How to alter the waistband of kids' jeans (without darts!)

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links. For more info, see my disclosure policy.

My 12-year-old daughter has grown a crazy amount this year. She’s always been tall for her age and I expect her to outgrow me by the end of the year (I’m 5’6”, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up the shortest in my family). Last Sunday she was lamenting that she didn’t have anything to wear. I went in to help her and realized she was kinda right, ha! She’d outgrown pretty much everything. So we went shopping!

We started at Savers (our favorite thrift store) and found a nice haul including three pair of jeans. One pair was Madewell and we got them for $5!!!! I love it when the thrift store doesn’t recognize an expensive brand, haha. The other two are super cute, but slightly big in the waist. She doesn’t love belts, so I said I’d alter them.

I didn’t want to do darts because once that’s done, it’s done and I wanted a less permanent solution so we can take it out if she needs. I came up with a way to add an elastic casing in the back and thought I’d put the tutorial here.

How to fix a too-big waistband on your kids’ jeans, with no darts. || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

All you need is a strip of fabric, 2” x 12” and a scrap of 3/4” or 1” elastic, about 6-10” long.

The first thing you need to do is remove the back belt loop with your seam ripper. I removed mine completely, but if you want to keep the belt loop, simply unpick the top of it and keep it out of the way while you sew, then top stitch it back in place at the end. This will be challenging unless you have a pretty heavy duty machine. I don’t like to risk putting my eye out with a broken needle, so I left them off.

How to make a jeans waistband smaller. || Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Next, take your 2x12” strip of fabric and hem the short ends. Then, press under the long ends, 1/4”.

How to alter a jeans waistband, without darts. || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

Pin your strips onto the inside of your waistband, centered over the center back seam and edge stitch them on, both long edges, leaving the short ends open.

How How to alter the waistband of jeans

Take your strip of elastic and attach a safety pin to one end. Thread it through and once it gets to the end of your casing, stitch that end down. At this point, I had Layla try on the jeans and pulled the elastic so they fit how she wanted. Then I stitched the other end in place and trimmed the excess.

How to add elastic to kids jeans.
How to alter the waistband of jeans. No darts! || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio.

If you want a less gathered look in the back, you could remove all three of the back belt loops and make your case go from side seam to side seam. Layla doesn’t mind the gathers, she likes the cute fabrics and they look great when she wears them. This pair is a cute Jennifer Lopez brand boyfriend jean (anyone else watch World of Dance? The girls and I love that show!)

How to add an elastic casing to too big jeans. || PIn, Cut, Sew Studio

I hope this helps some of you! I have used a similar method to fix a case of shot elastic when my son was very young. I just added an extra casing all the way around the inside and put new elastic in that way. If you have other ideas for simple alterations of pants, let me know!


How to refashion clothes for kids and teens.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

I’m a bit … frugal. Ha! We’ve made the choice to be a one income family, so I’m always stretching my creative muscles in the area of “making do and mending”. One thing I’ve always loved to do is to find clever ways to make my kids’ clothing last longer. Especially at these ages when they grow out of things before they wear them out.

Natalie had hung a few things up in my sewing room that were too small for her and we spent about one hour making three new garments out of the old ones.

Natalie is very slender, so when she grows out of things, it’s almost always in length only. We bought her this Christmas dress at Target in December and she only got one wear out of it before it became way too short on her. She wore it once more with leggings, but now that the weather is getting warm, she decided she’d like to turn it into a top.

Here’s a before and after!

Turn a too-short dress into a top!

We created a hi-lo hem, it looks super cute. This was as easy as trying on, measuring, cutting the skirt and hemming.

Upcyle your clothes!

Next up, she had a black knit dress that had also become too short for comfort. This time she wanted to turn it into a skirt, so we cut it off under the arms, made a casing and added elastic.

Turn a too-short dress into a skirt!

Third, we had a romper that we thought would be cute as pants, for Layla this time. It already had an elastic waist, so we just cut it off about an inch above the waist and hemmed the top edge into a ruffle.

Refashioning clothes

More ideas for refashioning:

  • For little ones, turn winter pajamas into summer ones by cutting the sleeves and legs off into shorts and short sleeves. They will have outgrown them by the next winter anyway!

  • Turn leggings with holes in the knees into bike shorts to wear under dresses.

  • When overalls get too short in the crotch, cut off the pants and add a gathered skirt out of cute fabric! Like this.

  • Turn jeans into jean shorts. Here’s a great tutorial!

  • Cut shirts or sweaters open down the center, hem the sides, maybe add some cute buttons, and wear them as cardigans.

  • Add a ruffle to the bottom of shirts and dresses that are too short.

  • Use my tutorial to turn a sleeved dress into a sleeveless one.

These are all the things I can think of right now that we have done in the past to make the kids’ clothes last just another season or two! If you have anything to add, let us all know in the comments :)

Refashioning clothes for kids and teens
How to upcycle clothes for kids and teens.

DIY t-shirt tassel tutorial

A new tutorial is up on the Pin, Cut, Sew YouTube channel and this one contains plenty of family antics as I teach my girls to make cute tassels with their old t-shirts. Tune in and please subscribe to our channel!! I'm discovering there is a whole world of sewing vloggers out there that I didn't even know about! I plan to create a blog post about some of my favorites in the near future. Until then, enjoy making some t-shirt tassels and then tell me, which kinds of sewing projects would you like to see a video tutorial of? 

Cheers and happy sewing! :)


Textured t-shirt Technique and YouTube announcement!

Pin, Cut, Sew is on YouTube, you guys!!! I'm so excited, making videos is suuuuper fun. I had so many ideas when I was trying to get started and I found it helpful to write down a few purpose sentences to help myself focus. Here's what I came up with: 

At Pin, Cut, Sew Studio, we believe:

  • Anyone can sew! Kids included. 
  • Any age is a good age to start.
  • Anyone can sew with basic equipment. 
  • Sewing is cool again! 

Please subscribe to our channel and tune in for weekly how-tos, tutorials, tips and general sewing news! My first video is a fun tutorial on making textured DIY scrappy t-shirt fabric. Enjoy! 

Cheers and Happy Sewing! 

Upcylced t-shirt technique tutorial

Upcylced t-shirt technique tutorial


Upcycle your clothes!

The other day while we were waiting to go to the beach, Natalie came down with a too-small pair of shorts and asked if she could turn them into a bag. Um, of course! She sewed the legs shut, added a strap from another bag she has and used fabric markers to decorate it. It turned out pretty cute! 

Then of course Layla wanted to cut something up and do the same thing. And then of course, Kelby wanted one too, so we chose a t-shirt from Casey's cast-off pile and made him a cool bag too! 

After we made Kelby's bag, we cut the bottom of the t-shirt into 1" strips. Then I let the kids stretch the heck out of it because when you stretch t-shirt strips, they curl up and make yarn! So then they got out the pony beads and made some necklaces and wrap bracelets. Pretty fun! 

Upcycling clothing is so much fun and kids come up withe some pretty cool things. Here are some more ideas I've scouted on Pinterest: 

Be sure and follow Pin, Cut, Sew on Pinterest, I add great ideas there all the time! 

Cheers :)