Maternity Makeover -- How To Turn Regular Jeans Into Maternity Jeans

I am NOT a fan of maternity jeans.  The cheap ones are generally ill-fitting and the expensive ones are, well, too expensive!  This is the fourth pregnancy I've surveyed my collection of regular old jeans and wondered...could it be done?  Should I? Dare I? Take the plunge?

Pre-pregnancy I bought a pair of brand new AE jeans on consignment for cheap.  For whatever reason I didn't wear them very often and when I went to switch them out of my drawer in favor of more maternity-friendly pants, it occurred to me that they might be the perfect pair of jeans to destroy alter in my quest to expand my current wardrobe.

Quick!  Tale the picture before we bust the button!

I found a style of maternity jean to serve as inspiration:

Only $195!  And free shipping!  (source)

The inspiration maternity pair had wide black elastic and a small insert, but I would have to improvise.  I would have to work around the metal tacks on the pockets of my jeans and find a substitute for the wide elastic (budget allowed for this project = $0.00).

Challenge accepted.

For the improvised elastic inserts, I decided to sacrifice a pair of small cotton/lycra knit leggings from my kids huge-o-stash of black leggings.  Then, instead of cutting the insert small and trying to sew anywhere near the metal pocket tacks, I decided to make the insert large enough to get rid of them completely.

The "before" picture of jeans and leggings.

I plotted out the cutting line.

Used a curve and a white pencil to mark a line

Because of the tack right next to the side seam, I cut a seam allowance at the waist band and then cut right up next to the side seam the rest of the way down. The side seam would have to be sewn to the insert with a raw edge.  All of the other cut edges would be turned under about a 1/4th of an inch.  (When you see the later picture of how I pinned it, this will make a little more sense.)

cutting in progress

To eliminate bulk, I trimmed off as much excess inner fabric as I could -- especially the fabric facing the waistbands that you can see in the picture above and (cut out) in the next picture.

Once I was ready for the insert, I cut up the leggings.  I'd trim them down later.   (By the way, please pardon the flash photography.  More often than not, it's sew by lamp light or not at all in this house.)

I pinned like crazy!  First I pinned the cut edges under, and then I pinned the insert.  Then I topstitched about an 1/8th inch from the edge of the denim with navy thread.

The basic Viking H-Class sewing machine I borrowed from my brother powered through the seams without too much encouragement on my part.  Thank goodness!!!  Denim always makes me quiver in fear of total machine rebellion.

This side took two attempts to get it right.

The cut-out from the first side made a nice template for the second side.

The side without the coin pocket was much easier!

After trying on the jeans to check the fit, I trimmed out most of the extra knit fabric inside.


I do wish the inserts could have ended a bit higher on the leg, but I'm not overly bothered by a bit of peek-a-boo knit now and again.   By the time my shirts aren't long enough to cover both my tummy and my pants, I'll have outgrown this pair of jeans anyway!

You can't tell very well in the pictures, but I also trimmed down the width if the leg openings and hemmed them properly so that I can wear them with more ease.

Much better.  Except for my timed picture skills.  Those could use some work!

I'm pleasantly surprised with this pair and am itching to do more maternity alterations.

I think I may have acquired an unhealthy willingness to take a pair of scissors to all of my non-maternity clothing. ;)

Have you tried a maternity jean make-over?  Do share!  I'm looking for more ideas...

p.s.  I know what you are thinking...girl, are you even pregnant?  You don't need maternity pants! Yes, rest assured, I am indeed pregnant (five months!) and (for better or worse), my usual side shot looks more like this.  If you are as curious as I am to see how this style fits with a big round belly, though, no worries!  I'll check back in with a photographic update later on.  Pinky swear.


  1. Dude, whenever I get pregnant, you need to share your secrets with my husband so he can make me comfy clothes and I don't have to wear the god-awful maternity clothes I keep seeing. Either that, or I'm shipping a bunch of pants to you.


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