How to make McCalls 8408 Jeans for Petites

Shontae Buffington of Sewing for My Sanity in McCalls 8408 jeans on a yellow art wall

Before I begin my journey about the McCalls 8408 jeans, let me go on record saying, “I love these jeans.”  

There is a moment in every sewist’s life when you see a pattern and want it immediately. The sewing pattern starts speaking to you and telling you to sew it. Your mind starts rolling through mounds of fabric in your fabric stash. That’s me and McCalls 8408. Jeans trends are interesting at best. All of a sudden, we are all wearing baggy oversized jeans when just 2-3 years ago skinny jeans were the thang. So here I am, pining over this pattern at 4’11”, wondering if I will regrettably cut into my precious reserved denim fabric.

Petite Jeans Inspiration from my Emailbox

I had a little inspo, I must admit. There was this GAP denim ad that I kept looking at. The super thin-fire-engine-red-headed model was wearing contrast denim flare-legged jeans that I knew, even if they came in petite, would still not work for my super petite frame. For reference, I am 4’11.75” and now 127 lbs with a hip measurement of about 39 inches. I have petite sewing fit challenges all over the place; that’s why sewing is literally my happy place for clothing.

Sewing Pattern Features

This sewing pattern features pants with three views. It’s essentially shorts and oversized flare pants with two ways to sew them. Personally, the McCalls 8408 shorts would make me look shorter. They have a slight flare, and the side contrast might make my bottom and hip area appear larger, so I chose the extreme flare pants, view B.

Why McCalls 8408 are not Bellbottoms 

The more I sew, the more I get into clothing and fashion history specifics. Sewists, these are NOT bell bottoms. Bell bottoms are snug from the hip to the knee and flare at the knee. These are loose-fitting throughout the hip and have an extreme flare. They are wide-leg pants. Wide-leg pants typically are not this flared at the bottom and tend to have a more uniform appearance.

Petite adjustments for McCalls 8408:

Take a deep breath. It is better than we shorties anticipated. First, let’s talk about measurements. Because if you get these two measurements wrong, it’s downhill from there. Please get your waist measurement right. These pants sit right above my belly button, snuggly. So, if that measurement is wrong, you will have baggy jeans and a huge flared bottom.

The second measurement to get right on McCalls 8408 is the length. I was terrified. If I removed too much, I anticipated the jeans’ entire look would be janky. Yes, I said “janky,” “wonky,” or ugly honey. Trying to match up the side-seam-puzzle piece without distortion, yes, that is the challenge.

First, I measured my desired length and divided it into three sections to not remove too much color or contrast from any portion of the design. Next, I removed the length from the bottom hem of McCalls 8408, approximately 3 inches, then 2.5 inches from the middle section and 2.5 inches from the top piece. Using this method, you must shore up the grainline and side seams so the pants go together nicely without bubbles or odd jumps.  

Shontae Buffington of Sewing for My Sanity in McCalls 8408 on a yellow art wall

Lastly, do a final total measurement before cutting the denim. Even with all this measuring, my jeans were still too long, as shown below. It seems like I tried them on one hundred times and made a bunch of micro-adjustments, so they fit just right–but that’s just me. My daughter thought they were fine baggy, but I felt more comfortable with a little more fit, so this is a personal dilemma each sewist has to solve.

Styling McCalls 8408

Ultimately, I wanted to sew these jeans because I saw their significant style potential in my wardrobe. For the photos, I chose to wear them with a Brooks Brothers white fitted dress shirt and a pair of my favorite wedge-style espadrilles from Spain by Pedro Garcia. I could have just as easily thrown on a beautiful heel, a platform Chuck Taylor, or maybe even a thong sandal, depending on the look I’m going for. These jeans are also perfect for summer with tank tops, bikini tops, or an oversized sweater.

Overall, I love these jeans and the petite styling challenge they presented. If I had seen these in the store, I would have passed on the purchase, knowing that the number of after-market adjustments was unrealistic and not worth the money or time. But that’s the beauty of sewing for yourself or your sanity. You can fit, create, and design your wardrobe to your liking.  

Have you sewn McCall’s 8408? What fit challenges did you have?