View Full Version : Can jeans be altered in the waist and seat, and still look good and wear well?

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
09-03-2008, 12:21 AM
This is just another random thought in an idle mind, but it would actually help me to know this. I've lost a lot of weight over the past year, and all my old jeans are too big on me.

Would a tailor be able to take them in around the seat and in the waist, and have the finished result still look as good as an unaltered pair? A friend of mine used to buy secondhand 501s and have them altered, and they didn't look good. Whoever he took them to was unable to retain the double seam down the backside, and they looked like a botched job from a home sewing machine.

And if it's possible to have this done, can one trust the tailor's work to hold up as well as the manufacturer's original work did? And this could be a critical factor. I've always like my jeans to fit so that they're considerably too tight when first put on after washing, but then loosen up to a more comfortable feel. During the the first hour or so, when they're still tight, could a tailor's seam be trusted not to split?

If this service exists, it would need to be in L.A., Santa Monica, or somewhere around there.

09-03-2008, 01:15 AM
It's certainly possible, but probably not economically so. Great gobs of labor will be involved.

To do a proper job would involve removing the waistband and the belt loops, making the alterations to the seat and overall waist, re-sizing the waistband then re-attaching it and the belt loops. The seams in jeans are done with what's called a flat-felled seam. They're a bit fiddly to learn initially, but not really difficult. On the plus side, strong thread that won't pop when you sit down is no problem, and a well-equipped tailor will have a selection of threads including Levi Gold and Lee Gold. (Yes, there is a difference, and I have no idea what other brands use.)

If you google on 'custom jeans' you'll find there are people that will make 'em to fit. This won't be cheap either. Over at indidenim.com, prices start at $135, and at mejeans, prices start at $120. (Just two sites near the top of the search results.) But, when they say custom, they mean it - you can select pretty much any combination of styles (classic, cargo, carpenter, etc) and the particular fabric, zip or button fly, and on and on.

09-03-2008, 10:01 AM
My mother in law was a tailor and her stitching was vastly superior to any production-line quality. But the amount of time and labor she would have put into your jeans to make them fit right would be cost-prohibitive.

Dung Beetle
09-03-2008, 11:02 AM
Spectre, we seem to have a lot in common when it comes to fashion! I, too, wonder about getting my jeans altered. Fortunately, mine don't need such a major overhaul…I just want the legs straightened out on all my flares (both of them, that is) and maybe get the waist nipped in so they'd stay up. Every time I think about the cost of alterations, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to just go try Goodwill again…

Freudian Slit
09-03-2008, 11:35 AM
I've never had the seat altered, but I pretty much always have the waist taken in/jeans hemmed--I'm very slender. Nothing goes wrong with it when I have it done.

09-03-2008, 12:15 PM
To do a proper job would involve removing the waistband and the belt loops, making the alterations to the seat and overall waist, re-sizing the waistband then re-attaching it and the belt loops.If you need the waist altered a lot (say, more than an inch), you're also going to need to move the pockets, or they'll be off-centered on your asscheeks.

Frankly, I think it'd be easier and cheaper not only to purchase new, but to build new jeans from the ground up. It takes longer to rip seams than to cut denim (which cuts like a dream with a good sharp rotary cutter).

Hemming is not a problem at all, and is a good cheap way to customize jeans that are almost right. If you have the choice between the right fit in the waist and seat but too long or the right length but not the right fit in the waist and seat, get the too long ones. It's $5 at my tailor's to hem jeans, and I can usually get them done same day.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
09-03-2008, 01:37 PM
Sounds like it wouldn't be worth the trouble. I'm very pleased with what I got from makeyourownjeans.com, and they only charge sixty-five bucks or so. I can see that extensive tailoring would hardly be cheaper.

I did look at some of the other custom jean sites, and, in addition to their being much more expensive, I wasn't impressed. For the guys, they didn't seem to offer us much more choice than we'd find in a store. One particular option I saw on one such site was "coin pocket yes/no". Sure, I'll pay for the choice of omitting the coin pocket, and having a $150 pair of jeans look like they came from K-Mart. I figure that coin pocket choice would cost about $20 by itself.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
09-03-2008, 01:40 PM
If you need the waist altered a lot (say, more than an inch), you're also going to need to move the pockets, or they'll be off-centered on your asscheeks..
Nobody wants off-centered asscheeks. :)

09-04-2008, 08:17 AM
Landsend does custom jeans and Chinos for $80. Definitely a life saver for me because I'm very short-waisted.

I recently had a pair of jeans altered and she did a very good job for $15 (I'm wearing them right now). They look very much like normal jeans with nothing terribly out of place or off-centered. So, yes, it's possible. But -- finding someone to do it that actually does a good job? I think I just got lucky, truth be told.

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