How to Turn Flare Jeans Into Straight Leg Jeans

Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Budget Ideas, DIY | 4 comments

flare jeansHere lie the offending flare pants.  I used to watch Three’s Company way back when, and Janet would have rocked these jeans.  I inherited these from my sis, who periodically sends me a box of her castoffs.  New clothes for me are not even in our budget, so I am eager to get hand-me-downs whenever they are offered.  Okay, so flare is out, right?  No matter, this style has never flattered my figure, and the same goes for super skinny jeans (who wants to look like they are wearing a diaper anyway?)  Straight leg for me is the way to go.  My biggest concern with jeans- do I have the mom butt going on?  These jeans my sis sent were keepers in the butt department.  Here’s how I took care of the flare and made them straight legged jeans:

Straight and flare jeans to mark new seam 1.  Make sure to launder your jeans as usual before you start to adjust for shrinkage. First you will turn your jeans inside out.  I used a pair of straight leg jeans as my guide.   If you don’t have any jeans as a guide, you can mark a straight edge from the knee down on both the inside and outside seams (inner and outer seams of the pant legs).
CHalk marks on jeans 2.  The same amount of fabric will be taken in on each side of the pant leg.  Notice that the front panel of your jeans has less fabric width than the back does.  The back panel is wider to accommodate your calves.  If you mark 1/2 inch off each side of the front panel, you will also have to mark off 1/2 inch on each side of the back panel.  This will keep your jeans from twisting and bunching when you walk.  My straight leg jeans measured 7 inches across the bottom hem of the front panel, and 8 3/4 inches across the bottom hem of the back panel.  My flare jeans measured 8 3/4 inches across the bottom hem of the front panel, and 10 inches across the bottom hem of the back panel.  I originally took in 3/4 inch from each seam on the bottom of the pant, tapering up to the knee (front panel left and right seam, back panel left and right seam).  When pinned, they looked too skinny in the leg.  Sometimes you don’t get things right the first time.  I started over and marked 1/2 inch in from each seam at the bottom and tapered to the knee, which was perfect for these jeans.
Pinned Jeans 3.  You will need a seam ripper to rip out the seams on both sides of your jeans up to the knee.  Rip away!  You will then match up the marks you made on the outside seam (front and back panels).  Pin along your marks.  The pin should go through the marks on the front and back panel of your jeans (meaning that your marks on the front and back panel should line up).
New seam outside leg 4.  It is best to do this step on a sewing machine.  Make sure you change out the needle to a strong jeans needle, and use jeans thread, which is stronger than normal thread. Sew along your pin line.  I would wait until both seams are altered before trimming off the excess fabric, just in case.
new crease in pants 5.  Most jeans have a double seam on the inside leg.  It would be much more straightforward if this wasn’t the case.  After ripping the inner seams, I made a crease at my measured marks with a steam iron (both front and back panels).  The inside seam is a little more difficult because you can’t just turn the jeans inside out and sew a new seam.
pinned seam 6.  In order to keep some consistency to the look of the seam, you will have to line up the front panel crease with the back panel crease, and pin it together.  You will be sewing along the outside (right side of your fabric) of your jeans for this seam.
sewing machine and jeans 7.  To sew this seam, you have to start at the bottom of your jeans- the hemline.  Make sure you don’t sew the underside of your jeans together in the process.  Notice that I had to keep rolling and bunching up the fabric to sew further up the leg of the jeans.  Keep the underside clear of the needle!  Once you sew the first seam, you will start at the hemline again a few millimeters from your first seam and sew up to the knee to match the original double seam.  Here’s how the leg looked after the alteration:
new straight leg jeans You can see that the inside hem does not match up perfectly with the old hem, but once I tried them on, it was hard to notice because the seam fell on the inside of my leg.  The outside seam looks flawless.  I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, especially for a free pair of jeans!


  1. I did not want to have to change that outerseam on the jeans. Thank you sooo much for pictures. I’m convinced.

    • Mary, yes, the outer seam is a pain to change, but if you have to, I recommend fixing the outer seam first. I have to change that in the tutorial. My sister was impressed when she saw her old jeans on me!

  2. do you have an instruction on how to set a gusset in a sleeve? and shorten a jacket sleeve. These are a pain too. I really like the way you show pictures an share info.

    • Mary,
      I’m sorry but I don’t have instructions for sewing a gusset in a sleeve. I hope you do find one! Susie

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