Altering loose pants into one that fits

alter too loose pants to fitting size

Recycling old clothes and destroying new clothes to look old are ‘the’ trends nowadays, or so says my daughter who is a new convert to alternate fashion. I am up for anything to do with clothes so I didn’t blink an eye when she came up with an old, faded, and very very loose pant belonging to my husband and asked me to make it fit. 

measure how much to reduce for alteration of loose pants

If you are looking for altering your slightly bigger pants you can follow the same method.

It is ok to feel apprehensive; usually pant seams are so watertight you do not even know where to begin. And you have to cut open waistbands and stitch it back so you may want to have nerves of steel if you value the pant too much.

And some extra needles. I lost 2 needles in the process – the pant seams can be brutal depending on the fabric and the amount of patience you have.

When in doubt (whether your machine will sew over the thick seams) just manually move the sewing machine wheel. Don’t risk your needle.

If thick seams are sewn over needles can break

To alter loose pants make the person wear the pants; preferably rightside out as well as wrong side out. The things you have to note are these: 

  1. Is the waist too loose? By how much?
  2. Is it loose at the hips? By how much?
  3. What about the legs? Is it loose or do you prefer it that way?
  4. Does the crotch seam hang loose?
  5. Do you have to shorten the length?

If the waist is too loose you will have to remove the whole waistband, adjust the pant top edge with darts and then cut the extra off the waistband and stitch it up back – which is what I have done.

If the hips area is loose you may want to make the darts at the waist longer or make adjustments by opening up the side seams or the back seam.

If the crotch depth is too long, and the pant is hanging loose there you will have to deal with this. Measure the depth and adjust accordingly. This can happen if you have a flat back – you can shorten the back crotch length. Usually when dart adjustment is done this automatically adjusts the crotch – so after basting try the pants on before making the final stitches. 

I will outline what I did with this loose pant – the waist was loose, hips too and the length was too long.

First take the circumference of your waist and hips. Divide the total circumference  into front and back lengths. See how the measurement on the pants holds up against your body measurements. Decide on how much you want to take off from the pants – with darts and back seam adjustment.

Measure the fullest part of the upper leg to see how it needs to fit near the hips and thighs

The pant was too loose so I had to take in fabric not only on the front with darts but at the back seam as well.

Cut open the waistband and start to remove the stitches at the back seam with a seam ripper – it is a lapped seam with a serged finish inside so have to cut off the serged finish and loosen the stitches.



loosen the waistband

Remove the front belt loops – they have to be removed because they are placed where I will be making the darts.

remove the belt loops

Loosen the stitches of the waistband and bring it all open – till just near the front edge. You need to free up space to sew the dart.

remove the waistband

Mark the darts – I had about 7 inches to take in so made 2 darts of 3 inches each in the front and then adjusted the rest 1 inch at the back seam.

Mark darts on the front and back

To sew the dart it is better to push the pocket inside up – this avoids the bulk. Actually this is not just better, this is the only option I would recommend – unless you like the bulge in the front on either side. It is a little difficult to sew but so well worth it.

move aside pockets when sewing darts for altering loose pants

Sew the dart – I made a long dart because I was too lazy to open up the side seams as the pant was loose near the hip too. And my pant-owner doesnot mind the long dart. Some might not.

changing size of big pants with darts

Sew the back seam back after adjusting the extra you need to take in – remember you have to sew the seam as a lapped seam – it is not difficult to make a new fold after cutting the extra; just use the iron to press the fabric edge and over lap the edge and then sew with two lines of stitches. I bet you can sew it better than me.

remove the seams and then sew back the seams

You have to cut off the extra waistband – with extra seam allowance.

Cut off the waistband

Join the waistband.

waistband - cut edges joined together

Press the seam allowance open.

open seam allowance

Join it back.

Join the waistband to the top edge of the pants


Related posts :How to alter loose jeans; How to sew darts; Common Clothing alterations ; How to alter too tight pants.; 21 Different types of seams; How to sew a pant fly; How to fix zipper problems

And if you are into alternate fashion styles you may want to look at the edgy elements you can adopt in your clothing choices.

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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