Taking in Jeans at the Side Seam Tutorial

Posted on February 25, 2010 by admin | 115 Comments

(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.

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25 Responses

NoisyOyster
NoisyOyster

October 04, 2014

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!

Becky
Becky

October 03, 2014

Simone, hammer your bulky seam flat. Not too much or you will wear out the threads but enough to make it manageable. I do it alll the time when I am hemming jeans or altering them! Works like a charm. I have a small hammer I keep in my sewing desk just for this purpose. If my waist band is only about an inch too big I usually just cut a small slit around the side or side back belt loop and thread some non roll elastic in it to tighten it up a bit. I zig zag the threaded end down first making sure I keep tue belt loop out of the way to not catch it and it also hides the zigzag. I then pull on the long end still attached to the rest of my elastic I never cut off unti I get the desired fit and them I pin it, cut it and tuck he tail of the elastic inside and zigzag that shut in the same way. It takes me about 10min to do this, rather than the hour of unpicking and refitting. But only if it a small gap, like I said earlier. End of my journal entry :)

christina
christina

July 09, 2014

I did 3 pairs of jeans using this tutorial and they came out great. The length of time it took depended on the pair of jeans, some had felled seams and one pair I swear was glued together lol. Average was probably an hour start to finish for an experienced sewer. I have always had the dreaded gapping waistband on any pair of jeans even when they fit and I may try this to fix that as well. Fabulous clear tutuorial, thanks so much.

Does anyone know how to alter jeans ? - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community Looking Good, Feeling Great
Does anyone know how to alter jeans ? - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community Looking Good, Feeling Great

November 30, 2013

[…] it, this tutorial has lots of pictures and (I think) explains things in an easy-to-understand way. http://freshly-picked.com/taking-in-…seam-tutorial/ __________________ Carrot for ever 5 […]

Lana
Lana

January 08, 2014

I’ve lost 20 lb and now all my slacks are about 3 inches too long n getting wet on the hems outside cuz of wet icy weather. Is that a normal thing to happen?

Rebecca Grace
Rebecca Grace

November 19, 2013

I haven’t tried this yet — my printer is still cranking out the hard copy so I can take it up to my sewing room tomorrow — but I had to thank you. The waistband of my jeans has gapped for as long as I can remember wearing jeans, and ever since the Low Rise cut has been in vogue, this has caused my jeans to slide down throughout the day so I’m constantly hiking them back up again. All. Day. Long. I refuse to wear a belt because I find them bulky and uncomfortable, and I hate it when you sit down and a cold metal belt buckle touches your tummy! I know my jeans wouldn’t be able to slide down on me if the waistband fit properly, and this VERY clear tutorial is giving me the confidence to attack a stack of brand-new Lucky Brand jeans with a seam ripper. Thank you - and wish me luck! :)

Patti
Patti

November 21, 2013

Do you have a trick for stabilizing the waistband of jeans? I have several pair that I love but when I sit they continuously roll down. Is there a way to stiffen them up?

carol elduen
carol elduen

October 15, 2013

I wonder if you can help us make jeans bigger at the waist….I just happeded
upon this website. Am so glad

Simone
Simone

November 11, 2013

This was so helpful! My only question is about the waistband – once I opened it up, folded it over to shorten it, and sewed it down, it was so bulky where I seamed it. Any tips on how to avoid this?

Jessenia Pfahlert
Jessenia Pfahlert

November 12, 2013

I totally agree with what you are saying eventhough this write-up is not suit to new WP :)

Toni
Toni

September 21, 2013

It works very well – but it takes about 30 mins to rip the seams with a seam ripper, and another 2 hours to sew everything back together.

The main problem I had – the layers of jeans in some places, especially thick places like the belt loop, and some places along the seam where pockets joined were too just thick and the cotton simply broke and broke going through ; which meant rethreading the machine about 20 times (as well as 2 jean needles breaking. Ended up using a 100 guage, but still the cotton broke more often than not).

They did fit great afterwards though. I cannot see anyone taking more off than 1.5", as the back pocket edges end up pretty close to the seam.

I would only use this technique on highly valued jeans as it takes hours.

Toni
Toni

September 21, 2013

Jenna – because you fold the waistband (when jeans are inside out), and then sew a line though the fold, and trim off the excess, whatever distance to the sewline, will mean you are removing 2*the distance to the sew line as its a fold.

eg; =[d|d]=Waistband ===
(d is the distance and [] is the sewline, | is the middle of your fold)

Shelagh
Shelagh

October 14, 2013

Thank you so much, my seldom worn Joules Jeans are now neat and comfortable after a little less than an hour of hand sewing! I am so grateful to you for taking the time to set this out for everyone who is interested :-)

Shelagh in Scotland UK

Jenna
Jenna

July 14, 2013

So great! But i have a question: Why did you only take in the waistband half the length of what you took in on the actual jeans? and did you do both sides?
Sorry, I want to get that clarifies before I begin taking in my three pairs of jeans…:-D

natalie
natalie

August 09, 2013

thank you so much for posting this – it is a real life-changer! i can now resurrect all my old trousers!!! so great, thank you.

SOFI
SOFI

August 21, 2013

I had an old pair of my dad’s jeans, so I did this….
Now they are my fav shorts, ( I made them shorts ) they fit perfect!!!!
thank you <3

Allison
Allison

May 27, 2013

Thank you sooo very much!!! i just got 4 pair of jeans from a friend and they are just a little too loose in the waist for ages i have been thinking i should do this but was unsure and a little scared but your tutorial is so simple and it really didnt take long at all xxxxxx

Deb
Deb

May 29, 2013

How do I find the skinny jeans tutorial someone mentioned???

Vanessa
Vanessa

June 04, 2013

Do you know how to take in a skirt with pleats at the waistline? That would be AMAZING!! If you do post an article on that, please email me the link to vanessa.adeana@yahoo.com
Thanks!

aline magre
aline magre

May 23, 2013

ik vind dit nog vrij moeilijk als een broek te wijd is koop ik elastiek wat iets smaller isdan de boord van de broek. Dan naai ik aan weerszijden van midden achter een stukje van dat elastiek al naaiende rek je dat elastiek uit . het is nog geen drie minuten werk en de broek zit perfect.

Dalya
Dalya

May 23, 2013

When I thought of making some of my jeans smaller, I said nooo it can’t be done! Up comes your tutorial in a search with pretty photos and clear instructions! I just finished this on some jeans that needed a total of 6 inches taken off. My stitches may not look pretty and I’ve had to hammer some of the thick seams down but yay! Thank you SO much <3!
I used this tutorial (http://quilt-knit-run-sew.blogspot.com/2009/05/tutorial-hemming-jeans-quilters.html) along with yours :)

Leslie
Leslie

April 25, 2013

Can you use the same technique to add a few more inches on your jeans?

Athena
Athena

April 27, 2013

I lost a lot of weight recently and now have a bunch of jeans that are too big. I think I will try to take them in so I can wear them again. Thanks for the tutorial. :) I don’t want to get rid of them because they are nice jeans from JC Penney.

Jessica
Jessica

May 21, 2013

Thank you for such a clear and easy to follow tutorial! I just finished doing this for the first time and I’m so unbelievably pleased with how well my jeans fit me now!

Abbie R
Abbie R

February 22, 2013

Thank you so much for this! I got an awesome pair of new jeans this week that fit great everywhere except the waist and I’ve been looking for a good tutorial for how to take them in. As a beginning sewer, the Burdastyle tutorial was a bit beyond me, but thanks to this post I think I should be able to do it! :)

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