National Sewing Month 2013: Pleated Knees from Sew a Straight Line


It’s Day Sixteen of National Sewing Month! Too see the daily blog posts, projects of the day, and more National Sewing Month details, click here.

National Sewing Month 2013

We are so excited to welcome Sabra from Sew a Straight Line for today’s National Sewing Month post!

Pleated Knees
Hi, I’m Sabra from Sew a Straight Line. As a mom of three boys, all of whom I sew regularly for, I’m always on the lookout for cool techniques I can add to my sons’ clothing. In my experience, the best way to spice up a boy pattern is to add a funky, yet functional element. Pleated knees not only look cool, they enforce an area of the garment that normally wears the fastest, giving longevity to your homemade wardrobe. It only takes a couple of extra steps to add this detail to clothing, but pleated knees totally change up the look of jeans, making them modern and fun.

This pleated knee trick can be applied to any pant pattern: boys, girls, adults. Whatever you got, you can pleat those knees!
For my tutorial, I’m using Blank Slate Pattern’s W Pants. But like I said, any pant pattern will do.

Begin by cutting your front piece of the pattern at the knee. Most patterns will be marked at this area as a “lengthen here” point. Lay your top pant piece about 4-5 inches above the lower pant piece. You can use a ruler or other straight edge to make sure you keep the sides of the pant pieces in line.

Pleated Knees

When you cut that front piece, you’re going to go out at the extra knee area about 1/2 inch at the sides. See picture below.

Pleated Knees
After cutting, start making your pleats across the knee, pinning in place. Pleated Knees

Continue pleating and pinning the entire length of that extra knee area. Press.

Pleated Knees

Top stitch about 1/8 inch from the fold of each pleat.

Pleated Knees

Now just sew up the pants following the regular instructions from your pattern.

Pleated Knees
And you’ve got some rad pants that are unique, hip and extra durable where your kids need it most.

Pleated Knees

I’d love to share more of my sewing ideas, tricks and tips with you.  Come check out my blog at and be sure to check out the Project:Boy area for tons of masculine-sewing inspiration!

Happy Sewing Month!

Do kids clothes wear out faster than adults?




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  1. Johnya Morgan says

    My husband is harder on clothes than any kid. Kids usually outgrow their clothes before they are completely worn out, whereas my husband can kill a pair of jeans in less than three months!

  2. Michelle Vega says

    Kids definitely wear out their clothes faster, especially boys! This is an awesome way to try to extend the life of the one piece of clothing that tends to wear out before it is grown out of! Thanks for the tutorial!!

  3. Lisa Bell says

    I know kids clothes do wear out sooner, but I usually try to ck them out and reinforce buttons and ck seams and such. Love the Bernina machines, my 96 year old Nana had a Bernina that I had the pleasure of sewing on only a few times but am hooked on Bernina.

  4. Lorna Kay Roberts says

    I’m to the point where I no longer make jeans for my kids, they are all grown now. I made my share of saddle back and front saddle jeans. I have 7 sons, and I kept them all in jeans since they were way too skinny for regular levis from the store. I am into my quilts and embroidery work now.

  5. Bonita Anderson says

    What a great idea- love the pleated knees. Yes, I think kids are harder on clothes than adults… but if they are still growing, they may grow out of them before they are worn out.

  6. Sharon Thompson says

    I don’t think that kids wear out clothes as much as they outgrow them. I feel that active adults wear them out faster!

  7. Judy Strigel says

    I think the pleating will give extra material on the knees where my sons and grand sons seem to get holes first. Too much play with farm toys and trucks. Like the idea!

  8. Beatrice Todd says

    Yes, only if you them cheap. But if you buy quality clothing like Crazy8 or Gymboree, then kids clothes can last longer than Adults. I appreciate the chance to win.

  9. Karen says

    I would love to win a new sewing machine! I do a lot of sewing for the grandkids (7) for thier birthdays and always make them something special for Christmas. My machine is about 15 years old and starting to finally wear out! Hoping it lasts till after the holidays!

  10. Sharlene Andoe says

    My husband can ruin a pair of brand new jeans in a few hours when he is at work. My experience in the past with children’s clothing has been that they out grew their clothes before they were ever ruined. Thank you for a chance to win the Bernina sewing machine.

  11. Dee says

    No, children’s clothes don’t wear me out I feel that adult clothes wear me out more simply because they are bigger.

  12. Vin R Davis says

    My hubby is harder on jeans than anyone I know. He goes thru 3-4 pairs per month, sometimes more! A sewing machine is just what I need! Pick me, pick me!!!

  13. Marlene Wheelock says

    New sewing machine – looks great! Looks like it would really make a project fly-by! Please, please, please – pick me!

  14. Alison says

    My kids grew out of most of their clothes before wearing them out. My husband & I, however, wear our clothes for years, usually until they are unwearable!

  15. lmuch says

    I think kids wear out clothes faster through wear and tear, but adults go through clothing quicker because they get tired of their wardrobe faster.

  16. Ginny Parker says

    That is so interesting! My stepson is an autobody man and he wears out his knees so fast…I must do something like this!

  17. amanda lostaglia says

    With my husband being in the army he is pretty hard on certain clothes, surprisingly shoes mostly. My kids just outgrow their clothes before they can run to many.

  18. Marty Browning says

    Adults usually wear the clothes out faster than the kids since they usually out-grow theirs. Most of us adults keep our clothes forever and just sew up the holes or save it for yard work.

  19. Sallykate says

    Kids do wear their clothes out faster than adults I think. I would have loved to have known this great sewing tip when I had four boys growing up! Winning this Bernina would be a wonderful gift for this grandmamma of a brand new baby boy! Thanks!

  20. Terry Davis says

    If we consider the number of times a garment is worn before we call it worn out, I would say kids clothes and adults clothes last about the same. Kids just have smaller wardrobes usually which means their clothes get worn more often. Hence, kids can usually get two siblings of wear, while adults can get ten years. :-)

  21. Carla Brewer says

    No kids clothes don’t really wear out quicker than adult clothes, if they are made of good quality material and made right they should last through several hand me downs. When my children were young I made all their clothes, and I made all their dolls and stuff dinosaurs for my son. Boy did my machine get a work out. I still own that machine and I bought it new in 1975, I would love to win a new sewing machine to last for the next few decades of my life (if I am lucky enough to live that long)!! ha ha

  22. Leah O'Connor says

    My daughter is hard on clothes. I made her a dress at the first of the summer. She wore it once and I had to repair it. I will have to try this on a pair of her jeans. I bet she’ll like it. Neat idea.

  23. Tina Bennett says

    It’s according to the fabric and the child. Many families hand clothes down. So :) well made clothes can last many years.

  24. Gail T Duke says

    My 8 year old grandson splits the knees out of everty pair of pants we buy him. I am going to try this method as an insert to repair the spoiled jeans he has already split out. Wish me luck!

  25. Janie Smith says

    When our son was young, it was a race between him and Dad to see who could wear out jeans first. Wish I had known about this trick back then. Hmmm. Now I’m wondering if Dad would like some jeans with pleated knees.

  26. Diane Antle says

    I have found that some kids are harder on clothes than others, my daughter never wore out anything and then my son came along and I couldn’t keep the knees in his pants! Would love to win a new Bernina machine!

  27. sue k says

    Husbands and kids for sure would benefit from this ! It is quite interesting and definately worth putting away for future use.

  28. Robin Harsh says

    My kids outgrew their clothes before they needed any mending more serious than a loose button. Now I’m forever fixing split seams, ragged hems and broken zippers. It’s time to teach them how to DIY!

  29. Annette says

    I am always doing repairs on my husbands clothes, once he finds something he likes and that fits well he wants to wear it forever. “Honey, can you fix these?” is something I hear very often!

  30. LauraP says

    Adults maybe depending on occupations or activities but Sun1 blew out the knees of his pants until he was a teenager.

  31. says

    My husband and niece run a close race when wearing out clothes. I take pockets off the back of jeans and stitch them over knee holes when they appear – next time I do this I will pleat those pockets before stitching them on! what a great trick, thank you.

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