How to Downsize Jeans, Fix a Broken Zipper & Mend Your Clothes

by Cozychique
11 Materials

Do you have a skirt with a hole in it, so you can't wear it even though the rest of it is fine? Or your favorite leather skirt zipper is broken, and you can't wear it anymore? Or you simply found a pair of jeans that you like, but they’re just too big? Have no fear; you don't have to throw those clothes away.

Here, I'll be showing you how to downsize jeans, as well as other ways to mend your clothes so that you can get more use out of them.

Tools and materials:

  • Needle 
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Seam ripper
  • Zipper
  • Sewing machine
  • Clips
  • Marker
  • Tape measure
  • Denim thread
  • Scissors
How to mend a hole in a skirt

How to mend a hole in a skirt

As you can see with this red satin slip skirt, the front is fine, but then there is a hole in the side seam. Two pieces of fabric had torn apart, leaving a hole in the middle along the seam.

Pinning the hole

1. Pin

To fix this, flip the skirt inside out and pin together the sides that we want to sew. 

Sewing up the hole

2. Sew up the hole

Instead of simply just doing a straight stitch across the hole, we are going to be doing something called a blanket stitch, and that's where you pull the needle up through the two areas that you've pinned, and then you put the loop of the thread that's remaining over the needle.

The point of doing that is because the threads are already fraying in the direction that you would be sewing if you were doing a straight stitch and what we want to do is seal them in so that they don't continue to fray.

Continue doing the stitch until the hole is closed up, and then just tie off the ends.

How to mend clothes

3. Sew the elastic

Once you're done with that, we're just going to sew the elastic back onto the area where the hole was with a simple straight stitch. 

Leather skirt with a broken zipper

How to fix a broken zipper

Next up, I've got a leather skirt, and I’ve worn it so much that the zipper broke, but luckily this fix is really easy.

Removing the zipper

1. Remove the zipper

Start off by unpicking the zipper and removing it from the skirt. Be careful not to make a hole in the fabric while using the seam ripper.

Lining up the new zipper

2. Line up the new zipper

Once you’ve unpicked the zipper completely, grab your new zipper and line it up against where the old zipper was. Here it's really important to measure your zipper before you buy it to make sure it’s the right size.

Sewing the new zipper

3. Sew it on

Next, sew a top stitch directly on top of the fabric. Normally you would put pins down to secure the zipper in place so that it doesn't move around, but because my fabric is pleather, I actually can't use pins because then it will make holes in the skirt, and I didn't have any clips available so I kind of just held it taut and sewed down. Sew as slow as you can because you don't want a crooked line.

How to fix a broken zipper

Here's my fixed-up skirt; it looks as good as new.

How to downsize jeans

How to downsize jeans

This pair of jeans actually don't belong to me; they're very large men's jeans that I stole from my dad's closet. He wore these jeans in 1970, which makes them older than me.

They are a size 34 waist, and as you can see, there are about 6 or 7 inches (15-18cm) too big for me. I’m going to show you how we can keep all the detailing and not alter the design too much but make it fit your waist.

Pinning the jeans

1. Pin the jeans

The first thing to do is flip the pants inside out, measure about an inch and a quarter (3cm) from one end and place a pin there, and then another one below that to create dart lines. Do the same on the other side.

Removing the belt loops

2. Remove the belt loops

Before sewing the jeans, you need to take off the belt loops as they will get in the way. You can reattach them later on or just leave them off.

Sewing the jeans

3. Sew

Try the jeans on with the pins to check that they fit. When you’re happy, sew a diagonal line down where you have pinned and carry on all the way down to the bottom of the jeans. Be sure to use a thread that is suitable for denim as well as the right type of needle. 

Trimming the excess fabric

4. Trim the excess

Proceed to trim off the excess fabric and cut the waistband in half.

Resizing the waist of jeans

5. Resize the waist

Turn the jeans right side out and do a top stitch on the waistband. The point of this is to seal the hems inside so that it looks nice and neat.

Taking in jeans at the waist

Then grab both ends of the waistband that you cut off and sew them in the place where the two ends are supposed to meet. Once done, cut off the excess. Repeat on the other side.

Taking in jean legs

6. Adjust the legs

Lastly, because the pant legs were a little bit large, I took some that fit me well, and I just traced around where I would like to sew to taper them in, and then I sewed them in. I also snipped off a bit from the bottom and left them with a raw hem to shorten the jeans.

How to downsize jeans

This is the final look. I see a lot of tutorials out there that take all fabric from the back, but I personally really like how the back is sewn, and I know that I can't recreate that with my sewing machine, so I decided to take it off from the sides because it's more inconspicuous.

Downsized jeans

How to downsize jeans & fix your clothes

I love that they finally fit me, and I haven't compromised too much of the detailing.

There you have it - three easy ways to fix your clothes so that you don't have to throw them away or buy new ones when they get a hole in or get a bit damaged. I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful!

Suggested materials:
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Pins
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Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Darlene Darlene on Aug 01, 2022

    Love the idea of the jean makeover. That tool you used is called a seam ripper or stitch ripper.