How to Make an Adjustable Waistband 2 Ways: With or Without Elastic

4 Materials
30 Minutes

Follow along with my tutorial if you have some pants that are too large in the waist. Maybe you lost some weight, or maybe you had to buy a larger size for your hips, but the waist is now too big.

I will show you how to adjust those pants with a DIY drawstring or elastic waistband. The technique works just as well for skirts or shorts, so let’s begin!

Tools and materials:

  • Your too-large waist bottoms
  • Scissors
  • Sewing elastic, shoestring, or bias tape
  • Safety pin
Making holes inside the front of the waistband

1. Make a drawstring waistband

Lay your pants flat with the front closure done up. Make 2 small holes on the inside front of the waistband on each side of the button.

Cutting only the inner layer

Use scissors for this cut, and make sure to only cut through the inner layer of the waistband. The hole only needs to be large enough for your safety pin to fit through.

Cutting a shoelace or bias tape to size

Cut your shoelace or bias tape to 1½ times the size of your waist.

Inserting the drawstring

Use the safety pin to thread your shoelace through the waistband starting and ending at the holes you cut. If you encounter a seam in the waistband, just use small scissors or a seam ripper to open it.

If you are not able to open the seam, then cut two more holes on either side of the seam and weave the shoelace out and back into the waistband over the seam.

Tying knots in the ends of the drawstring

Once the shoelace is fully threaded through the waistband, pull it so each extending end is of equal length. Tie a knot in each end close to the waistband, and then loosely tie the ends of the strings together so they won’t disappear back into the waistband.

Tying the drawstring

To do up your pants, just tie the drawstring before you close the zipper and button.

How to make an elastic waistband

2. Make an elastic waistband

Make a casing on your waistband by following the same procedure of cutting holes in the waistband as you did for the drawstring waistband.

Cutting elastic to fit the waist

Cut your elastic to fit slightly larger than your waist without it being stretched. Thread it through the waistband using a safety pin.

Inserting the elastic

Loosely tie the two ends of the elastic so they don’t get pulled back into the waistband.

Tying the elastic like a drawstring

You are not going to sew the ends of elastic together – you will just tie it as you did with the drawstring, before zipping up and buttoning your pants.

How to make an adjustable waistband

How to make an adjustable waistband

That’s how simple it is to make a DIY drawstring or elastic waistband for any bottom garment that is too big! Your DIY waistband is invisible, and you don’t need to replace your pants.

I hope you give this a try and leave a comment to let me know how you liked this tutorial.

Suggested materials:
  • Your too-large waist bottoms
  • Scissors
  • Sewing elastic, shoestring, or bias tape
See all materials

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • Linda House Enz Linda House Enz on Jul 16, 2022

    Im going to use the elastic idea except I'm going to sew 2 flat buttons on the inside and use buttonhole elastic as it is easily adjustable.

  • Ruthann Nissly Martinez Ruthann Nissly Martinez on Jul 16, 2022

    I have bought the elastic with the buttonholes & used it for a friend that has has a disabled son that can do a belt but I found it is just easier for myself to use the safety pins.