A Skinny Jean Is Born: Tutorial

A few people have asked me about my alterations from bootcut to skinny jeans. I have done this with several of my pants and love them a million billion times better post-alteration. You will too. This is not only limited to bootcut…if you have some full on 70’s flares, you can also use this tutorial to save them.

Step 1: try on your pants and with a pin or a piece of fabric chalk, mark on one leg where you want to start tapering (around the knee, usually), and another mark to show how skinny you want to go at the ankle. [having a cute assistant is optional]:


Step 2: with your starting and stopping points marked, carefully (if you’re using pins) remove the pants and turn the pants inside out, moving your pins to the inside. Don’t worry if your markings move a centimeter or two…these are rough measurements and can be adjusted as we move on.

Step 3: Then with your pants turned inside out, sew from the knee pin to the ankle pin at a nice even angle. Start sewing just barely off of the pants and gradually angle onto the pants. This will make a nice taper with no weird tucks or gathers at the knee. [as you can see, my pants are not turned inside out here, but make sure yours are! Also, make sure you do this seam on the inside of the leg. The outside will be much more noticeable!]:

Step 4: try the pants back on with one leg “skinnied” and one leg not. If you are happy with how the skinny leg looks, move on. If not, resew your seam and then try them on again. Once you’re happy with your skinny leg, cut out the extra fabric and secure your cut edge with a zigzag stitch or a serged seam.


Step 5: fold your pants in half and measure the skinny leg against the bootcut leg. Mark where you started and stopped and then do an identical seam on the other leg. Try your pants on and make sure you’re happy with both sides. If you are, cut out the extra fabric on the second leg and secure the raw edge.

And Voila! Skinny Jeans!


A quick note: These jeans were a little bit long, so I considered hemming them, but then once they were done I decided I liked the bunching at the ankle. Plus, I figured I’d be cuffing them occasionally so I wanted to keep the nice professional hem at the bottom that would show when cuffed.

Any questions???

  • Suddenly the hot pink jeans at Goodwill might find a home with me!

  • Gosh, I really just think you are adorable. I think that every time I see your outfit choices! Awesome job!

  • Can you make a tutorial for how to look good in skinny jeans? That's what I need.

  • I did this to a pair of my old Paige jeans (I hadn't worn them in probably 2 years) this weekend and it's like I have new jeans again. Seriously so glad I saw this tutorial from you before I just threw them in my DI bin 🙂

  • I have been wanting to do this forever! I am a beginner sewer so it may take me a few tries. Did you use a regular sewing machine? I am afraid of breaking the needle. This is the 2nd Pin I have clicked on of yours that caught my attention in the last 5 minutes! I should just follow you….

    • Hi Kerri: To prevent needle breakage use a new #18 jeans needle. #16 is ok, but 18 is a nice thick needle. A bit heavier thread would be good too. Heavy fabric, heavy thread.

  • Love this idea – and to think I was going to go shopping for skinny jeans! Not anymore…I will just make my own. Thank you!!

    Kathleen

  • Thank you for the tutorial! I am horrible at sewing but I think I might be able to try this:)

    Xoxo,
    Sara

  • great! I wanna try this with my flare pants….

    thanks alot!!

    http://www.jeanbeltran.info

  • Your blog is so cute and so inspiring! I can't wait to try this to a few old pair of jeans. Thanks!

  • A quick DI trip, some $10 Citizens and your awesome skinny jean tute, I'm a happy camper!

  • I just found your blog through Pinterest and I absolutely LOVE it!! I'll be using this tutorial today on a pair of brown cords! Thank you!

  • I just found your blog via facebook. You've got the BEST style and you are just adorable! I have a sewing machine tucked away in a cabinet and haven't gotten on it in over a year. I see so many fun projects I'd love to try from your blog (all though I am far from experienced seamstress). I will definitely be following along! P.S. I write a food blog if you are interested- Nutritious Eats 🙂
    Take care, Melanie

  • YAY! I was just lamenting the fact that I really don't like most skinny jeans out there, but I am tired of boot cut, and then, like magic, this appears! Now I just need to learn to sew….

  • So fantastic! I just love your blog!! So many fun ideas! I actually grabbed a pair of jeans that I never wear and made them into skinny jeans-who would have thought! 🙂 Keep up the amazing crafting!

  • This is one of the most helpful tutorials! Thank you so much! Now a pair of forgotten misfit khakis have a new lease on life! 🙂

  • nice… I will use this tutorial since I have lots of jeans that I can modify to a skinny jeans. Thanks for the great tutorial.

  • After pinning this tutorial months ago, I FINALLY fixed an old pair of flared jeans and am in love with the results! Now, on to the next two pairs,

  • Sounds great but I have a question. What do I do with the baggy thigh part of the jeans? Real MOM jeans and I'm tired of baggy. Been buying NEW but they fit my waist. THEN they bag on my legs and rear end. I've paid a fortune and all jeans seem to fit the same. Should I just give up and continue to wear stretch skinny leg jeans? I'm short and this is problem with short chubby ladies, which is most of us. 🙂 HELP PLEASE!

  • ro

    With the inner leg seam being a flat feld seam…can you sew up the out leg seam, or does that throw off the grain of the fabric?
    thanks!

  • Yes, you can sew the outside seam, but it is a little less inconspicuous than the inner seam!

  • Hey, great tutorial! Just wondering what you would suggest for pin-stripe jeans? Fell in love with a pair online and was assured they were skinny legs, but alas they turned out to be boots when I received them, and I'd love to save them…

    • I'd just do the same thing and know that your lines aren't going to go straight down anymore….it's the only thing you can do, I think!

  • Thank you, this looks great! I have a pair of jeans that I'm looking forward to altering using this tutorial. Just wondering what you do with the top stitching? My denim jeans have that orangey coloured topstitching on the inside seam…Would it matter if it was only going to the knee or do you topstitch again after the alteration?

    • Years ago I finally broke down and bought jeans thread. Any good fabric store should have it. It looks more yellow than orange, but it matches the ready made very well.

  • Meg

    I just successfully altered a pair of well-loved but very bell-bottomy pants with this! It took a little work to get the angle right and I made a little mistake that I finally decided was going to be fine once I ironed it because it's on the inside (goodness I need to practice sewing more) but the moral is I think I can wear them again and have them look less like they are 6 years old. 🙂

  • This tutorial is the one that drew me to your blog in the first place and I finally had a chance to use it last week. It worked great! Thanks for the info! xo

  • That step #5 (I think) is really important. be sure your left and right leg are taken in the exact same amount. I messed up a loose fitting Yoga pant by rushing, and they look ok but don't feel right because I slopped up the seam going up the crotch. I have been sewing over 50 years. You'd think I would know better!!