April 19, 2017

How to Resize Your Jeans So They'll Actually Fit You Correctly For Once

Ugh. Buying jeans is the worst. Show me someone who says they enjoy it, and I'll show you someone from whom you need to back away slowly. It's difficult to find jeans that fit your budget, fit your style and fit your bod, but that last one is especially rough. We've all tried on jeans that were laughable on us - a foot too long, baggy in the hips, not enough tush room - but how many pairs have come close to being perfect, but aren't quite right?

Those are the jeans I want to talk about. The almost-there jeans - they can be saved!

Since we're all shaped differently than the one fit model a particular brand chooses for their jeans, almost no pair will be a perfect fit on us. What are our options? Settle for close enough or take them to a tailor and have them adjusted for a fee. 

…But there's another option! (this is my version of the classic infomercial line "There has to be a better way!" preceded by footage of you struggling to understand how pants go on your body)

I mean, who HASN'T been there?!

You (yes, YOU) can custom fit your own jeans, and it's way easier than you probably think. This tutorial will show you how to custom size your jeans to your hip and/or leg measurements so you never experience the issues that come with so many ill-fitting pants.

Let's do this!  

First: wash & dry those jeans! You don't want to fit them and then have them shrink. 

You can do this two different ways, so I'll quickly show you both. Jeans usually have a thicker, more pronounced seam on either the inner or outer edge of the pants. It'll be easier and less noticeable if you resize from the edge with the less pronounced seam, so that you don't have to remove or hide the more pronounced seam. 

In the first method, we trim excess fabric from the outside seam. This can also be helpful if you want to remove excess fabric from the waistband because you can continue your new seam right up through the top of the jeans (though there are more professional methods to do that if you want to invest the time). 

To start, lay your inside-out jeans flat and place a well-fitting pair on top of them. Align the jeans at the crotch and pin them together along the inside seam of one leg (seen above).

With chalk, trace around the leg of the well-fitting jeans onto the jeans you're resizing. In my case, I needed to shorten the new jeans so I traced the bottom edge as well. Repeat on the other leg.

The second method is basically the same, except we'll be removing fabric from the inside seam. This is the method I used on my jeans because it's a little easier and there are less things, like waistbands and pockets, in the way.

Again, lay the inside-out jeans flat with a well-fitting pair on top of them. You still want to align them at the crotch, but in this method you'll line up the outside seams and pin along them.

Use the chalk to trace along the well-fitted pair of jeans onto the jeans you're resizing. It's easier to have both pairs inside out so you don't need to worry so much about chalk marks on the top pair.

Next, you'll just need to pick out some thread. You can go with one that matches your denim or one that matches the existing stitching on your jeans. It won't show on the outside/right side of your jeans, but will show if you choose to also hem the jeans. I chose a dark thread for the side seam and a matching gold thread for the bottom hem.

Now we'll simply show along the chalkline we drew before. You could sew slightly outside of the chalk line to give a little extra room just in case, but I sewed right on the line since my jeans were very stretchy.

We want to sew first with a basting stitch, which is a loose temporary stitch. This way you can try on the jeans to check the fit and if you need to remove any portion of the stitch it'll be much easier.

When you've completed the basting stitch on both legs, try on the inside-out jeans. I found my fit to be satisfactory except around my ankles, so I drew new chalk lines where I wanted the jeans to fit while still wearing them.

Make any sewing adjustments and try the jeans on again to give final fit approval.

When you're good with the fit, sew the permanent stitches. I use a zig zag stitch because it provides more stretch. I then sew a slightly tighter basting stitch right over the zig zag stitch for a little more security. I also add a tight, straight stitch on the outside of the zig zag stitch (dramatic reenactment above) as a last line of defense if the seam ever opens up. I'm kinda paranoid about my pants just bursting off my body suddenly, but you only need to add the seams you want here.

You can see above that there is plenty of extra fabric outside (in this case, to the left) of the stitches. If you don't need to adjust the length of the jeans, just trim that part off and you're done!

I recommend using pinking shears because it prevents the fabric from fraying, plus it gives you a reason to own pinking shears, which are one of the cutest parts of the crafting world.

If you do need to adjust the length of the jeans, you can follow this tutorial I made. Alternately, you can simply fold your jeans up to the right length while still inside out, run a straight stitch around the perimeter of the ankle, and trim the excess with pinking shears if you don't mind a more unfinished look inside. I won't tell ;)

And that's how (relatively) easy it is to custom fit your own jeans! Honestly, once you try this you'll get the hang of it, and custom tailoring will just be another tool in your DIY arsenal. Warning: you may get addicted to custom fitting all of your clothes. At least you'll look great, though! 

Have you ever made DIY skinny jeans? Got any hot tips on clothes-fitting? Can you tell me why jeans are so mean to us?


  1. Thanks for sharing! I didn't know you can re-size them on your own! Although, I am still scared to try this on my own haha!


  2. Jeans are the worst!! I was just having this exact thought today. It does seem like the ankles don't quite fit right. Thanks for the tutorial.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  3. What!! I wish I was this crafty. I was just complaining on iG how my jeans never it me right haha

    Enclothed Cognition

  4. I am trusting the same best exertion from you later on too. Actually your exploratory writing abilities has roused me. best leggings store


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