How to Easily Make Alterations to Pants in 5 Different Ways

11 Materials
$5
45 Minutes
Medium

Has this ever happened to you? You buy pants and the color, style, fabric, and price point are perfect but they need alterations. They’re too long, too wide at the waist, or the crotch or the waist doesn’t fit properly. This tutorial will teach you how to make alterations to pants, so they fit you just right!

Tools and materials:

  • Serger or overlock machine
  • Sewing machine
  • Marking chalk
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Webbing
  • Bias binding
  • Elastic
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Iron
  • Needle and thread
How to alter pants that are too big

How to alter pants that are too big

This happens far too often where the pants fit great on the butt but need taking in at the top and shortening by the legs. Here’s how to alter them.

Pinning the side seams at the waistband

1. Take in the pants

Pin the side seams at the waistband until it fits, then continue pinning down the side seams. 

Pinning the inside seams of the pants

Pin the inside seams as well.

Pinning the cuffs of the pants

Pin the cuffs upward to the desired length.

Cutting the excess fabric off the pants

2. Cut the pants

It’s time to cut the excess fabric. Begin with the outside seams. Cut each outside seam separately going through the waistband. 

Cutting the inside seams of the pants

Cut the inside seams out following the pins, leaving at least ½ inch or 1.5 cm for seam allowance. 

Cutting off the pant cuffs

Cut the cuffs off below the pinned line.

How to sew pants that are too big

3. Sew the pants

Turn the pants inside out. Sew the outside seams using a straight stitch. Then, sew the inner seams. Overlock or serge all the raw edges. 


Trim the hems at the bottom so they are even. Fold up and fold up once again to ½ inch or 1.5 cm and overlock in place to ensure a neat finish. Iron the pants for a professional look.

How to alter pants to a bigger size

How to alter pants to a bigger size

This happens when pants shrink or they just need to be a bit bigger. This tutorial is done on shorts, but you can use this technique to alter pants to a bigger size.

Cutting open the side seams

1. Cut the shorts

Cut open the side seams from the waistband all the way down to the end. Denim is very thick, so cut more vigorously than with other fabrics. 

How to alter ladies pants

Keep the crotch attached.

Adding webbing to the shorts

2. Expand the shorts

I use red webbing to expand the shorts. Measure the amounts needed for the right and left sides of the shorts. Cut the webbing a bit longer than the shorts.

Bias binding in the same color

Attach bias binding to the webbing at the short end to give a nice clean finish. 

Sewing bias binding on the webbing

Sew the bias down at ⅙ of an inch or 0.5 cm and fold it over again, enveloping the frayed ends of the webbing, and sew it at ⅙ of an inch or 0.5 cm on the other side. Do this to the other 3 ends of the webbing.

Attaching the webbing to the shorts

Attach the webbing to the shorts. Edgestitch it all the way up and repeat on the other side of the webbing. Do it for both sides. Fold in the top edge so it’s hidden on either side.

How to alter pants that are too small

Looks so cute and fits so much better!

How to alter pants at the waist

How to alter pants at the waist

This is how to alter pants at the waist and add a raw edge at the cuff.

Pinching the waistband at the back

1. Adjust the waistband

Pinch the waist at the back. Pin it to the desired measurement. Mark the spot. Remove the pin.

Cutting the pants at the waistband

Cut at the mark and then cut the other side,

Removing the center back seam

Remove the center seam. 

Sewing up the pants to make them fit better

Sew up the back of the jeans with a ¼ inch or 1 cm seam allowance. 

How to alter the waist of pants

Overlock the back seam to clean any raw edges and secure the seam.

Folding the cuffs of the pants up

2. Adjust the cuffs

Fold the cuffs upward to the desired length. 

Cutting off the cuffs of the pants

Cut them. Then, pin in place and turn the right side out. Pin it on the right side. Cut across the cuffs. 

How to alter the bottom of pants

Use the fingers to create a ragged edge and frayed look. Repeat on the other leg.

How to make alterations to pants

How fabulous do these jeans look now?

How to alter pants legs

How to alter pants legs

These pants are super cool and have great features like pockets and zippers that I don’t want to disturb. 

Pinning pants at the desired length

1. Shorten the pants

Pin the pants at the bottom to the desired length. 

Cutting the excess fabric off the pant legs

Cut the excess off. Use the first removed cuff as the pattern for the other leg. 

Measuring elastic for the ankles

Measure elastic around the ankle. Mark the spot and then cut the elastic.

Creating elastic for the bottom of the pants

Sew the elastic together to create a loop for each ankle.

Sewing the elastic into the pants

Insert the elastic at the bottom of the leg. 

Folding the fabric for an elastic hem

Fold the fabric over the elastic and hem in place for an elasticized hem.

Making alterations to pants

How to alter pants at the waist (example 2)

Pinning pants at the back

1. Take in the pants

Pin in place at the back to get a better fit. Take the pants off. 

Cutting the side seams

Cut the side seams down all the way down the leg of the pants. Remove the center seam. Repeat on the other side. 

Altering pants

Once they are both cut, pin them in place and sew them with a ¼ inch or 1 cm seam allowance. Overlock or serge the edges to conceal any raw or frayed edges.


How to make alterations to pants

Thank you so much for watching this tutorial to alter pants on your own! Though it may seem a bit challenging at first, you see how simple it is to learn how to make alterations to pants. Please let me know in the comments if you tried any of these techniques!

Suggested materials:

  • Serger or overlock machine
  • Sewing machine
  • Marking chalk
See all materials

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

Comments

Join the conversation

Next