My Squeaker is a tiny little guy. Always has been. We are very familiar with the zero-to-tenth percentile part of the CDC growth curve. He’s over 20 months old now, and he only recently started wearing 12-to-18 month clothes.

Despite finally moving into 18 month sizes, the waist on most of his pants is a joke. I feel bad for him. It must suck to run around all day feeling like your pants are going to fall down. So what’s a mom to do? You know me: Type A personality. Time for a PLAN.

What’s a mom to do?

Plan A: Buy Adjustable Waist in Everything

This is the awesome waistband with buttonhole elastic and buttons, so you can bring them in for a skinny kid and let it out as they get bigger. But only khakis, dressy pants, and jeans come in an adjustable waist. Not practical for the entire wardrobe. Next idea.


Plan B: Buy Drawstring Waist in Everything

Tons of comfy toddler pants have drawstrings! Just look at this screen shot from Children’s Place:

Children's Place Toddler Pants

Guess what? Those aren’t drawstrings. They’re FAUX drawstrings. Thanks, Children’s Place. You can go faux yourself.


Plan C: Roll Down the Waist and Hope for the Best

Squeak is so skinny, this hardly ever works. Plus it just pisses him off.


Plan D: Pull Out the Elastic and Fold it Over

This involves cutting the waistband, using a seam ripper to free the elastic from the waist, and folding it over on itself. Then you throw a few stitches in it, tuck it back into the waistband and off you go. It’s slow and arduous, and now his pants have a big deformed lump. The damage of this method is difficult to undo later.

Plan E: Add My Own Adjustable Waist to Squeak’s pants and shorts

This is what I did, and I’ve gotta say, it’s working beautifully so far. I’m not even good at sewing, and I still figured this out, so you can too.

Here’s what you’ll need. I needed to buy only the first 3 items, so I paid about $18 total:

  • 3/4″ buttonhole elastic ($8.00 on Amazon)
  • Fray Check ($5.00 on Amazon when I bought it)
  • Buttons (I bought 10mm buttons on Amazon, but maybe you’re cool enough to have some on hand)
  • Needle and thread (you’ll want thread in the same color as what you’re sewing, so it’s not as visible)
  • Seam ripper (tiny scissors just won’t cut it; this best-seller is $4.00 on Amazon)
  • Scissors (for cutting thread)
  • A crochet hook or latch hook


My subject: a pair of shorts I bought for Squeak last weekend. Most of these photos will enlarge if you click them, if you want to see the details.



Roll the waistband down so it’s easier to get at while you work.

Step 1: Cut a slit in the back of the waistband about 1″-1.5″ away from the side seams.


For this particular pair of shorts, I needed to cut through the middle thread. I had to rip that thread out (which you’ll see later) so the elastic could fit through the channel in the waistband.



Step 2: Fold the pants so the two side seams are touching. Then cut an identical slit on the other side.



Step 3: Dab some Fray Check on the edges of the fabric; let dry 15-30 minutes.

I used little bits of cereal box cardboard to keep the goop from getting on the fabric below it.

I used little bits of cereal box cardboard to keep the goop from getting on the fabric below it.


Step 4: Cut a length of buttonhole elastic just wider than the length between the two slits.

Set it aside; you’ll need it in a bit.



Step 5: Rip out any seams that will impede your elastic from going through the channel in the waistband.

These shorts had a seam sewn that would make slipping the elastic through really difficult. So I used my seam ripper to remove it between the two slits.



Voila! No more seam:


Use your crochet hook or latch hook and snake it through the channel between the slits. Make sure you can cleanly pass the elastic through, and if you can’t, use your seam ripper to remove thread/seams until you can. I usually have to tear out a few stitches above the tag, but every pair of pants/shorts will vary a bit.

Step 6: Sew buttons halfway between the slits and the side seams.

I’m embarrassed to admit I never really bothered to learn the right way to sew on a button. So I found this button-sewing tutorial enlightening. It’s written for a dude, so you know it’s idiot proof (kidding, kidding). 😉

It’s best to use thread that blends in with your fabric, since the stitches will be visible on the outside of the waistband.



Step 7: Pull the elastic through the channel.

Here’s how I like to do it: button the right side of your buttonhole elastic to the button you sewed. Insert your crochet or latch hook into the left-hand slit until it comes out the right slit. Grab your buttonhole elastic with the hook and pull it through.




Step 8: Adjust as needed for your scrawny kid.



This is much preferred to the obnoxious lump of elastic I got from Plan D.

When I put the pants on Squeak this morning, they looked perfectly normal.  Happy kid, happy mom!






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