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taking in blue jeans

jnct14 | Posted in Fitting on

Has anyone had any luck taking in blue jeans at the waist? I have 2 pairs of Levis 505s in a size 12 that need to be reduced to size 10 (not because I lost weight, I wish!).

I have tried over the years to do everything from completely removing the waistband to installing darts and I have had no luck. The material is too bulky for darts and if I shorten the waistband at the button hole, it means a new buttonhole and realignment of the belt loops. Has anuyone been successful at this?



  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    I've always used darts, one on either side of the center back belt loop, using a jeans needle or Number 18 heavy duty needle, but recently have tried three other methods.

    If the jeans are too big and happen to be the older style with a high rise, you can remove the waistband completely(detaching the lower parts of the belt loops), cut off an inch or two of the yoke, and then ease it back into the same waistband, which now rests on your hips.  Your high-hip measurement is usually a couple inches bigger than your waist, so the un-changed waistband will rest snugly there.

    Another method, which I learned from some forum or sewing magazine, involved slicing the entire center back from waist to crotch along the flat-felled center seam (after removing the center back belt loop), then sliding it over the necessary amount, and topstitching it closed.  I was surprised that this method completely preserved the center back seam, but soon realized that it left one pocket completely off-center!  I had to take off and re-center that pocket, which was no small feat on corduroy.

    Recently, I've needed to fix too-large waistbands on jeans with stretch because they keep stretching as I wear them.  On these, I use a cotton twill tape or elastic, stitching it on the inside of the waistband in all the spaces between belt loops and using a blue thread that blends with the denim on the outside.

    I hope one of these methods might solve your problem; let us know what works!

  2. wlric | | #2

    My daughter needs to buy jeans to fit her hips, but they are too big in the waist. I don't know what style number she gets. I have had success in taking the waistband off at the side seams, taking in the required amount on both the jeans and the waistband, and then sewing the waistband back onto the jeans. She had one pair that I couldn't do this to because the front pocket was too close to the side seam.
    The side seam is easier to take in because it is not as bulky as the back seam. However, I have taken the waistband apart at the back center seam, placed darts on either side of the center seam in the yoke, made equally sized tucks in the waistband, and then sewn the waistband back on. They weren't perfect, but she liked the fit much better.
    A jeans needle is best, as mentioned above.

  3. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #3

    I do this all the time.  The jeans that fit me best are mens 30-34, I especially like the Dickie carpenter jeans. 

    OK.  I remove the C.B. belt loop and rip out the stitching on the waistband at CB only for 3" on either side.  I take out the entire CB seam to the crotch and about 1" in the inseam.  I do this because it's easier to convert that seam to a traditional seam and keep it centered.  Then I put on the jeans inside out and mark where I want the new stitching and make a conventional seam.  Iron the seam to one side, then top stitch and edge stitch so it looks like a felled seam.  I restitch the inseam and cut the waistband right at the CB seamline.  Now, open up (unfold) the waistband, put right sides together, and stitch a seam taking out all the excess.  Iron the seam open to avoid alot of bulk and edge stitch the waistband back onto the yoke of the jeans.  Put the belt loop back on over the top of the waistband seam.

    I'm on the thin side and the darts always wore the skin off the back hip bone.  I have to say that this is easiest if your removing at least an inch from the waistband.  An inch gives you a 1/2 seam allowance in the waistband seam.  If your taking out less than an inch, then maybe it would be easier to insert an elastic into the waistband, just like the boys jeans now have.

    If you need, I'll attach a photo.   Val

    1. PowellPat | | #4

      Fantastic reply and some great tips!

  4. MaryinColorado | | #5

    All great suggestions ladies!  It is such a chore.  I did something like Teaf5,  removed the waistband completely and put bias binding on the top edge instead.  I have made the beltloops smaller by removing the top part only and leaving the lower belt loops intact. 

     I have a short rise but my inseam is too long for petites so this method works almost as well as the superlowcut, which come just below my waist, lol.  If they are still too large, I take them in at the center back or side seams, depending on style.  (vertically challenged), Mary

    1. jnct14 | | #6

      Ladies - thank you. I am going to try the eleastic because I also have the problem of the waistband stretching as I wear the jeans. My company also just came out with this stuff called Alstretch for the commercial sewing market - it doesn't curl or fray like elastic and it doesn't alligator after washing. I will let you all know how it works as they would love me to be a guinea pig!

      1. MaryinColorado | | #7

        Please let us know how this product and technique work out for you!  My daughter and granddaughter have the same problem with stretching waistbands.  Mary

        1. Elizard | | #8

          I wonder whether this happened when they were being made?

          1. Teaf5 | | #9

            In terms of shrinkage on rigid woven denim, that poster is right on, but I don't that would solve the problem on denim with any spandex in it.

            The waistband on my stretch jeans is cut cross grain, so it stretches and stretches until the jeans slide down over my hips, which are considerably wider than my waist.  I need a rigid waistband to keep them anchored (and to remind me to hold my stomach in and limit my calories!)

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