The Basic Steps to take in a Garment

Sometimes taking in a garment is your best option

I heard on the radio yesterday that gym memberships and exercise routines spike after the Olympics. Once you start exercising, then your clothes don’t fit right, then you have to take them in, but you already spent too much money on the gym membership to take them to a tailor or buy new clothes … Okay, maybe that’s not your story, but work with me here. Why not try taking them in yourself?  What do you really have to lose? It’s not like you were going to wear them anyway. You’re in luck because today I’m sharing the basic steps to take in a garment.

the basics take up a garment
The basics.

If you’re too scared to learn on a favorite garment, then pick up something similar at a thrift shop and practice on them. It might actually cost you a whole $4, and that’s a pretty cheap lesson!

So there’s a bit of good news and a bit of not-your-favorite news in this process. The not-so-favorite news is that this will require trying on the garment, repeatedly and then a few more times after that, too. It’s kind of like editing a paper or project in that way, once you muster the energy to take the next step, the reward of it being the best you have to give is huge!

The basic steps to taking in a garment

The example I’ll be using in the picture is a pair of Gap linen trousers that I picked up at a thrift shop, I will be using the word pants to make this less complicated, but fill in whatever garment you are working on. I would use the word trousers, but that sounds a bit stuffy. 

before and after side
The before and after side view, you’ll just have to excuse the kinesio tape.

The easiest garment to start on if you’re not so sure about this would be a skirt or dress, but again if it’s something you’ll never wear until it’s fixed or if it’s a thrift shop score, then just muster up your courage and go for it!

before and after front
Another before and after picture, from the front.
pinning and trying on

If you have pants that fit you well, then use them as a guide. Make sure they are made of similar fabrics in terms of their stretch and drape. Turn the pants you want to alter inside out and lay them on a table, with the ones that fit correctly over them, to get a general idea of where and how much you need to take in on the pants you’re altering.

Try your pants on inside out. Yes, it looks ridiculous, but you’ll get more accurate measurements.

STEP 1 |  Know that you may pin one leg tighter the other, that’s okay – it allows you decide which one you like better, or if you want to go with a measurement somewhere in between the two.

STEP 2 | Undo the stitching in the hem so you can stitch all the way down the pant leg. You may want to leave the hem at its current length, which is fine, but you still need to take it out now to allow your pants to hang smoothly in the end.

pin both pants legs
Pin the same distance from each original seam on both pant legs.

STEP 3 | Line up the original seam lines with one another and pin through both layers, then pin the same distance from the original seam all the way down the leg.


basting lines
The basting lines stitched between each pin.

STEP 4 | At this point, try them on again. If you’re pleased with the pinned lines then baste (the longest stitch your machine makes) along the line you’ve created. If you’re not pleased, repin areas as needed.

STEP 5 | Try the pants on. Repin as needed and baste.

STEP 6 | Baste stitch the other side, creating the same seam allowance. Try them on … you saw that coming didn’t you?

trimming bulky seams
Trimming away extra bulk to try pants on again to check the fit.

STEP 7 | Trim away excess bulk, this is not a final trim so it can be more than 1/2″

permanent stitch over baste stitch
Permanent stitching line over the basting stitch line.

STEP 8 | Stitch over the basting lines with a permanent stitch. Try them on again.

STEP 9 | Press and trim seams to between 1/4″ and 1/2″

Seams Great
Seams Great is a wonderful solution to provide a smooth edge that won’t ravel easily.

STEP 10 | Finish raw edges of the seam. I opted for Seams Great for the linen trousers because it gives a low-profile finished edge that is completely enclosed.

applying seams great
Slightly tug on the Seams Great, causing it to curl inward around the seam to be enclosed.

STEP 11 | Replace hem or embellishing, whipstitching as needed.

Want some more alteration ideas?

Check out this J Crew sleeveless chambray topexcuse the fuzzy pictures, we’ll chalk them up to a photography learning curve.

And then these steps for hemming fluttery fabrics.

So what will you experiment on? I know you can do it! Take a $4 chance and send us pics!


About Beth Moore

A Christ-follower, wife, mom to 4, lifestyle blogger, seamstress and seeker of daily glimpses of God's grace and redemption.

4 thoughts on “The Basic Steps to take in a Garment

  1. I have “rescued” so many pairs of pants this way! I’ve also made several pairs of jeans into long shorts. I’m tall and like my shorts on the longer side so this works great for me…great information, Beth!

    1. Yes you do – it makes such a nice polished finish! It doesn’t just seem great, it truly is great stuff … see what I did there?! It also comes in black too which is nice for darker fabrics.

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