How to Take in the Waist on a Pair of Jeans

If your jeans gap slightly or are a little too big at the waist, you may be able to fix the issue by taking in the waist yourself. If you are an experienced seamstress, take in the waistband in the back for a professional look. For an easier sewing project, try taking in the waist on the sides instead. Even if you don’t have the skills or patience to sew your jeans, you can still tighten the waistband without sewing by using an elastic band.

EditAdjusting the Back of the Jeans
Pull the waistband snug from the back and pin it in place. Put your jeans on and pull the back of the waistband with one hand to adjust it to the right size. Pinch the extra fabric of the waistband with your free hand and secure it with a large safety pin. Pinch just below the safety pin to pull out the excess fabric and secure it with a straight pin. Continue pinching and pinning down the back seam until there is no more excess to pin and your jeans fit well in the waist and hips.[1]
Be careful not to catch your underwear (or your skin!) when you are placing the pins.

Try to pin as far down as you can along the seat of the jeans. The further you go down, the less noticeable the transition from the original thread and your new thread will be.[2]

Mark the inside of the jeans along the pinned seam and take out the pins. Take the jeans off carefully. Place them face up on a flat surface and pull the front waistband down so you can see the inside of the back waistband where you’ve placed the pins. Mark along the center of the pinned seam with fabric chalk, making sure that it leaves a line on both sides of the seam. Then, take out the pins.
If you don’t have fabric chalk handy, you can also use a highlighter.[3]

Cut out the waistline stitching between your markings, plus on each side. Use a seam ripper to take out the top and bottom row of stitches along the waistband. Remove all the stitching of the two rows on the waistband between the chalk marks, plus on each side. Leave the stitching along the top edge of waistband and the seat of the jeans for now.
To make sure you don’t rip out too many stitches, try cutting the first and last stitch you would like to take out. Then, pull at the loose threads to take out all the stitching in between.[4]

Remove the belt loop(s). Take off any belt loops between your two chalk lines. To do this, carefully clip away the thread attaching the belt loop(s) to the waistband.
If there are any leftover threads from the belt loop after you remove it, leave them in place. Sewing over these when you reattach it later will help disguise the alteration.[5]

Take out the stitching from the top edge of the waistband and from the center of the seat. Carefully cut the stitching on the top edge of the waistband along the same length where you removed the two rows of waistband stitching. Separate the two layers of the waistband. Use a seam ripper to take out the row of stitching on the inside of the jeans from the waistband down to about below your chalk lines. Remove the corresponding stitching on the outside of the jeans as well to fully separate the seat of the jeans.
It may make it easier and more precise to cut the first and last stitch you would like to take out, and then pull at the loose threads to remove all the stitching in between.[6]

Fold the inner layer of the waistband and sew across it with a straight stitch. Fold the waistband across the center back line of the jeans, the midpoint between the two chalk lines. Fold with the right sides (the sides facing towards the outside of the jeans) facing each other, so the folded edge is facing you. Sew where the new altered waistband meets from the top to the bottom of the waistband with a single straight stitch.[7]
To reduce the bulkiness of the new waistband, you can cut off the extra fabric outside of your stitches. Leave about of fabric outside the stitches. Press the cut ends of the fabric with an iron so they open up on each side of the seam.[8]
You may find it easier to pin where you would like to sew and draw a chalk line as well to help keep you on track.[9]

Repeat the alteration with the outer waistband. Take in the outer waistband, using the inner waistband as a guide. Fold it in the middle, sew it, then trim and press the edges.

Sew the seat of the jeans back together with a single straight stitch. Pin the seat together by turning the right sides (the outside of the jeans) to face each other. Pin along the chalk lines you made earlier. Sew the seat together with a single straight stitch next to the pins.
It may help to take a hammer and pound the original jean seam you are sewing across in this step. This will flatten out the layers of fabric there and make it easier to sew across.[10]
Try on your jeans after you sew the seat to make sure the seams look straight and properly positioned. If anything looks funny, use your seam ripper to take out the seams and resew that section.[11]

Sew topstitching with a single straight stitch on the outside of your jeans. To give your altered jeans the same outward appearance again, use topstitching thread to sew from the existing stitching lines up to the waistband in two rows, matching the stitching on the rest of the jeans. Overlap a few stitches with the old stitch line to make it blend together better.[12]
Using a longer stitch length setting on your sewing machine can make the topstitching look more professional. Try stitch length.[13]
If you have a double needle for your sewing machine, you can also use that to sew both lines of topstitching at once, instead of doing the two lines separately.[14]
If you can’t find topstitching thread, you can also try to use two strands of all-purpose thread at the same time to get a chunkier look that will better match the original topstitching.[15]
If your jeans are very worn along the seat area and the topstitching you put in looks too new and out of place, try roughening it up a bit with a nail file.[16]

Sew the belt loop back on with single straight stitch. Sew the top and bottom of the belt loop back onto the waistband in the center. Be sure to match the thread color of the other belt loops.
It may help to hammer where you will sew first, since you will be sewing through many layers of denim.[17]

EditTaking in the Sides of the Jeans
Put your jeans on inside out and pinch the waist at the sides until it fits. Turn your jeans inside out and put them on. Pinch the waistband on each side until you get the right fit in the waist. Try to pinch an equal amount on both sides so that your jeans will sit evenly after the alteration.
You can secure the pinched fabric with a large safety pin to help you as you proceed to the next step.[18]

Secure the excess fabric on both sides with straight pins. Carefully put the pins in the waistband on each side where you have pinched the fabric, as close to your waist as possible to keep the jeans snug. Be careful not to pin your finger. Keeping pinning down the sides of the jeans where you can pinch out loose fabric. Pin as far down as you would like, depending on how you would like the jeans to fit.
You can pinch and pin just along the waist, down to the mid-thigh, or even all the way down to your knee if you want a extra skinny fit.[19]

Sew next to your pins with a single straight stitch. Carefully take your jeans off. Sew each side of the jeans along the pinned line. Use a sturdy denim needle, a longer stitch length than normal, and higher tension. Go over the stitches again with a backstitch (reversing back over your stitches) at the beginning and end to secure the stitching in place.[20]
Try a stitch length of 2 and a thread tension of 4 to start. If that doesn’t work, you can easily take out the stitching with a seam ripper and try again with different settings. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you are happy with how your seam looks.

Turn your jeans right side out and try them on. Try your jeans on again and check the fit. You can always take your stitching out and try again if there is something off. If you are happy with the fit, but feel like excess fabric inside the jeans is too bulky, you can cut it out. Leave about a border outside the stitching to prevent the fabric from unravelling. Otherwise, you can leave the fabric in.
You can also fold the excess fabric to one side and sew the end down so it lies flat inside when you wear them.[21]

EditUsing an Elastic Band
Pinch the extra fabric at the center back of the waistband. Put your jeans on. Pinch the excess fabric in the back of the waistband so that the jeans fit snugly.
Ironing the waistband before putting your jeans on can help make your measurements and fit more accurate.[22]

Mark each side of the pinched fabric on the inside of the jeans. Keep the fabric pinched. Use fabric chalk or a highlighter to make a small line inside the jeans on each side of the pinched fabric where you will want your new, smaller waistband to touch.

Cut two slits in the inner waistband to allow the elastic through. Remove the jeans and lay them with the front side facing up. Pull the front of the jeans down to reveal the back of the waistband. Cut out a few stitches from the bottom of the waistband below each of your two highlighter marks. Use scissors to cut a slit from one of the broken seams to just before the top of the waistband. Only cut through the inner layer of the waistband. Cut another slit on the other side.[23]
The slit should be at least long to accommodate the elastic.

Prepare a elastic band. Measure the elastic band and cut it so it is slightly smaller than the distance between the two slits on the waistband. Attach a safety pin to each end of the band.
The shorter your elastic band, the tighter it will pull the waistband.

Slip the elastic band through the slits and attach it to the jeans. To do this, attach one end of the elastic band with a safety pin to the waistband outside one of the cuts. Thread the other end of the elastic through to the other slit in the waistband. Attach it to the outside of the slit with another safety pin.[24]
You may need to cut out the tag from the jeans if you cannot push the safety pin through.

Only stick the safety pins through the inner layer of the waistband so won’t show from the outside.

If you want to alter the waistband again later, you can always use a looser or tighter elastic band.

You can also sew the elastic in place with a single straight stitch instead of using safety pins if you want a more permanent solution.

EditThings You’ll Need
EditAdjusting the Back of the Jeans
Heavy duty safety pin

Straight pins

Sewing machine with a strong denim needle

Seam ripper

Marking chalk

Measuring tool

Hammer or rubber mallet

All-purpose thread

Topstitching thread, in a color that matches the stitching on the waistband.


EditTaking in the Sides of the Jeans
Straight pins

Sewing machine with a strong denim needle

All-purpose thread


EditUsing an Elastic Band
2 safety pins

elastic band

Fabric scissors


Seam ripper


It’s best to alter a pair of jeans when it is freshly washed or dried. A pair you’ve been wearing all day will be little stretched out and that can throw off your alteration.[25]
It’s not a good idea to take in the waist more than because it can change the pocket positioning and affect how the jeans fit in the hips.[26]
Don’t try to alter your favorite pair of jeans until you have practiced a bit with other pairs first.[27]
EditSources and Citations
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Today in History for 28th February 2019

Historical Events

1904 – Vincent d’Indy’s 2nd Symphony in B, premieres
1950 – “Alive and Kicking” closes at Winter Garden Theater NYC after 46 performances
1957 – Jockey Johnny Longden’s 5,000th career victory
1982 – ATandT looses a record $7 BILLION for the fiscal year ending on this day
2013 – 28 people are killed and 60 are injured after a series of bombings across Baghdad, Iraq
2016 – Explosion at Severnaya coal mine in Vorkuta, Russia kills 36, including 5 rescuers

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1771 – French Jozef Kinsoen, Flemish portrait painter
1929 – Frank O Gehry, architect (Galleria-Oklahoma City)
1950 – Ilene Graff, American actress (Marsha-Mr Belvedere), born in Brooklyn, New York
1958 – Christine Lathan-Brehmer, German DR, 400m runner (Olympic gold 1976)
1963 – Claudio Chiappucci, Italian cyclist
1970 – Daniel Handler, American writer, better known as Lemony Snicket

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1746 – Hermann von der Hardt, German historian (b. 1660)
1908 – Pauline Lucca, Austrian operatic soprano, dies at 66
1968 – Juanita Hall, actress (Capt Billy), dies at 66
1991 – Guillermo Ungo, member of El Salvador junta (1979-80), dies
1999 – William Talbert, American tennis doubles champ (US 1942, 45, 46, 48), dies at 80
2013 – Bruce Reynolds, English criminal, dies at 81

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Heal Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a commonly-used term for pain in the tendons at the back of the elbow and is often caused by repetitive strain. Although the condition can be painful, it’s usually not too serious. Fortunately, tennis elbow may get better on its own as long as you don’t do anything to worsen the injury. Taking pain medication and massaging the elbow also helps. Always check with a doctor when you first feel pain to check if you have a sprain or have torn the tendon, which requires surgery to repair.

EditResting Your Injured Elbow
Stop doing the activity that caused your tennis elbow. Although tennis elbow can be caused by playing tennis, the full range of potential causes is far larger. Any physical activity you perform that involves repetitive motions with your elbow can cause tennis elbow. It’s important that you stop doing this activity so your elbow heals. Non-tennis-related activities that can cause tennis elbow include:[1]
Lifting or carrying heavy loads

Daily computer and keyboard usage

Sports like basketball or hockey

Plumbing, gardening, or painting[2]

Modify repetitive actions if you cannot stop performing them. In some instances, your tennis elbow may have been caused by an action that’s part of your job or your daily life. If that’s the case, look for ways to modify the activity and cut down on the amount of strain you put on your elbow.[3]
For example, if you work in construction, your job may depend on you being able to carry heavy bags of cement. Try to modify the activity by having someone else help you carry bags or using a wheelbarrow to lug them around.

Rest your elbow for at least 1 week. It’s crucial that you give the damaged tendons time to recover and heal themselves. Do this by avoiding any activities that strain your elbow. Try not to lift anything heavy with your injured arm. If you can, minimize your computer and keyboard usage. Also try to find ways to physically rest your arm as you go about your day, so you don’t put unnecessary strain on the tendons in your elbow.[4]
For example, if you’re sitting on a sofa or in an armchair, keep the elbow elevated on the arm of the chair. Or, if that’s not comfortable, try propping up the elbow with 2-3 pillows when sitting in an armchair.

EditReducing Pain from Tennis Elbow
Wear a forearm brace to cut back on elbow pain. Putting a tight brace around the center of your forearm can take pressure off of the tendons in the sore elbow and the muscles that move your arm. This, in turn, will decrease the amount of pain you feel from the damaged tendons. When you put the brace on your arm, cinch it tight about below your elbow.[5]
Purchase a forearm or elbow brace at any large pharmacy or drug store. They’re usually inexpensive and should cost less than $10USD.

Ask a physiotherapist or partner to help you put on your brace to make sure it’s the right size.

Massage the painful points on your elbow with your other hand. Pinpoint the most tender or painful spot on your elbow. Use 3-4 fingers on your other hand to massage the tender spot with long, firm strokes. Exert moderate pressure, but not enough to worsen the pain. Massage from well below to well above that spot. Do this 1-2 times a day.[6]
You will find that the pain extends to the areas surrounding the elbow, so massage any areas that feel pain.

Use a small amount of natural massage oil to help ease the pain.

Ice your elbow for 15 minutes at a time. Hold a frozen gal pack or any other kind of ice pack directly against your painful elbow for 15 minutes. Do this 3–4 times per day, and space the ice applications out by at least 4–5 hours. Ice will help to reduce the tendon (and muscle) inflammation and will also cut back on the amount of pain you’re feeling. The cold temperatures may also reduce inflammation in the damaged tissue.[7]
You can purchase a gel-filled ice pack at any pharmacy or supermarket.

If you don’t have an ice pack handy, try holding a bag of frozen peas or frozen corn against the elbow.

Take NSAIDs to stop the pain and reduce elbow swelling. NSAIDs—non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications—include ibuprofen, naproxen (found in drugs like Aleve), and diclofenac (found in Cambia and Cataflam). These medications will have 2 effects: they’ll stop (or reduce) your elbow pain and decrease the swelling in your damaged tendons.[8]
Always follow the directions printed on the side of the NSAID packaging. Do not exceed the daily recommended dosage.

Apply a topical NSAID cream to the elbow for a more specific treatment. Not all NSAIDs are taken orally. Drug companies also make topical creams that can be purchased over the counter at your local drugstore or pharmacy. Rub a topical cream directly onto the elbow that has tennis elbow. The cream will decrease pain and swelling, just like the oral NSAIDs.[9]
Follow the directions on the tube of NSAID cream closely. Do not use more cream than directed and apply the cream only as often as the packaging suggests.

EditPromoting Healing with Therapy and Stretches
Practice physical therapy to strengthen and heal your damaged elbow. Physical therapy geared towards strengthening the muscles in your afflicted elbow can help in reducing the symptoms associated with tennis elbow. So, ask your general practitioner if they can refer you to a therapist for help with your tennis elbow. The physical therapist will ask you to perform various exercises that involve eccentric contractions with your damaged elbow.[10]
Eccentric contractions occur when you tense an elbow by lengthening it (e.g., when you straighten your arm).

Stretch your wrist to maintain its flexibility. Gently rotate your hand that’s on the arm with a painful elbow. Pull the hand backward and forwards to stretch out the tendons connecting to the elbow. Also try rotating your wrist in a circular motion 5–6 times.[11] Stretching your wrist will also increase blood flow to the area, which should encourage the painful tendons to heal themselves.
If you feel an increased amount of pain at any time while you’re stretching, stop immediately.

Use a rowing machine after you’ve healed to stretch and strengthen your elbow. Rowing machines allow you to pull your body weight back and forth with both arms. This stretched and strengthens the muscles attached to your elbows. Stimulating these muscles can help prevent further damage to your tendons and help build strength.[12] Rowing machines are available at most gyms.
Talk with your doctor or physical therapist before using a rowing machine. Ask them to show you how to use proper form when you row. If you use improper form, you may damage your elbow further.

EditReceiving Medical Treatments
Visit your doctor if your elbow still hurts after trying other methods. In cases of severe tennis elbow, simply resting the elbow and treating pain with OTC medications may not be enough to encourage the damaged tendons to heal themselves. If your tennis elbow persists for more than 1–2 days, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Also see your doctor if the pain in your elbow becomes extreme or no longer responds to ice and NSAIDs.

Receive steroid injections around your damaged tendons, if recommended. If you have tried a few methods of decreasing elbow pain and they haven’t been effective ask your doctor about steroid injections. Doctors commonly inject corticosteroids into painful tendons or muscles that need to regenerate tissue. If the initial treatment works, your doctor may recommend follow-up injections for a few weeks.[13]
The doctor administering the steroid injection will first inject a local anesthetic so you don’t feel the multiple injections in your painful tendon.

Ask your doctor about PRP injections to your damaged tendon. Treating tennis elbow with PRP—platelet rich plasma—is a relatively new method but it’s largely effective. You’ll need to visit your doctor or a surgeon and give a blood sample to begin the procedure. The surgeon will use a machine to remove the platelets from your blood sample and then re-inject those platelets back into your damaged elbow tendon.[14]
Platelets can heal damaged tissue and should greatly speed up the healing process in your damaged tendons.

The whole procedure should take only about 15 minutes. You may feel mild discomfort during the injection.

Check with your insurance provider to see if this type of procedure is covered for you.

Try shockwave therapy for a noninvasive option. If you—or your doctor—would rather not use injections to treat your tennis elbow, ask them about shockwave therapy. When you receive shockwave therapy, the doctor will use an electrical device to pass high-energy shockwaves into your damaged elbow. This will stop the pain that you’re feeling and will also encourage the damaged tendons to heal.[15]
Since shockwave therapy can be a little uncomfortable, the doctor may give you a local anesthetic first.

If you have severe pain or serious tendon damage, you may need to return for multiple sessions of shockwave therapy.

Consider surgery if other treatments don’t improve your tennis elbow. Surgery is regarded as the last option for tennis elbow, but may be appropriate if the condition has gone on for months without improving. To decrease the pain you feel from the damaged or torn tendons, a doctor will shorten or repair the tendons. This will take several months to heal.[16]
Your general practitioner will most likely refer you to a surgeon for this procedure.

Don’t sleep on the arm in which you’re experiencing tennis elbow. Try to sleep on your back or your side (e.g., sleep on your left side if your right arm has tennis elbow).

If you have any allergies to medications, check the ingredients in any medicated creams to make sure you won’t have an allergic reaction.

Some people have different levels of pain tolerance. Even if you’re feeling a minor pain in your elbow, get it checked to make sure it’s not torn.

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