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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