How to Taper Jeans on Your Own: The Definitive Guide

Three blue jeans

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Jeans are a staple in just about everyone’s wardrobe. But when finding the perfect pair of jeans seems like a battle, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and learn how to taper jeans.

Sometimes, you find the perfect jean color and fabric, but the fit just isn’t perfect. Jeans become more polished and flattering after you adjust their fit. So knowing how to taper jeans is a useful life skill you need to master.

Tapering your jeans can completely alter their look. And the best part is that you don’t need the help of a seamstress to do it. Someone with experience in tailoring clothes may opt for using the inside seam to taper their jeans. For someone with less experience, the outside seam is an easier option to taper jeans.

Tapered jeans are very easy to style. They are perfect for dressy looks as well as more casual outfits. Whether you are a pro or a beginner who wants to vamp up their closet without spending too much, knowing how to taper jeans is a great way to improve your sewing skills and stay in style.

What Are Tapered Jeans?

Every wardrobe should have at least one pair of tapered jeans. Tapering jeans, or any other pants, involves bringing in the leg until it narrows toward your ankle.

Tapered is one of the more comfortable designs for jeans. These jeans are comfortable to wear since they are quite loose on top. This cut is extremely popular, especially for people with a bigger waist or thighs.

The best feature of tapered jeans is their comfort and versatility. This cut is an amazing option for people who want the comfort of baggy jeans, but not its undone look.

Tapered jeans also offer you room to move while still looking sharp. And you won’t have to worry about any jean bulk flapping on your ankles — something very common with wide-legged pants.

Why Taper Your Jeans?

If you think your jean collection is becoming boring and could use a fresh breath of life, knowing how to taper jeans could solve your problem. Here are reasons why you should try changing up your jeans.

Save money

Going to the seamstress can be quite expensive and time-consuming. If you want to taper your jeans, you can do the job yourself using easy to find materials at home. That way, you won’t be spending time and money to visit a local seamstress.

Restyle old jeans

Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans they used to adore but no longer wear because of fashion trends or a change in personal style. If you want to rekindle your love for these clothes, it’s time to vamp them up by tapering.

For example, if you don’t want wide-legged pants anymore, you can restyle your old jeans and wear them again without spending hundreds of dollars on new pairs by simply tapering them.

Great fit

Unlike jeans with boot cuts, which widen at the bottom, tapered jeans become more form-fitting around the ankle. This design is the best option for fashion-forward individuals. It can become your daily staple and will also make you appear taller and leaner.

There’s a wide array of looks you can pull off with tapered jeans. For example, you can try wearing tapered jeans with heels, sneakers, or even boots — the possibilities are endless.

Whether you want to dress up or dress down, tapered jeans can reflect your style well. You can even get away with your DIY tapered jeans at a black-tie event.

Tools You Will Need

Before examining how to taper jeans, you have to pick up a few essential tools first. These items are crucial in effectively tapering your jeans and making you look great.

Sewing pins

Sewing pins are essential to hold the fabric of your jeans together before you sew them together. There are many lengths and thicknesses available.

But choosing a straight pin is a great choice, especially for inexperienced DIYers, since it is easy to attach and remove from your jeans. Try the Dritz 3009 Quilting Pins.

Washable fabric marker

You need to label which part of your jeans you will adjust. To do this, you have to get a fabric marker. Make sure that the pen is washable since you don’t want to end up with jeans that have line markings on them.

The Sewline Air Erasable Fabric Pen is an affordable choice. If you don’t want to buy a fabric marker, you can simply use chalk.

Matching thread

You can’t just use any thread you like to taper your jeans. Notice the thread color on the sewing pattern of your jeans and choose a thread color that is closest to it.

Seam ripper

One of the most important tools in your sewing arsenal is a seam ripper. This tool is used to remove stitches and open buttonholes and seams.

Remember, the unsewing part is equally as important as putting in the stitches. An excellent seam ripper is the Dritz 638 Deluxe Seam Ripper.

Sewing machine

The last thing you want is to end up with dirty stitching on your revamped jeans. There is a wide array of sewing machines available. Choose one that features impressive speed and performance.

This Brother sewing machine is a fantastic option for sewing beginners.


You need a good pair of scissors to cut off the excess fabric of your jeans. Make sure that they are sharp enough or else it will leave frayed areas after cutting.

How to Taper Jeans

Now you are ready to give new life to your jeans. This task involves a series of steps in order to taper your jeans effectively.

Narrow the leg

Although it might sound and feel weird, the key to tapering your jeans is to put them on inside out. This step is important since you will be altering the inside seams of your jeans to make it cleaner.

While wearing your jeans the wrong way around, pinch the excess fabric in the ankle and calf until it becomes sufficiently narrow.

After distinguishing which part you want to get rid of, mark this area with your fabric marker or chalk. You can draw broken lines as you pinch the fabric.

The dots are recommended to run below your knee until the end of the jeans. Ensure that you leave enough room. If not, you might make your jeans too tight for you to put on or take off.

After drawing the lines, it’s time to take your jeans off. Carefully pin together the fabric along the broken lines you just marked. The pins will serve as your guide later on. The pins also give you greater control as you sew.


It is a good idea to use a sewing machine for tapering jeans. Use your sewing machine to sew along the dotted lines you made on each leg. Similar to the marks you made, the stitching should start below the knee of your jeans and end at the bottom.

After you have sewed this section, cut off the excess fabric, including the old seams. Be careful not to cut too close to the new seam you just made. Keep at least a 1/2 inch distance from your new seam.

But the sewing does not end there. At this point, you need to secure the new edges of your jeans so that they won’t fray. A zigzag stitch pattern works best for this step. Don’t worry if you make it messy since it will not show when you put on your jeans.

Adjust the hem

After you’ve sewed the excess jean fabric shut, put your jeans on again. This time, put your jeans on the right way. You will notice that your jeans will fit you better around the knee.

However, the bottom of your jeans may still be quite wide. To fix this, cuff the jeans until the old hem is where you want it to end. Where your jeans end will depend on what style you prefer.

After you determine the desired length of your jeans, pin the cuff of your jeans where you want the jeans to end. Ensure that pins are located approximately the same distance away.

Then, take off your jeans once more and sew horizontal lines on the position of the pins. After, you can proceed to cut the bottom of the pants. Leave around half an inch of fabric below where you sewed the horizontal lines.

To prevent the hems from fraying, sew a zigzag stitch on the inside of the edges horizontally. Then, flip it on the right size. If you want your jeans to look like they were mended by a professional, don’t forget to iron them.

Wear Jeans That Fit Perfectly

Wearing jeans that fit well gives you the confidence to face your day. Now that you know how to taper jeans, dressing up will be much easier.

If you are bored with your straight cut and wide-legged jeans, it’s time to experiment. So get your sewing machine ready. Don’t worry as tapered jeans look great no matter your body type.

Have your own experience in learning how to taper jeans? We’d love to read about it in the comments below!

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