save me from shopping
June 21, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Help my jeans fit without feeding me. Is it unreasonable to imagine that I can alter my jeans to fit me?

I've dropped a size or two in the last couple of months. As a result, several of my favorite jeans don't fit me. I'd like to make them fit me, but I don't know how to sew. I do have a sewing machine that is still in the box from when it was gifted to me. Can you point me to any resources that will help me (a novice with little time or handiness skill)? Or should I just take them to a tailor and see if they'll do it? Or should I just bite the bullet and buy new jeans?
posted by motsque to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Denim is really difficult to alter if you don't know what you are doing. A lot will depend on where they are now loose. If just through the waist, that's a relatively easy alteration. If the legs and seat, though, are baggy, it's going to be a lot more difficult to get the fit back with alterations.

I'd suggest starting by finding a good tailor who can first tell you if it's possible to alter the jeans to fit your new size without totally ruining the fit you love. If the tailor thinks it can be done, get a quote for the work and then decide if you'd rather try it yourself or pay the money.
posted by devinemissk at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2010

Buy new jeans. Most jeans aren't constructed to have the waist easily taken in.
posted by OmieWise at 1:17 PM on June 21, 2010

I think you should probably bite the bullet and buy new jeans. Even if you nipped in the waistband an inch or so, you'd most likely get jeans that fit you in the waist but looked weird and baggy/saggy in the butt and legs. You could try taking them to a tailor and seeing what could be done, but my instincts say that it probably will cost close to the price of a cheap pair of jeans anyway.
posted by kataclysm at 1:19 PM on June 21, 2010

I lost 25 pounds or so (180 to under 155), which took about four inches off my waist. I had some suit pants altered, and they just don't look right. On one, I think the tailor just took out an entire belt loop. On others, the pockets didn't look right--they were out of scale, too big. Plus the back pockets were too close together. They didn't hang off my waist anymore, but the crotch didn't fit quite right--too big. Maybe the tailor could have fixed that too, but then the crotch probably wouldn't have looked quite right either. The alterations weren't cheap either.

I'm guessing you're talking women's sizes (men usually talk inches, at least here in the US) and two is somewhat significant. Jeans are even harder to alter than suits--heavy fabric. I'd just get new jeans if I were you. From now on I'll only do alterations to hem the bottoms or do something else minor.
posted by massysett at 1:21 PM on June 21, 2010

Here's a tutorial on resizing the waistband. Craftster is a great sewing resource, and if you get stuck, you can post questions here.

I think that adjusting the waistband will be the trickiest part. Resizing the thighs and legs should be fairly straightforward-- What I do is pull them on inside out, pin away the excess fabric (with the jeans ON, inside out), slip them off, and sew along the pins with the jeans still inside out. Make sure you slip the pins out right before you get to them so you don't break your needle.

Once you get the new seam in, cut away the excess fabric. There's a good guide here with pictures to follow along.

If you do resize them yourself, definitely try on an old pair of jeans first-- you don't want to have your first attempt be on your beloved, perfect-butt pair.

A tailor is definitely an option, and depending on the quality of the jeans, it might be worth it. If the jeans are some that you could easily and fairly cheaply buy in a smaller size, I would recommend just buying new ones-- professional tailoring will probably cost upwards of $25-$30 a pair, and doing it yourself might end badly.

Good luck-- memail me if you get stuck, and I can try and talk you through it!!
posted by karminai at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2010

I'd just take them to a tailor, preferably one who does a lot of work with denim. I found my jeans-friendly tailor by searching Yelp specifically for alterations places that people said were good with denim. As masseysett pointed out, it's hard enough to get good results even if you are a professional, so trying yourself could be a disaster. If you happen to live in San Francisco, I can heartily recommend Young's Alterations in the Mission.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:43 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Been there. For me, it worked to fold my old jeans and put them away carefully before buying new ones. A couple of years later, I wondered why it had taken me so long to donate my old jeans to charity. Now I'm completely attached to my 'new" ones.
posted by bearwife at 1:47 PM on June 21, 2010

Don't try to sew denim. You'll probably break your machine (or at least a couple of needles-->speaking from experience), unless it was designed for it.

I'd say tailor, except again, you're probably going to have problems with saggy butt and oversized pockets.

So another vote for new jeans!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:53 PM on June 21, 2010

Buy new jeans.
To take in the waist correctly, you have to remove the waistband first. Hurts my head to even think about this.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:07 PM on June 21, 2010

Don't try to sew denim. You'll probably break your machine (or at least a couple of needles-->speaking from experience), unless it was designed for it.

I've broken several needles sewing denim. I was making a custom tool bag (of sorts) from the leg of an old pair of jeans, so don't think that old denim = easily sewn denim. ;)
posted by 47triple2 at 2:12 PM on June 21, 2010

Do you have any high-end consignment shops near you? Some of the really good ones have fabulous, broken-in, but totally spotless stylish jeans so you don't have to go through the breaking-in period.
posted by Elsie at 2:25 PM on June 21, 2010

If you have any non-denim pants or skirts that you would also like to take in, it's usually pretty easy to poke a couple of holes in the fold at the top and install a drawstring.
posted by aniola at 3:12 PM on June 21, 2010

Thank you all. I this may have been an inadvertant permission-to-shop question. Will do!
posted by motsque at 8:03 PM on June 21, 2010

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