How to Take in the Waist of Jeans with Elastic

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Learn how to take in the waist of jeans with elastic for a quick and simple fix. This alteration is great for getting the waistband of jeans to fit!

Do you ever get a great pair of jeans that fit everywhere except for your waist? Whenever you bend over your waistband gaps a lot in the back. Especially with stretch denim jeans.

How frustrating! This is a common fit alteration and with elastic its really easy!

It’s always hard to find ready to wear clothing that fits perfectly. We all have perfect non-average bodies that need special fitting.

jean waist too big

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.

when wearing the waistband is smoothed out

Do you want to learn how to alter? Try some of these great tutorials:

elastic pulls waistband in

How to Take in the Waist of Jeans with Elastic



Put the jeans on. Pinch the center back of the waist to pinch in excess. Measure from the right back belt loop to the left back belt loop.

pinch out excess

Minus 1 inch from the measurement. Use that measurement to cut a piece of 1 inch elastic.

cut elastic to fit belt loop to belt loop

Prep Waistband

Check for any tags that have been sewn through both layers of the waistband and remove. You’re going to place the elastic through the back of the waistband like a casing so there can’t be any stitches in the way.

seam rip any tags that go through waistband

Behind the right back belt loop use a seam ripper to cut a hole through the inside waistband only. Leave a 1/4 gap above and below the hole. DO NOT cut throught the outer waistband.

Cut a similar hole behind the left back belt loop.

use seam ripper to cut hole inside waistband behind the belt loop

Insert Elastic

Attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic. Insert the safety pin and elastic in the waistband and start pulling in through.

put safety pin on elastic

When the other side of the elastic gets to the hole pin it to the waistband with 1/2 inch coming out of the hole. This will be right behind the belt loop.

pin elastic end just outside hole

Finish pulling the elastic through the waistband until you pull it out of the other hole. Pin it to the waistband behind the belt loop just like the other side.

pull elastic through and pin the other side

Using thread that matches the jeans, sew a zigzag stitch up and down the end of the elastic a couple of times. You’ll need to keep the belt loop out of the way as you sew.

Do the same to the other end of the elastic.

My zigzag stitch is on the elastic and on the edge of the hole.

zigzag ends in place behind belt loop

From the outside there will be a little bit of stitches, but if you get the right color they stitches will blend right in!

zigzag stitch almost invisible

When you look at the pants the waistband will be a little bunched up across the back. Don’t worry, it’ll smooth out when you are wearing it.

elastic pulls waistband in

Put the jeans on and feel how the waistband is cinched in by the elastic, but it sits smoothly across your back.

when wearing the waistband is smoothed out

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 the Waist of Jeans with Elastic
heather sewing

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

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Thanks so much for this! I usually do this stuff without a tutorial and it doesn’t turn out right. This turned out perfect.

Thank you, just what I needed being pear shaped it is soooo hard to get jeans to fit at the waist.

This is a great idea. I used it on jeans that had no belt loops. I measured from 1/2” inside the side seam. I also burned the ends of the elastic, so that it would not fray. Great results.

The elastic looks much smaller than only 1″ from measurement. Maybe 5-6″ smaller than measurement from one side belt loop to the other side belt loop

Thank you, will give this a go! 🙂

This is a great idea! I tried it the other day on jeans that were too big in the waist, and it worked perfectly! Quick and easy. Thank you!

This worked great for me! Thank you so much for finding a simple solution to a very annoying problem!

i would love to see how to downsize jeans waist with elastic!

I have been using this method for a number of years. First saw it in a pair of toddler’s pants. So glad to see others using it. Thanks for spreading the word.

Thanks so much for this great information! I can do the same on my other pants.