• Ashley Devarajan

String bean babies: Add length to your kid’s clothes in 5 easy steps.

I break up growing kids into two basic categories: string beans and potatoes. No offense is meant for either. I happen to have string beans. My three year old gets taller and taller, and his waist is still about an 18 month size. My little lady is following in a similar fashion. Conversely, some babies are potatoes. They are robust and have amazing bellies and thighs, yet they don’t grow too tall.

We all know how quickly kids grow. Here are a few ways to extend the life of your kid’s clothes (not to mention they will also be unique and custom). If your kid is a string bean, adding cuffs is a great way to save money and to extend the life of your kid’s wardrobe.

This can be done on either a serger or a standard machine using a zigzag stitch to allow for stretch and requires no hemming!

Recommendation: Choose like materials.

- If pants are a stretchy jersey, choose a similar weight material to make cuff. Blending thicknesses that are too different will make the seam bulge or ripple and will ultimately make the pants look awkward.

- Ribbing (the ultra stretchy material on hoodie sleeves and waists) is almost always a great choice.

Salvaging ideas: Use up old T-shirts, hoodies (stained ones, ones with holes, etc. Otherwise unusable items with salvageable parts).

Here is a demonstration of extending a pair of pants: originally size 6-9 months to fit my 13 month old.

Step 1: Measure width of pant leg and double.

  • For a tighter cuff, use exact measurement or a tad smaller than leg width (ex. 3" leg width x 2 = 6" or 5 1/2" to give slightly gathered/tighter cuff).

  • For looser cuffs, use leg width doubled PLUS seam allowance. This will give you length but not the jogger pant look).

  • Most sergers have a standard 3/8" seam allowance, therefore add 3/4" seam allowance TOTAL.

  • For a standard machine, pick a seam allowance you want, typically 1/2 in or 5/8 in. And double it.

  • Ex: 3” pant leg x 2= 6” plus 1” (1/2” seam) or 1.25” (5/8” seam) = 7” or 7.25”

Step 2: Determine how much length you want to add.

  • Double that number and add for seam allowance (same process as above)

  • I wanted 2 1/2” cuffs so I measured out 5 3/4“ for my height (includes 3/8 seam allowance [doubled] for my serger).

  • **The picture below shows a longer piece, this picture was taken prior to me cutting it down to final size.

Aside: I’m throwing around a lot of numbers for people who want exact directions to follow. Please remember that this is a free form process, and I just want to show you the overall technique. Feel free to incorporate the ‘fudge factor,’ meaning that if you have a perfect piece of scrap material and it’s a tad skinny or a tad too long. DO NOT STRESS. Use it up and enjoy your new creation.

Step 3: Cut your cuffs.


  • The grain needs to be vertical (meaning able to stretch sideways). The above photo is the correct grain direction.

  • Like a piece of paper, you want the pant width number along the horizontal and the cuff length number on the vertical.

  • Cut 2.

Step 4: Make your cuffs.

  • Fold cuff in half length wise with right sides together (will be long and skinny).

  • With a serger or sewing machine on a medium sized zig zag stitch, stitch along edge.

  • Repeat for other cuff.

Step 5: Attach to pants.

  • Fold cuffs in half so right side is out and seams are together on inside.

  • With pants inside out and cuffs right side out, place cuffs INSIDE pants.

  • Match the seam of cuffs to inside seam of pants.

  • Stitch around circle. Go slowly to ensure all 3 layers (two of cuffs and pant) are being sewn. It is a tight circle, especially with smaller sizes (like these 6-9 month pants). Also, be careful to keep the remainder of your garment out of the way so you do not accidentally catch it.

* Zig-zaggers- be sure to overlap over beginning stitch and back stitch one or two to lock all stitches.

  • Turn pants right side out and admire.

Congrats! You just saved some money and created some awesome custom pants that guaranteed no other kid will have. You can apply the same technique for T-shirts. You can add cuffs for more sleeve length and a waist band for more torso length.

Stay tuned for the Potato Babies post for ideas for big-bellied babies.

Was this helpful? Let me know! I'd love to see some pics of those newly extended clothes.

Sew on!


#upcycling #nowaste #growingbabies #jerseyknit #longandthinbabies #kids #babies #urbanappealdesign #cuffs #ribbing #scrapmaterial

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