now that I’ve finished the pants I wish I cut them even lower in the front for a better fit, but you live and learn!)How to turn any pants into maternity pants //
    2. Next very carefully cut out the zipper. The reason for this is that most jeans/cords have metal zippers which no sewing machine can handle sewing over, so it needs to go bye bye.
    3. Then sew the fly closed, as now that there is no zipper and there will be an opening.
    4. Cut your elastic. This is very wide 2.5″ waistband elastic – I chose it based on it’s thickness (the thicker the elastic the less likely it is to cut into you) and also it’s stretch was the closest I could find to my retail maternity pants waistbands. I cut my elastic a few inches shorter than the waistband so that it would help keep my pants up! I also cut some jersey to cover the elastic and be soft against my skin (I don’t like the feeling of elastic against me, it’s itchy!). I cut my jersey the same length as the elastic and double the width. You may choose to add on 1.5″ to the width of your jersey fabric if you do not want to sew the elastic to the actual pants. My elastic has a handy bit on the edge for the purpose of being attached to the clothing, which is why I didn’t add on extra for the seam allowance (ie my elastic is being sewn to the pants). I really like it like this as the elastic won’t twist.
    5. I then matched up the edges of the elastic and sewed, and did the same for the jersey

How to turn any pants into maternity pants //

    1. Encase the elastic in the jersey. Note that I did not line up the seams of the jersey and elastic exactly. The reason for this is that once I sew all this together it’s going to be very thick (remember that denim and corduroy are very thick and have thick seams) and I don’t want my machine to die!

How to turn any pants into maternity pants //

    1. Then sew the elastic/jersey to the edge of your pants. Remember that the elastic and jersey are a little smaller than the waist of the pants? So you need to stretch the elastic/jersey a little as you sew. Don’t forget to use a Denim/Jeans needle for your machine. Don’t skimp on that part, it’s really necessary. A universal needle just can’t handle the thickness of denim and corduroy.

How to turn any pants into maternity pants //

    1. I used my serger/overlocker to neaten up the edges. I know a lot of people like to use their sergers for everything. I am not one of those people. It has it’s place of course, but I really don’t think a serger could have given this waist the stability it needed on its own, so I just used it as a finishing touch.
    2. Finished product!

How to turn any pants into maternity pants //

I know that looks like a lot of steps (mostly because I waffled!) but it’s very easy, it took under 20 minutes, and who can complain about that!!!

Now as a side note, I wouldn’t normally wear these pants with such a short top, I just have in the photos for the purposes of showing you how the waistband fits.

And in randomness, there’s a little fall chill in the air, and I’m starting to dream of boots and trench coats (and pretending that winter doesn’t exist, just months and months of beautiful fall!). My next project is a maternity winter coat, as none of my lovely warm coats will fit this winter (baby is due end of february). It’s going to be an undertaking, but I’m really excited about doing some tailoring, as I really haven’t for a while. I have a pattern in mind, and i”ll update you all when I get organised!!

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  1. Kyda says

    Love the pants!! I’m just getting into the whole sewing and refashioning thing (actually don’t really know how to sew just yet) :) I’m due the end of february too! :) I’m wearing hand me down maternity clothes and didn’t even know you could have underbelly pants, which seem much nicer to me. :) I’m going to have to give this a try!! :)


  2. Erin from Iowa says

    What a great idea! I am filing this away for if and when one of my three daughters needs me to do this for them. When I was expecting my oldest daughter (who is now 27) I put a panel in a pair of jeans. I had to keep hitching them up. I don’t think the band idea even existed then. Maybe it is because my daughters are all under 30 but I think you look just fine the way you are dressed. It is awesome how pregnancy is embraced and shown off now in maternity style instead of being “cloaked” as it used to be back in the day.

  3. Krista says

    We’re due almost the same time! I love these pants, and they almost don’t look like maternity wear. I’ve resorted to homemade Bella Bands to keep my pants up, but this is a great idea. I can’t wait to see more!

    And I think you’re so cute!

  4. says

    Pfft. If you can’t show off a belly while pregnant, when CAN you show it off?

    Cool pants, and I will never, ever in my life again need to know how to do this, but it was well written. Now I need to go kiss my half-grown kid and tell him I’m glad he’s an only child!

  5. says

    Love it, great idea… just wish I had some pants in my closet to try it out on…
    keep up with the maternity clothes inspiration as I need it. xo

  6. aurelia says

    Lovely trousers!

    I was thinking about you yesterday as I was thinking about bloggers I’ve enjoyed who are taking a holiday. Glad you are doing well.

  7. Meg says

    Thanks ladies! More to come I promise, and congrats to all the other preggers mommies out there! It’s fun to be pregnant together :)

  8. says

    I just wanted to say thanks for this. I too am due the same time you are, and am just beginning to think about maternity clothing. This is really helpful.

  9. says

    thank you soooooo much for this tutorial. I am due mid March and I’m so frustrated with the options out there for maternity clothes (Pea in the Pod or Motherhood–oh yeah, they’re the same company). Everything is polyester! Anyway, I have been looking for how to make some WOOL maternity skirts and pants out of old pairs (or thift finds) and this looks like the perfect solution.

    I can’t wait to see your winter coat. I’m dreading that search too, but I don’t think I’m going to tackle making my own…I’ve got too much to make for the babe.

    • Meg says

      Hi Rita, I’m so glad it helped you out!! I know exactly what you mean about Motherhood and Pea in the Pod… it’s painful filling a maternity wardrobe from their selection! I hope your skirts and pants turn out well :) xoxo

  10. Ashley says

    Thank you!!! I’m running out of pants and the maternity stuff in the stores seem to be too expensive or not my taste!

    • Meg says

      No worries Ashely :) I know exactly what you mean! I’m not a fan retail maternity wear at all! (or their prices!) xoxo

  11. says

    I recently bought a pair of maternity pants (from Goodwill for $4, can’t go wrong) with a semi-full front panel. They fit great, except they wouldn’t stay up even if I folded the panel over and tugged on the elastic drawstring waistband. I ripped the old knit panel out and replaced it with 2″ elastic and scraps from an old tank. To my surprise, as sewing with knits I have yet to master, it turned out perfect-stretch and all!! Thanks for the tute!

  12. Melissa says

    Thank you thank you!!!! My Best friend is prego and as her I both though we were done with babies we both got rid of the maternity stash! Now prego with #3 she has no $$$ to buy a new maternity wardrobe and we have been trying to figure out what to do about it I think this will work great for some of those legs fit great waist it too tight jeans she has and as hubby just agreed to try for #4 for me I am not going to be in any sort of retail shopping state either! Now I am going to see if this will salvage my favorite jean skit that the high waist in it won’t fit over my birthing hips!!!

  13. Sarah says

    I’m sew (ugh, I know..bad pun) excited to try this! I’m only 12 weeks along but I’m already finding my pants uncomfortable. Great idea and instructions are clear and well written! Thanks for the ideas!

  14. Kate says

    Thank you! I’m 19 weeks along and just used your tutorial to make a pair of pants this morning. They turned out wonderfully for a first attempt. Thank you!

  15. Jennifer says

    Megan, I wanted to leave you a note that your instructions are sooo helpful. I’m pregnant with my second, and I just can’t bring myself to spend a lot of money on dress pants for work. I actually created pants from a store-bought pattern, but using your instructions, I altered the fit and rise and inserted a demi panel. It was so unbelievably easy, and what a money saver. Thank you!

  16. Justina says

    Girl you SOO good! I love your style! Resourcefulness! and creativity! You look so beautiful pregnant! I am loving you and your tips!

  17. Amanda says

    Megan, you are my hero right now!!! I cannot wait to sew myself a few pairs of these. I am a large girl, and to find maternity pants in my size, it costs WAY too much. I dont pay 100 for pants i plan on wearing for a few years, not going to happen for a few months!! Thank you SOO MUCH!!! I love all of your tutorials!!

  18. Carolyn says

    I made these today and they are so wonderful! This is my 4th pregnancy and I’m at 14 weeks. Every pregnancy before I just suffered through this stage with “fat pants” as I call them. Baggy in the bum because they are big enough to fit around my tummy, which isn’t a cute bump yet, just looks like I’m getting fat around the middle. It’s too bad I didn’t look into making over my old pants sooner. Maternity jeans have never fit me right and now my jeans that I made into maternity jeans using your tutorial fit like a glove–still fitted to my bum, which has not gotten bigger (yet) but soft and comfy around my expanding belly, but still tight enough to hold up my jeans. Maternity jeans have always slipped down on me before no matter if they were under-belly band or full-belly coverage. I actually doubled up the elastic two-high so my band is about 5.5 inches tall and therefore comes up a little higher. If it’s too short the pants just slip down. So, if anyone has that problem still I suggest just sewing two elastic bands together with a small overlap and it does the trick. Thank you Meagan for making me look so much better without my saggy bum pants!

  19. Marguerite says

    I was thinking this would be great for those of us who are gaining around the middle and hate to get rid of our favorite pants that we can’t get buttoned up anymore….I haven’t slept well since we got rid of the waterbed for a regular mattress, and my middle is suffering for lack of good, deep sleep!

  20. Claire says

    Thank you soooo much! This is my new favourite website! I’m just about 18 weeks now and at that stage where my regular clothes are a bit too tight but I haven’t gotten around to buying any proper maternity clothes yet, anyway, I was so uncomfortable at work today that I came home at lunchtime and made these maternity trousers in my LUNCH HOUR! 30 mins start to finish! I’ll be off to the charity shops on my way home tonight to see what other treasures I can find! Thanks again x


  1. […] was beginning to be a little tight in my trousers and only had one left that fit, so I checked Megan Nielsen’s blog post on altering a pair of trousers to make them maternity-friendly. Very easy! I tried it with this old pair of black RTW linen trousers I couldn’t close […]