How to Make Pants Slimmer in 4 Simple Steps

Woman wearing skinny jeans

Sometimes that new pair of skinny jeans fits fabulously, but the ankles aren’t quite tight enough for your taste. Instead of taking them to a tailor to get altered, here’s how you can make pants slimmer yourself and save some serious money.

How to Make Pants Slimmer

Level: Easy

What You Need

  • Tailor’s chalk or a fabric marker
  • Needle
  • Thread

Good to Know This alteration works best for pants that already fit perfectly around your waist and hips.


1. Mark the Legs

You have two options here. The first is to put your jeans on inside out and draw a line with tailor’s chalk where you want to slim them down. Don’t use pins — you’ll either stick yourself (ouch!) or they’ll fall off once you take your pants off.

The second option is to take a pair of skinnies you love and place them on top of the pants you want to adjust. Line up the crotch and outside leg seams, then trace the leg of the top pair onto the bottom pair. (Pro tip: If the properly-fitting pair is stretchier than the pants you’re altering, leave a little bit more room as you trace.)

Whichever way you mark the pants, make the seam on the inside of both legs, starting at about mid-thigh.

Good to Know: You want to mark the inside of the legs because they’re out of sight — no one will notice the alterations.

2. Grab the Right Needle

Make sure you’re using the right needle and thread for the type of fabric you’re working on. For example, if you’re altering a pair of denim jeans, you want a heavyweight needle and thread to take in the leg.

Use a longer stitch length as you sew. That way, if the pants are too tight you can remove the stitches as needed.

3. Try ‘Em On

You should still be able to walk around and bend your legs easily. If you can’t, make the legs a little wider. Right

now your changes aren’t permanent, so make any necessary adjustments before grabbing your scissors to trim away excess fabric.

4. Start Cutting

When you’re ready to trim, make sure you leave at least ½” to ¾” of seam allowance so you have enough room to finish the seams. You can do this however you’d like, but pinking shears are a good option for jeans.

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7 Responses to “How to Make Pants Slimmer in 4 Simple Steps”

    • Margaret @ Let's Learn To Sew

      There are a lot of articles about taking in pant legs. My article was not stolen from this website; anyone comparing the two will see that. Taking the legs in is simple, and there are only a few ways to do it, so the information or steps will be similar.

  1. Brad Elliot

    Ok so I am 45 In shape my legs are skinny and I have no but so I’m trying to dress better so I’ve spent a lot of mones on Jeans 👖 that are right around the bottom of my leg to look better and fashionable but the pants are right through my leg up to my but witch does not look good what can I do

    • Pam Davis

      Check Jennifer Stern-Hasemann’s class on sewing jeans. She has a couple of sections on how to adjust fit.

    • Annie Onymous

      Wtf? This is barely coherent… How are you expecting to be able to successfully follow directions to properly alter jeans when you can’t even communicate what the hell you want??