How to Lengthen Pants

4 Simple Ways to Fix Pants That Are Too Short

Pants that are too short
Erin Huffstetler

Don't you hate it when pants shrink after washing and now you've got more ankle showing than you wanted? Or you may simply have growing kids. The pants that you bought a little long at the start of the school year are now looking more like capris. You hate to have to donate good pants to the charity thrift store when there is still good wear left in them. You can save a too-short pair of pants with one of these simple fixes below.

Let Down the Hem of the Pants

Cropped image of young man sewing denim jeans at home
Kentaroo Tryman / Getty Images 

If you only need an extra inch or so of length, letting down the hem is a good solution. Here's how to do it.

  • Use a seam ripper to rip out the hem of each pant cuff. If you don't have one, it's worth a trip to a fabric store. But in a pinch, you can try to use a small pair of scissors. This will give you at least an extra inch to work with for lengthening the pants.
  • At this point, you can leave the edge unfinished if you don't mind the look of having a frayed edge. Some fabrics will fray more than others, but you'll get some extra life out of the pants.
  • For a tailored look, run a row of stitches along the edge. This will help prevent fraying, at least for a while longer.

Add a Cuff to the Pants

When you don't have enough hem to let down, you can lengthen your pants by adding a fabric cuff to the bottom. Dig through your fabric stash for a piece of fabric, ruffle or lace that you can sew onto the bottom of each leg to create a cuff: This is a fun and stylish option and can work for jeans or for dress pants.

Add More Fabric Mid-Leg

Similar to adding a cuff, you can add a section of fabric in the middle of the upper or lower leg, or even at the knees. Cut part of the pants legs off. Sew in a new section with a coordinating fabric. Then, stitch the rest of the pants legs back on. Voila. Longer pants!

You can either try to match the fabric, such as denim for jeans or use a completely different inset for color or style. Your kid may even become a trendsetter with this look at the school. You will probably get the best life out of the patch by matching similar weight and construction of the fabric. Otherwise, the fabrics may not launder as well together, wrinkling and pulling at the stitching.

Turn Them into Capris

Give in to your highwater pants and turn them into capris or shorts of the length you like best. If you can roll them up and cuff them, you might stitch the cuff in place so you don't have to do it every time. For a permanent solution, cut a few more inches off of your pants and hem them into capris or shorts.