Adjusting Men’s Pants Waists

I’m going to teach you how to take in men’s dress pants at the waist right now! And the wonderful thing about men’s dress pants is that in the scheme of things taking them in are letting them out is very alterations friendly. Now keep in mind I’m not talking about jeans or like docker pants, I’m talking about dress pants. In fact this pair of pants happens to be a tuxedo pair of pants. Now I wish they would do this for women’s pants, but they really don’t, but on men’s dress pants the reason that they’re alterations friendly is because when you want to take them in or let them out you do so right at the back seam. Butt here, back pants pockets, right here, and what they do is they put a seam right in the waistband. That’s what makes it alterations friendly, and i’m going to show you the magic of this. Our young man in question needs his pants let out about an inch, so that means a half an inch on either side of the seam we’ll be letting out, and here’s how we’ll begin. Go ahead and release the back at the waistband. Now there’s many and varied ways that the waistband and its facing are attached. Just figure out how to get it apart. In this case, we’ve only got a couple of tackings here. Get it separated… Get it separated so that it’s entirely free. Now, whether there are suspender buttons or not, you’ll probably need to release a little further back here, too, by the back pocket. That’s so that you have enough room to move in here. Now you can see once you peel back the waistband and it’s facing and take a good look that this is a continuous seam through the waistband, through the pants, and that’s the magic because now we don’t have to mess around with any detaching of the waistband — no — you simply either let out or take in in one sweep. I’m going to release one more area and that is the manufacturer kind of folds down this area, so I’m just going to pick that loose on both sides. OK, we’re going to be letting out, so that means we’re working on this side of the original seam. If we were taking in, we would be working on this side of the original seam. Let me chalk some lines and you can see. Here you can see how I’ve already begun by half inch marking away from the original seam through the waistband and its facing. Using my ruler, chalking a line. Once I get to the actual waistband where it meets the pants right here I’ll begin to taper to the original seam, and this is what I mean by that. I’m just taking a narrow wedge pie piece, which means I want to eventually end up down here at the crotch at the original seam. If I were taking these pants in, I would do the same thing on this side of the original seam, and that’s what that would look like. How do you know how much to take in or let out in the first place? Wel,l for taking in, you have your subject stand in front of the mirror with the pants the correct way on, you stand in back of him and you just kind of pinch in whatever the excess is and measure it. Ask him what’s comfortable when you pinch in a certain amount, and once they tell you what it is, you measure that in between your thumbnails that you pinched, or how ever you want to go about doing it, because usually it’s a little too thick to actually pin with a pin. So you can learn to eyeball, or you simply grasp it and measure the excess. Whatevere that excess is, it’s x2, isn’t it? Yes, it is! As far as letting out, you really can’t do that, there’s nothing to grasp. In fact, sometimes they can’t zip it up in front because it’s just too tight. So you look and see how much excess seam allowance you have, which we have a decent amount here, it’d be nice if it was a little more. It’s not. Sometimes there’s hardly anything because they’ve already had their pants let our quite a ways. But an inch will usually give a person quite a lot of relief. In the end, ideally you’re going to have about a half an inch to five eighths inch seam remaining if you can pull that off, okay? Let’s set about sewing this. For that matter, since you guys know how to sew, what I’m going to do is not show you the sewing section, I’ll just return here after each step so that you can see the results. By the way, putting one leg inside the other when you go to sew is great for managing the curve of the crotch. I’m back, and here’s the resulting seam. You can see that as I went along I decided to go a little deeper out than what I chalked. That’s because it’s a little hard to draw a straight line with the camera in between your arms…but that’s what I ended up doing having stitched twice for security. I for sure put a pin here wanting to make sure that the waistband where it meets the pants will match up very nicely. I won’t know the result of that until I rip out the old stitching, so let’s do that next. Usually the old stitching is just a chain stitch that once you get practiced at it you can just rip right out, once you get it started. It can hang up like it wants to right here, and then you have to start again. Something for you to practice. Let’s try it together right now. Because they stitched double as well, let me see if I can get the next one started for you — yep, I got lucky and there it goes, wants to hang up in the same spot — oh– good it got going which kind of frees up the other one. See if you can get that to go all the way up. A lot of times it will hang up right here at the top and then you’ll just have to pick it out the normal way. And it turns out to be a decent match here, it’s like maybe a sliver off, so it’s up to you whether you’re going to fix something like that. A lot of times there are belt loops here that you need to replace and then that’s very forgiving if it’s off a little bit here. One last step now. But before that last step, I am going to press this flat open, this seam, I surely am, and get rid of this other chalked seam by using my iron because I have the disappearing press off tailors chalk. Now that this back seam is nicely pressed flat open, all we have to do is tack down this waistband facing, which I’m going to do simply by stitching in the ditch a certain ways, probably from about here to here, okay? In the end, I stitched in the ditch about this far out and that’s the result. So we’re actually finished, but I have one more trick up my sleeve for you. See how when you let out many times the old stitching line still shows. Well, there’s a way to get rid of that. One way — there’s a couple ways — one way is the next time you go to the dry cleaners, they’ll press it out for you with their heavy-duty pressing material. Otherwise, you can do this: Spritz a little water on the area. How I do it is I just spritz a little on my finger, kind of rub it over that stitching line, it’s not gonna hurt the pants at all, even though theyre’ dry clean pants and I just take the iron, and a lot of times it will just press right out or very nearly. Yeah , we got some — we got rid of some of it. So that’s my last little trick for you. And now we truly are finished. Won’t that man be pleased! Oh you


  1. Hello, and thank you for your videos. They are very helpful, but I am a beginner. Do u have any videos or tutorials showing the actual sewing of the new seam. I'm confused about where to start sewing, where to stop, and how to make sure the stitches lock. Thanks in advance

  2. I just found your wonderful tutorials. I'm trying to alter my husbands swim trunks. I need to take in two inches (one) on each side of course. You have many videos on how to do this, I'm just trying to figure out which way is the best way. The trunks have a waistband and a belt loop. There is writing on the inside of the waistband but I'm not worried about that being cut out. Any suggestions? And thank you in advance.

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  4. Hi Phyllis. Your sewing tutorial cut off. Was not able see the middle to end results. Can you please do a another tutorial sewing this technique. ?

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