Skinny Jean Refashion (Tutorial)

As promised, here is the tutorial to skinnify the calf area of your skinny jeans. I’m a big fan of skinny jeans, but I want ones that are form fitting all the way down my legs — no loose and baggy and calves.

These white jeans from Ross are the ones in question. As you can see, they look okay without alterations, but when you see the before and after at the end, you’ll realize what a difference the alteration makes.

Step 1. (make sure your jeans are pre-washed/shrunk so that no shrinking occurs after you’ve altered them) Try on your jeans, inside out, and mark with a pin the starting and stopping location on the inside of the leg. My starting point was right around my knee, and the stopping location was about an inch from the edge at the hem of my pants (as seen below).

Step 2. Remove the pants and, with a straight stitch (and sturdy sewing machine needle, if you’re working with thick denim), sew a slightly angled line from your starting point to your stopping point. Make sure your starting point is exactly lined up with the original seam, and then gradually angles away from it, down toward your hem.

Turn the pants right side out and try them on (as seen below). If the skinnifying is to your liking, repeat on the second leg. If not, make any changes and then move on.

Step 3. Once both legs are altered, cut off the extra fabric and zigzag or serge your raw edge. And you’re done!
Check out the difference that taking in one inch can make:
And here’s a little closeup so you can really see the difference:

As always, comment or email with any questions! Happy Sewing!



  1. I wish I could sew! Love the pants 🙂


  2. you are so right. it looks so much better. i wish i could alter my clothes and still be comfortable in them (: i'm weird about wearing clothes once i've altered them.

  3. Bri Marie says:

    Must. Buy. Sewing. Machine. You have the best tutorials for refashions I've been in desperate need of.

    Great tutorial!

  4. LOVE. I need to do this to like 3 pairs of my pants, but wasn't sure how. If I'm doing it to colored denim, do I need to use thicker thread too?

  5. Kacie says:

    I need to get a sewing machine. You make it look so easy! But I know if I try I would screw it up…I'm not very crafty. So I will just keep giving things to my mom to fix. lol.

  6. Karen says:

    I've been dying to make some jean alterations since I saw your last post on skinny-fying jeans. Can't wait to fix my regular pants, and my already skinny ones!

  7. kaitlyn says:

    This is so perfect! Thanks for the tutorial 🙂

  8. Chelsea says:

    So, how do you take the pictures of yourself?

  9. genius! cute cute cute!

  10. newpetite says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I tried it once and messed it up totally. Luckily it was a pair from goodwill for $1. The mistake – I wore the pants the right way and and then marked it. Guess thats where I went wrong, will try it wearing inside out and then update you on that.

  11. De España says:

    Love this tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I tried some jeans on the other day that were too baggy in the calf so I didn't buy them, then I told Harrison I bet Merrick could fix them!! So now I may be going back to buy them and fix them myself 🙂

  13. Tina says:

    What a difference. I remember having that w i d e corduroy pants back in my teens. Unwearable any more. So I handsew them from top to bottom into skinnies. And loved them again for some time 🙂

  14. Sarah says:

    Genius…I may need to try this! Is it easy to switch out the needle on your machine for a stronger one?

  15. every time i put on a pair of pants i own i think of this post and wish i could pay you to tailor them like these. you did such a great job (:

  16. Ali garner says:

    i am trying to do this to a pair of my pants and after i pin them, one side of the pants has more fabric than the other. (if that even makes since) but they still fit me. am i doing something wrong?

  17. Ali Garner:

    I wouldn't worry about the difference in fabric on the two legs, as long as they fit you! Keep doing what your doing and keep trying them on as you alter to make sure they fit correctly. Good luck!

  18. I LOVE your blog! Stumbled from Pinterest. Following you…follow me back?

  19. Thank you so much for this! I was able to turn some old flare jeans into some nice new looking skinny jeans with this. I'm very happy with the 'new' clothes I have now and even happier with the money I've saved 🙂 Thanks again!

  20. Kari says:

    I love your blog…so many good ideas. I found out about you on Pinterest and I'm your newest follower. Follow me back if you like:
    xx Kari

  21. Colleen says:

    This is cool. My problem is that the calf area fits and the pants are way too big in the waist/butt area 🙁

  22. I have just recently discovered your blog and am in love! Your family is so cute and you have inspired me to get back to sewing! Loving all your projects (and I see yall are a BYU fans 🙂 I'm off to do the skinny jean! Thanks for blogging!

  23. Anna Marie says:

    I must be old….can't tell that much difference! Sorry!

  24. Melissa S. says:

    I am intrigued. I just bought a pair of white jeans that I thought were boot cut. I didn't try them on because I was with my 18 month old son and was already pushing his limits by peeking in just one more store. I get home and turns out they are a bell bottom cut and huge. They were $11, so I want to make them work. I am a beginer sewer. Would you suggest a more durable thread? My jean is pretty soft, but I am just not sure.

  25. Melissa S: Just use an all-purpose thread and you should be good!

  26. Jessica says:

    I did this with a pair of slacks that I had but my question is that with jeans the inseam is much more visually distinct than slacks and have that outside stitch that you see that other pants don't have. So when you take them in won't it be obviously different? Do you go back over it on the outside to match the stictching higher up? Does that make sense? Lol

  27. Jessica:

    I see what you're saying about the jeans issue. For these jeans, it wasn't noticeable at all (unless you were looking for the transition), but for some jeans it would be much more noticeable.

    You definitely could go back on the outside and match the stitching, like you mentioned.

    Good luck!

  28. Marge Sobieraj Bryan says:

    I bought some jeans that are somewhat flared at the bottom.
    I did this to make them straight. Worked out great.

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