How to sew your own cargo pants

Written by melissa j. bell
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Cargo trousers, a heavyweight style of trouser designed to withstand rough outdoor activities, are also popular today as casual wear for men and women. Easily identified by the many pockets and pouches attached to the outside, cargo trousers were used to carry a variety of useful outdoor equipment, such as knives, maps, compasses and other small items. In their more fashionable forms, the pockets are still functional, but rarely used. Sewing your own cargo trousers is much like sewing a normal pair of trousers, only with many more embellishments placed to reflect the laid-back military look of the 1980s.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Cargo trousers pattern
  • Sewing equipment and supplies
  • Thread
  • Heavyweight fabric
  • Cotton lining fabric
  • Zipper
  • Button or snap
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board

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  1. 1

    Find a cargo trousers pattern that you like that is also in your size (as determined in step 2). You can find cargo trousers patterns from several of the major pattern companies, such as Simplicity and McCall's, for men, women and children. Some of these patterns are linked in the Resources section of this article.

  2. 2

    Take your measurements at the waist, hip, inseam and leg length, and use the measurements to determine the pattern size you need. Cut the pattern pieces and pin them to your fabric, making sure that you follow the instructions for layering. With most patterns, you should end up with 2 pieces for the back, front, front closure, and pockets, and 1 piece for the waistband and belt loops. You should also have lining pieces for some of the pockets, and your pattern directions may express the need for interfacing pieces for the waistband and pockets with flaps.

  3. 3

    Cut all pieces from the fabric and transfer all markings directly to the wrong side of the fabric with a fabric pencil. Add interfacing to the waistband and pocket pieces, if necessary for your specific pattern. Pin and stitch any darts in the front and back pieces, then press the seam allowances toward the centre.

  4. 4

    Stitch together the outer pocket pieces, attaching the sides of the pockets to the front pocket pieces and inserting the lining, then attach the large pockets to the front and back cargo trousers pieces where indicated on your pattern. Turn, stitch and press the top edge of the pocket. Stitch the flap pieces together, press, turn and then stitch them to the garment above the outer pockets. On cargo trousers, you will have outer pockets on the back and sides of the garment.

  5. 5

    Pin and stitch the back and front of the trousers together at the side seams, then press the seam allowances and finish them as desired. Stitch together the crotch seam, all the way to the zipper placement marking. Attach the left fly piece to the front at the front edge, then pin the zipper to the right front part. Pin the right fly piece over the zipper and stitch through all layers, then stitch the left side of the zipper to the raw edge of the left fly piece. Tack the bottoms of the fly pieces down.

  6. 6

    Pin and stitch the inseams of the cargo trousers. Sew the waistband pieces together and attach them to the waist of the trousers, pressing the seam allowances to the inside. Stitch the belt loops to the waistband, following the markings.

  7. 7

    Turn under the bottoms of each leg and stitch, creating hems. Press the hems flat. Sew a button or snap to the waistband. If you use a button, create a buttonhole on the opposite side.

Tips and warnings

  • Seam allowances can be finished by serging or zigzag stitching.

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