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How to Make Drawstring Scrub Pants Smaller

Alter your scrub pants for a better fit.
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You can pull up the string on drawstring scrub pants so they won't fall off, but having an inch of extra thickness in the fabric around your waist is unflattering and walking around with the crotch halfway down to your knees is neither flattering nor comfortable. Pants that are too long are a tripping hazard. The simple design of scrub pants allows you to easily fix all of these problems. Once altered, you will enjoy the fit and look of your scrub pants.

Raise the Crotch

Put on the pants and measure the distance, you would like to raise the crotch, along the inseam.

Take off the pants and pin the crotch together at the distance you measured. Put the pants back on and sit down to be sure the pants will still have enough room when sitting. If the pants still are not a good fit, adjust the pin until the crotch are of the pants fit comfortably.

Measure the depth of the casing at the top of the pants.The casing is the folded down fabric that holds the drawstring. Use a seam ripper to remove the seam that forms the casing at the top of the pants. Make a note of the depth of the casing and the size and placement of the buttonholes for the drawstrings.

Cut the the distance you want to raise the crotch off the top of the pants.

Finish the new top edge of the pants with a zigzag or overcast stitch.

Make new buttonholes for the drawstrings the same size and in the same relative place as the former buttonholes. Use the buttonhole stitch or attachment on your sewing machine. Follow the instructions in your sewing machine's manual.

Fold down a new casing the same size as the old casing and sew it in place by stitching 1/4 inch from the folded-down edge.

Use a safety pin to thread the drawstring into the new casing.

Taking in the Waist

Measure the distance around your hips at their widest point. Add 4 inches to this measurement.

Remove the drawstring from the pants. Measure the waist of the scrubs. Subtract the number your calculated from the waist measurement and divide by four.

Turn the pants wrong side out.

Lay the scrub pants out flat. Measure the distance you just calculated from the side seams on each side of the pants. Mark this distance with a pin on both the front and back of the pants.

Use a seam ripper to remove the seam that forms the casing in the waist of the pants at the sides. Open the seam from the side seams to the pins and 2 inches beyond them. Unfold the casing. Mark location of the knee of the pants on the side seam with a pin.

Take in the the pants along the sides by sewing the front and back of the pants together inside the side seam. Sew a straight line from the spots you pinned at the waistline to pin that marks the knee on the side seam.

Cut off the excess fabric leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Zigzag stitch along both edges of the seam allowance to finish and strengthen the seam.

Fold the casing back down and sew it in place.

Thread the drawstring through the casing with a safety pin.

Shortening the Legs

Cut the bottom of the legs of the pants off so that they are 1 inch longer than the desired length.

Finish the cut edges with a zigzag or overcast stitch.

Iron up a 1-inch hem and sew it in place by hand or machine.

Things You'll Need:

  • Tape measure
  • Safety pin
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Iron


If you cannot sew a buttonhole, cut a slit the size of the desired buttonhole and finish the edges with liquid fabric stabilizer.

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