Welcome to our guide on teaching you the multiple ways to make your pants tighter. 

You will find answers to these questions and more:

  • How to make pants smaller
  • How to take in pants waist
  • How to make jeans tighter around the bum
  • How to take in pants that are too big in the legs
  • How to tighten pants without belt

Have you gotten a pair of hand-me-downs?

Lost weight?

Found a new fashion style that suits you better? 

Or you maybe ordered a pair of pants online that showed up bigger than you expected? No matter what the issue is, we will help you solve it. 

Take your jeans, slacks, sweatpants, joggers, dress pants or golf pants and learn how to make them tighter.

Table of Contents

How To Make Pants Tighter

How To Make Pants Tighter

Here are three ways to make your pants tighter on your own. If you want the best possible outcome for the look and longevity of your pants, I suggest you take your pants to a tailor and get them professionally tightened & taken in.

Whatever tightening option you choose, be sure to treat your pants properly once finished. Learn how to dry them without a dryer so they don’t shrink and fold your pants or hang them each time you are done wearing them.

Let our guides on how to measure specific pieces of clothing help you. Open these up in a new tab and use as you make your alterations.

Shrink your pants with heat

Total Time: 3 hrs

Cost: $0

Supplies & Tools:

  • Washing machine
  • Dryer
This is a photo of a washing machine to make pants tighter
washing machine
this is a photo of a dryer to make pants tighter

1. Wash your pants in hot water

Wash your pants in hot water.  Hot water is great at shrinking fabric. Avoid washing your pants with any other clothes (how long does a washer take?). Don’t use fabric softener.

this is a photo of pants going into the washing machine

2. Throw the pants into the dryer

Throw the pants into the dryer. Read the label before you take this step and make sure you understand how to use a dryer properly & how hot does a dryer get. If it says do not tumble dry, you risk making them too small in the dryer, even using the tumble dry low setting. Dry them without a dryer them if this is the case (line dry or dry flat.) If it’s okay, then dry them on the hottest setting and make the drying time as long as possible.

this is a photo of pants in the drying machine with other clothes

3. Try on the pants

Try on the pants. Your pants should feel at least a little tighter. Make sure you can walk and run in them. Be aware that this method doesn’t last. The pants will slip back to their original “comfy” shape with wear.

this is a photo of pants being tried on after being tightened by heat

Learn how to shrink the most common fabric types with our how to shrink clothes guide. If you are looking for a specific pair of pants to shrink, these guides will help you. 

Sew in new seams

Learn how to measure your inseam and learn what stitch it is before trying this.

  1. Try on your pants inside-out. Button or zip them up so they fall as they would when you’d wear them. Stand in front of a mirror. Note the areas where you would like the pants to fit more snugly.
  2. Pinch the fabric together at the crotch and down the inseam. Keep the inseam at the edge of the pinched-off area so that the new inseam will be centred.
  3. Check for symmetry. Measure from the inseam to the newly marked edge to the original seam. Measure again from the new inseam to the bottom of the leg. Repeat this process for each pin marking the new inseam. If they don’t quite match, adjust the further-in line outward to make the size of the smaller leg match the bigger one. Make sure your pinned seams are flat as you measure.
  4. Set up your sewing machine. Use thread appropriate for your pants and a needle suited for them. 
  5. Start at the crotch. Keep the pants as flat as possible and completely together. Try an easy-to-remove basting stitch to test the fit first. Press the reverse sewing lever for just a moment when you start to secure your stitch.
  6. Continue stitching. Stitch in a smooth curve along the line of pins and markings that you added. In essence, you are creating a new seam. Try to keep your line straight as you work your way down. 
  7. Fasten off the thread. When you get to the very bottom, press the reverse sewing lever for just a moment to secure your stitch. After fastening off your stitch, repeat the process on the other leg.
  8. Remove the pins. Replace them in their container. If you used many pins, double-check to make sure you didn’t miss any.
  9. Try on the pants. Turn them right-side out. Inspect every seam for imperfections. Move around and mimick all activities you might do in your pants.
  10. Once happy, then finish the new seam. Turn the pants inside out before you do this. Use sharp fabric scissors to cut off the excess. Leave an extra bit of fabric of about 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.3 to 1.9 cm) between the scissor blades and the new seam.

Once done with the pants (on all of these steps) put them away properly so they do not wrinkle. Learn how to hang your jeans, and understand that you must hang your dress pants differently.

And while most pants are easiest to fold, joggers and sweatpants can roll up and be packed away at times.

Tighten waistband by sewing

  1. Remove the center belt loop. Carefully use sharp fabric scissors to cut it from the center rear of your pants. Set it aside and hang on to it. You’ll need to replace it when you’ve finished with the alterations.
  2. Draw the mid-mark. Draw a vertical line in the spot where the belt loop used to cover. Make the mark as straight as you can. Use a ruler or other straight edge if you like.
  3. Try on your pants inside-out. Button or zip them up so they fall as they would when you’d wear them. Stand in front of a mirror. Make a note of how much fabric you need to remove.
  4. Pinch the fabric together at the back of the waist. Make sure you’ve left enough room to breathe. Use the chalk or pencil to mark the edges you’ve gathered on the waistband. At this point, your marks don’t have to be straight. Make sure they’re visible enough for you to see and long enough to complete the process after taking the pants off.
  5. Take off the pants and measure the width to be removed. Unbutton or unzip them. Keep them inside-out. This will allow the outside to look professional after you’re finished with the alterations. Measure half the width of the area to be removed from the mid-mark. Use the chalk/pencil to mark that location. Do the same on the other side. For example, if you need to remove 2 inches (5.1 cm), you’ll place a mark at 1 inch (2.5 cm) to either side of the middle.
  6. Mark the wedge to be removed. Trace a wedge- (triangle-) shaped form starting at the top rear of the waistband. Its length should measure about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm). Connect it to the marks on either side of the mid-mark. Do this with either your tailor’s chalk or pencil.
  7. Rip out some stitches. This will be the area where the waistband meets the yoke (the area just below the waistband). Rip only about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) to either side of the wedge. This makes the sewing process run more smoothly.
  8. Cut the waistband. Place your scissors at the mid-mark and snip the entire band in half. 
  9. Rip the center seam. Use your seam ripper for this step. Carefully remove the center stitches from the waist to the bottom of the wedge. When you reach the bottom of the wedge, tie off the remaining threads to prevent any more unravelling.
  10. Pin the new seam. Hold the ripped areas horizontally. Line up the wedge lines you made with the chalk. Use either safety pins or straight pins. Insert your pins horizontally so that you can easily remove them as you sew. As you pin, make sure the wedge lines and ripped edges continue to match up.
  11. Start at the crotch. Keep the pants as flat as possible and completely together. Try an easy-to-remove basting stitch to test the fit first. Press the reverse sewing lever for just a moment when you start to secure your stitch. Continue stitching. Use the lowest setting on the machine since you’re working with a small area. Move the pants from the crotch to the yoke. Remove the pins as you reach them. Fasten off the thread when you reach the yoke.
  12. Finish your new seam. Use fabric scissors to cut any excess from the edges. Give yourself an allowance of at least 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.3 to 1.9 cm). If you have a serger, secure the seam with that to prevent the fabric from fraying. If you don’t have a serger, use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.
  13. Look for asymmetry and secure the seam. Turn the seamed area right-side out. Make a note of which pocket is farther away from the center seam. Turn the pants inside-out again. Go in the direction of the pocket that’s farther away from the center. Pin it in place, if necessary. Iron the seam in this direction. Remove the pin(s).
  14. Add a second line of stitching. Turn the newly seamed area right-side-out again. Feel the inside for the new seam. Place the edge of the seam under the needle of the sewing machine. This should be about 0.25 to 0.5 inches (0.64 to 1.27 cm). Start at the area just below the (still separated) waistband. Move toward the crotch. Fasten off the thread.
  15. Pin and finish the waistband. Twist each side of the waistband so that the right sides are facing each other. Pin them on the marks you made to either side of the center. This will be where your new stitch will be. Place the waistband beneath the needle of the sewing machine. Start at the bottom of the waistband. Continue to the top. Remove the pins as you sew.
  16. Reattach the belt loop. Line up the top seam on the belt loop with the top seam of the waistband. Pin them together. Do the same with the bottom. Place the top of the belt loop under the needle of the sewing machine. Stitch horizontally across the top. Do the same with the bottom. Remove the pins.

Tightening your waistband may be much simpler than the process above. Sweatpants and joggers use drawstrings to be their main source of keeping the waistband up. This may have simply come loose or fully pulled out in the wash.

How To Make Pants Waist Smaller

To make your pants waist smaller, you have multiple options; some will last only one wear while others will be more permanent. Understand how to measure your waistband, so your decision starts with an exact measurement for best outcome.

  • Use a tighter belt or an object that can replace your belt.
  • Create a new button placement that makes the waist smaller.
  • Use clips on the back of the waist for a quick fix.
  • Replace the waistband with an elastic waistband.
  • Tuck your shirt into your pants and layer a top over it.
  • Safety pin the pleat of your pants.
  • Sew the waistband for a permanent fix.
  • Use a clean shoelace as our belt.
  • Shrink your waistband in hot water.
  • Use suspenders to hold up your pants instead of altering the waistband.
  • Take your pants to a tailor or dry cleaner for the perfect fix.


The fastest way to make loose pants tighter is to shrink the pants in a hot wash and then a hot dryer. The most effective way to make loose pants tight is to take them to a tailor.

The best way to make large pants tighter is to tailor them at home or take them to a tailor. You will most likely need to re-make the inseam and take in the waist.

Make your pants waist smaller by doing one of these things. Tighten your belt or buy a smaller belt. Alter your waistband by taking it in at the sides or back with a sewing machine. Shrink your waistband in boiling water.

Make your pants tighter without a belt by adding clips to the waistband and pinching the fabric to tighten it on your waist. Alternatively, you can tailor your waistband.