Refashion: Darts + Jeans


I have this regular problem that I can’t seem to find pants that fit in both the waist and the legs. I don’t feel this way, but according to most clothing stores my legs are disproportionately large compared to my waist. I think my legs are fine the way they are, so I’ve been trying to figure out easy ways to alter my jeans.

I’ve taken jeans in from the back seam, but it always looks glaringly noticeable. Susan took some jeans in at the side for me, but I’m too lazy for her sewing skills and for jeans that were only $10. I’ve also tried the elastic approach and making my jeans bigger, but I wanted something easier. Yes. Even easier.

Then I had this genius thought while Chris was complaining of the same thing with his pants. I was pinching and thinking of how to take his pants in, then it dawned on me. DARTS. It’s virtually invisible and takes less than 5 minutes. That’s my kind of fix!

I was so proud of my original idea, then I remembered that I saw it somewhere else way before I thought of it. Liz has two tutorials on how to take in pants with darts. You should check them out. Doing darts is super easy. It’s a little less noticable on pants that don’t have decorative top stitching, but I’m more concerned about the fit and the fact that I didn’t have to do any unpicking in order to get the right fit.

Much better silhouette.

See, I smile when my pants fit right. Also, I smile when I’ve just gone clothes shopping. I went on a bit (for me) of a clothes shopping binge last week. It feels so nice to have new duds!

Outfit Details:

  • headband: handmade
  • necklaces: handmade, c/o Tai Pan Trading
  • top: Forever 21
  • cuff: handmade
  • jeans: Forever 21 (I love their $10 jeans)
  • shoes: thrifted

Do you have a magic brand of denim that fits you perfectly, or how do you alter jeans to make them fit you?

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    1. Rebecca says:

      It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with this fit problem. I don’t think I have a single pair of pants that really fit my legs and my waist. I’ll definitely have to give this a try. It looks easy and fast, which are requirements for me to do almost anything.

    2. Miranda says:

      Literally five seconds ago I told my neighbor that I am going to take in my fave jeans in the back center seam to fix the gaping back. This wins. No unpicking? Count me in! Thanks for sharing your not-completely-original-but-new-to-me idea;)

    3. Kristin says:

      Nah, it just means you have more curves than the standard patterns for jeans. Levis now has jeans based on curves, which is seriously the coolest thing ever. I have opposite problem – if the pants fit in the thighs, then I cant button them up. If they fit in the waist, then I get saggy baggy butt. Most clothing stores marketed for the younger generations bse their patterns on a teen body, which is slightly curved. Levis has a straight fit, a demi curve and a bold curve. Its brilliant – the slight curve fits me perfectly and I dont look like Im wearing mom jeans.

    4. Christine @ Projects Around the House says:

      This is such a good idea! You can’t even tell you made an alteration. I need to do this with some of my skinny jeans. I have to size up in the thigh but then the waist is too big. Now I have a solution!

    5. Sarah says:

      I often have this problem too, and I am petite so it is really hard to find a pair of pants that don’t need to be altered. I like NY & Co pants & jeans, they have petite lengths and they often have a good fit in waist and thighs.

    6. Carolyn says:

      I bought jeans from a knock-off seller (Citizens of Humanity for $30) in Seoul who customized the jeans for you right there in his little stall by doing exactly this–putting darts in the back for me. I’m shaped about the same as you and I always have the same fit problem so I thought it was brilliant of him–and you. Now that I’m back in the US I discovered that Levis recently started this new line called “Denizen” which fits me like a glove. I seriously just bought a bunch of them and wear them pretty much every day because they have a high enough waist (I hate low waist jeans especially since I’ve had three kids, i.e. soft belly, plus I’m bending over a lot). I buy my Denizen jeans at Target.

    7. I think there are loads of gals out there with this problem which kinda makes you wonder who they are modeling jeans patterns off! I finally found a brand that fits me and bought four pairs and have felt so much better wearing jeans since then. You could try Guess – and they were only $60 in my local department store (which in Australia is super cheap!). Thanks for the darts tips – I had totally forgotten about that idea!

      • Melissa says:

        Holey moley, $60 is not cheap here. It’s mid-range. My jeans here are $10. I remember driving a bunch of New Zealanders around outlets in Park City, and everyone was freaking out about how cheap clothing was. I don’t think anyone spent less than $300 on clothes that day. I might have to try guess jeans!

    8. Chelsea C. says:

      Okay, you are ADORABLE in that last photo!

    9. Carolyn says:

      Oh also the guy who did this fix to my jeans used a hammer to pound down the thick waistband after sewing it.

    10. I know Melissa – everything is super expensive in Australia – that’s why I save my shopping for when I visit my brother and his wife in Germany each year – clothes are crazy cheap over there (we even thought Paris was cheap at Christmas and stocked up on loads of clothes there too!). Sounds like I need to come for a shopping spree in your neighborhood too!

    11. Jess says:

      Ahh, awesome. Thank you! I’m forever yanking up my pants at the waist and it drives me batty! I’m going to try this AND try turning a pair of too-loose straight leg jeans into skinnies using the tute I just read over at Cotton & Curls. I WILL have jeans I actually like wearing!! ;)

    12. Mónica says:

      I do this most of the times with my jeans or any other pants if needed, this is a trick I learned from my mum and is so simple and useful!

    13. Caitlin says:

      Oh man, I have the exact same problem! I hate it! I just got a pair of Levi’s “bold curve” skinnies and they fit beautifully – the waist tapers in more than usual and there’s lots of room in the legs. (I then found out – that day! – that I was pregnant, so hopefully they’ll fit me again! haha)

    14. Miriam says:

      Dude, I HATE jean alterations. Can’t emphasize the hatred in my soul. HOWEVER, I do it again and again and again, because I never can find the right fit in any jean I ever buy. I don’t have the legs for a legit skinny, and straight leg usually looks momish/frumpy. I have major tube legs, and so I have to have a litte more in the calf area, but not too much! Hence I’m constantly skinnifying my jeans, and I HATE it.
      I recently found some amazing brand new Banana Republic jeans at Platos (tags still on!), but the waist band was oddly too tight compared to the thighs and but. I freaking took the whole waistand off, added two inches, and then put that sucker back on. It was a pain in my arse, but it turned out so good…
      oh and I totally second the Denizen comment. I have a pair that I really love.

    15. Laura T says:

      Those look great and I’m super excited about this! I’ve actually had that Freshly Picked tutorial bookmarked for the longest time, but I just couldn’t bring myself to unpick the side seams on some black pants that are too big in the waist but fit in the legs. I have yet to find the perfect brand of jeans for me, but I have these Ann Taylor Loft jeans in a modern straight leg cut that seem to be pretty darn good so far.
      Thanks for sharing your refashion!

    16. kristin says:

      Smart lady! I should get some H&M/F21 jeans and give this a whirl; I have the same problem. Who are the twiggy-legged girls that can wear these jeans as-is?

    17. Ruthie says:

      hi melissa. ok random: i *just* did this exact alteration to my saggy-butt jeans a couple weeks ago because it was seriously the ONLY jeans alteration that has worked for me as far as fixing the fit. but. my question for you is, how do you then get the back pockets to lay flat?? i put some darts exactly like yours in a pair of my jeans, but now the back pockets gap weirdly. am i just starting out with jeans that are too big for this to work (thus resulting in a wider dart/bigger bite of fabric), or am i just missing something?? my darts look pretty much exactly the same as yours.

      :) thanks.

      • Melissa says:

        I’ve found that if I taper off the dart as quickly as I can and hide the end of the dart just below the pocket line I don’t get the puckering with the back pockets. I hope that helps!

    18. Lindsay says:

      I was just thinking that I need to take in the waist on my skinny jeans, because I always buy them big so they’re not skintight around my legs. I’ll have to try this. Thanks!

    19. Laura says:

      Oh I love your glasses! Where are they from? xo

    20. Evee M says:

      Levi’s Curve Id jeans are the only ones that fit me well. I don’t think of myself as having a lot of curves, but their bold curve fit eliminates the gaping in the back.

    21. This post MIGHT have tricked me in to pulling out my sewing machine and attempting to fix my jeans once and for all. But then I figured out it would be much more productive for me to just pin this for later. Just. Saying (Smile)

    22. Cybermans says:

      I’m a noob at sewing, but this is great. Just finished taking in some jeans (Old Navy ‘sweetheart’, GREAT for hourglass figures btw) They used to fit me like a boss, but I needed about 2 inches off the waist ’cause I lost some weight- (medication side affect, nothing inspiring) So… this method is fabulous, since I did NOT want to rip any seams and they fit me like a butt-glove, EXCEPT the back pockets were saggy; my darts ran inside them, (each one inch, tapering to about 2/3 inch by pocket) making the mouth(?) of the pockets gape in an unattractive manner. I ended up ripping (blurgh) them halfway off (those sweatshop workers make some sturdy freakin pockets) and re-positioning them. So, y’know, beware and stuff?

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