Tighten That Skinny Waist by Adding a Drawstring to Your Waistband

Folks that have a skinny waist, whether guys or gals, often have trouble getting pants to fit. In a casual type pant, the waistband may be a casing, with or without elastic. Sometimes you can run a drawstring through this casing to give yourself the ability to pull that waist in a bit.

Below you will find instructions for adding this drawstring capability. The garment in the photos is a pair of swim trunks, but you can do this alteration on several types of pants. It works well on pajama pants or sweatpants and especially on childrens pants.

A Note About the Terms I've Used ...
There is only one term that needs to be clarified in these instructions. In order to accomodate a skinny waist, you need to somehow alter the...

Waistband! For our purpose here, it is the part of the trunks that is holding the elastic. It forms a casing that attaches to the upper edge of the trunk legs. It is often topstitched on the upper edge, the lower edge, or both. It is the only gray part in Steps 3, 4, and 13.

Here's What You'll Need ...

Scissors Buttonhole Foot Seam Ripper Tailor's Chalk
Buttonhole Foot
Seam Ripper
Tailor's Chalk

Chart One: Make Openings for Drawstring

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Here we have a pair of swim trunks. The tie in the front is a fooler, because it doesn't really pull the waist in at all. It is purely decoration.
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Here is a a close up view of that closure. The tie is merely connecting the two flaps. The flaps themselves are also just decoration.
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This is the inside of the swim trunks. The white mesh lining is present in all mens trunks. Although there is some elastic in the waistband, it is not tight enough to feel snug on a skinny waist
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The leg hole of the mesh lining is the access point for this alteration. There is no ripping involved. Just slide between the mesh and the fashion fabric.
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This is the seam that needs to be opened. It joins the front of the waistband to the back. It also connects the mesh fabric to the underneath side of the band.
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Once it has been opened up, the seam looks like this. The mesh has been detached, the elastic is exposed and the front and back of the waistband are separated from each other.
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This is the inside view. Now add buttonholes that allow the drawstring to come through to the inside. Drawn two white lines with tailor's chalk to mark both ends of the buttonholes.
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Get all of the elastic and front of the waistband out of the way. This is the inside section of waistband only. If the fabric is thin, you can interface it first. Create the buttonholes.

Chart Two: Insert Drawstring and Finish

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Although it's hard to see in this photo, the buttonholes are evenly spaced from the center seam. The buttonhole stitching is not the best here, but I show it here to illustrate that they do not have to be perfect.
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Snip buttonholes. Thread the drawstring through the waistband. First, attach a safety pin at one end of the string. Then thread it through one buttonhole, around the entire waistband, then out the other buttonhole.
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Your finished drawstring should look like this. Take a minute to even out the 'tails'. Also, put a knot at both ends.
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Replace all the stitching you removed. Begin by replacing the seam stitching. Then replace all the top stitching. In this case the trunks have stitching along the top and bottom edge of the waistband.
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Here is the inside of the finished trunks. You don't see the buttonholes, but they are fully functional. You've adapted this garment into something that fits a skinny waist. But you've also given it some flexibility in case of weight fluctuations.

In Closing...

All body types are different, People who are wider in the hip area may have a skinny waist. Alterations to the waist are usually straight forward. This one is more creative.

Make sure your drawstring has a clear path around the entire waistband. Sometimes the center back seam is sewn down where the label has been applied. You may need to remove the label.

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