How to Hem Your Own Pants

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What You'll Need

How to Hem Pants
Learn how to hem pants the easy way. Photo: Getty/Wuka

There are also video instructions for this tutorial.

When it comes to pants, it’s all about the fit. You may have a pair of pants that look great on the booty but are too long or short for your legs. Hemming pants is so easy that leg length should never stand between you and a hot pair of pants. If you can hem pants, then you’ve got the advantage every time you hit the dressing room.

What you'll Need:

  • Seam Ripper
  • Scissors [recommended scissors]
  • Chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing Kit or Sewing Machine
  • Iron and Ironing Board

Gather the above supplies and get ready to prepare your pants.

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Prepare your Pants

How to Hem Pants
Remove the existing stitching.

You will need to remove the stitching that is already there. A seam ripper works so much better and quicker than a pair of scissors. Be careful not to cut or poke the fabric itself. Along the very edge of the hem, you may see a zigzagged or looped stitch. This is in place to keep the end of the fabric from unraveling. Leave this stitching intact if possible.

Unfold the hem completely so that it hangs loose. We are going to iron a 1/2 inch fold.

Plug in your iron and let it heat up. Some fabrics are not heat-safe, and will actually melt when an iron is applied, so test a small area first. This step is a great way to test your pants to see if they can be ironed in the future. Checking the tag can sometimes give you this information. When in doubt, lay a damp towel between your iron and the fabric. Iron about a 1/2 inch fold to give it a nice crease. Repeat with the other leg.

When your ironing is complete, we can see how long you want your hem.

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Find Your Length

How to Hem Pants
Pin at the top and bottom of your new hemline.

Put on the pants you want to hem. Wear the pair of shoes that you plan on wearing with the pants. Hemming pants without the shoes on will make the hem too short! On the side of your left leg, fold the hem up and inside the pants. Use a full-length mirror to get the best idea of what the end result will look like. Adjust as needed until it looks right in the mirror.

Pin the hem in place at the top and bottom. Insert one pin first along the top of your hem. Since we folded and ironed the ½ inch in step 2, you should be able to easily feel the edge of the fabric from the outside of the pants. Make sure the fabric is straight before you insert your second pin at the bottom. You do not need to do this to both legs. Take another look in the mirror to see if it still looks right.

Now we will measure and pin the other leg.

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Measure and Pin

How To Hem Pants
Measure to find your desired length.

Take off the pants. Carefully turn them inside out without disturbing your pins. With your measuring tape, find the length from the bottom fold to the top edge of the fabric that you folded up and inside the leg. Use this measurement to fold and pin the rest of the hem. Measure in at least in four places all the way around to make sure it is even. Use chalk to mark each measurement. Do not use pen, pencil or markers, because they can stain and even run after washing. Measuring correctly now means less to adjust later. Measure, fold and pin the other leg in the same manner.

Now you are ready to iron the hem.

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Iron the Hem

How To Hem Pants
Iron the new hem for easy sewing.

Ironing will put your new hem in place. You will be creating a new crease along the bottom and erasing the old one as though it were never there! Ironing may seem like a trivial step, but it is the foundation of hemming.

Iron all the way around the bottom edge, removing your pins as you go. Repeat with the other leg. If you are worried about making mistakes, this would be another good time to try the pants on again and take a second look in the mirror. The hem can always be re-measured and ironed again before you sew. Replace your pins to hold everything steady while you sew.

Once you have ironed your hem in place, you’re ready to sew.

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Sewing it Up

How-To Hem Pants
See the difference that hemming makes.

If hand sewing:

You should have selected a color of thread that matches or comes close to the original thread used on the pants. It is a good idea to use a piece of thread that is about 3 feet in length. You can always re-thread if you run out, but you won’t want a string that is too long to manage. Thread a medium-sized needle. Begin stitching a straight stitch 1/8 inch from the top of the hem and go all the way round. Do not sew around the bottom of the hem.

If machine sewing: ​

Load your bobbin and top spool with the same color of thread. The thread should come close or match the original thread used on the pants. Set your machine for a small to medium straight stitch. Begin stitching 1/8 inch from the top of the hem and go all the way round. Be sure to tie off all thread ends on the inside of the pants.

If sewing isn't your thing, try the no-sew method.

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Optional No-Sew Method

How-To Hem Pants
The no-sew method is great for beginners.

For a quick and easy hem, you can always try the no-sew method using fusion tape. Fusion tape is a fusible material that has an adhesive coating which will bond the fabric together without sewing. It is kind of like double-stick tape but activated with heat. Fusible tape will come pre-cut in strips and ready to apply to a project like a hem. In fact, it is also known as 'hem tape'.

Follow all directions that come with your fusible material as the application may vary. It is a good idea to try a little bit at a time to test what kind of pressure and heat you need to apply with the iron for the best bond.

Measure a piece of fusible tape that will fit all around inside the hem. Tuck it inside and iron it according to the instructions on the fusible tape package.

If you need some more guidance, watch these instructions on video.

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