Altering Jeans // adding width to a waistband

A few weeks ago I was thrifting with my sibs and found these brand Banana Republic jeans (with tags!) for $10.  They fit super great in the hips/thighs/legs, but surprisingly, I had to squeeze those bad boys quite a bit to button the fly. Weird. Usually it’s the other way around, right? But yeah, the waistband was just too tight, giving me a mean muffin top. The wide straight leg cut was also no bueno.

Yikes.

Yikes yikes.

So here’s what I did (in really crappy lighting): I removed the waistband completely except for the very front.

 I removed the brand label, and then inserted a good inch an a half of denim.

I repinned it, using all the creases and folds that were already well in place,

And then top stitched. Surprisingly, the extended band fit perfectly to the jeans! They must have been “extra curvy fit” or something.  For those of you who try this, you may have to stretch you pant top to fit the now extended waistband. Or if like me your pants fit well in the bum/thighs to begin with, and it was JUST the waistband that was too tight, it may just fit perfectly.

Then I re-attached the label over the added section cause I’m sneaky like that.

It worked super well!

I also took in the legs to be more of a slim cut–now they’re more of a skinny straight, just the way I like ’em. This was a successful alteration, and now I wear these jeans all the time.  I gotta say though, in all honesty, that I really loathe taking in jeans. Like skinnifying them–it’s seriously the most tedious, painstaking, annoying thing ever.  I always have the hardest time getting the perfect fit! I have fat calves, so it’s tough fitting them, and then I inevitably take them in too much at first and have to seam rip my life away.  Is there anything that you totally dread sewing?

63 Comments

Jane

Great fix! I don’t like messing with jean legs due to all the double stitching…Overall, I just grumble about the fit of jeans!

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Kristie

Awesome idea. And hiding it under a tag, sweet! I have a couple of pairs of pants that are a great fit everywhere but the waist. Now I don’t have to go and loose the weight, just fix the waist!
The thing I hate sewing is the mending. Or things I “have to sew”. I like my sewing to be more fun.

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Miriam

You know, it IS kinda of a pain–like I said, one of my LEAST favorite types of sewing, but so worth it if you are able to get the perfect fit!

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carey

I love this! I also love your posts about skinnifying pants. I have a bunch of pants I bought when I had to go back to work 10 weeks postpartum, that are just too loose now. I’m trying to work up the courage to take them in to give myself some new pairs of skinny slacks for fall. Thanks for all the inspiration!

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Catie

Well, I somehow got into the wrong post and commented on *this* post, so.. go me!

Anyway, here is what I meant to comment HERE instead of THERE:

Smart! I love thrifting my jeans (you can’t argue with, like, a 4.00-10.00 price tag) and then taking them in. I never knew of a way to make the waistband larger, though, so what a good idea!

Storing this away for when I will (inevitably) need it someday…

Catie

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Miriam

Yeah, I can never resist the cheap price tag either! It’s either that or do without, so I’d rather do it! Even if it is my least favorite type of sewing..! Good luck!

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Miriam

Yes! If you’re working with jean, you definitely want a heavy duty needle at least size 18, or they have needles specifically for denim. And as far as thread goes I just used all-purpose for construction, and jean thread for topstitching (it’s actually labeled jean thread, it’s thicker and the right color). Good luck!!

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Heidi

Ohh, I’m glad you addressed the thread issue… I was actually wondering about that. I bought myself some denim last weekend to do up a pair of maternity jeans (which I figure will be waaaaaay easier to do than regular ones), and I was wondering if I needed jean thread for all of it or just for the top-stitching. Good to know!

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Christine

denim needle with heavy duty thread and set your top tension higher to pull the bottom thread thru the jeans

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evelyn1954

When I am top stitching jeans I spool an extra bobbin and use it on the extra thread spool spindle as a spool of thread and then thread it thru my thread guide with the other spool of thread making two strands of thread into one thicker thread the same color. Using a jean needle. It makes a beautiful top stitch I have done this for years and i use the Youtube video for using the “magic hem” on the jeans and use the thread tip there makes them look like they are the original hem

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the mither

Davey, that’s my Davey! 3 . . . .2 . . . . 1. . . . . just sign me proud to be your mom.

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Haylee

You are amazing. This tutorial will be a godsend for me because I have quite wide hips, but then small legs so all of my jeans are tight in the waist. I had no idea you could alter a waistband on jeans without going the pregnancy elastic waistband route (which doesn’t look too cute.. haha) so again this tutorial is great. Thanks so much.

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Miriam

I’m seriously so glad that you like! Hope that it works out for you, let me know if you try and it and/or have any other questions!

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pranita

Your alteration turned out great! I dislike adjusting jeans too, especially when I didn’t know HOW. I used to fold and stitch down the waistband and that’s that! Now with the help of tutorials like yours, I’m on my way to improvement! Thanks for sharing.

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Susan Jacobs

Excited to find this….I always lose weight in my hips but not my waist so my waist is actually larger than my hips. I have been cutting through the waist band and tucking it in to allow more room so this is perfect!!! Thanks so much!!!

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Joyce

Genius! I just attempted to alter a pair of pants from flares to slim fit and ended up with my first pair of unintentional skinny jeans which, like your jeans, is too small at the waist. Can’t wait to try this! Thanks!!

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jennifer d.

AWESOME tutorial!! I have so needed to do the same thing. Why can’t a size 8 be a size 8 all across the board?!?!? Anyway, do you have any ideas for adding a gusset to shorts?? I am a new sewer and have NO CLUE what may or may not work and I am trying to get bigger legs in an otherwise great fitting pair of shorts…any tips?? Thanks in advance — Jennifer

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Miriam

Man, I wish I did! I’m not sure how I would go about it, but if you figure something out please show me how you did it!

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Lyn

Jennifer D Open the inseam from hem to where it fits slide a piece of paper up the leg while on and draw the triangle that fills the opening. Add seam allowance and hem allowance to the triangle and cut. See to each side of inseam being sure to back stitch the end of the seams. Be sure not to cross the two seams at the top of triangle. Hem the triangle even to shorts and walah!!

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Samantha

Brilliant! Never would have thought to do that! And waistbands are always too tight on me while the rest fits. I’m pinning this for future reference!

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Shola

Thank You for this! Just done this for my hubby’s chino type trousers, worked a treat!

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kimi encarnacion

Brilliant!!! I have done this and also done it adding a taller waistband all around but the hiding it under the label thing?? Brilliant!!! kimi.

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Kitty

Fantastic! And also… I’m thinking I may just buy that pair of jeans that is super stretchy, super flattering, and fits perfectly. Except, of course, at the waist. Where it insists on having no stretch, and be far too tight. In fact, I may just find wide elastic for extra comfort 😉

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Deb

Wonderful job,
This is, hands down, the very best technique I’ve seen so far.
I will try this on a designer pair that I can’t bear to part with.
Thanks a bunch!

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Patti Teeters

Thanks for the great tutorial! I have thought of this idea but not knowing how it would turn out I put off trying it. You did such an excellent job. Hiding it with the tag was sooooo genius! You give me courage to tackle a few pairs of my own jeans. Thanks!!

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Bradi

Hi there! Thanks so much for posting this. I’m wondering if you have any advice on fitting the larger stretched waistband onto the normal sized jeans…I’ve always had an issue with the sizes being completely off.

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Miriam

Well with the pair I did he band fit perfectly after I extended the band, but if it’s not even after easing it in as much as you can (meaning distributing the added length in proportionally around the band) then you may need to add a gusset or insert to the jeans somewhere (side seams or back) So that your band and jeans match. Hopefully that helps, good luck!

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joanne

What do I dread sewing…. Boat tarps, replacement canopies, leather things… you get the idea. My hands can’t do it anymore. I have to stick to the simple things lol. These Jean tricks would work amazing though. Great idea! Pinning it thanks

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Lola

Thanks Very much I am really happy I don’t have to waste more money on new jeans . just because to small at the waste. one or two inch now I going b to b fixing lotso of my jeans thanks again lola.

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Faith Mattison

I agree with you about seam ripping – it is horrible! Especially if the material is very thing and delicate – I’ve made some holes and some big rips! The other annoying thing is when the bobbin runs out as you are sewing and you don’t know it because everything is still in place….you realize your seam is NOT done….UUUgh!

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Angie

Thank you so much for sharing your idea my two girls are absolutely thrilled no more muffin tops

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Londa Rohlfing

Great work! You were lucky there was originally that much ease in the bum of the pant.
FWIW, I carry the gold topstitching thread used on most jeans. Here’s a link to the Topaz Gold thread. I also have it in white.
http://www.londas-sewing.com/shop/product/jeans-stitch-topaz/
Another hint: use a Denim needle – probably side 90 or even 100 for the thicker thread and all that thickness.
http://www.londas-sewing.com/shop/product/schmetz-jeans-denim-needles/

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foundercat

What a great solution–very innovative, especially reattaching the label!! Will do my son’s jeans this coming weekend! Brilliant 🙂

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DAWN MASON

My mum takes the waistbands off skirts & puts petersham wide ribbon inside the top of the skirt as she has low ribs that catch on waistbands.

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Janis

I always get a ‘muffin top’ in the winter when I am less active and more restricted by the weather. Now I don’t have to buy new jeans. Thanks very much. x

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Hazel Conacher

My worst is having to unpick 5 thread shop overlocking on fine fabric.

Jeans is second as I usually break needles doing it. Too impatient

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Sue

Am trying to enlarge a jean skirt for my granddaughter it is quit a bit to small all over looks like I may have to add fabric to sides to make it fit any suggestions of how best to do that?

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Miriam

I would probably just open up the side seams a few inches, and perhaps sew some coordinating or matching jean underneath to accommodate the dart it will create. Good luck, hope that’s helpful!

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