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How to Take in the Waist of Jeans: 5 Simple Steps

Want to know how to take in the waist of jeans without having to do any sewing? Follow these simple instructions for a perfect fit.

Written by
Erika Schwerdfeger

One simple way to combat the estimated 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste entering U.S. landfills each year is clear: Consume less, and you’ll discard less. Unfortunately, ill-fitting clothes can make this rule a tricky one to follow. But instead of replacing that pair of jeans that needs constant tugging or adjusting, use this hack to get the perfect fit.

While learning how to take in the waist of jeans seems complicated, it's actually super easy. Better yet, there's no needle and thread required to get the job done. Alegria Jimenez, a style YouTuber, shared how to take in the waist of jeans using nothing but elastic, safety pins, and scissors. Yep, that's it.

"We've all bought that pair of jeans, pants, or shorts that fit you perfectly everywhere except for the waist," she said in a YouTube video. "You don't need any skill or a sewing machine for this trick."

After a couple snips and a little patience, you'll have a pair of jeans that fits you flawlessly. Here's how to take in the waist of jeans, according to Jimenez.

How to Take in the Waist of Jeans, No Sewing Required


Roll of elastic (opt for 1” thick, but can be thinner)
Safety pins


1. Measure the Elastic

Jimenez says to start by wrapping the elastic around your waist at about the same place the waistband of your jeans hits. (If they come up to your belly button, wrap there. If they hit at your true waistline, measure there.)

2. Cut Your Denim

Turn your jeans or shorts inside-out and lay them flat. As shown in the video above, use scissors to make an incision in the waistband, in the inner layer only. The cut should be about two inches from the button area. Make sure it's about as tall as your elastic is wide. Once you have your first cut, repeat on the other side of the button. You'll wind up with two symmetrical cuts on the inside of the waistband.

3. Insert the Elastic

Now it's time to feed the elastic through the waistband. To make this part easier, Jimenez says to fasten a safety pin to the end of the elastic that you’ll be pulling. This makes the elastic easier to pull on. Feeding the elastic takes a little bit of patience, but it'll soon be running through the waistband of your jeans. 

4. Trim Excess Elastic

At this point, you’ll have the ends of the elastic coming out of both incisions. Cut the excess elastic so that only one inch is poking out on each side. 

5. Cinch and Fasten

This step allows you to take in the waist however much you choose. Pulling both ends of the elastic cinches the waist, then there are multiple methods you can take to fasten it at your desired size. The fastest no-sew method is to attach safety pins to either side, making sure to get both the elastic and the inner layer of denim when fastening the pin. "I've done this multiple times, and it stays through the wash," Jimenez says.

If you want something more permanent, she says you can sew on a button. "This does require a needle and thread, but trust me: I have zero sewing skills, and it's really easy," she says. Simply sew two small buttons into the inner waistband—one on each side of center. Then, snip holes in the elastic so you can pull each button through.

This hack works for denim bottoms of all kinds—skirts and shorts, included. It's also just as easily reversed. If you ever want to let the waistband out again, you can simply remove the pins and take out the elastic. Since it’s all sneakily hidden in the interior of the garment, there’s no visible change to the exterior (except for a better fit, of course).