When you find the right pair of dress pants, you know it. They are the perfect material, and they fit right everywhere. . .But then, you look down and realize they cover your feet, and there’s no way boots or high heels are going to give you the height you need to not trip on the bottoms of the pant legs.
What now? The answer is simple: you need to hem them. It seems like a relatively simple process, but you might feel overwhelmed by how to get it done if you’re not an avid sewer.
In this tutorial, we’ll go over how to hem your own pants both by hand and by sewing machine. You’ll save yourself some serious money if you have several pairs of pants you need to hem up. There’s no need to go out and spend $20 or more to have a pair of pants hemmed up if you can do it yourself. I want to save you the time and money you would pay someone to do this for you by explaining how to easily handle the situation yourself.
What You Will Need to Follow this Tutorial
Without Sewing Machine
- Dress pants to be hemmed
- Sewing needle
- Seam ripper
- Ironing board/towel and hard surface
With a Sewing Machine
If you’re using a machine, you’ll need the same materials as above but with the addition of the items below:
- Bobbin and top spool
- Sewing machine
Step by step instructions
Without Sewing Machine
1.) Decide how much of your pant legs you want to remove. Do this by putting on your pants, then folding the fabric from the bottom inwards at the cuff. Stand in front of a long mirror to adjust the length right where you want it. You can adjust as many times as you want at this point, so make sure you are happy with the length. Try them on with the shoes you will wear the most with them to ensure they sit on top just as you want them to.
2.) Don’t take the pants off just yet. You don’t want to inadvertently cause the inwardly-folded material to unfold. Grab some pins, and pin the folded material to the outside material to hold it in place. You’ll need to do this in a few places, evenly spaced around the entire bottom of the pant leg. You can place the pins vertically or horizontally. Be careful not to nick your shoes, socks, or leg as you place the pins in the material.
Pin both legs. You can also measure how much you cut off of one leg, and do the same for the other leg.
3.) Now you can take off the pants to get ready to sew them. Turn them inside out, and turn your iron on. If you have an ironing board, use it to help you maneuver the fabric more easily. A standing, full-size ironing board or a table-top one will serve well, but you can also lay down a doubled-over towel on a hard surface and place the pants on it.
Make sure that the iron has water so it doesn’t scorch the pants, and check the type of fabric of the pants, adjusting the temperature of the iron as necessary to prevent burning the pants. Don’t keep the iron in one place too long. Just quickly move it over the bottom of the pant leg to make a new crease.
4.) At this point, you can remove the pins. You won’t need them to hold the crease in place because the iron did that for you. Put the pins in a safe location so that you don’t risk accidentally losing them and stepping on them later. This happens all the time to even the best tailors and seamstresses, so be careful, and put the pins back in their container or on a pincushion.
5.) Next, unfold the pants. You’ll be able to see the old hem seam, and this is where you want to grab the seam ripper to rip out the old hem. Just stick the seam ripper into the seam, and gently pull the old hem out. You’ll have to pull at the thread with your fingers, and you may need to use the scissors to cut some lengths of it off. Be sure not to cut the fabric instead of the thread if you find that you have to use scissors.
6.) Now, unfold the pant leg completely. You’ll be able to see two creases: the old hem and the one that you ironed for the new hem. Cut about a quarter inch from the end of the end of the old crease. This is so you can fold the fabric over cleanly. If you don’t have much room between the creases, you have the option of ironing a quarter-inch crease. Then you can simply fold it over.
Ideally, you’ll have about two inches between your creases so that you don’t have to try to sew your hem at the complete bottom of the leg. You can also make the pants longer down the road if you want to with this extra material.
7.) Fold the pant leg back up with the quarter-inch of material folded over in between the cuff you’ve created and the main material of the pant leg. Now, you’re ready to start sewing. Make sure the color of your thread is close to that of your pants. You don’t want white thread and black pants. Cut about two feet of thread, or a little more. Pull the thread all the way through the needle. Then even up the ends of the thread, and tie a knot at the bottom. You’ve got a heavier duty sewing tool now with the double-threaded needle.
8.) Put the needle through the cuff of the pants and also through just about two threads on the outside of the pants. Move-in a looping motion, with about a centimeter between stitches. This keeps the thread from showing much on the outside.
Remember to sew with the pants inside out. Sew all the way around the cuff of the pants. Tie two knots in the fabric when you finish. This will keep the thread from coming out and the hem from coming out. If you need more thread at any point, just repeat how you threaded the needle from step seven.
When you finish sewing, it’s time to iron again over the new hem.
With a Sewing Machine
1.) Follow all of the steps up to the part where you start to cut the thread and put it through the needle above. The preparation steps for cutting the fabric, placing pins to hold the new hem, pressing the new hem, turning the pants inside out, etc. remain the same. Sewing with a machine just changes how you get the actual sewing part done.
2.) Wind your bobbin with the same color thread as your top spool. Next, set the stitch option on your machine to a medium straight stitch. Sew an extra quarter-inch seam from the top of the hem, and sew around the bottom of the pant leg. Take each pinout, and place it in a safe place as you go. Reverse the stitch on the seam to lock it in place, lift the foot, and cut the extra thread. Then repeat this process with the other leg. Finally, turn the pants right side out, and then iron the hem, as in the instructions for sewing without a machine.
- Iron the center crease back into your pant legs when you finish sewing. The crease will come out when you are ironing the new hemline. Ironing the crease in again will give your pants a sharp, finished look.
- Be careful that you don’t pull too hard on the thread when you sew by hand because the dress pant fabric is delicate and can get holes easily, and the fabric can pucker on the outside if the seam is too tight.
Now that you’ve sewn your hem, you are ready to head into your next business meeting or high-fashion celebration in style with pants that are the right length for you. Best of all, you learned an important new skill, and you did this all yourself without having to spend any money. I am happy to share these steps with you so that you can DIY dress pant hems anytime, and I hope you liked them. Tell us what you thought of the article, and give your own tips in the comments below. Share the article with anyone you think would benefit!