How to Transform Baggy Jeans Into Skinny Jeans

Skinny Jeans

Having a body like Jack Skellington makes for owning a pair of well-fitting jeans very difficult, especially if most of them come from secondhand shops and you live in a small town like mine—unless you can afford a tailor, that is; over the years I’ve collected too many that wrap around me like a circus tent, so I’ve improvised and made them fit by taking them in at the waist and slimming down the legs.

To complete this tutorial, you’ll need basic sewing machine skills. I was fortunate enough to learn from my mom, an experienced sewer, creating fanciful, award-winning Halloween costumes for our family—so proud of her! If you know of any good tutorial books or videos on sewing machines, leave a comment below to help out others.

What you’ll need:

• loose fitting jeans (clown pants)
• skinny jeans (for the pattern)
• fabric marking tool (I use a black Sharpie marker.)
• sewing machine (I use a 1974 Singer Futura II.)
• thread to match or clash with your jeans
• pins
• measuring tape
• fabric scissors/tailor’s shears (I use cheap scissors.)

Dyeing? What you’ll need (optional):

• fabric dye (I use Rit Liquid Dye: Black. Got mine on sale at Michaels for $2.39.)
• bucket
• mixing stick (I use a metal rod from a leftover political yard sign.)


  1. Turn your loose fitting jeans inside-out and set your your skinny jeans on top, making sure to align the outside of the legs, and not the inside, since that’s what you’ll be trimming away. 
  2. Outline the inside of your skinny jeans with your fabric marker. If you’re worried about marking up your jeans, use a nonpermanent solution, such as chalk or a water soluble pen. I’m using a permanent black marker. I’ll be dyeing these black anyway, so marks won’t matter. 
  3. Pin your jeans on the inside of the line. I don’t like to stop when the machine’s rolling, so I leave enough space from the line so the jeans will pass through the machine with ease. 
  4. Cut on the line you made with the fabric marking tool. 
  5. Start sewing a 1/4 inch from the edge. Be careful, the farther you stray from the sheared edge, the skinnier the jean. Flip it over every once in a while, making sure the thread is tight. 
  6. To tighten the waist, watch this quick video. She does a great job explaining:
  7. Now, turn your jeans inside-out, put them on, and check for sexiness. If you did it right, there will be no gaping holes—unless that’s desirable. 

Now, Dye!

  1. Fill a bucket with hot water, dampen the jeans, and drown them. 
  2. The instructions on the Rit Liquid Dye say to “Add 1/2 bottle dye to 3 gal. HOT water for each lb. dry fabric.” Without weighing, I threw in a couple articles of clothing I found lying around my room.
  3. Stir constantly for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Rinse with warm water until it becomes clear.
  5. Throw it in your washer using warm water and detergent and you’re done.


  1. Some things I might add: patches, chains, slashes, drawings in white marker, and pins. I’ll include photos of what I do at a later time.

The whole process was wicked addicting—I’ll be making my fourth pair in a little bit and will probably dabble in dyeing the jeans different colors. Email me or comment with a link if you make a pair. I’d love to feature your handiwork on the post. Have fun!

Red Dyed Jeans

Dyed Red

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