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How to tailor a pair of jeans

When skinny jeans were just starting to become popular, I was hesitant to take the plunge and spend the money to buy a new pair, but I still wanted to try out the trend. So instead of buying them, I turned an old pair of boot-cut jeans into skinnies. Since then, I realized how easy it is to alter your jeans, and how much of a difference it makes. Don’t bother taking them to the tailor for these little quick fixes. One simple seam and your pants will fit like a dream.


Matching thread
Chalk (or other washable marking tool)

1. Fit and pin

Trying on jeans for resizing

Pants inside out and pinned on a flat surface

Pinned pants with the hem line matching up

Turn the pants inside out and try them on. Pinch the loose fabric around your inner thighs and crotch to determine how much you need to take in, marking with the chalk and carefully pinning where you can. Remove the pants and lay them flat on the floor, pinning them so the seam lies flat. Finish marking so you have something to follow as you sew. Make sure the crotch seams are lined up and pinned in place.

2. Sew

Sew the jeans

Once the pants are pinned flat and marked according to your desired tailoring, it’s time to sew. Start a few inches below your desired starting point, inserting the sewing machine needle directly over the original leg seam. Sew with a straight stitch, right on top of the original seam, and then gradually angle away from the original seam toward your marks. Follow the original seam, keeping the new seam equal in distance from the original seam as much as possible. Sew up the leg, across the crotch and down the other leg, gradually angling back toward the original seam until you’re sewing right on top of it.

3. Cut

Cut the excess jeans along the new hem line

Once the new seam is done, try the pants on to make sure the fit is right. Once the fit is good, cut the seam allowance and zigzag or serge the raw edge so it doesn’t fray.

4. Darts

Pin two darts into the back of the pants


If the back of your jeans gaps a little bit (or a lot), let’s fix it now. Turn the pants inside out. On the back side, directly over the pockets, let’s make two darts. Pinch the waistline fabric and pin it into place. Then sew over this pinched area with a straight stitch, starting at the waistline and angling down until you sew off the fabric. This will create a small dart. Make it shorter or longer depending on your needs. Repeat for the second dart above the other back pocket.

5. Hem

Hem the cuffs of the jeans

If you want to hem jeans, I recommend you keep the original hem so they don’t look homemade. Turn the pants right side out, try them on, and determine your desired length. Use a piece of chalk to mark the length. Take them off and lay them flat on the ground, right side out. Cuff the hem up to your mark, then pin the cuff in place. Sew with a straight stitch completely around the cuff, just below the chunky hem of the jean. Cut off the seam allowance and turn the original hem down. Press it in place to hide the seam, and you’re done.

Finished tailored jeans

More DIY fashion projects

Decorate your own DIY jean shorts
Turn any tee into a cute tank for summer
Turn old pajama pants into couture track pants

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