The 5-minute hack for making elastic waistbands smaller

Updated May 8 2020
Guest post by SonyaG
Psst: Can I borrow those leggings?
Psst: Can I borrow those leggings?

My kid is tall and skinny. She has no butt. Any bottoms that are long enough for her are much too big in the waist. Jeans have those convenient button side inserts, but not leggings. The elastic in the waistband of most leggings is sewn in during construction, and can't be pulled tighter.

However, I found a quick and easy way around that…

How to make an legging waistbands smaller

  1. Cut a small slit in the interior fabric.
  2. Thread a smaller elastic alongside the bigger one.
  3. Pull to desired size, then knot or sew.
  4. A few stitches to sew the cut shut — and you have perfect fit!

VoilĂ ! It's easy, and literally takes five minutes to fix.

how to make an elastic waistband smaller

  1. were your ears ringing this morning or something? I was just complaining about how my skinny daughters new shorts and tights were to big in the waist (she is uber petite).

  2. Depending on your sewing abilities you could also pop open the side seam with a seam ripper and take in the elastic that's already in the casing.

    I really hate threading elastic but I don't mind a little sewing, so this would be way easier for me.

    • Where I live, all the leggings have the whole bottom seam of the elastic sewn into the waistline. (Through the elastic) Sadly, undoing the side doesn't work, unless you deconstruct the whole waist.

  3. That's so simple and now I feel a bit silly for not thinking of it! Thank you for being brilliant, this will make my life so much easier. My kids have exactly the same body type; it seems impossible to find leggings with the right length and right waistband so I just default to the jeans with adjustable waistbands. Now they can have all the cute leggings!

  4. I'm going to be doing this next week. For my daughter's uniform I ordered her size 6 pants and skirts… the pants fit perfect, the skirts are huge and falling off. It really makes no sense since it's the same company and the same measurements. This will help a bunch! Hope it is as easy as it looks! Thanks 🙂

  5. Thank you! My skinny toddler has the adjustable elastic shorts for most outfits but we haven't found any athletic gear that had them. He has to wear nice shorts to soccer practice.My husband is going to love this!

  6. This has been so helpful, I have taken in a pair of leggings and a skirt for my daughter this afternoon using this method. My biggest problem was that I only had really rubbish safety pins for threading the elastic and they unfastened themselves part was round. Otherwise a 5 minute job and with nice results that don't give a bunched-up look to the clothes. I'm left feeling quite domestic-goddess like!

    • Hi!

      I've had this happen before. Just wrap electric tape in a blob around your safety pin. Voila!

      Bye!

      Sonya

    • Get a bodkin at your local sewing store or Walmart. They are so helpful. One end slips on to the elastic and the other has a blunt tip for guiding through the waistband.

  7. I just did this on a pair of pajama bottoms of mine and it worked perfectly!!!! Thanks ever so much!!!

  8. Thanks so much for this post! I did this on about 10 pairs of my kids' leggings. So fast and easy, and it worked like a charm.

  9. How I didn’t think of something as simple as this I don’t know, but you just saved me so much time, effort, and frustration for years to come with this brilliant hack. Thank you!! God bless you!

  10. Having 3 kids which were skinny things always struggled with bottoms fitting the waist. Now 3 grandkids with whom I'm raising, seem as a repeat of skinny, no butt kiddos. Again I bunch up one side of bottoms with stitch or two to keep their pants up. How I never thought of your fantastic way to solve my problem. I did think on my own to pull existing elastic to tighten until I ran into it being sewed into seam. That's when I ran to Google and typed in "How to make elastic waste smaller in childs' shorts". There I found your 5 min hack. Sure to use for many more years to come. Wonderful and fast results

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