Adding a Soft Waistband to Jeans

Adding a Soft Waistband to Jeans

Adding a soft waistband to jeans or pants can add an extra level of comfort. My son Connor has Asperger’s Syndrome. It is a form of Autism that manifests itself in new ways Recently, Connor has sworn off jeans…right after I bought six pair. Of course. It turns out his tactile sensitivity was on overload because his little body could feel every single part of the waistband, zipper, and snap.

I know what it’s like to itch from a tag, but I can’t even imagine being able to feel every part of my clothing all the time. So, in a mad dash to fix the waistband problem I went searching for jeans that had a knit band instead of a traditional waistband. I had seen them before, but for whatever reason the only pair I could find was $30. For a kid that is constantly busting holes in pants, $30 a pair would put us in the poor house! Enter Mama’s $2 fix! With that said, let’s get into adding a soft waistband. 

Adding a Soft Waistband

Waistband Supplies:

  • Scissors or Rotary Cutter
  • Jeans that you wanna fix
  • 1.5″ Soft Waistband Elastic (I used Dritz)
  • Serger/Sewing Machine
  • Coordinating Thread – Denim and for Elastic


Waistband Instructions

If your jeans have an adjustable waistband, make sure they are tightened to the most comfortable fit.

Grab your scissors and begin by cutting the waistband off the jeans. Set aside.

If your jeans have belt loops, they will likely now be cut in half. Open up the remaining part of the loop and snip off the part that is closest to the jeans. This is imperative if you are serging. If you don’t do this part, you will break needles…or two like I did. 🙁

Open the fly and cut out the zipper. Go slow and be careful to not mess up your fancy sewing scissors by cutting the metal.




Grab your pins or clips and close the fly.
Load your sewing machine with either denim thread or match the jeans. I had an orange that was pretty close to the denim thread color used on these jeans. You will sew the fly shut making sure the inner flap is down flat.

You may need to follow the curved part of the flap to be sure it lays flat on the inside.

Get your waistband and cut a piece of waistband elastic the same length as your denim waistband. Overlap the ends by half inch making a loop. Sew the ends together using a zig zag stitch.



Once you have your loop trim the threads. We are now going to pin the band to the pants. Put the seam in the elastic at the back of the jeans. With right sides together (if your elastic has a design) pin the elastic to the jeans. It is best to think of your elastic in quadrants. Pin the middle back and then go to the middle front and line it up with the fly. Find one side’s middle and pin it and do the same on the other side. You may have some gathering in the denim at this point and that is okay. Just make sure it is even.



Go to your serger and put the blade up. You will not be able to use the blade with this elastic. Line the edge of your waistband up with the edge of the serging plate where your blade would normally come down and cut fabric. GO SLOW! I cannot say this enough. Slow and steady will make this project much faster in the long run. If you get misaligned, pull out your jeans and realign. If the elastic goes near the looper it’ll be a much longer process to re-thread…so go slow! You may need to stretch the elastic as you sew to keep the pants from bunching. Do this s l o w l y. Is there a theme here??? 🙂


Wipe the sweat from your brow and pat yourself on the back!


Trim your threads and hit the waistband with a steam iron to get it to shrink up a bit. Well done!



adding a soft waistband to pants

Connor immediately noticed his jeans were different and gave them a whopping two thumbs up! That’s a big deal guys. 🙂




If you are interested in learning more about Asperger’s Syndrom or supporting Autism Awarness – check out

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18 Responses

    1. Used this solution for re-sizing her favorite trousers for my mom (wheelchair bound) in her latter years, as her body changed <3

  1. I just read another idea that was interesting just in case the seaming of the elastic is an issue. They said to take a small square of fabric and butt up the ends of the elastic making sure the elastic is not twisted placing the elastic over the square, I’d have to pin, run over the butted edges a couple of times with a wide zigzag stitch. Don’t know if that helps, hope so.

    Thanks for the article, I was trying to see if you could sew an exposed elastic waistband on denim without it looking bunched, I thinking the biggest key is, as you said, going slow.

  2. Hello
    Thank you for the tutorial . Yes I started doing this to my own jeans, adding a yoga waistband ashthey all seam too low in the rise and um , nobody wants to see that …lol
    If you can’t find elastic to match I have used Supplex ( running tights material ) or HEAVY stretch knit for my yoga waistband . You can also insert some elastic inside the knit if you feel they won’t stay up well enough

  3. I couldn’t read half the content because it was covered by ads! It would have been nice to be able to follow the tutorial. I’m in the same boat with jeans.

  4. I’ve been doing this to my jeans for years and I’m 71 years old. I don’t have the hourglass shape jeans manufacturers make jeans for. The waistband always felt like it’s cutting me in half when I sat, and I had the snap unsnapped all of the time. Finding elastic waist jeans that were short waisted ,( I’m 5’2″ ) was expensive and almost impossible, and made of thinner material. If you wear your shirt on the outside it covers the elastic and nobody knows it’s there but you.

  5. Yay! Thanks for this detailed tutorial. Will be working on these for my son who has Down syndrome so that he’s ready for school in a few weeks. Very nicely done.

  6. Thank you. I just put the elastic in the back of the pants. But getting the weight of the pants. What an great idea.

    1. Thank you sooo much for this post! My son has autism issues as well & has a closet full of jeans he refuses to wear. Maybe this will change his mind.

  7. Super duper creative fix, WonderMom!! So glad that your son was happy with the fit/feel. (:

    I’m going to try this modification on some trousers of my own that no longer fit comfortably at the waist, but the next size up gives too much of a baggy leg situation. Besides, thrifty seamstresses can use their power sewing skills and tools to solve real world challenges ((:

  8. Thanks for the tutorial! My son stopped wearing his jeans because the waistband was too uncomfortable. We have to buy for length and after we tighten them in to fit his waist they are rough. I remembered seeing this tutorial when it posted and thought it was a cool idea. The elastic is so soft! I just fixed two pairs of my sons jeans so he could wear them this next week and he LOVES them! Excellent tutorial! I will say that I didn’t bother with the belt loops. I just used my seam ripper and removed them completely so I didn’t have to fool with them. One pair of jeans had a rivet holding the pocket to the jeans so my husband removed those for me. I now have extra packs of the elastic on hand for when we have jeans and I need to alter them!

  9. Great tutorial – and glad your son was happy. Fights about trousers are a daily event at our house too! A little tip- baste the elastic in with a long straight stitch before sending it through the serger. Then you can use pins which work better when you have to stretch the elastic and it doesn’t slip around so much in the sewing machine. Then serge over your basting stich, goes quickly and easily. I do this for neckline bands as well.

  10. Thanks for the great idea. I am going to try it for my 80 year old mother. Her arthritis prevents her from wear a lot of her pants because of a stiff zipper or button holes.

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