Meatball Tailoring: Taking in the waist

Today’s tutorial is a little different.  The actual taking in of the waist of a pair of pants is fairly simple.  But there are a lot of different ways to approach it, depending on how professional you want it done and the type of pants you are working on.  I will also say that this is one of the more unorthodox things I do, so it may not be the way everyone goes about taking in the waist.

First thing you need to know is that you should be using a thicker needle than you use to taper/slim.  I use a 70/10 for those jobs, but I like a thicker needle for taking in the waist because you’re usually going through more material and the smaller needle will break easier.

If you’re working on a pair of trousers like chinos or slacks, I would go right down the middle (Jeans will be after this section):

You’ll end up losing the center seam, but I find that it’s not that noticeable.  Also, with this pair, you can see that there is no center belt loop.  I always prefer that because when you have a center belt loop, you have to make a choice:  You can either lose it altogether, or you can remove it and reattach it.  Each pair of pants is different.  

On this pair, the bottom of the belt loop is sewn directly onto the pants, and the top is between the waist material.  For that, you just open the waist, detach the top, and detach the bottom.  Once you’re done, you reattach in the same manner.  Sometimes you’ll find belt loops where both are tucked into the waist on top and bottom.  Those can be a lot trickier.  It’s up to you on whether or not you want to salvage the belt loop or not.

You also have a choice when taking it in between easy and hard:

1) the easy way is to sew straight through the material in the waist.  You’ll blast through it with a heavy needle.  The problem is that on the inside, there will be the excess material, even after you cut it.  It’s really not visible to anyone, so this is the one I go with.

2) The hard way is to open the waistband, unfold it, then sew the excess out, cut the excess, fold it back over and reattach it.  This is a lot easier for something like suit pants and slacks, since the waist will be only lightly attached in the back since they know you will probably need to make adjustments.

Okay, so once you decide on your methods, try the pants on inside out, grab the excess fabric down the center seam, and pin it.  Make sure you like how it fits.  Take off the pants, and then, using your easy/hard method, sew the new center seam.  You’ll want to sew a straight line until you get to the end of the waistband.  Once you reach the seat of your pants, I like to start to taper my way back to the original seam.  Make it a gradual turn.  Cut the excess fabric, leaving a little extra.

Congratulations.  You are done.  Keep in mind you don’t want to take out too much because you don’t want the back pockets to be too close together.  However, with creative tapering in the seat, you can take out a fair amount in the waist while keeping the pockets separate.

For jeans, I find that losing the middle seam on jeans is very noticeable.  I like to go on the sides:


I tend to split the difference between each seam.  It’s essentially the same as doing down the center seam.  If you only have a little bit to take out, try to end your taper before the horizontal seam before the pocket.  If you go beyond that, it’ll throw it off some since you’ll not be able to get them even.  If you have to go beyond that point, because you have more material to take out, you just have to make sure that you taper until you run off the fabric.  Make sure you do this before you reach the bottom of the pocket.  As long as you don’t hit the bottom of the pocket, you won’t even notice it.

After you do the taper, you can cut the excess fabric, leaving a little bit of extra.

I don’t really suggest doing the side seams on chinos because I found that it creates a bubbling/buckling in the pocket.  A patch pocket like jeans doesn’t have the same problem.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s tutorials.  If you have any questions, drop me a line.

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