How to: Take in Jeans Simply

Shanna yeh
by Shanna yeh
4 Materials
1 Hour

I picked up these great jeans from my local Salvation Army a couple of weeks ago, but naturally, they were a little big on me. I love the look of the loose leg, but the waistband is a little too big, so without further ado, here is my tutorial on how to take in women’s jeans.

Tools and materials:

  • Thrifted jeans
  • Fabric marker
  • Seam ripper or scissors
  • Sewing machine
Take in jeans

How to take in jeans waist

Mark the darts 

Try the jeans on inside out. I do it this way because then you can make as many markings as you need without it ever showing on the pants. On your waistband, trace out two darts (which are basically triangles that get narrower as they go down). The ideal location for your darts is in the middle of the two back pockets. (This way you can avoid any of the more complicated seams). For example, both of my darts were about one inch thick and went down three and a half inches. 

Take in jeans waist

Seam rip the pockets 

Flip the jeans right side out and seam rip the pockets off. (Be careful not to rip the jeans.) When seam ripping the pockets,m don’t worry about removing the entire pocket, you just need to remove enough of the pocket that you can sew your dart without it getting in the way. Once the pockets are out of the way, use your seam ripper (or scissors) to remove the belt loop on the back of your waistband. 

How do you take in jeans

Sew the darts 

Once everything is removed and out of the way, turn your pants inside out again and pin your darts. Do this by following the markings that you made earlier. (Try the jeans on after pinning the darts to make sure they fit.) Next, sew the darts in place using a straight stitch. Once you’re done sewing, go ahead and cut off the excess fabric. 

How to take in women’s jeans

Reattach the pockets 

Now that the darts are sewn, we are going to reattach those pockets. Pin the pockets back on, making sure that they are pulled tightly so there isn’t any floppy or wrinkled fabric. Don’t try to line them up with the marks on the jeans because we did take in the waist. So, ignore the marks and pin them tightly. Sew the pockets back one with a straight stitch and make sure not to sew through both layers of the jeans. 

To finish the pants, you can reattach the belt loop or choose to leave it off as I did. If you do choose to reattach it, put it right over the seam of the dart so that no one ever knows the pants were altered. I love this method to take in jeans, let me know what you think! 

Suggested materials:
  • Thrifted jeans
  • Fabric marker
  • Seam ripper
See all materials

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 1 comment
  • Laurel Kaufman Laurel Kaufman on Jun 16, 2021

    You are a genius! I always had to alter my mom's jeans for her, and it worked out ok. But this is a game changer! I have tons of denim to alter for myself- thank you for a great summer project!!