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How do you hem a pair of pants?

Updated on July 23, 2008

Fix your pants.

This has probably happened to you, you have a pair of pants and they are too long, or you're out and about and suddenly you're tripping over your hem. Here are some easy ways to hem your pants without a lot of sewing knowledge or experience.

First up let's cover an emergency type situation. Maybe you're at work and the hem on your slacks has fallen and you need to fix it. If you don't have a portable sewing kit handy, get a friend to help you out. Grab a stapler, and have your friend fold your hem to the proper place and put a few staples on the inside near your ankle and one or two on the outside ankle for the rest of the day. If you don't want to do that you can also use super glue (try asking your janitor, IT department, or facilities department) to hold up your hem.

If you do have a sewing kit, use a paperclip to hold your hem in place while you repair the hem with a needle and thread. Remember, whatever stitch you're using don't pull too tightly, keep your stitches on the small side and be careful. If you can't find a paperclip some scotch tape can also come in handy.

The easiest hand stitch to do is called a running stitch. Basically you just bring the needle through the fabric in an up and down motion. I like to start on the inside of my garment to keep my knots invisible. To make a more secure hem, use what's called a backstitch. Start with a running stitch for three stitches, then on the last one leave a little loop and bring the needle through that stitch and gently pull it firm. Don't pull too hard or you'll break your thread. Once you get the hang of doing that, try using mainly backstitches. If you don't get it at first try practicing until you've got it down.

If you're at home and ready to mend hems here's what you do. Turn your pants inside out and use a marker (make sure the marker is washable ink) to make a small mark where you are going to fold up your hem, then you can iron the bottom of your pants to keep your place and get sewing. If you are hand sewing make sure you have somewhere to work with a good light source and your supplies at hand.

You'll need the garments you're hemming, thread to match those garments, several needles (incase you break one), if you need it a needle threader, scissors and patience. Once you've got your hem stitched up, finish it with several backstitches on top of each other to keep it secure.

For a more crisp hem, check the label on your garment then iron accordingly.

Once you've got the basics down, whether you're hand sewing or using a sewing machine you can try out changing the length of a pair of pants. Turn a pair of jeans into Capri pants or even try turning your boot cut jeans into straight legs.

Other tips, while sewing your hem it's easiest to work with your pants turned inside out to make sure your seam is clean on the outside where you can see it. Also use the buddy system as silly as it sounds. The hem will look different if you are bending over to look at it. Have your buddy help you pin or paperclip your hem where you want it so there are no surprises when you're finished sewing. Also remember if you're working with a thicker tougher fabric like denim you'll need a thicker stronger needle and thicker thread to work with. Keep in mind that your thread should not be leaving visible holes in your fabric. Treat fabrics according to how delicate they are.

Now that you're hemming pants, be a little green and try fixing up some thrift store clothes or recycling clothing out of your own closet. You don't need any special skills and it can be a fun inexpensive hobby. Enjoy


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    • profile image

      BaNaNa 5 years ago


    • OneRadiance profile image

      OneRadiance 7 years ago

      You know you can save on sewing by using quick iron on strip that glues the hem down, simply by ironing. Also I once bought an emergency fabric glue kit at the airport once when my skirt hem came down unexpectedly. Worked a treat!

    • messerc123 profile image

      messerc123 7 years ago from El Paso, Texas

      I will say that I can actually hem a pair of pants but only by hand. I would also love to try to fix up some thrift store finds. I love thrift store shopping. Great hub