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How can I Hem my Pants?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hemming pants is a simple task with a sewing machine or by hand, and can make an otherwise unusable pair of pants a stylish addition to your wardrobe. Usually, consumers need to hem pants because they are slightly too long for the leg, although in some cases a higher hem is desired to create a particular look. Either way, making a basic hem is very easy, and if you're feeling ambitious, you can also decorate the hem of your pants with embroidery, ribbon, or fabric in an offset color.

The procedure for hemming pants is the same, regardless as to the reason for the hem. Start by determining where you want the new hem of the pants to fall. The easiest way to do this is to put the pants on, and have an assistant pin them to the correct height with sewing pins, making sure that the hems are even. Look at the pants in the mirror to make certain that you are satisfied with the hem, and try them on over the shoes you are most likely to be wearing with them as well. Then, carefully ease the pants off and turn them inside out, so that you are looking at the inside of the pant leg. Next, press the hem so that it is easy to work with, making sure that it is evenly pinned while you do so.

You want approximately two inches (five centimeters) of fabric to work with. If you are hemming up more material than that, trim it down to size. Then, fold it over so that a raw edge is not exposed inside the pants to irritate your legs and ankles. If you want to decorate your pants with a contrasting fabric or ribbon, set it into the hem with pines so that you can sew everything together. If you are using a sewing machine, make sure that it is loaded with thread which matches the pants or provides an attractive contrast, and that the needle is heavy enough to penetrate all of the layers of fabric, especially when you are working with denim. If you are hand sewing, you can choose to create a hidden hem by making small, tight stitches which will not be readily visible to the casual viewer.

Once you have hemmed the pants, turn them right side out again to check your work. You should have sewed evenly, producing a clean line of stitches equidistant from the bottom of the hem, and the hems should be even or smooth: if you had to gather fabric slightly, it should be evenly distributed along the whole hem, not bunched up along the seam. Your freshly hemmed pants are now ready for action when you need them next.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon15284 — On Jul 07, 2008

what is the name of the hem used on jeans where you can see the stitching about a 1/2 inch up? -jl

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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