Taking in Jeans at the Side Seam Tutorial

(not to sound like a QVC commercial but,)

Do you have a perfect pair of jeans that fit you everywhere but in the waistband and every time you sit down or bend over, you are selling major crack? Do you love those jeans? Do you wish that you could wear them more than one wear out of the dryer?

A couple of months ago I found this technique tutorial on Burdastyle.com and it has changed my life. Seriously, this technique is life changing.

Here I fixed Melissa's jeans. Really, can we all collectively hate/love Melissa for how skinny she is? Imagine living next door to her. I swear all of my friends are skinny.

I have clarified the tutorial a little, so if you are a beginner sewer, please don't be shy, you can do this. Just take it slow and you should be fine.

First try on your jeans. Pull the side or the back to gauge how much waistband you could lose. Melissa needed to lose 3 inches of waistband, so I took in each side 1 1/2 inches, which will make sense later.

Start with your pair of favorite jeans.

You will be working with the side seam. Don't be scared, jeans construction is easy, promise.

Unpick your belt loop.

Then unpick your waist band. You will need about a 6 inch space of unpicked waist band.

Then unpick your side seam about 12-14 inches.

BTW, by now you should be covered head to toe in little thread pieces that you will find all over your house and your baby for weeks to come.

You're welcome for that.

You will want to take the front of the jean piece, and pin that piece in onto the back jean piece. For Melissa's I took 1 1/2 inches off each side, so I pinned the front piece 1 1/2 inches in from the back.

Pin your front piece to your back piece, tapering down to the original seam.

Now, sew a new seam right on top of your old stitch holes.

Cut off the excess jean.

Zig zag or serge the edge of the seam.

Then you need to take in your waist band, by folding in half and making a new seam that is 1/2 of the width of the width that you took in your actual jeans.  I took in the jeans 1 1/2 inches on each side, so I took in the waist band on each side 3/4 inches.

Stitch and trim.

Fold your waist band back over, enclosing your new side seam. Pin your new waistband in place and sew your new seam, using your previous stitches as a guide.

Reattach your belt loop and you are good to go.


  • Lana

    Thank you for this
    I am a little confused what to do with the belt part once the waist is done
    Could you go over that in detail please
    Thanks a lot!

  • Lyn Soussi

    Sheer elegance! I’ve recently lost 22kg and have gone down from a size 16/18 to a size 12/14.. I’ve got 15 pairs of trousers and jeans to take in.. Not an easy task I was thinking. I’ve just done 3 pairs of jeans (including an old style very heavy denim pair) in two hours! Admittedly I haven’t trimmed the inside of the new seam and I sewed straight over the waistband (I don’t wear things tucked I these days), but this method is just pure genius. Thank you.. I shall be doing the rest this week. I found a walker/roller foot and manual feed a big help getting over the really chunky bits.

  • Jenn King

    Would a walking foot make the straight seaming easier? I am always nervous sewing heavy fabric on my Brother machine. I do a lot of light fabric sewing but am not as experienced with denim.

  • Ariana

    Super helpful! Never sewn in my life, but got it done in just over an hour with a little help. Thanks so much :)

  • NoisyOyster
    A few suggestions: Consider using some jeans thread for this project, it is intended to be strong enough, can be used with a machine, and comes in colors that match/blend with the original stitching. Don’t try to do this on a sewing machine unless it is a sturdy machine that can handle the extra work. If your machine can cope with denim, use a sharp sturdy needle like those labeled for denim. A dull needle could break and possibly jam your machine.

    I really appreciate this tut, as I hate when someone gets a picture of me the the gap showing. I had always believed there must be a solution, but I hadn’t know quite how to go about it. Thank you so much!

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