How to Taper Pants


How to Taper Pants – Wide to Slim-Fit Pants

If you have a pair of wide-leg pants sitting in your closet because this type of silhouette is not on-trend, don’t give them up yet! No, we are not suggesting you to tailor take these (be rational about your budget), but to learn how to taper pants and make a big comeback. 

Tapered pants of different materials, including fleece, flannel, chambray, denim, and knit are everywhere. You can spot them at department stores, on the runways, and streets. Doesn’t this make a good reason to make a few simple alterations and breathe new life into your old trousers? 

All you need is a sewing machine or a nice hand-sewing needle and some basic skills. The end result? A more polished, sleek, put-together pair of pants. 

Tools Needed

  • Sewing machine/needle,
  • Sewing pins,
  • Matching thread,
  • Scissors,
  • Seam ripper, 
  • Chalk,
  • Iron.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Taper Wide Pants

  • Wear your pants inside out
  • It would be nice to have a pair of slim-fit pants on hand before you get on this task. This will give you a better idea of how the altered ones should fit in the end. 

    Turn both pairs inside out and lay the ones you want to taper on a flat surface. Then, place the slim-fit pants over. Draw a few lines with a piece of chalk around the areas that appear much wider (around the knees and along the calf). 

    You can put the ones you are about to alter if you want to double-check the lines. When you wear the pants out, you can clearly see the original seams and stitches, which is exactly what you need to work on. 

  • Pin them along
  • Start from the crotch and pin your trousers along to the hem. Try to follow the chalk lines and the inseam as accurately as possible. This will help you with staying in the line when you start sewing. If you happen to mess up the chalk lines, re-draw between the pins. 

  • Test
  • To err is human. Yet, you want to skip complications such as adding a button closure or a slit to the bottom of your pants. If the leg opening is too narrow, you will have a hard time pulling your feet through it.

    Thus, try your pants once more before you start ripping them. You can readjust the pins as many times as you feel like it is right, all until you achieve a fit you are happy with.

  • Iron
  • You want to make sure there are no creases or pleats. Ironing will straighten your pants so you can sew them easier when the time comes. 

  • Remove the original seam
  • Now you are confident about the brand new fit of your old trousers, take a seam ripper or scissors and undo the stitching of the bottom hem. Yet, be careful to remove the seam only around the area you are about to alter. Don’t go over 2 to 3 inches maximum. Also, pull out the broken threads.

  • Time to sew
  • Follow the line you’ve pinned and sew along with it with a machine or a needle. Start from the bottom and work your way up to the crotch. 

    We highly recommend using wool, alternatively denim, thread, as these two are the most durable. 

    If you notice the new stitch is not as straight or slim as you would like it to be, you can always unpick it and start over. There’s a first time for everything. Don’t stress over any imperfections. Take your time and go inch by inch until you like what you see. 

  • Cutaway the extra fabric
  • You are just a step away from the slim-fit pants. Cut off the extra fabric but make sure to leave a bit of seam on the outside (no more than ½-inch). 

  • Finish the raw edges
  • There’s a big difference between a homemade and professional finish. If you want to prevent fraying, use overcast or zig-zag stitch.

  • Congratulate yourself 
  • Give your pants a good press and try them on to see the end result. We are pretty sure you will love it! 


    You see – making this type of alterations requires nothing besides standard sewing equipment. Even the laymen can find their way around this task. Once you learn how to taper pants, you will never need a tailor again – you will become one! Still, remember that, even though a tapered leg boasts a clean look, you still don’t want to take this too far – stick to a comfortable fit.