How to Fix Jean Fitting Problems

Ah, jeans. The quintessential American garment - so versatile that its nearly always listed in capsule wardrobes and lists of essential garments to own. It’s right up there with t-shirts, hoodies, and sneakers. Jeans run the gamut from cheap thrift store find to custom designer brand. They can be the garment you get paint and sawdust and metal shavings on when you’re in the workshop or they can be your go-to for a night out. Most likely you own a pair of jeans- I do...several.

But also, it’s highly likely that your jeans don’t fit you perfectly. Mine don’t. I have the worst time looking for jeans. My waist, hip, and butt are all different sizes and I have yet to find a pair of jeans for less than a small fortune that fit me. For awhile, like most everyone else, I just accepted this as a fact of life. But, one day (while struggling to get into jeans) I thought to myself, “I’m a Maker. I should be able to figure out why/how jeans fit!”

I delved into this new project, which I dubbed “Pants-that-fit = Freedom” and I have learned a lot. And because everyone deserves to be comfortable and confident in the quintessential American garment, I present to you the first in a series of posts about how to take store bought jeans and tailor them so that they fit you perfectly.


First off, we need to understand what fitting problems we have. Enter “The Diagnosing Process.”


Step 1: Put on some jeans without a belt and take a picture. Front and back. It’s helpful to have a friend for this, but you can totally do it solo by taking pictures of yourself in a full-length mirror. We will refer to the picture throughout the diagnosing process


Step 2: Jean fitting problems fall into two categories: either too small or too big. Duh. Wow, really glad I’m reading this helpful post...But for real, this is really all it boils down to. It gets tricky when the jeans are too big in some places, but too small in others. Refer to the pictures below to figure out what fitting problems you have.


Too Tight Problems:

“Too Tight” problems generally manifest themselves in horizontal lines across your legs, hips, and butt. Often you’ll see horizontal lines across the thighs or calves and a pinched or gathered look across the crotch area. Maybe your jeans are too short in the inseam. Also, jeans that have a tendency to hike-up are in the “too tight” category.



Too Loose Problems:

“Too Loose” problems manifest in gapping or sagging. Perhaps your waistband gapes in the back or you have an excess of fabric under your butt or around your legs. Maybe your inseam is too long or the crotch of your pants hangs lower than it should.


Step 3: Tally up the fitting problems you noticed. It can be helpful to print the picture of you in the jeans out so you can mark the areas to be fitted or you can sketch out a line-drawing or (if you’re really into it) create a CAD rendering. Whatever helps you to see the fitting problems.


Step 4: Take a moment to appreciate your body. For real. In the world of clothing and fashion it can be really tempting to just wish that you could magically fit perfectly into ready-to-wear clothing and you can start to see the uniqueness of your body as a problem. But it’s not you who has the problems, it’s the jeans. But not for long…

If any of these fitting problems sound familiar to you, be sure to check out the next post where we start to tackle them on a real pair of jeans! We’ll learn how to hem jeans, take in the waist, and much more.

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