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How to Make Pants Slimmer in 4 Simple Steps

Are your skinny jeans still not quite “skinny” enough? You can easily slim them down to achieve the fit of your dreams without taking them to a tailor. Keep reading to find a helpful tutorial on how to make pants fit.

Woman wearing skinny jeans
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Here’s how to make pants slimmer

Note: Pants that already fit you properly in the waist and hips work best for this type of alteration.

Step 1:

You have two options for marking how much slimmer you want the pants or jeans to be. The first option is to put them on inside out and draw a line with tailor’s chalk where you would sew. Using pins in this situation isn’t advisable since you’re likely to end up sticking yourself, or the pins may fall out as you take the pants off.

The second option is to use a pair of pants that already fit the way you want them to as a guide. Lay the properly fitting pants on top of the pair you are slimming, lining up the crotch and outside leg seams, and trace the leg of the skinny pants.

Be mindful of the stretchiness of both pairs of pants. If the skinny jeans you are tracing have any amount of stretch to them, and the pants you are slimming don’t, you’ll need to account for this when you trace the leg.

In both cases, you’ll want to mark your desired seam on the inside of the leg, starting at about mid-thigh. Your alterations will be less noticeable in this location than if you sew the outside of the leg.

Once both legs are marked, you’re ready to sew.

Step 2:

Make sure you are using the appropriate needle and thread in your machine for the type of material you are sewing on. (Denim usually requires a heavyweight needle.)

If you are unsure if you’ll still be able to fit into the pants with the newly slim leg, you can sew first with a longer stitch length. This will make the stitches easier to remove if needed.

Step 3:

After sewing, try the pants on. You should still be able to walk around easily and bend your legs. If you can’t, you’ll need to go back and make the legs a little less slim. Or maybe they still aren’t quite slim enough.

Once you are satisfied with the slimness in the legs, it’s a good idea to wear the pants at least once before making the alteration permanent by trimming away the excess fabric in the legs.

Step 4:

When you’re ready to trim, make sure you leave at least 1/2″-3/4” of seam allowance. This will give you enough to finish the seams.

You can finish the seams however you like, but I think pinking shears are the best option, especially for jeans.

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I haven’t needed this for pants yet, but I regularly hem boxy t-shirts (3 inches!) and taper the sides. Same chalk and try on, same long stitches. It’s so nice to make ready-to-wear fit and flatter, because we can.


Brilliant. I have just taken in 3 pairs of jeans (i’ve lost weight) . Now how to take in at the waist! Any ideas would be appreciated. X


I am a Professional Seamstress and although pinking Shears will work quite well to finish off the newly sewn seam, I prefer to use my Serger. Since I am doing the work for other people, It has to look totally like it did before I started!!

Aloma Cronberg

Instead of pinking shears, I use my Serger to finish off the newly sewn seam. Pinking shears will work just fine if you do not own a Serger.


These jeans were shortened, yes, but one of the legs has been “slimmed.” The legs are laying directly on top of one another, so you can see that one is more than an inch more narrow than the other.

Holly Griffith

Do you adjust the inside our outside seam? My hands have French seams. How do you use this technique with French seams?


It says start at mid thigh – does this mean there is a pouch of material left at the top of the inner thigh up to the crotch? Want to try this but a little confused as don’t want to end up with a type of mc hammer look!!


The idea is not to cut too high up the thigh towards the crotch line as this would/could restrict the movement around the crotch and seat area and top of your thighs. At least for us guys.

I have done many an alterations like these, most cases I’d end 2-3 inches up the in-seam below the crotch line. Only once I had to take up the crotch seam too, and that was on overly baggy US army jungle fatigues from Vietnam era.

Sheri Linehan

Just be careful about the grain lines of the pant legs. Taking in too much material on just the inside leg seam will pull them off grain and your pants will not hang properly. You may need to split the amount between the inside and outside seams.


This is true, but only for overly modified in-seam on pants. I would say up to an inch taken in should be fine…anything more and you’re running in the potential issues you mentioned.


I agree with you


I have a pair of pants I want to take the legs in. I am thin, always was, but I purchased a pair of pants at a thrift store and the pants legs are too big. I don’t own a sewing machine so how do I sew the pants without a machine? Also I have never done this before so in simple terms how can this be done without ruining the pants? So I have to outline the pants or could I just put another pair on top of those pants and cut it as if I am cutting out a paper doll?


Hi Debbie,
if you don’t have the means of doing this yourself properly, I would suggest you take it to your tailor or professional clothes altering business in your area. Yes it may cost extra $$ but the risk of ruining your favorite pair of pants is also lower.

The in-seam alteration may not appear hard but you still need to know what you’re doing. I damaged one of my jeans before I learned how to do it properly.


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