How to Make Bell-Bottoms / Flare Pants Sewing Tutorial

Would you like to learn how to make bell-bottoms or flare leg pants? In this sewing tutorial we'll take an existing pair of blue jeans and quickly turn them into bell-bottoms! 

I was inspired to create this project from the contents of my August 2016 Quilty Box. Would you like to learn about Quilty Box? Help me out by clicking my affiliate link here. 

Now let's check out the simple steps to sewing your bell-bottoms / flare pants!


  • Blue jeans that fit nicely in the hip and waist and are a bit long in the leg. (Skinny jeans will work, but only if they are long enough to drag the ground when finished. If your pants are not long enough, you can always add an extender to the ends as you saw in the video.)
  • Fabric to create the bell-bottom effect. Select a thicker feeling fabric like denim or upholstery weight fabric for the best results.
  • Navy blue cotton sewing thread
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Sewing tape measure
  • Freezer paper to create template
  • Contrasting cotton sewing thread for decorative stitching.

Bell-bottoms sewing tutorial / flare pants sewing tutorialSteps to make bell-bottoms / flare pants:

1. Decide how big of a bell you want and measure up the outside seam of the pants. Mark this point on both pant legs with a pin, then rip the seam on both legs to this point.

2. Decide how wide you want the bell-bottoms / flare to be. My bells ended up 10 1/2 inches long by 4 inches wide, which created a subtle flare in the leg.

3. Create a pattern by pressing two pieces of freezer paper together to create a stiff template, then mark a straight line down the middle. Mark a line perpendicular to the first the width that you wish the bell to be (4 inches).

bell-bottoms pattern / flare pants pattern

Now measure from the end of the perpendicular line up to the center line the length that you have ripped your pants (10 1/2) to create a triangle.

To add seam allowance, add 1/2 inch inch to the lines on both sides and an additional 1/2 inch to the top and 1 1/2 inch to the bottom. It's always best to have more space to the top and bottom if you need it!

4. Cut out and press your template to fabric and cut out two identical fabric triangles. 

5. Follow the steps as shown in the video to attach the triangle of fabric within the pant leg opening with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Stitch along the seams again with a wide zigzag stitch to finish the edges and reduce fraying.

Bell-bottoms sewing tutorial / flare pants sewing tutorialExtending the Pants

If you slip on your bell-bottoms and find they look weird (like the worst type if high-water pants you've ever seen) then they may be too short. Bell-bottoms look best when the pants arch out from the knee or calves of your legs and fall to the ground to cover your feet completely. 

To extend the length of your pants, slice off the hem and follow the instructions in the video to add a length of fabric. Make sure to follow the steps to angle the fabric join so the fabric extender also flares subtly out from the leg, following the angle created by the bell-bottom insert.

I added an additional 4 inch strip of fabric and sewed it to the bottom of the pants with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, then turned up the hem 3/8 inch. 

To finish the bell-bottoms I stitched around the flare and extender with a decorative triple stitch and contrasting thread. You could also add more bling with decorative machine embroidery designs and even free motion quilting designs!

I hope you've enjoyed this sewing tutorial so you can create bell-bottoms or flare pants. It's always nice to take a pair of pants that might have gotten too short or too worn on the bottom and transform them into funky bell-bottoms or extend the life with a little flare on the bottom edge.

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