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Re-sizing too large trousers?

JeanetteR | Posted in Fitting on

Hello everyone,

Having lost a bit of weight (lots more to go), can anyone tell me how to alter waistbanded trousers like jeans, and also elastic waist ones. They’re all too long in the crotch and around the body, particularly the seat.

Thank you, Jeanette.


  1. JanasSewWhat | | #1

    To take in oversized pants you need to pin them while on your body. Very difficult to do. Find a willing friend. Try pinning the seat or side seams to see if the size is corrected. If you want to shorten the crotch you can either lower the waistband or take in the thigh. Take in the thigh shortens the crotch and takes in the diameter of the thigh. To do this you pin the center back of the leg and the center back of the crotch seam. Pin the leg to see how far you want to take in the diameter. Pin the crotch to see how much shorter you can make it. Pins on leg go this way (I). Pins on center back seam go this way (-). Then take apart the inseam from crotch to ankle. Take a yardstick ruler and draw a line from top to bottom on the inseam on the backside piece of fabric. At the crotch, the line will be as far in as the pins you put on the leg to lessen diameter of the thigh. At the ankle the chalk line will merge in with the old seam. Couple of inches usually at the crotch. Then sew the old front inseam stitch line to the new chalk line. Thus taking in the thigh. This shortens the length of the crotch at the same time.

    1. JeanetteR | | #2

      Thank you for your reply. The fix is hard for me to visualise, but will give it a go step by step, on my biggest pr of capris. The hem is low mid-calf so the final leg length doesn't matter, hopefully this will perfect the technique - these have no side seams and elasticated waistband. Most of my trousers are a compromise fit, as I seem to be short in the front, and longer in the back centre seam back up to the waist. When I've reset the waistband lower, the fit is better but still not quite right, aren't they just the hardest fitting problem because of the three dimensions?, gave up trying to make them years ago. My one brand and style of jeans that fits best, I ended up getting three pairs exactly the same in size 20 (of 2 styles of denim), it was a eureka moment about two years ago when the shorter-waisted jeans were out. The zip is only 5 1/2" but fit exactly up to my waist. The relaxed fit was q tight for a while (thank goodness for lycra), and is now almost needing adjustments!

      1. user-238478 | | #3

        I recently lost over 100 lbs... and went thru many sizes of clothing in the process...from 20W to my present size 8.  I thought about altering... but I would never be able to keep up with the changes I was going through.  I bought gently used jeans, and other items from e-Bay.  I did take in a few things that were favorites  but nothing more than a quick tuck or back dart to eliminate some fullness. 

        It is difficult to get excellent fit through the shoulders and bust -- and women's pants/slacks just are not constructed for ease in alterations  No seam at the CB waistband.    Jeans in my opinion are just not worth all the trouble to take apart...  lots of seams, hardware etc. to work around.

        If you are changing that much, I would recommend highly my approach. I was able to donate the things that got too big after only wearing them a couple of months. 



        1. JeanetteR | | #4

          NancyR., Thanks for your reply!My trusty sewing machine is an Elna, it was the top of the line 25 years ago, is this why you're Elna-Nancy?Well done with your weight loss, and that great suggestion about eBaying clothes. Sizes and fit of different brands vary incredibly much though, so it's really difficult without first trying on. My tops range from 16-24s! Being such a hoarder my wardrobe probably has enough in each size to manage with, but some of the fabrics are really nice, so some items will be worth recutting. When I hit those mainstream sizes again and the sales are on... by next Christmas it's my hope that friends will have to do a double-take to check it's me! Even at the upper level of my 'correct weight-range' drafted Burda patterns needed extra in the hips for straight skirts - probably a Vogue 14 or 16, (40 odd " in the hips, don't know what size that is in the US?)so I don't hold much hope of ever getting to size 8. I really can see a slightly slimmer profile and a little less double chin, now 9 kgs off (about 20 lbs), literally another 40kgs to go, but hey, that's 20% of the target.

          1. user-238478 | | #5

            I just had another thought about how to treat some of the better and /or more favorite items in your wardrobe... Don't alter them to fit one or two sizes smaller.. wait till there is a significant change and take them apart and use the sections to cut brand-new garment pieces and sew like from new...

            The above of course assumes you are making big changes.  Just a thought...


          2. JeanetteR | | #6

            That's a great idea, as we only have a bit more summer left, a month or six weeks. So summer favourites can wait till September.From some of the other discussions on 'Patterns' Burda sounds the best fit for my shape for completely recutting.Thanks for reply, significant change is what's needed! Jeanette

          3. Cathie | | #7

            On this subject, I am a Plus lady, and will be staying that way, but making sure I am fit, and muscular. I do buy gently used RTW (and RTW rarely fits very well, especially for curvier ladies, as they are made to fit a more regular figure - easier for them). If I come across a really lovely item, it can be re-cut, or modified (ie. a silk polka dot skirt from Bianca N. will be made into a shorter (though still circular) skirt, as thus the waist becomes larger. A really fun pattern co. is Pavelka Design, from Gibson, B.C., Canada. These clothes are made of squares, rectangles of fabrics, and are shaped like early 20 century clothes. Very funky and fun, and wonderful for smaller pieces of fabrics, also for children. Happy sewing.

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