Easy Tips for Sewing a Pants Hem

Linda Ann Nickerson (guest contributor)

Here's what usually happens when you shop for trousers. You think you've found the perfect pair, you enter the dressing room, and you discover they are either too short or too long.

It's challenging to find pants that are the right length, and private and in-store tailors may charge anywhere from $5 to $20 or more to hem a pair of pants. So it's handy and cost-effective to learn the art of sewing clothes, particularly when it comes to pants hems.

Luckily this task is fairly simple to do. Here are some tips for how to sew a pants hem.

Gather your supplies
Here are the items you'll need for sewing clothes in general: a steam iron and ironing board, a few straight pins, a ruler, and a needle and thread. (Try to match the thread to the background color of the pants, if possible.)

Plug in your iron and switch to the highest heat setting allowable for the fabric of your pants. Check the fabric-care label inside your garment.

Try on the trousers

Before you begin to sew, put on the shoes you plan to wear with your trousers, then try on the pants. Ask a friend to place a straight pin (aiming horizontally) where the pants meet the top of your shoes. Adjust a bit longer or shorter, depending on the style you wish to attain.

Turn the pants inside out
Before you hem your pants, you will need to work from the inside of each leg. Turn the trousers inside out, with the right sides facing together inside each leg.

Measure carefully
Take each pant leg and roll them up to the desired length, using your ironing board as a work surface. Use a ruler to measure the new hem allowance, all the way around each pant leg, pinning as you go. Press the pant leg neatly, easing the hem allowance, if necessary (especially with flared-leg pants).

Place the pants flat on your ironing board and press them together to make sure both pant legs are the same length.

Trim pants hems, if needed
Check out your new hem. If you have turned up more than 2 inches of fabric, you can carefully trim off a bit from each pant leg. After doing so, turn your hem allowance up again and repress it flat. (For children's clothing, you may wish to leave the large hem allowance. That way you can lengthen the pants again after your child grows a bit more!)

Hide the rough edges

To eliminate any rough edges in your hems, tuck under a small seam allowance (about 1/8 to ¼ inches), all the way around each pant leg. Press the entire hem area of each pant leg firmly.

Stitch your pants hems
There are two options for stitching your pants hems: You can use a sewing machine, particularly if your machine has a blind-stitch option, or you can sew by hand. Narrow hems, such as those found in skinny jeans, are usually best stitched by hand as these are difficult to maneuver with a sewing machine. Also, the hems of flared pants often require a bit of easing and adjustment, which you can do more simply by hand.

If you sew your pants hems by hand, you will likely use a basic blanket stitch. Thread your needle for double-strength. Begin at the inseam (the seam between the legs of the pants) and sew all the way around to the same spot.

If you are a steady sewer, you can topstitch jeans and ultra-casual sportswear. Select a straight stitch and sew all the way around the hem allowance.

After sewing your pants hem, be sure to remove all straight pins and iron once more before wearing.

Sewing clothes will not only save you money, but it provides you a creative outlet as well. Learning how to sew pants hems means you can walk into any clothing store and choose any trousers you like, knowing you can make sure they fit correctly.

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waist Band elastic
I would like to learn how to add elastic to the waist of pants. Not the kind that you thread the elastic thru but the way the elastic is sewn on the inside of the pants.
cutting pants before hemming
By trial & error, I''ve discovered that cutting my pants before I hem them helps keep the hem smooth. So I was delighted that this was included in the directions.
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