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10 Steps to Letting Out Pants

Learn how to let out pants with this easy sewing tutorial!

By: Ashley Jones, Editor, AllFreeSewing.com
10 Steps to Letting Out Pants
10 Steps to Letting Out Pants
This image courtesy of AllFreeSewing.com

Everyone has that one special pair of jeans that they love, that hugs their curves perfectly and makes them feel chic and confident. Everyone also knows that heartbreaking feeling when your favorite pair of pants no longer fits, whether due to wear, weight gain, or other circumstances. If the thought of shopping for jeans fills you with dread, don't despair because AllFreeSewing has your back! We've created an easy breezy step-by-step guide to letting out jeans and pants so that you can still rock your favorite pair of skinnies or bootcuts in comfort and style. If you're nervous about slicing and dicing your jeans, then this 10 step guide to letting out pants is perfect for you!

This easy-to-follow guide is the best way to transform a too-small pair of pants into bottoms that fit you comfortably and flatter your shape. Perfect as a maternity sewing project, this free sewing tutorial is also great if you've just had a baby or there's just a little more of you to love. We've also included some other wonderful sewing tutorials, such as creating a maternity waistband or turning bootcut jeans into skinny jeans. Stop stressing about shopping for new jeans and embrace your curves with this easy sewing how-to guide for letting out pants.

Materials List

  • Pants or Jeans you are altering
  • Additional fabric in a color/fabric similar to the pants you'll be altering
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Fabric marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Seam ripper
  • Fabric scissors
  • (Optional) Walking foot - This may help with heavier fabrics or thick seams

Letting Out Pants

If the thought of tearing apart your favorite jeans fills your heart with fear, then you'll rest easy with this free sewing guide. In only 10 easy steps, you'll be rocking a pair of comfortable and fitted pants or jeans that makes you feel confident and stylish!

Before You Start

We know you're eager to get to sewing, but here are some things to keep in mind before beginning your sewing project. These tips and ideas are perfect for helping you create a pair of pants that fits your body like a dream! 

  1. This handy sewing guide is for letting out pants specifically at the side seams. You can also let out pants at the back seam as well, which works well for more tailored or dressy pants.

  2. Before sewing, visit your nearest fabric store to find fabric that best matches the jeans or pants that you're altering.

  3. Most jeans are made with a stud or rivet at the side seams. This is to help keep the pockets from ripping. When adjusting side seams, be conscious of side rivets when removing seams and cutting fabric.

  4. Most importantly, remember that you are more than just a size. Moving up or down a clothing size is typical throughout our lives, so embrace your curves and create a pair of jeans that are custom-made to fit your body and flatter your shape.

How to Let Out Pants

In these 10 basic steps, you'll learn how to let out the waistband of your jeans to give yourself a more comfortable and flattering fit. Follow this handy how-to guide for letting out pants at the side seams and rock your favorite pair of jeans with confidence!

  1. Taking measuring tape, measure your waist/hips (where your waistband sits) and subtract the waistband measurement of the pants you're altering. This will help you determine how much additional fabric you need. Divide this number in half. This will tell you how much additional fabric you need for each side seam. 

    For example: My current waistband is 38" and the waistband of the pants I'm letting out is 36". That means I need slightly more than 2" of additional fabric, which is slightly more than 1" per side seam.

    You can also do this by measuring the gap between your button and button hole.

  2. Remove any belt loops that are connected to your side seams.

  3. At your side seams, using a seam ripper, rip your side seams down 2"- 4". If you are altering jeans, do not rip further than the rivets on your side seams. 

  4.  Fold your additional fabric in half. Make sure your additional fabric is long enough to fill the opening of your side seams.

  5.  Lay your additional fabric underneath the opening of your side seams. Using a fabric marker, mark the opening onto your additional fabric. Repeat on other side.

  6. Cut down your additional fabric and finish the edges. Make for each side seam.

  7.  Using your marking lines, line up the opening with your additional fabric. Pin in place.

  8. Try on your jeans to make sure they feel comfortable before stitching anything into place.

  9. Similar to an applique stitch, zigzag stitch the two pieces of fabric into place.

  10. Re-attach any belt loops and you're done. Admire how fabulous you look!

Other Alteration Tutorials

If you've always wanted to turn your bootcuts into skinny jeans, add a maternity waistband, or just create a pair of tailored pants, then you're in luck! These how-to tutorials are great for sewing tips and tricks.

  1. Letting Out Pants - Our readers can't get enough!

  2. Tailoring Pants Tutorial - Great for fitted slacks!

  3. Bootcut to Skinny Jeans Tutorial - Perfect for teens!

Do you have some great alteration tips and tricks? Let us know below in the comments!

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My weight is always fluctuating so these ideas are good to know!

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