Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DIY: Adjustable waist

Eli is small. OK....... that may be a slight exaggeration, sort of like saying an elephant is big. Eli is tiny. He is 10.5 years old and is about the size of a very slight eight year old. This causes me nothing but problems when I go shopping for pants (don't get me started on swim suits and shorts!) because most clothing manufacturers make their clothing for average sized kids and "average" is getting larger all the time. Some manufacturers do make adjustable waist jeans, but that seems to fade out of usage in the size 10 & up range....... Yes, I can buy the super-skinny type jeans (which are still way too big), but how many pairs of skinny jeans does a kid need??? And non-skinny legged jeans are difficult to find in a slim fit that is actually slim enough that the waist doesn't bunch and create it's own fanny pack in the back of the pant. So, once I find a brand that isn't terrible, I buy it. Unfortunately,  they all require belts and Eli hates belts...... which is why I decided to try to make my own adjustable waist for him. This only really works if you only need to take in 2-3 inches of the waist... more than that and I think you'd need to alter the waist first. The jeans in the photo below were altered originally, by removing the waist band and putting pleats along the inside of the front pockets (I removed about 3-4 inches of waist that way and left a couple of inches just-in-case). Also, I should mention that I am not much of a seamstress which means anyone can do this.....

Here are 2 of the 4 pairs that I added waistbands to. I'm thrilled about this because swimsuits don't usually adjust AT ALL and he ends up wearing a size 4 or 5 so they stay up (which look ridiculous because they are too short).

First I measured between the two side belt loops. 

Then I cut a length of soft flannel with a slight seam allowance and 2 and a bit inches of depth. Enough for a seam allowance on top and bottom and enough so the bottom part could be sewn right below the waistband of the jeans. I then sewed the two ends down. 

Next, I pinned the flannel with the flannel right side to the inside top of the waistband and sewed through along the top seam of the waist band from the outside. I found I had better control of the pant this way, than if I had sewn the flannel side up. I carefully "walked" my sewing machine over the belt loops along the seam that was already there (I skipped the bottom belt loops or they would have been half the depth). 

 Once that was complete, I ironed the flannel down and folded the bottom hem of the flannel under (and ironed it) so that it would be sewn as close to the bottom of the waistband (but not on the waistband) as possible. I also sewed this portion from the outside of the pants (once it was pinned down) and skipped over any belt loops (you could removed the belt loops and sew them back down, but I thought a quick hand seam where I skipped would be faster).

 I tried to either partially remove and then restitch the back "brand patch" or like these, follow the existing stitch line (not well).

Here is the hole from skipping the belt loops, this I just hand stitched closed....

I then sewed in a pair of buttons and threaded some maternity elastic that I found at Walmart for under $2.....

Voila! Adjustable waist pants that actually get worn......


  1. Wow! I am totally saving this post. My just-turned-4 year old little (and I mean little) guy is 30 pounds. almost. We are away on vacation right now and all the swim shorts he's wearing are size 2 and I suspect he'll still be in them next year. I am currently saved by most of his other pants being adjustable but I can see a time where that won't be the case. And I will need this post! Thanks.
    Currently, my biggest worry about him being so little is that he is going to need to be in a car sear long after his friends are in boosters. Did you keep Eli in until 40 lbs?

    1. Eli didn't hit 40 lbs until he was 8 or 9 (he's only 45 lbs now). I moved him into a booster at 6. I couldn't image him still needing a car seat to go on play dates with his buddies. He's still in a booster and will be for the forseable future, although I no longer require it when he travels in other vehicles.