All About Pant Alterations

Celebrities seem to look good no matter what they’re wearing. From the red carpet to pretending to be a normal person at Starbucks, even their jeans look tailored. That’s because they are. You can spend your life looking for the perfect jeans, spending thousands on trousers, but until they’re tailored to your body, they’ll never be perfect.

From denim to suiting, twill to linen, these pant alterations are exactly what you need for a fit that’s professional, flattering, and comfortable.


People change with time, and so do our clothes. Sometimes they get a little tear, sometimes you gain a little weight. Whether your jeans are too loose or your trousers too snug, knowing which alterations to use will help you preserve your favorite garments. This will also save you time and money in the long run, since you’ll know which garments are worth saving and which ones should be turned into very pretty dish towels.


Waist Alterations are quite simple in the sense that you can either let them out or take them in. Taking in is the easier of the two, as you don’t have to worry about how much fabric is available. This can be done a multitude of ways, depending on the construction of the garment. Typically, if there are darts, you’d start there. If there aren’t darts, you can either make one or two small darts on the back or take a little in on each side seam.  You can take a pair of pants in roughly 1-2” before you need to consider an alternative alteration. With letting out, you need to take a look at how much fabric is left in the seam. You can only take a pair of pants out if there is sufficient material to do so. You would first rip the seam, carefully, with a seam ripper, and then resew it. On some pants or jeans, you can add a small piece of elastic, but this is for more casual looks and shouldn’t be applied to suit pants or trousers.


Getting caught with your fly down is embarrassing, getting caught with a broken fly can be mortifying. It’s a simple fix, all that requires is a new zipper and a seam ripper to remove the old one.


The rise is the seam that goes from the center back of the waistband to the middle of the crotch. This is an extremely personal alteration and relates directly to your body type and personal style. The rise can hang low, medium, or high and requires recutting, so it does take some time to get this measurement just right. It’s important to note that a rise cannot be increased. You can take a rise from low to high but it doesn’t go back. To raise the rise, try on the pants and pin where it feels comfortable. Sew along the rise, and it’s done.


Recutting is exactly what it sounds like, it’s basically taking the existing garment and recutting a new one from that fabric. This alteration is tricky, and can’t always be done. Similar to taking out a waist, if there isn’t enough fabric there is nothing to be done. To recut, you need to take the seams apart, measure where you want to make your cuts, and then make them! Once it’s all cut, you sew the pants back up. This is one of those times that the term “measure twice, dig once” comes into play. Once you cut this, there’s no going back, so measure twice and sew once.


Tapering a pant leg makes it thinner towards the ankle. This can be a flattering style and is quite in fashion, but it depends on the style of pants. Suits, in particular, should always be in proportion with itself, so a tapered pant leg might look strange with trousers of a suit. Depending on comfort and style, a tapered pant leg can look professional and clean.  To taper a pant leg, you start at the knee and take it in from there on the side seam.


Hemming is probably the most important of the pant alterations since it’s the most common one to be used. This trick simply raises the bottom hem of the pants, which can take a pair of slouchy looking trousers and make them professional pants. Measure how far up you need to take them up, pull them inside out and fold them up. From here, you can either use a slip stitch for a hidden hem or use a sewing machine for topstitching.

Whether you’re rejuvenating an old favorite or tailoring a new garment, these simple pant alterations will have you looking fierce and your garments looking fit. Take your rise up and your waistband in, or create something entirely new! Help your friends and family do the same with our shareable infographic, located below.


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