Testing Out a Quick Hack for Jeans That Are Too Big

Slow Fashion Style
by Slow Fashion Style
5 Materials
30 Minutes

I have a pair of low-rise jeans that were too big on me and that I wanted to wear high-waisted. I used a simple jeans-too-big hack to downsize them, which wasn't completely successful.

I'm going to show you what I did and what I think I should have done to improve the final result.

Tools and materials:

  • 1/4 inch wide elastic
  • 2 large safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Polyester thread
  • Strong hand-sewing needle
Trying jeans on

1. Try the jeans on

I tried the jeans on. The front was slightly loose but the main problem was at the back.

I didn't want to remove the waistband or do any major sewing or alterations, so I decided to use elastic.

Making slit in jeans

2. Undo the button and the zipper and lay the pants as flat as possible

Pull the waistband fabric apart directly under one of the back belt loops and make a small slit in the inside layer with the tips of your scissors.

Make a similar cut under the other back belt loop.

Attaching safety pin to elastic

3. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic

Working safety pin through waistband

Feed the safety pin into one of the cuts and work it through the waistband, taking the elastic with it.

Attaching second safety pin

4. Attach second safety pin

When the safety pin is clear of the second slit, attach the second safety pin to the elastic near to the entry point and cut the elastic.

Gathering back of pants

5. Pull on both ends of the elastic to gather the back of the pants

When you think the jeans waist is about the right size, try them on to confirm the final fit.

Pinning jeans

6. Pin the safety pins to the jeans and even out the gathers

Double-thread a hand-sewing needle and sew the elastic to the jeans near the slits with a strong backstitch. 

Sewing jeans

When the elastic is secured, cut it off close to the slit and hand-sew the opening closed.

Before and after

When I tried the jeans on, the front fitted me very well, exactly as I wanted.

Before and after

However the back didn't look as good. I had tried to gather too much fabric into a small area and because of the thickness of the denim, it had bunched up.

What I should have done was put darts around the waist instead. However if you want to use the elastic method, I'd suggest snipping the waistband under the front belt loops instead of the back. T

hat way, the excess fabric will be more evenly distributed around the waist and not concentrated in one small area. 

Jeans too big hack

I hope this project helped you understand how to fix jeans that are too big around the waist. For me, it was a learning experience. Please share in the comments below what you think of my attempt.

Suggested materials:
  • 1/4 inch wide elastic
  • 2 large safety pins
  • Scissors
See all materials

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Join the conversation
3 of 10 comments
  • Melissa Melissa on Mar 28, 2023

    Another way to a smaller jeans waist is to sew a button (I had one from old jeans) a few inches to the right of the original button, where the waist fits better. Use the original buttonhole. Unzip the zipper a couple of inches, toss on a top that covers and you are set. Plus it is easy to change if you need to. I have seen commercial jeans with this diagonal front.

  • 19628357297 19628357297 on Mar 28, 2023

    i do this to my jeans but i measure the width of the band between the stitches and i use the 1 inch or 3/4 inch no roll elastic works really great