Buy Any Size: How to Alter Pants

Alicia Yanson
by Alicia Yanson
5 Materials
45 Minutes

This tutorial comes as a result of a sale I could not miss. I found these gorgeous pants (that I knew I had to have) but they didn’t have them in my size. So, instead of getting fed up, I decided to buy them a little too big. So, if you’ve ever been in the same predicament, follow along to learn how to alter pants to a smaller size!

Tools and materials:

  • Marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
  • Sewing machine
  • Pants
How to alter pants to a smaller size

Adjust the hem 

Put the pants on and fold the bottoms until your desired length. Mark the new hem. Next, take the pants off and use a measuring tape to mark the new hem around the entire leg. (This particular pair of pants had a large hem that I wanted to keep, so I left five inches for seam allowance, but how much room you leave is really up to you!) Once, marked, cut off the bottom of the pants. 

How to alter pants waist

Adjust the waist 

With the pants on, pinch both sides until you have your desired fit. Measure your excess fabric. Next, detach the waistband from the pants (on both sides), creating a small opening. Then, mark off the area that needs to be taken in. 

How to alter pants that are too big

Adjust the width 

Overlay a pair of wide-leg pants you already own and follow the shape. Then take the pants in by sewing straight down. I used a straight stitch with a stitch length of three. Next, sew a zigzag stitch right beside the straight stitch to keep the fabric from fraying. Try the pants on and if they fit, cut off the excess fabric. 

How to alter ladies’ pants

Downsize the waistband 

Open up the waistband and mark your measurements on the inside of the fabric. Add some pins to secure and sew. Once you’re done, cut off the excess fabric and tuck the pants underneath the waistband. Make sure all the edges are covered and sew it closed. (Don’t forget to repeat on both sides!)

How to alter oversized pants

Hem the pants 

Turn your pants inside out and double-fold the bottoms - until your hem marking appears at the bottom. Sew around the legs with a straight stitch. Add some finishing touches like belt loops and you're ready to rock! 

Finished altered pants

I hope you guys liked this tutorial on how to alter oversized pants. I think this proves the importance of knowing how to sew. Never give up on fashion because a store doesn’t have your size! 

Suggested materials:
  • Marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler
See all materials

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

Join the conversation
2 of 14 comments
  • Bet ! Bet ! on Jan 15, 2022

    Well done ! They look good on you ! I must remember this hint when I want to get new pants !

  • Marlene Marlene on Jan 16, 2022

    U did an amazing job on ur pants, n I love them!!! Thanks!!!