DIY: Get the Skinny on Jeans

This past weekend my husband and I went to Blacksburg, Virginia to see my sister-in-law, Erin, graduate from Virginia Tech. Bowen (my hubby) is the oldest of five, and the only boy, so when we got married, it meant that I finally had the sisters I always wanted. Traveling together is filled with laughs and entertainment, and this trip was no exception. Blacksburg is a tiny town, which revolves around Virginia Tech, and 9 out of ten people on the street are wearing maroon and orange. It’s the kind of town where you can get a panini maker with the VT logo on the front–no joke. And, like all college towns, it’s very cute and a lot of fun. Erin would take us out at night, introduce us to her friends, and I would pretend that I was young and back at UCSB. Good times. On one of these nights I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Anne Carter. Mary Anne was also graduating, and looking to head west to Seattle, where she wanted to pursue her loves of journalism and DIY projects. Turns out that she is quite versed in the DIY arena and has a knack of making a difficult project extremely easy, which she proves below–how to convert regular pants into skinny.

From Mary Anne:

When it comes to fashion, I’m a self-proclaimed swinger. Although I have my favorites, I rarely limit myself to just one type, let alone dismiss entire styles entirely.  My one exception, however is skinny jeans.  Starting years ago as just a casual encounter, we entered a torrid love affair that has led to an exclusive relationship. Recently, I’ve been joined by guys and girls alike who have embraced the skinny trend, favoring the slimmer fit for an abundance of reasons: they do not drag sloppily or get caught in a bike chain,  they lengthen and flatter silhouettes of all shapes, come in an offbeat range of colors and showcase a variety of footwear. Yet, as stubbornly anti-skinny jeans as I am pro-skinny jeans, there remains a resistant horde of bootcut, bellbottom and (dare I say) cargo jean devotees that refuse to convert. Whether they claim skinnies are too expensive, too tight, too trendy, or too hard to find, I have heard all of the excuses and I have a simple proposition—make your own.

With just a handful of pins and a needle and thread, you can convert any jeans to skinny jeans and have control over the wash, rise, and tightness without having to splurge.


  • One pair of jeans
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine
  • Pins

Cost: Free

Time: Half an hour

Step One: Turn jeans inside out and try them on (It may seem odd at first, but by your next pair, you will be a professional.)

Step Two: Pin the jeans from the knee to the desired width.  If you want a modestly skinny jean, just continue the seam at the knee in a straight line. For cigarette or skinny pin jeans, make take them tighter.  Personally, if they aren’t cutting off my circulation, they aren’t tight enough, so I pin them as close to my calf and ankle as possible.  Make note though that unless your jeans have stretch, you need to leave enough space to be able to fit your feet in!

Step Three: Take off the jeans, turn them inside in, and try them on. If you are satisfied with the width and cut, you are ready to sew. Otherwise, re-pin as necessary and repeat until it is right.

Step Four: Turn the jeans inside out again and sew along the pins.  Make sure to use durable thread and double stitch the leg openings where you pull them on so you don’t have to worry about being too hard on them.

Step Five: Cut away excess material, turn inside out, and leave any thoughts of nonskinnies behind!

Style Tip: Skinny jeans can be paired with practically anything.  For girls, the slim cut compliments both oversized tops for contrast and form fitting tops for a polished look.  They are perfect for tucking inside boots, wearing with flats or pulling on over high heels.

About Mary Anne: Mary Anne Carter graduated Virginia Tech with a degree in journalism, but also dabbles in the realms of art, fashion, and design. She has a knack for reconstruction and a love of sustainable practices that manifest themselves through her inexpensive and inventive DIYs. She is currently in transition from Blacksburg, VA to Seattle, WA in pursuit of work, play, and finding that coffee-gulping, green-living, nature-loving, plaid-clad tribe she has always been missing.

To find out more, visit her websites at: &


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  1. Alex, tell me you brought me back one of those panini makers with the VT logo on it! Lol

  2. I didn’t, but I know a great new marketing plan for Panini Happy. 🙂

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