The Jean Genie, Part 1: Turning Regular Jeans into Skinny Jeans

I have the most awful time finding pants. My problem is threefold. I am 4’11”, for starters. I don’t think I’ve ever found a pair of “petite” pants or jeans that is quite petite enough for me. Then I have kind of a big butt. Ah, heredity. Topping it all off are the muscular thighs I have developed from skating. Big thighs are wonderful when I’m actually skating, but not so great for trying to fit into a pair of jeans. The good news? By necessity I’ve learned my way around some DIY jean surgery.

On a recent trip to a thrift store outlet (yay! a thrift store OUTLET!!), I happened upon a pair of boot cut jeans that looked like they might fit. Everything in the store was $1.75 that day, so I took a chance on buying them without trying them on. Glory be! I got them home and they fit! Well, sort of. They fit enough that I could make them fit the rest of the way. As long as I can find a pair that fit in the waist and thighs, I’m pretty happy.

I’ve found some really great boots at Goodwill this fall, but I don’t have too many pairs of pants that will work with them. I decided to not only hem these jeans to a better length, but also turn them into skinny jeans that would work with either ballet flats or boots. In this post, I’ll turn regular jeans into skinny jeans. In Part 2, I’ll show you how to shorten a pair of jeans using the original hem.

Here are the jeans. They fit nicely everywhere but the length. And these are a so called “short.” Look at all the fabric I’d be stepping on if I left them alone. Even if I only shortened them, they wouldn’t look right tucked into boots. For that, I need to skinnify them!



First, put the jeans on inside out.


Beginning around the knee, pull the fabric so that it is snug and pin. An important note: there will be two types of seams on most jeans. You want to work on the less substantial of the two. On my jeans, it’s the outer seam.


Once you’ve pinned both sides, carefully remove the jeans. Roughly connect the dots (lalalalala) of your pins with a washable marker or chalk. This will be your stitching line.


To the sewing machine! Stitch along the red line. It’s like sewing a giant dart, for those who have sewn darts before. I started from the bottom and worked up to the knee area. Pictured below are my last few stitches, which run straight into the factory stitching of the original seam. IMG_3849

When you’ve finished stitching, try the jeans back on (inside out) to make sure everything fits before you trim your seams. Looks good here!


Cut away the excess fabric.


Looky there! Skinny jeans. They’re still too long for me, but we’ll fix that in the next post.




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