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altering rtw children’s waistbands

jen32 | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello, Does anyone know a quick and easy way to alter ready to wear children’s waistbands?  They never fit my children.  They usually are over an inch too wide for them, sometimes as much as 3 inches. Smaller size pants are too short.  The waistbands that I have a problem with is the type that is all elastic attached at the edge of the fabric and than folded over to form a casing.  The only way I have found to fix this is to rip the entire thing out, shorten it and reattach.  This is very time consuming, the elastic always looks mangled when I’m done and I then have to cut the height of it down so I can reattach it.  If I try to just cut the side seams and take in fabric there, of course it looks awful, and there is a bump due to the bulk that bothers my daughter. Is there an easier way I hope? 

Thank you,



  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    Had this problem with my kids and now grandkids.  Yesterday we bought grandson slim jeans from Target.  Inside the sideseam of the waistband is an elastic strip with buttonholes in it about 1/2 inch apart.  There is a button inside the waistband on the side also.  This is quite clever.  I have no idea where one can purchase this elastic, but it is comfortable on this very particular sensitive child.  Mary

    1. jen32 | | #2


      I saw similar pants with adjustable waistbands in Gap kids.  Those are a great option and I do look for pants like that,  but how do you think I could add an adjustible waist band to other types of pants. I tried making buttonholes in elastic and found the best way is to simply cut a buttonhole slit in the elastic.  I could attach that to the insides of the waistband and add another piece of elastic with a button for the other side, but that still leaves me with fold of waistband about 1-2 inches long.  I'm not sure of the best way to get rid of that much fabric at the waistband without adding a bump or taking it all apart.



      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #3

        Hey Jen Mary told you about that elastic I have seen this in one of my mail order catalogs...I get the catalog but here is there web address!! It is called Buttonhole elastic Sells for $2.55 for 3 yards and $21.35 for 30 yards!! I hope this can help you!!http://www.homesew.comBlondie

        1. MaryinColorado | | #4

          Thank You for the website, lots of goodies there.  Have you ordered from them?  If so, how are the shipping fees and timelines?  Mary

          1. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #7

            No I actally haven't ordered from them as of yet but I had a list that I wouldn't mind getting from them.. I too thought they had some great hard to find items!!Blondie

        2. User avater
          Becky-book | | #5

          Thanks for the link! I wondered where to get that elastic, never saw it in the stores, should have thought to look on-line!!


        3. Cherrypops | | #11


          I've been looking for this everywhere. haven't found it in my stores.


      2. jojo | | #15

        I have tall and skinny girls.  I make two vertical slits (about 1 inch from the side seam) in the inside of the back section of the waistband and run a piece of elastic inside of the waistband from one of the slits to the other.  I pull the elastic to fit, then make a narrow zigzag  on each side to sew the elastic and the slits together.  Hope this helps.

        1. sarahkayla | | #16

          I do the same adjustment for my skinny son.It's fast and easy and he can wear jeans that way. I just bought him four pairs of h&M pants and elastisied the bask for him. it takes about ten minutes to do a pair.

          When he had to wear a uniform to school I ended up making his pants. It was impossible to  find slims that were slim enough . The button elastic is a lovely thing if you can find it.

          1. jojo | | #17

            You're right about the button elastic.  It is hard for me to find, though.

          2. Cherrypops | | #18

            Hi jojo ,

            read up a few posts, there is a website link. this company sells the button elastic.


          3. jojo | | #19


    2. Cherrypops | | #10

      Hi Mary ,

      My son has those jeans too. I found it a really annoying when the button elastic slips off the button and springs back into the casing. I have had to stitch the elastic closed to stop it from happening. maybe the manufacturer used the incorrect sized button?..anyway it's worked.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #14

        Thanks for the warning!  I will ask my grandson if he is having this problem with them and check to see if I need to adjust them.  He probably wouldn't have mentioned it as he wouldn't want to complain.  Mary

  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #6

    I do not have any ultra-easy magic cure (other than make them yourself) but you could try:

    Take the waist band and elastic apart just on the sides, take a little of the elastic out (same amount on both sides), seam elastic together by butting the edges together over a piece of ribbon or cloth and zigzag as wide as possible.  Close up whatever 'damage' you did to get at the elastic.  The waistband will be more puckered at the sides than in front or back, but hopefully no big bump.  This may not work with some types of elastic waistbands (lots of rows of stitching) and may not be any easier than taking the whole thing off!

    Or if the waist casing is not stitched closed at the sides you could cut a small hole on the inside and bind it with hand stitched buttonhole stitches and thread a cord lace through and use it to tie the pants a little closer to their body.

    Hope this helps,


    1. Cherrypops | | #12

      great advice.

      I'll use this method if i can't find any of this buttonhole elastic in australia. i haven't found it here yet. i know what it looks like, my son has jeans with it in.


      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #13

        I found the button hole elastic here - http://www.homesew.com/index.html 

        They ship to Canada so they are not US only company, maybe they would ship to you?


  3. Teaf5 | | #8

    I used to take up the slack in the center back seam, which doesn't rest on the hips, or as two darts on either side of the back seam. If there was a belt loop in the center back, I removed it to make the dart and replaced it only if my child was going to need it.Recently, my son solved this problem by running an old soccer shoelace through the elastic casing and using it as a drawstring; I guess he's been watching me more often than I realized!

    1. jen32 | | #9

      Thank you everyone, I will be able to try some of these ideas.  I never thought about threading a cord or ribbon through the waistband. 


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