How to Take in the Waist of Jeans

August 2023

How to Take in the Waist of Jeans How to Take in the Waist of Jeans

We’ve been there. The seat, the length, the thighs, everything fits just right… but the waist. When cinching with a belt just won’t do, we’re here to help.

Can you take in your own jeans? 

If you’ve got a pair of jeans that just don’t fit your waist right, you can take them in yourself with a few simple steps.

How to take in the waist of jeans

There are a few steps to follow when it comes to taking in the waist of your jeans. All you need is a few supplies, and you’ll have the perfect pair of jeans in no time. 


You’ll need: 


Jeans with a too-big waist

Safety pins


Tape measure

Straight pins


Seam Ripper


Sewing machine

Steaming iron

Top-stitch thread

Sewing thread


The first thing you need to do is put on your jeans and pull them up to the correct position. Bunch the jeans snugly at the centre back and pin them with safety pins. 

pulling jeans into waist gif


 Now turn your jeans inside out and chalk-mark where the safety pins are. Unpin and measure the distance between chalk marks. Divide the space by two to indicate the amount to take out on either side of the centre back (these are your darts). 

chalk interior of jeans


Using a seam ripper, undo a stitch at each end of the waistband, top and bottom. Also, undo the top of the centre back belt loop, three sides of the back patch, and any labels on the waistband interior. 

seam ripper undoing stitches jeans gif


Crease left back leg down its centre. Try to keep the yoke seam straight, and the pocket opened out of the way. 

crease jean leg


Measure half the distance of the dart and pin along the top edge, tapering down the leg. Pound the bulky part at the yoke seam to flatten using a hammer. Repeat the process for the other leg.  

pins down leg of brown jeans


Sew the darts from top to bottom, then hammer towards the centre back. 

sewing jeans top to bottom sewing machine


Take in the waistband by first cutting it at the center back in a straight line.

cutting waistband of jeans


Bring edges together and measure down from the centre cut the same distance as each dart. Pin together and sew. Fold the waist seams back together and press with an iron.

close up of hands sewing bottom of jeans


Reattach waistband, sewing along the top and bottom. Sew on labels, back-patch and belt loop. 

close up re-attaching waist band on jeans


Depending on how much you take out of the jeans, you may need to alter the pockets slightly to make them lie flat. Unpick pockets, flatten out and reattach with a sewing machine. 


Once you’ve taken in your jeans, you can carry on transforming them by distressing them yourself, too. If they’re Levi’s® jeans, take them to your nearest Levi’s® Tailor Shop for personalisation with patches, pins or studs. 

jeans held up with hands

How to extend the waist of jeans?

For jeans that fit perfectly elsewhere, you might want to extend the waist. You can follow our easy steps to extend the waistband of your jeans at home. 


You’ll need: 


  • Extra fabric
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine

Measure your waist

Measure how many inches you need to add to your waistband, and divide the number by two so you know how much to let the band out at each side. 

Make the cut

At the side seams, cut down a couple of inches until the gap at the top of the waistband is correct for however many inches you want to add. The inserts can be a wash of denim that matches your jeans, or you could choose a different kind of fabric to make a statement. 

Sew in your inserts

Place your fabric inside the jeans and pin them. Sew in the inserts at either side, and that’s it! The inserts should look like triangles, and the top of the inserts should line up seamlessly with the waistband of your jeans. 


If you don’t want to sew your jeans, there are a few tricks you can try with good, old-fashioned water.  

Spray the waistband with lukewarm water 

Spray the waistband of your jeans with lukewarm water and pull firmly to stretch them out. You could put your jeans on while the band is wet so that they fit snugly to your body or place a coat hanger inside your jeans to do the job for you. 


Stretch the jeans over an ironing board or the back of a chair. Using an iron or a steamer, steam the waistband of your jeans until they feel damp, and stretch them bit by bit to the desired size.

Wear them in the bath

Yes, really. Run a bath with cool (not hot) water, and sit in the bath with your jeans on. Pull at the areas you want to loosen while in the tub. Keep wearing the jeans for a while once you get out to make sure the denim stays stretched.

What to do with jeans that don't fit anymore?

We already know that jeans last forever, but they definitely don’t fit forever. Rather than throw them away if your body changes size, there are a few things you can do to give your jeans a new lease of life.  

Alter them

Whether you want to alter your jeans yourself or take them to a tailor to get the perfect fit, it’s always worth it to extend the life of an old favourite 

Turn them into shorts

If you’ve got jeans that don’t fit your legs anymore but still fit nicely on your waist and thighs, it’s easy to make DIY denim shorts from a pair of jeans.  

Sell or donate them

Just because they don’t fit you anymore doesn’t mean they won’t work for anyone else! You can break the fast fashion cycle by donating your jeans or selling them. 

Repurpose them

If you’re feeling extra crafty, you could use the material from your denim jeans to create all kinds of denim items, from purses to homeware!  


Rather than heading straight to the shops, you can do loads of things to rescue old jeans, whether that’s altering the waist, making shorts or creating something completely new. If you’re really in need of new jeans, shop our collection of men’s jeans and women’s jeans.