Top 5 Tips for Hemming Pants

There are thousands of folks out there who learn to sew for one reason only: to hem pants!

We’ve all been there: standing in the dressing room, thrilled to have found that perfect pair of slacks that hits you in all the right places, only to realize that (shoot!) they’re way too long! Luckily, you are a talented seamstress who knows how to hem pants so that they fall in exactly the right place. You buy them anyway and head right to your sewing machine!

I’ve compiled my top 5 tips for hemming pants in this list. Whether you’re that talented seamstress who’s been hemming for years or just about to tackle your first pair of pants, these tips will guide you through so you end up with a smooth, professional looking hemline.

Don’t hold them up! I know you will want to, but don’t be tempted. You MUST try them on to get an accurate measurement.

Bring a buddy. Pin at the point where they are JUST above the floor, or, to where you would like them to end up permanently. It’s very hard to get it right if you bend over (which lifts the hem further from the floor) and try to place the pin yourself.

Don’t cut off too much! When you take out the original hem, you will notice that there is maybe an inch or so of fabric that was folded up underneath the slack and hemmed into place. Don’t cut too much of this off! Feel free to put your hem a bit higher than normal if it saves some extra fabric. This reason is twofold: you can always take away, but you can NEVER add more fabric; and, what if you get a fabulous new pair of heels, and now they are too short? No worries! You have plenty of fabric in order to let them down again.

Wear the right shoes. Make sure to not shift your weight to one hip or the other. Stand with your weight equally spread across both legs, and stand up tall!

Use a blind hem. Don’t be afraid to try blind hemming! The manual for your sewing machine always explains exactly how to do it. You’ll soon find that the blind hem is a powerful sewing weapon to have in your arsenal!

Related Videos:

How to Hem Jeans
How to Blind Hem
How to Hem a Skirt

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33 Responses to “Top 5 Tips for Hemming Pants”

  1. Astheart

    The best way is to take the pants on and stand on a small table or a wooden chair, have your usual shoes on, and ask a friend to pin the right length, but just one leg; measure the length of it and make the other one the same. After pinning or basting the right length, the new hem must be ironed and then sewn on.

    • Mary

      You MUST put the pants on & pin both legs. Many people have different leg lengths. Also, hips are not always the same height. Pin BOTH legs, unless you know those differences don’t apply to you.

  2. Sharon Kimber

    I have two pairs of pants to hem. I have been putting it off as it sounded so hand sewing. I am ready to try the method you have here. Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. Yvonne

    What are those rulers called for hemming skirts and where can you get them

  4. Irene

    You forgot to mention one other important tip for a professional looking hem. Hem pants a little shorter at the front than at the back, so the hem falls properly around the foot and shoe. The ‘straight-across’ look doesn’t quite look right for a pant hem. I usually keep the front about 3/4″ shorter than the back. If you look at RTW pants you’ll see the hems finished this way.

  5. Suzanne

    At six feet tall, I’d just like to find a pair of slacks that were too long for me. Just once. And once people know you sew, they alllllllll need pants hemmed. Ummmm, NO. But thank you for asking. Oy vey! Hahaha

  6. Betty

    I don’t like the looks of the blind hem stitch on the outside of the pants. I always serge around the hem, turn it up, and hand sew it. That way you can’t see the stitching on the outside. But that’s just me! lol

  7. Jennifer Choate

    Excellent ideas! Now how to cure procrastination. There is a learning curve in dealing with this machine stitch, once mastered–your new best friend.

  8. Grandma Sue

    Very good tutorial, but I feel she should have mentioned, more than once, that the color we will use will match the pants. Little tip. If you can’t decide between 2 spools of thread, choose the darker one.

  9. Hope Solomons

    I no longer try to get my husband to pin them on me…..and I don’t pin his pants, either.
    I use a pair of trousers that fit well, and pin the new pair (after being washed, if cotton) using the old ones as a guide. Works well, even when…….with age and arthritis….one leg is longer than the other. If in doubt, try this method basting first before final hemming.

  10. EmmaG

    Most of these responses assume a straight-leg pant!

    If you are hemming a pair of pants that get either wider or narrower at the hem, the hem must be narrow or the extra (or less) fabric will bunch or pull at the hem.

    If a pair of pants that are wider or narrower at the hem, that is, if the silhouette of the leg gets smaller or larger as they go down to the ankle. The best way to hem this type of pants is as following:

    (1) If you want the pants to be shorter:

    If you want to be able to adjust the hem LONGER, don’t cut off too much of the fabric.
    (3) After deciding how much to cut off, select a stretch lining-type fabric and cut it to the width of where the pants hem will be stitched. This will preserve the extra fabric for possible lengthening.
    (4) Attach the stretch lining fabric to the edge of the pants.
    (5) Sew the stretch lining fabric to the inside of the pants so the hem is where you want it.

    • Ruth

      When I need to pin someones pants, I like to have them put them on inside out, then fold up till the bottom edge is just right. Then pin them. I agree with the other hints..wearing shoes, standing on a chair..very good.

  11. maggie.78.m

    How do i cut the lenght of pants? Laying on the table with the two legs together from the inside or outside or how this is my biggest problem

  12. Patti Riddell

    I want to alter a pair of ready made pants in the waist and buttocks. I can’t find a single instruction any where on your site. Is this something you don’t do?

  13. Sharyn Kellogg

    I always hem the pants a hair too short. Just enough that I dislike the way the pants hang. I don’t know what my problem is, but I am thinking of having someone else hem my new jeans. The hem in jeans is so small, it is impossible to go back and correct it.

  14. Andrea Jones

    Thank you. I’ve never done a blind hem on a machine but feel encouraged by your video.