DIY Jean Alteration: From Bootcut to Skinny or Straight!

diy jean alteration

Today I’m sharing an easy tutorial on how to alter your jeans from bootcut or flared to straight or skinny! I picked up this pair of Seven For All Mankind jeans for $7.50 at Value Village. I loved the way they fit in the top, but they were too long, and I didn’t like the flair. Once you learn how to taper jeans, it’s easy to create your new favorite pair of denim!

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

I’m not a fan of super skinny jeans on myself, and wanted something in between skinny and straight – luckily I was able to get just that! It’s so helpful to be able to alter your own jeans for a perfect fit, and I love that many of you have been able to hem your own jeans using our How to Hem Jeans and Keep the Original Hem Tutorial. Cause who wants to use the time and money to pay a tailer for something so simple?

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Grab a pair or two of bootcut or flared jeans, and let’s get started…

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

How to Taper Jeans

Before we learn how to taper jeans, we need to make sure we start off on the right foot. First, you’ll want to make sure to use a denim needle (affiliate link) to sew through the thick fabric with ease.

I needed to take some length off of my jeans as well, which makes this even easier. Try your jeans on and mark the length you’d like, and then adding for hem allowance (I used 1″), trim the original hem off. If the length is perfect already, you’ll need to pick out several inches of stitches around the outer seam so you’ll have access to the outer seam. If you don’t have jean topstitching thread that matches exactly to the original hem, pick out the entire hem and redo it in one matching color after you’ve adjusted your pants.

Lay the cut off portion on the bottom of the other leg to use as a guide, and cut it off as well.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Now for the fun part. Notice how the inner seam is topstitched but the outer is not? We’ll be making our adjustments to the outer seams. That keeps the topstitching in tact and makes your job much easier!

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Try on your jeans (it’s easiest if you do this with them inside out) and, looking in the mirror, use a pin to mark where they begin to flare, or where you want them to begin to taper. I marked mine close to the knee, but if you’re pants are wide legged to begin with, or if you want skinny jeans as opposed to straight legged, you may want to mark starting at the mid-thigh or even higher.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Grab a pair of well fitting straight or skinny jeans, and place the bottom hem of one leg along the bottom of the jeans you’re altering. Mark the width, adding 1/2″ for seam allowance. Another option, especially if you don’t have a pair handy to use as a guide, is to pin the jeans to the width you’d like while you’re wearing them inside out, and then adding marks with the seam allowance once you take them off.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Use a ruler and fabric marker to join the pin from the knee area to the mark at the hem. Repeat on the other leg.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Sew along marked lines on each leg.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Trim seam allowances to 1/2″, and pick out any remaining stitches. Press and steam seams open. Finish the raw edges with a zig zag stitch or serger.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

To hem, turn and press the bottom edge of each leg 1/2″ to the wrong side. Turn and press again.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Stitch close to folded edge around each leg opening.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

If you are using part of the original hem, press the hem back into place and topstitch the area that was picked out. Or, re-hem with topstitching thread if your thread is not an exact match to the original.

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Voila! How easy was that?! Now that you’ve learned how to taper jeans, you can go through your denim pile and make those old pairs new again!

DIY bootcut to skinny jeans

Enjoy your new jeans, and check out our How to Hem Jeans {and Keep the Original Hem} tutorial HERE!


  1. Great idea! Thanks for sharing such wonderful step by step instructions!

  2. Ich wollte schon immer mal wissen wie ich bei Hosen den “Schnitt” ändere, danke für die Anleitung

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I know a couple of girls who will love changing their boot cut jeans to some skinny jeans!

  4. I need to do this! I have an old pair from the days when jeans were made of 100% cotton and lasted forever.

  5. oooh yay, i totally needed this. I have the opposite problem, pants too short! they are currently bootcut and look terrible no matter how i style them and have been wishing for them to be skinnies since i got them (from my sister) since they fit sooooo nice in the seat! THANKS!!

  6. Great tutorial! I have a Craft Gossip post scheduled for this evening that links to your DIY:

  7. Great idea! I must know- where can I find those amazing shoes?!? Thanks!

  8. Thank you! Love this! Evderyone loves a bargain, now I don’t have to rule out boot cut jeans! By the way, would your nails above happen to be Jamberry? I know a great consultant.

  9. angelune says

    Ha! I just picked up some 7 jeans at the thrift shop for $8 and was hoping to find a tutorial online to help me skinny-fy them. thanks!

  10. Thanks for this post! Now I can wear my old expensive jeans again!

  11. This is so great! Pinning and sharing! :) Lisa

  12. Thanks for a great tutorial. It’s very hard for me to find jeans that fit right and I was never brave enough to try this before! The 70s called and wanted their pants back, so I gave it a try and very happy with the results. Thanks!

  13. Ashley Baker says

    Thank you for the tutorial! Question about taking in the side seams… You mention taking in only one side, but doesn’t it make sense to take in both sides? Have you tried taking in both sides?

    • Hi Ashley, the reason we only take in one side is due to the topstitching on the opposite side, which makes it difficult to remove the stitches and restitch to look like the original. You could still do that, but I’ve found that just taking in one side has always worked fine for me, as long as you’re not taking the pants in a large amount.

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