adjustable elastic kids pants

My daughter is growing like a weed, except she’s only growing up, not out. She’s got 4-5T legs and a 3T waist. That means that most of the pants we find that are long enough won’t stay up.

I try to only buy pants with an adjustable waist, but sometimes I come across a great deal or something super cute that I just can’t pass up. I decided to try adding elastic myself, and you know what? It’s super easy!

You can even do this without a sewing machine as long as you don’t mind a little hand stitching.

button hole elastic
small, sharp pair of scissors
two buttons that fit through your elastic
Fray Check
needle and thread

Step 1
Starting on the right inside of the waist, snip two holes to create a casing for the elastic. Make sure your scissors don’t go through to the other side! Apply Fray Check to the raw edges.

adjustable elastic kids pants

Step 2
Cut a piece of elastic that’s about one inch longer than between your holes. Fold one edge over and sew. This is the edge you’ll be using to adjust the pants.

adjustable elastic kids jeans

Step 3
Sew a button in front of the casing you’ve created.

button hole elastic

Step 4
Thread the elastic through the waist casing with the finished edge going through the front. You can tuck the unfinished edge into the back.

adjustable elastic kids jeans

Step 5
Sew a line of stitches to secure the elastic. See arrow.

adjustable elastic kids pants

Here’s what you’ll see on the outside of the pants.

Repeat on left inside of the waist.

refashion: The only thing worse than sizing for women’s pants is sizing for kids’ clothes. At least with this little trick, I can just make sure pants look long enough when I buy them. It’s nice knowing how easy it is to adjust the waist. Maybe I should try this on my jeans!

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62 Responses to how to add adjustable elastic to kids’ pants in 5 easy steps

  1. Melissa Vaughn says:

    Love this!! This is just what I was looking for. The pictures are great too. Now I’m thinking of all the shorts and pants my boys never got to wear because the waist was too big. Well not anymore. . . great deals and an added adjustable waist here I come!!!! THANKS!!!

  2. Cat says:


    Don’t have kids but am losing weight and this will help me not buy as many slacks on the way down.

  3. Tammy says:

    Thank you so much for this, I just purchased 5t uniforms shorts for my son that are too big in the waist, and the 4 t was a bit too short,took them to a tailor who wanted to charge me $15 for each pair of pants to do this (lol), I just sat down and followed your Tutorial and and saved myself $75.

    Thank you!!!

  4. Krystal says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I bought a BUNCH of pants for my sons at a sears going out of business sale. Got home and discovered NONE of them have the adjustable waist. Each pair falls right off of them, but fits them really nicely length wise. YAY! You saved me from sadness :)

  5. Jennie says:

    OMG i second these ladies, i seriously love you. i have this same problem with my son and can’t find ANY pants for winter with this. i usually get his stuff at childrens place/oldnavy/target but it seems like they aren’t available in 12months!! THANKYOU!

  6. Maria says:

    Has anyone tried this with sweats?

  7. Diana says:

    I had this on my maternity pants and at the time I thought it was amazing. Can’t wait to try on my daughter’s pants.

  8. Deb Killenbeck says:

    I am sewing some easy on elastic waist outfits for my 95 year old aunt. I wanted to use the button hole elastic to make the waist adjustable, but could not find any in my area. So I cut two 4 inch strips of ultra suede the width of the elastic. I cut slits in the ultra suede for the button holes and securely stitched the strips onto the ends of the elastic. Viola! Button hole elastic! The ultra suede doesn’t tear, so no need to use a button hole stitch or bind the slits. Plus it is soft and more gentle against her skin than the elastic.

  9. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for this! I can’t wait to do this to my son’s clothes!

  10. Terri says:

    Thank you so much! I’ve lost some weight and have at least three pair of pants that I plan on fixing TODAY!

    Many thanks and enjoy your Memorial Day.

  11. Karen says:

    Wow, can hardly wait to try this…way easier than trying darts. I have one older muscular child and one smaller ballerina type and now I have a great way of making sure all those hand me downs fit!!!!!

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