Thursday, May 2, 2013

DIY: How to tailor high waisted jeans

Raise your hand if you buy jeans and you think they fit, but you're always pulling them up to stay around your waist. You think you don't need a belt, but something's just missing with the fit. Chances are you need to tailor them.

It's inevitable that I have to do this alteration to my high waisted jeans I find at the thrift store. Maybe I just have too much behind for typical sizing, but jeans that "fit" are always way too big in my waist. Sure, I could wear a belt, but then it's all bunched up and just doesn't look right. I want to be able to wear a cropped top and not have to worry about how the jeans look around my waist. 

This tutorial can be done by the intermediate seamstress. You just need a few things:
  • jeans
  • pliers
  • heavy duty needle for your sewing machine
  • matching thread
  • straight pins (optional)
  • seam gauge or ruler
  • scissors
  • razor blade or seam ripper
Start by trying on your jeans and get an idea of where they need to be taken in. Measure how much needs to come off the waistband. 1) Remove the waistband and belt loops from 4 inches on either side of the side seams. 2) This is the hardest part of the whole tutorial, so don't get frustrated when you have to remove the grommets. I always use pliers. Depending on how much you have to tailor the jeans, you can also cut out the grommet very carefully. 3. Starting at the bottom of the pocket, take in the side seams the desired amount. Make sure this seams is smooth like you'd sew a dart, so it looks natural. Try on your jeans (pictured below) and make sure they fit in the hips. 4) Trim excess fabric, cut about 1/4-12" from seam. Zig zag raw edges.
If you haven't measured properly, the worst thing you can do is finish your jeans before trying them on again. Say you get all the way done sewing them, and you took them in an extra 1/2". High waisted jeans that fit perfectly are so close to jeans that are just a bit too tight. Especially if you're sewing thrift store jeans with no stretch! Newer jeans like this you'd buy at the mall have a little bit of stretch to them, so they are more forgiving. Be sure you try them on if they do not stretch! There is nothing more uncomfortable them jeans with a high waist that are too tight!

5) With the raw edges forward, top stitch along the pocket side of the side seams. Back stitch at the end of the stitch for a more professional look. 6) Now to take in the waistband. Take your measurement of how much you want to take in the waist and cut it in half. Using this measurement, on each side of the waistband, fold the right sides together and sew. Say you want to take the pants in 3". Take in each side of the waistband 1 1/2". 7) Trim excess fabric and press open. 8) Top stitch along waistband to reattach to the jeans. Replicate the look of the previous stitching so your alteration isn't noticeable. Trim threads!

No more flabby waist! 

For size reference. These jeans were a 10P (petite, notice the cropped look on the legs), and I'm usually a size 4-6. Since there were from the 90s, the 10 translates to a size 8 or so in today's sizing, so I took the waist down a size or two. They fit so much better. The fabric is a little thicker than I'd like, so they tend to bunch up a bit. Not bad for a $1 pair of jeans though!

Questions? Comments!? I'd love to hear from you.
Do you alter your jeans to fit you perfectly?

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