How to Take in Waist of Pants

heather handmade sewing

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Learn how to take in the waist of pants for a better fit. This works best when the pants fit you everywhere except for the waist.

It’s always hard to find ready to wear clothing that fits perfectly. We all have perfect non-average bodies that need special fitting. (Did you know that celebrities get all their clothing fitted and that’s why their clothing looks better?)

I bought these pretty red corduroy pants for the holidays, and they fit well everywhere except for the waist. The waist was just a tad too big so I took the waist in, and now the pants fit perfectly.

how to take in waist of pants

This technique does not work for pants that are multiple sizes too big for you. This isn’t about taking larger clothing and making it fit you, but it is about taking a pair of pants that almost fits except for the waist.

pants with waist too large

Do you want to learn how to alter clothing? Try some of these sewing projects:

how to take in waist of pants

How to Take in the Waist of Pants


Put the pants on. Pinch a wedge in the center back until you like how the waist feels.

pinch center back of pants

Use a marking tool to mark on each side of the wedge. Feel how far the wedge goes down, usually down to the widest part of your hips, and mark a line across.

mark both sides of wedge

Take the pants off. Check out your marks. Most likely the marks won’t be centered so measure the distance between the marks and use this amount.

waist marking

Seam rip the waistband off of the bands. I like to seam rip at least 2 inches passed each mark for room to work.

seam rip waistband

If the tag is on the center back of the waistband, then you’ll need to remove the tag of the pants. I’ve always removed the tag, and I never replace it.

remove tag

If your waistband is a separate outer and inner fabric, you’ll need to seam rip them so that the waistbands can be worked with separately.

center marks

Find the center back of both waistbands and mark. Remember the total amount you wanted the waistband taken in? Divide it in half and mark that on each side of the center back.

transfer marks inside

Fold the waistbands on the center back and match up the marks on each side. Pin in place.

pin waistbands on center back

Sew along the marks to create a new seam.

sew both seams

Trim off the excess leaving 1/2 inch of seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.

trim off excess

Remember the total amount you wanted the waistband taken in? Divide it in half and mark that as a wedge on the center back seam. Gradually reduce the amount until it smooths into the original seam.

If you have a specific spot where the wedge needs to stop, then that is where you’ll need to stop. I usually mark where the wedge needs to stop and then I do my best to end the wedge there, but sometimes I have to go another 1 or 2 inches to make the transition smooth.

mark wedge out of center back

Sew along the line. Cut off the excess and finish the new seam allowance.

sew new seam, cut, and finish edge

Refold the top of the waistbands and pin together.

press new seams

Topstitch the top of the waistbands to secure them together.

fold and sew top of waistband

Fold the bottom of the waistbands in. Slide the top of the center back of the pants into the waistband. Pin the layers together.

place pants inside waistband and pin

Topstitch the waistbands in place onto the pants. Everything is now enclosed and sewn back together. It’s finished!

sew waistband onto pants

If you make something using this sewing project, I’d love to see! Please share it on social media with the hashtag #heatherhandmade and tag me!

how to take in waist of pants
heather sewing

I believe small sewing moments can create great joy. Find your own “right” way to sew. -Heather

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