How to tighten pants without sewing? Talk amongst yourselves.

Amanda has a clothing fit question for you:

My son is very tall but very thin, so I often find myself buying pants that are too big for him in the waist but fit him in the length. I've also been fortunate to receive a lot of hand-me-downs. Unfortunately, a lot of these pants came without belt loops, so I can't use a belt for them. Has anyone come up with an easy way to tighten pants that don't have loops!? Looking for something that doesn't require a permanent fix like sewing.

My only suggestion involves buying new pants with the adjustable-waist elastic you can cinch (those were the only pants that would fit my slender daughter when she was younger).

Does anyone have a good waistband hack for Amanda?

Related: Elastic hack: how to tighten loose pants without sewing


  1. says

    I haven’t actually used these, but they strike me as an awesome solution. I have a skinny tall toddler as well and I keeping meaning to place an order:

    Little snaps that make waists smaller. But I guess you have to have belt loops, so it doesn’t help Amanda that much.

  2. says

    I haven’t tried this, but I wonder if you could sew velcro on the inside of the waist and make it adjustable. It’s sewing, but adaptable. You could probably glue the velcro in too. I think you would only want to use a small amount of the prickly side, and more of the fuzzy side if it were done on the inside of the pants.

    We still get adjustable waist pants for my 14 year old step-son. Best thing ever.

  3. says

    How about safety pins? Worked when I was little. just fold in the sides and pin (using a large safety pin). No sewing involved and very adjustable!

  4. says

    There’s also that iron-on seaming stuff that you can use to cinch the back of the pants together while ironing on the ribbon that keeps it in place.

  5. gmartin215 says

    My son was (is!) the same-plus he had a ‘no buttons, no velcro’ rule.
    I had to break down and sew. Take them in along the seat seam. It’s still sewing, but it’s quick (I sometimes did it by hand) and way cheaper than new pants!

  6. says

    Anybody have a hack for too long pants? I have to buy larger sizes to fit my one yr old and I’m forever rolling those things up. I’m hoping he’ll thin out and grow tall so we can still get a lot of use out of them but for now he’s a charmingly chubby fella.

  7. STL Mom says

    Here’s instructions that involve a little bit of sewing, but not much skill:
    All the stitching is inside the waistband, not visible from the outside of the pants, so it’s okay if you have to do it by hand and it’s a little messy.

    For Mrs. Pooley – here’s instructions on hemming pants without cutting off the bottom (skip the step where she cuts off the excess fabric). If you use loose stitches, it’s easy to release the pleat later and make the pants longer again:

  8. Hayley says

    It’s sewing, yes, but not permanent – tack a strip of wide elastic along the inside back of the waistband. Use a strip about 4-5 inches long, pull it taught & pin it to the waistband – you can use a few rows of very simple running stitch to secure it. When you’re ready to pass the pants along, or need more waist room, just snip the threads – the running stitch will pull right out :)

    (Confession: I do this to my own jeans sometimes :) )

  9. Robin says

    I have bought plain girls’ pants for my skinny son before with good results. Girls’ pants seem to be longer/leaner than boys, at least at the Gap and Old Navy.

  10. says

    For the too long pants, roll them up to the right length then either put a couple safety pins on the inside or do a couple tacking stiches; easily cut and re-tacked when he grows a bit taller.

  11. Anonymous says

    I also like to roll the waistband. It makes it a little bulkier and apt to stay up, and helps with the length as well. Totally non-sewing, totally easy, totally reversible.

  12. MacDaddy says

    Problem SOLVED: Plastic links

    We have tons of those “chain links” lying around that we used to use to clip toys to the stroller & crib.

    Like these:

    Put one on each side of the pants through two belt hoops, and you’re in business.

    Our baby loves to grab the two links like little handles on either side of her pants. Also helps her dress undress herself for potty training.

  13. Samantha says

    I am a total Dapper Snapper lover! If the pants do have belt loops, there is no better way to fix them. Very high quality!

  14. brandy says

    drawstrings are dangerous on children’s clothes. please don’t add drawstrings to your kid’s clothes!

  15. Andrea says

    I had the same problem with my skinny son and my mom bought mitten clips. They work best if the pants have loops but will also work just clipped to the elastic waist. No sewing and they are usually strong enough to keep the pants cinched.

  16. Rebecca says

    This is what I do…
    I have bought plenty of adjustable waist band pants and once they grow out of them or get huge holes in the knees(the latter is more likely), I take the adjustable waistband (elastic with button holes in them) and with a seam ripper, open up the inside of the waistband. I then thread the elastic through the back of the the pants and sew two buttons on near the openings I made . Viola! Totally adjustable pants! I do these a lot with jeans and corduroys.
    FYI–Target and Walmart both carry adjustable pants for under $10.

  17. twinsanity says

    Depending on the age of your child, you might be better off going UP a size. My 3 year old twin girls are very skinny. They have 17″ waists. They need 3T for height. 3T pants have a 21″ waistband, so even the adjustable waist don’t work because we really can’t take them in 4 inches and still maintain any sort of comfortable fit. Plus the buttons for the adjustable elastic always ends up sitting right on their hip bones and rubbing a raw spot. Girls 4 SLIM has a 19″ waistband (2 full inches smaller than 3T), so they adjustable waist band needs less adjusting and the slightly higher waistband means no hip bone sores. Sewing a hem is easier than trying to take in the waist. I’m hoping to get an extra year or two out of them by letting out the hem as the girls get taller.

  18. stephanie says

    Check the elastic inside. If the waistband has elastic, sometimes you can cut a little hole in the back, or better yet, use a seam ripper to make a hole where the tag is. PUll the elastic through and make a knot in it to suit your child’s waist. You can cut off the excess or tuck it in to be let out later. Be careful, though. Some waistbands are sewn/attached completely around the band to keep the elastic from rolling. When that’s the case, I resort to a very messy needlework job where the tag is.

  19. says

    I have an invention called Quick Fit.Quick Fit is an iron on adjustable waistband that you can iron into the waistband of any garment for an instant secure fit. Quick Fit is used when your waist is too small, pants sagging, skirts twisting,pants with no belt loops,or even when your outfit is too dressy for a belt.For a video tutorial please visit and type quickfitwaistband in the search engine.For more info please go to . thanks and i hope this helps. quick fit is for men , women, and children

  20. says

    Hi, my name is Jacquilin Isom and I have invented Pull to Fit. It is the solution to an adjustable waistband with our sewing, just ironing It is a miniature fabric belt that is ironed discreetly on the inside of the waistband to adjust up to 3 inches of slack in clothes in less than a minute. Simply iron in on, pull the buttonhole elastic and button. Just like the adjustable waistband in some children’s clothes. It comes in different lengths to fit everyone from toddlers to adults. Visit my website at for pictures and tutorial. Thanks

  21. Lisa says

    I know its a bit late but you can get 2 suspender clips (from a craft store, or even ebay) and a piece of elastic, about 3 inches.
    (this does have some minor sewing involved)

    sew the elastic to each end of the suspender clip so that you have a clip on each side. This can be hand sewn with a cheap sewing kit that include a needle and a little thread.

    (if you don’t sew at all: thread the needle, make sure the thread is even at the ends and knot it. Pull the needle through the 2 layers of elastic, starting at one side of the suspender clip, just carry on through each side, back and forth until you get to the other end, make a couple stitches in the same spot, and cut the thread, repeat for the other side. Trust me it will go fast, you could probably get it done watching a TV show in 1/2 hour. Hardest part MIGHT be the threading)

    Then clip the one clip to the outside of the pants and stretch and clip the other to the other side of the pants. Adjust as you learn what spot works best to clip it to.