This is a quick and easy trick for tightening pants that sag in the seat or are too loose in the thighs, especially if your size fluctuates and you don’t want to buy all new clothes. You can also make regular-fit pants into skinnies this way. I have done this several times and find it’s a great way to update the look of old jeans, shorts, or pants–and it only takes about an hour.
This tutorial will be how to take in the inseam. You can decide how far up (to the crotch?) and down (to the hem?) you want to take them in. Keep in mind that if you take in the crotch, it will pull the waistband down a bit. If they are quite baggy, it won’t make much of a difference, but if the waist-to-crotch already feels comfortable (or borderline tight), you might want to skip taking in the crotch and do only the inner thighs (nobody wants camel-toe!). For these pants, I bought them a size too large (super cheap, $12 on clearance!) with the hope that I could alter them to my measurements. So I took in everything.
1. First, try the pants on inside out. Button and zip them, even though it’s awkward. Now, grab the crotch of the pants (think Michael Jackson!) and look in the mirror at your rear view. Pinch the fabric until the pants look and feel the way you want them to. Measure how much you’re pinching and write it down! (Skip this part if you’re doing the thighs only.)
2. Now do the same for the inner thighs. Pinch the fabric until the pants look as tight as you want them, and measure how much that is. You might want to take in more at the top of the leg and less as you go down, or vice versa. If you are quite dextrous, you can pin them with safety pins (less ouch factor). If you want to skinnify them all the way down, continue measuring or pinning to the hem, otherwise, stop around the knee.
3. Take ‘em off. Lay them flat and use chalk (you can find fancy tailor’s chalk or washable pens but I use my kids’ sidewalk chalk) to mark where you measured and safety-pinned; this will be your new seam. Remember to gradually ease your seam-to-be into the old seam wherever you want to preserve the old size (if you’re keeping the crotch length, ease up toward the crotch seam; if you’re keeping the lower leg width, ease down toward the knee). Here, I eased toward the hem.
4. You are ready to sew! Follow your chalk lines. When you are finished, remove the pins and try them on again, this time right-side out. How do they feel? Remember that you’ll probably trim some of the excess fabric away if they are a tiny bit snug. If they are too tight, however, figure out where, mark those spots, take off the pants, rip out the seam, and do it again. If they are too loose, start over from step one (don’t bother ripping out your new seam).
Here you can see I didn’t ease my new seam into the old one gradually enough (the dark line of stitches closest to my fingers). When I put the pants on, they pooched out weirdly in that spot. So I sewed them again more smoothly (the inner row of dark stitching), and now they fit better. I did not bother to rip out the old stitches here because nobody will see them but me (and, um, now you).
5. If you are happy with your pants’ new fit, take a couple of minutes to reinforce the crotch seam (if you sewed a new one) and to do a quick line of zigzag stitches close to your new seam. These will help with wear-and-tear and fraying.
7. A quick swipe of the iron can help set the seam nicely. And you’re done!If you desire, now you can address the hem or the waistband. I plan to have tutorials for those up soon. This post shows you how to take in bootcuts and do a rolled hem on jeans.