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altering the waist on jeans pattern

surya | Posted in General Discussion on

I need to alter a sewing pattern. it is for a traditional style pair of jeans. (Kwik Sew #2123.) I need to remove 1″ from the waist all the way around. On any other pants pattern I would just take it out at the side seams dividing it down to 1/4″ inch off of each piece. However, there are front pockets that join into the side seams and I don’t want to interfere with them because the pocket openings on each side of the front would end up smaller across
the front. Plus there is front pocket lining and front pocket insert piece as well.
The only other time I did a pair of pants with a waistband, it happened to fit perfectly… Now that’s luck. This time, it needs some help though.
I did think that maybe I could fold out 1/4″ along the top in the middle of the front piece tissue and also in the middle of the back yoke piece tissue. That would total an inch when X by 4. Would this be the correct way to handle it?

The other thing I think I could think is to go ahead and take it out on the side seam and move the pocket opening over 1/4″ toward the center front to keep the pocket the same size?

Or should I just run an ease line to fit the pants to the waistband? After all it would be just 1/4 inch on each panel to ease in.

I know how to do all the other changes to the pattern, but I just want to be sure I handle the waist properly.
Any help is appreciated,

Edited 4/15/2007 4:26 am ET by surya


  1. tmorris1 | | #1

    hey surya;Remove your excess from the side seams whenever possible, if you remove from the front, the zipper gets all messed up, and if you remove from the back you risk shortening the rise and showing the wrong cracks at inopportune times ;) Just cut your fabric without the pocket and adjust to fit until you are happy with it then replace the pattern on the new side seam, and cut your pocket opening from there.Also, I make a cut out of my back pockets from a thin sturdy cardboard (eventually I had a welder friend of mine make me aluminum blanks). Then when you are Ironing the pocket, use the cardboard blank to press around and voila...two exactly the same pockets!! No fussing around.Hope this helps

    1. MaryinColorado | | #2

      I love your tip about the perfect pocket presser!  Maybe you should get a patent!  Thanks so much, now my pockets will be "perfected".  Mary

      1. tmorris1 | | #3

        You are so welcome Mary. Heres to perfect pockets every time. PS you can use this technique on any pocket - -works perfectly on mens shirt pockets too.

        1. tmorris1 | | #5

          Sorry, I forgot to mention about the top stitching...If you pick up the tearaway fusible webbing that embroiderers use to stabilize their work, you can copy your top stitching and detail lines onto the tearaway web. Iron this on to your pocket and sew along the lines then just tear away the webbing (some dissolves in the wash) and there you have your perfect top stitching.

          Edited 4/16/2007 6:12 am ET by tmorris1

          1. surya | | #9

            The top stitching idea sounds great. You mean this stuff won't leave any residue once I iron it on and then pull it off? It wont get all hung up in the stitches and pull at the threads? If so, I'd like to try it. What is the name of the stuff again?I went ahead and just took a tiny 1/4" fold on front pattern piece and again on the back yoke. I removed a 1/2" from the waistband piece to equal one inch total because it is cut on fold. I'll let you know how they come out. Thanks all for the advice.

          2. tmorris1 | | #10

            Tear away fusible webbing. It is a godsend, but you can also use tissue paper just sew right through it and tear it off when you are done. Any residue will come off in the wash, but if you are really worried about it, then just baste it down instead of ironing.Sounds like you really have things under control, your jeans will look great!

      2. tmorris1 | | #4

        Mary;In regards to fit (which you know can be the most disappointing thing about making a pair of jeans.) I often am asked to "resurrect" a clients favorite pair of jeans. To do this I simply rip the expired jeans apart and copy that pattern. You can pin the pieces directly to your pre-washed jean fabric and cut. Or, if the old jeans are too damaged, take advantage of the "masking tape method" outlined in this month's Threads magazine. Once you get a little practice at it, you will be able to change the leg cuts, as well as the rise, making perfect fitting jeans that are able to keep up with the current fashions...and you can recycle the old zipper. (I have told you people that I am cheap!!) The bonus of this is that women will pay huge amounts of money to find that "perfect" pair of jeans again and I we can make them ;)

        Edited 4/16/2007 4:52 am ET by tmorris1

        1. MaryinColorado | | #6

          Thanks for the info.  and that is a great idea about saving the zipper!  Mary

          1. tmorris1 | | #7

            You are most welcome Mary. If you need help once you get to the fly, I am here...they can get confusing :)oh wait, I am confused, Mary - I recycle everything off of my old garments (buttons, hooks, zippers, everything.) And Surya let me know if you need help with the fly

            Edited 4/16/2007 6:30 pm ET by tmorris1

  2. krichmond | | #8

    Hi Surya:

    Does the current hip measurement of the jeans requiring altering?  If it doesn't, may I suggest an alteration that we used to do on manufactured jeans if the hips fit well but the waist gaped (up to 2") -- very common with figures inclined towards pear-shaped.  We would take the waistband off from the center back to a point just above the center of the pockets.  The waist band would be cut and reduced up to 2" (but no more than this -- and the less required to be taken out, the better the final look).  The fullness in the back yoke would be taken in with 2 darts - each positioned above the center of the pocket as far down the back yoke as the machine would stitch (sometimes thru the flat-felled seam - we used industrial machines- IF the pockets were positioned low enough - then the dart would stop near the top edge of the pocket).  So this could be easily translated to a pattern merely by reducing the overall length of the waistband by 1" and marking in 2 tiny 1/4" (on the fold) darts on the back yoke pieces.  This alteration only works if you need the original fullness in the hips though, plus it will start to cause 'gapiness' in the back area as the dart width increases.  It won't work at all if the back yokes are really short and the pockets are placed high. Hopes this helps.


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