This post is courtesy of Jenny from Ohio, a lovely client who recently asked if she can turn old maxi skirts into palazzo pants.
As fans of Maxi Pockets know, we are crazy about maxi dresses and skirts around here. It’s therefore no surprise that I collect maxi skirts and dresses like a photographer collects cameras.
(I even have a large collection of maxi skirts from Amazon and you can check them out here.)
Periodically I give away maxis I haven’t worn in a while, and this reduces the numbers. But there are still those few pieces I have attachment issues with, despite not wearing them as regularly as I would want.
Jenny’s question inspired me to do something about those skirts, and hopefully, we will get ideas for the dresses as well.
So I bought this cotton maxi skirt six years ago for a church event and loved every bit. Having lost ten pounds since then, the skirt looks more like a curtain on me, but I can’t get myself to give it away.
We are going to turn it into palazzo pants instead and hopefully enjoy some more wear out of it.
What are Palazzo Pants?
Palazzo pants are long women’s trousers cut with loose, wide legs that flare from the waist down. These pants are made from a soft, light material and have a moderately high waist. They are comfortable, stylish and breezy enough for hot summer days.
History of palazzo pants has it that they were designed out of necessity in the 1920s to circumvent the prescribed women’s dress code of skirts only. In fact, they were initially only worn by rebellious, fearless women like Coco Chanel and Katharine Hepburn.
One hundred years later, palazzo pants are among the hottest trends, making their mark in fashion weeks in the last two years.
Before we get into cutting and stitching, there are a few things you must consider when choosing the skirt to turn into palazzo pants.
- The right skirt design. Palazzo pants are typically wide-legged and loose on your body. This means that one, you need a loose maxi skirt and, two, an A-line design to give those extra wide legs. Keep in mind that it takes more fabric to make two legs than it does to make one skirt, so you need a really wide skirt.
- The crotch. Again, palazzo pants are wide and loose from the hips down. A maxi skirt that’s very tight around your hips and then flares widely from there won’t work. This can get you wide-leg pants but not palazzos.
- Length. Unlike maxi skirts that can get away with being above the ankles, palazzo pants must be long enough. Only get a skirt that stops right on top of your feet.
How to Turn a Maxi Skirt into Palazzo Pants
With that out of the way, let’s transform this beautiful skirt.
To estimate the size, you will need a pair of pajama pants that fit you loosely.
- Pull both the skirt and the pajama pants inside out.
- Fold the two in half, as shown in the picture. Fold the pants so the butt cheeks are together and the tag in the center of the fold. As for the skirt, the seams should be together, which will make a straight fold on the other side.
- Place the pants on top of the skirt in a way that the bum cheeks are lying on the straight fold of the skirt.
- Use chalk to follow the pants from the crotch point to the hem. Mark about half an inch away, leaving some room for seam allowance.
- Follow the chalk line and cut the skirt.
- Unfold the skirt (which will look like pants now) and pin the leg inseams on both sides.
- Go to the sewing machine and stitch along the pins. I used a zigzag stitch because the fabric is rather stretchy and left my mom to do a serger stitch.
- Iron the new seams to straighten them. Use very low heat or a steam iron to avoid burning the fabric.
- Turn the trouser to the right side and enjoy your new palazzo pants.
Now, this is the easiest way to turn a skirt into pants. It’s especially ideal if it’s a maxi skirt with pockets or a side zip you would want to maintain because you don’t touch the side seams.
Speaking of a side zip, note that your new palazzo pants may get a little harder to pull up your hips if the fabric is not stretchy enough. In this case, add a side zip so you can open and close easily.
How to Turn an Indian Maxi Skirt into Palazzo Pants
The steps for turning an Indian maxi skirt into palazzo pants are the same as any other ordinary maxi skirt. The only difference is that Indian maxis tend to have more flair at the bottom, so your palazzo pants will have very wide, flared legs. You will need a very high shoe to style these pants, but they look good nonetheless.
If you don’t like that design, I recommend cutting off some of the excess material on the skirt. You’ll need to do this on both sides of the leg for balance, which means opening the outer seams to a certain point.
I would take this to a professional seamstress because cutting fabric to precision is no easy job. They will measure the width of the skirt and decide how many centimeters to take off from each side. A seamstress will also be able to create balance.
Unfortunately, not every maxi skirt can be turned into palazzo pants. The maxi skirt must have enough fabric to make two wide pant legs and still fit the owner. We recommend loose, A-line maxi skirts because their shape and width make turning them into pants easy.
If you don’t have a sewing machine nearby, you can stitch the seams by hand. A good old needle and thread will work just fine if you know how to stitch though it will take longer than doing it with a machine.