How to hem pants with a sewing machine or by hand: step by step guide

  • Fit is key when it comes to polished, professional looking pants.
  • Correctly hemmed pants will not drag on the floor, so your pant legs will not be damaged.
  • Hemming pants with a sewing machine or by hand is easier than it looks.
  • Here’s how to hem pants with or without a sewing machine.

One of the simplest things you can do to look more professional and neat is to hem your dress pants or jeans when they’re too long. It’s easy to spot when the pants are too long. Either they are dragging on the floor, or the break (the fabric that collects on the top of the foot on the front of the pants) is too large.

The good news is that hemming pants is not difficult and can save you money. The average cost to hem a pair of dress pants averages around $ 15. If you’re like me and have short legs or have fast growing kids, you’re spending a lot of money on pant hems.

Hemming pants is so easy that leg length should never be between you and a great pair of pants you hang up on sale. If you know how to hem pants, you have the edge every time you go shopping. In this guide, we explain how to hem pants and everything you need to do it with or without a sewing machine.

How to hem pants in a few steps:

  1. Measure your inseam to find the correct length.
  2. Remove the original hem.
  3. Measure the amount of excess fabric and cut it off.
  4. Fold the new hem.
  5. Sew a new hem by hand or with a sewing machine.

Here’s what you need to hem pants:

How to hem jeans 2

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How to measure the crotch

How to hem jeans

Debbie Wolfe / Business Insider

The appropriate length of your pants will depend on the shoes you plan to wear with them. The shoes will modify the space available on the forefoot so that a hem hangs freely. Put on the shoes that you plan to wear the most with the particular pair of pants that make the hem. To measure your crotch, measure the length from the crotch seam to the bottom of your shoe – this is your crotch.

Remove the original hem

  • Remove the hem seam that is already there with a seam ripper.
  • Unfold the hem completely so that it hangs down.
  • Iron flat to remove creases.


How to hem jeans

Debbie Wolfe / Business Insider

  • Turn the pants over and lay them flat on a surface.
  • Measure the same length of your crotch, starting at the crotch of the pants.
  • Mark the correct inside leg length on the pants plus an inch of seam allowance.


How to hem jeans

Debbie Wolfe / Business Insider

Use a rotary cutter and a ruler (or scissors) to cut off the excess fabric.

Measure the hem

How to hem jeans

Debbie Wolfe / Business Insider

  • Set your seam gauge to ½ inch.
  • Fold the edge of the pant leg to ½ inch.
  • Use the seam gauge to make sure the fold is ½ inch on both sides of the fold.
  • Press in place with the iron.

Fold the hem

  • Fold the edge of the pant leg again up ½ inch.
  • Check the width of the fold with the seam gauge.
  • Once the fold is evenly ½ inch wide, pin the hem in place.
  • Repeat on the other leg of the pants.

Sew the hem with a sewing machine

How to hem jeans

Debbie Wolfe / Business Insider

  • Load your bobbin and the top spool with the same color of thread.
  • Set your machine for a medium straight stitch.
  • Sew a ¼ inch seam allowance from the top of the hem.
  • Go around. Remove the pins as you go.
  • When you get to the start, lock the stitch in place, then remove it from the machine and cut off the excess thread.
  • Repeat with the other pant leg.
  • Finish by turning the pants right side up and iron the hem.

Sew the hem by hand

How to hem jeans

Debbie wolfe

If you don’t have a sewing machine, no worries. Sewing a hem by hand is simple and won’t take too long. A single needle and thread will give you the same perfectly hemmed pants.

  • Cut a matching piece of yarn twice the length to wrap around one leg.
  • Thread your needle and tie the cut ends together so that you sew with two strands.
  • Use the pins to hold the hem in place.
  • Insert your needle into the seam allowance on the inside of the leg to start your thread and pull it through.

How to hem jeans

Debbie Wolfe / Business Insider

  • Insert the needle through the back of the folded edge and bring the needle out about 1/8 inch from the edge and pull it through.
  • Pick up a few threads of the fabric just below (but not where you first inserted the thread) the stitch and slide your needle through.
  • About â…œ inch from where you pulled the thread, insert the needle through the back of the folded edge and pull the needle out through the front.
  • Repeat around the pant leg. You should only see minimal stitches on the right side of the pant legs.
  • Once you are done with the hem, press into place with the iron.

Fiskars Sewing Essentials Set, $ 36.54

Brother Project Runway sewing machine, $ 125.99

Sunbeam Compact Non-Stick Sole Travel Iron, $ 12.97

SINGER 01125 Assorted hand needles, $ 2.73

1.9 inch Rimobul Flat Flower Head Pins, $ 7.99

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