Few people get their jeans altered, even if they would do so with a suit or dress trousers. A few reasons spring to mind. It may seem incongruous to try to perfect the fit of such casual trousers. It may be assumed that the designers of jeans know what they’re doing. Or it may be presumed that a tailor cannot alter jeans.

Let’s handle the first two together. Jeans, like all readymade trousers, are designed on a standard block that it has been calculated will fit the most people – or, perhaps realistically, that the fewest people will complain about. As to the design, some men may specifically want the low-slung shape that dominates the jeans market, but in my experience they are the minority. Most men like the styling of jeans but find the waist too large for the fit they want elsewhere. Hence the ubiquity of jeans with belts.

They should have their jeans altered. Taking in the waist will do little to alter the styling of the jeans, as long as it is not extreme. And it’s pretty hard to make extreme alterations on jeans, because after a couple of inches the back pockets collide. Leave a decent gap between your back pockets and you’ll be fine.

Which brings us to the third myth: any decent alterations tailor can alter jeans. As with any alteration, I’d prefer a proper tailor (one that makes things as well as taking them apart) but all of them should be able to do it.

The only problem will be that the thread may not match. It will be very close in colour (usually orange) but perhaps not as thick. That doesn’t bother me but I’m sure there are denim junkies out there for which it would be anathema. If it bothers you, a good haberdasher should be able to source something closer. A high-end jeans maker may supply spare thread or even offer to do the alteration themselves.

Other advice I would have is to make sure jeans are worn in before you have them altered. This is particularly true of raw denim. Pictured are Albam’s regular leg jeans.
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Anonymous

Simon, although this is a bid off-topic the question is pants related: do you prefer adjustable metal tabs or adjustable bottons on your suit pants? Is one more formal than the other? Also, I assume your suit pants do not have belt loops…correct?

Thanks!

Eugene Freedman

Another alteration is to have the length shortened and have the tailor keep the original hem.

vir beātum

Good advice. I consider myself lucky to be something like the shape of the block used by some prominent manufacturers, and generally can find a decent fit off the peg. But my wife never leaves jeans unaltered, and she always pre-adds the cost of alteration onto the price of the garment so as to know what the true sum will be. I think perhaps, on the whole, women are more savvy about this than men.
VB

Jason Dike

There are also some tailors around London who specialise in denim alterations in case you don’t trust your regular tailor.

Aaron

This is good advice but defiantly take your jeans to a proper tailor. Altering jeans properly is complicated work. Suits and trousers (especially those made for men) are designed to be altered. For example there is a seam the goes through the center back of the waist band on trousers that is there specifically to make adjusting the waist and seat easier. Jeans do not have this seam so a adjusting the waist means taking off the waistband completely adjusting the rise seam and then refitting the waistband. This is made more complicated by the fact that the rise seam on jeans is often flat felled (a seam finish where the seam allowance is folded around itself and then top stitched) making it more complicated to adjust. this is just one aspect of why jeans are complicated to alter. I would strongly suggest going to a proper tailor not the dry cleaners. I know that in the US there are some places that specialize in denim alteration.

Damian

Forgive me Simon, but I think you may be a little off-beam here. First thing to say is that there are SO many different cuts of jeans available today that it is pretty much impossible not to find a top block that suits someone (whether you want high-rise or low-rise; loose, straight, slim, or skinny fit etc). Second point is about altering them if they’re raw. You DEFINITELY want to get them altered before you wear them, but only after you’ve rinsed or soaked them to get rid of the shrinkage. The reason is simple. If you wear raw jeans before alterations or soaking, the characteristic fades that you will get (on creases and other areas of wear) will be moved to another place when they are altered or soaked/washed. So you end up with marks in all the wrong places, which looks weird.
The final thing to say is perhaps that jeans have solid blue-collar workwear roots, and they aren’t necessarily meant to fit too well. So for many people, turning/rolling up the hems, rather than having them hemmed by a tailor, is part of the appeal. And… stitching on good quality jeans is done using a particular machine (most commonly the Union Special) which gives you a chain stitch. There are no tailors in London who have one of these, so they’ll hem your jeans with a single stitch, which won’t match the rest of the jeans. If you care about jeans (to the degree to which you obviously care about other garments), this is no small detail. Might also be worth talking to Richie Charlton at Douglas Hayward, who’s a real denim-head, I recall…

Mr Brown

Find jeans that fit.

Tailors fiddling about with jeans is ridiculous.

If you need to alter the hem you do need specialist equipment, something that chain stitches.

Son of Stag is the only place in London I am aware of that has this.

Aaron

The lack of chain stitch would not be visible on the outside of the jeans. The chain side of the stitch is on the inside and the outside of a Chain-stitch looks the same as a single needle. Plus while chain-stitches are traditional on jeans the reason for their use is more about cost than quality and design. chain-stitch machines don’t have bobbins so the bottom thread is run off a full size cone. this means that in a factory setting you run out of thread less often which saves time and money. That is why all the machines associated with denim manufacturing use chain-stitches instead of single needle. in fact chain stitches are weaker that single needle because if the thread on the chain-side cracks one single pull can pull pull the whole stitch out.

Rashidi

I’ve gotten my denim altered before. I did so because I couldn’t find the jeans with the fit I was looking for. After about a year of searching, I did purchase a pair of the Selvedge Vintage Slim Jean from Rugby.

I have a few pairs of 501’s that I purchased and had altered at Sid Mashburn here in Atlanta. You can take a look at the results on my blog.

I myself did not shrink them or wash them before I had them altered. As mentioned, I didn’t want there to be an issue with fading not lining up properly.

Thanks!

http://honorthytailor.com/2010/09/15/slimmed-up-501s-rigid/

Anonymous

I only alter the length of jeans. If they don’t feel right round the waist or seat I won’t buy them.

Altering the length is easy and the original hem is retained.
I get this done in Bangkok for 1 pounds and it takes about 3-5 minutes for a seamstress to do.
I can’t wear jeans that are bunched up at the feet.

shhworldwide

Just a note of interest: Most of the early jeans/chinos were made on a flat bed single stitch machine for added strength. I still make my jeans on a single stitch machine. I have to agree with Damian re: the amount of styles and fit available these days however regarding the union special…it is a beautiful detail but it is not that strong, durable and reliable as one catch of the bottom thread in the wrong direction and the whole line of stitching comes undone. If you are buying your jeans ready made then it’s not that difficult finding the proper fit and cut that suits you. In this day and age if you can not find a proper pair then you either not a standard fit, Impulsive or just plain lazy. Most haberdasheries stock denim thread these days and it is not impossible to find the correct thread and thickness to match your jeans. The problem usually arises when it is raw or washed and some of the dye rubs off on the thread but that is also easily fixed by giving the new thread a rub with the denim.
Regards

elo124

or I have big legs and small waist because I workout… It seems nowadays jeans are made with massive ass and giant waist for typical fat bastards and its impossible to find for me jeans that fit nice. So what you do is huy baggy and get them tailored. Simple.

Eimear at Thread

Hi there, we’ve reported a list of the best jeans tailors in the UK which might be helpful here … https://www.thread.com/tips/issues/getting-clothes-mended-or-tailored/list-best-jeans-tailors-uk/. Useful for getting jeans altered, and also for mending holes. Hope that helps!

Paul

I noticed yesterday on Instagram you compared 2pairs of jeans.Would’nt it be likely that after a couple of washes the looser pair would fit better and the other jeans would become a little tighter after washing and perhaps uncomfortable?