How To Make Straight-Leg Pants Skinny (Tighter at Ankle – With & Without Sewing)

Skinny pants stick to the body and show off its shape, and more often than not, they’re more comfortable than the looser straight-leg alternatives. But skinny pants also tend to be more expensive than straight-leg pants.

Luckily, there are ways to alter the straight-leg pants you own and turn them into comfortable and attractive skinny pants. We’ve discussed how to make straight-leg pants skinny in this post.

Quick Answer

Sewing a new seam may seem like the only way to transform straight-leg pants into skinnies. But there are a handful of different ways you can alter straight-leg pants into skinny pants. You could:

  • Add zippers to the pants
  • Make a pin roll
  • Use an iron-on fusible tape

Transforming regular-looking straight-leg pants into skinnies is easier than it seems. We’ve highlighted both sew and no-sew methods below for your convenience.


How to Make Straight-Leg Pants Skinny (Sewing Method)

If you’re confident about your sewing skills or have pants that you aren’t wearing anyway, follow the steps below to transform them into skinny pants.

Step 1: Gather required items – To begin, grab your pants, a pair of scissors, some pins and thread, and set up your sewing machine.

Step 2: Pin the new seam – Put the pants on and pull the outside seam (the seam close to the pockets) from the bottom of the pants. First, pin the fit at the ankle, and pin your way upward till you reach the existing seam.

Step 3: Create the new seam – Take off the pants and take them to the sewing machine. Sew a seam along the line created by the pins on the pants. Double sewing where the seam crosses the hem is a nice idea since it makes the hem more stable.

Step 4: Finish up – Put the pants on again and see how it looks. Also, take into consideration if it feels right. If you are satisfied with the fit, you can cut the excess fabric off. Make sure you leave between ¼ inch to ½ inch of fabric from the seam to allow the pants to fray naturally. If you find that the seam needs to be closer to your legs, use pins again and sew a new seam. On the other hand, if the fit is too tight, cut the thread and pull out the seam. You can then start over.

Remember that using the outside seam isn’t a must, and using the outside seam can spoil the look of some pants. Additionally, if your pants have a pattern, such as some stripes, then altering just the outside seam will lead to the pattern being pulled to one side. To ensure the pattern remains straight, you will need to alter both the outside and the inside seams.

How Much Ease Should Your Skinny Pants Have?

The “ease” is simply the amount of space between your body and the pants. Getting the ease right is the only way to ensure that the straight leg pants you turn into skinnies look and feel good.

The right ease for the pants is determined by the kind of material that the pants are made from. Here is a quick guide to how much ease your skinny pants should have depending on the material:

  • Woven pants: Woven pants are of many kinds, but the one thing they have in common is that the fabric does not stretch. If the ease is not correct, the seams will experience torsion when you move, which will lead to the seams ripping or coming apart. For this reason, you need to leave marginal ease when you’re pinning or marking the pants for alteration.
  • Demin and lycra pants: These pants can stretch a little, and the fabric is quite durable. Therefore, you should not leave any ease when pinning or marking these pants for alteration. Pinning/marking for a precise fit is the right way to go.
  • Knitted pants: If you want to transform your straight-leg knitted pants into skinny pants, the pants will need to have negative ease. Knitted pants tend to look slouchy, and having negative ease will ensure that your pants don’t look slouchy.

How to Make Straight-Leg Pants Skinny with a Pin Roll

If you want to tuck your straight-leg pants into boots, cuffing your pants into a pin roll is the easiest way to go about it. The pin roll is a cuffing method that makes the pants tighter at the ankle.

To make a pin roll, pull the outside seam of the pants away from your ankle. Then, fold the extra fabric in on itself. As you’re holding the fold, you must begin rolling the hem upwards. This will secure the fold and tighten the pants at the ankles.

How to Make Straight-Leg Pants Skinny with an Iron-On Tape

Using iron-on tape is a convenient method to turn your straight-leg pants into skinny pants. It is similar to double-sided tape, except you place it between fabric and run an iron over it to activate the glue. To make straight-leg pants skinny with iron-on tape:

  1. Flip your pants inside out and pin the area you want altered.
  2. Cut the thread and pull open the seam till the fabric comes apart.
  3. Lay the fabric flat and place the tape where the pins are located.
  4. Apply iron to the fabric according to the instructions by the tape manufacturer.
  5. Wear the pants and see if it needs adjustment. If it does, you can pull the tape off and apply another piece in the correct position.
  6. Cut the excess fabric off to make the skinny pants.

The only catch with this method is that you will need to reapply the tape after wearing the pants a few times.

How to Make Straight-Leg Pants Skinny with Zippers

Like the iron-on method, making straight-leg pants skinny with zippers also requires you to pin the pants where you want to alter them. Follow these steps:

  1. Wear the pants inside out, place the pins, and feel the fit. Ensure that you like the fit and cut the excess fabric off.
  2. Then, measure the length of the cut, cut the zippers to size, and use fabric glue to attach the zippers to the fabric. Apply the glue as close to the teeth as you can.
  3. Remember to position the zipper’s opening at the bottom of the pants, facing the side that’s visible when you wear the pants.
  4. Turn the pants the right side out, and you’re good to go.

What is the Right Hem Length for Skinny Pants?

If the pant length is too long, the pants will bunch up at the ankles, giving it a shabby look. Unless you intend for the pants to look that way, you need to consider the length of the hem.

Straight-leg pants tend to be longer than skinny pants, making altering the length that much more important.

Ideally, the hem of your pants must end at the ankle for a neat look.

Wrap Up

If marking the fit and stitching a new seam seems too complicated, you can use iron-on tape or zippers to transform your straight-leg pants into skinny pants. Making a pin roll is another excellent temporary fix.

What method do you prefer the most? Is there an easier trick you use to make your straight-leg pants look skinny when you’re in a pinch? Let us know in the comments.

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