How to hem pants with a sewing machine

Sometimes you have no choice but to buy pants that are too long. And while you can always take your pants to the tailor and let them do the work for you, it’s quite simple — and much more affordable — to hem your own pants at home.

We turned to an expert sewer Amanda Perna, Ptrack project alum and fashion designer behind The House of Perna, for giving us a step-by-step tutorial on how to hem pants with a sewing machine. Different fabrics and styles of pants require different hems, so Amanda opted for the topstitched hem, which works best with denim, heavyweight fabrics, or anytime you don’t mind seeing seam marks.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a total beginner or an occasional sewer needing to hem how-to, follow Amanda’s tutorial to ensure a proper fit. And while you’re at it, brush up on your other skills by checking out Amanda’s how-to guides on threading a needle and sewing a button by hand.

Tools you will need

    how to hem pants

    • Step 1: Put on the pants and measure them. Try them with a few different shoes with different heel heights and find a happy medium.
    • 2nd step: Once you’ve found a length that works for you, mark your pants on both outside seams with tailor’s chalk. Use a ruler to draw a straight line with chalk.

      Amanda Perna

      • Step 3: Use your ruler to measure 1/2 inch from the chalk line to mark your first round.

        how to hem pants step 3

        Amanda Perna

        • Step 4: Go down another 1/2 inch to mark your seam allowance, which is the line you cut to create a new hem.
        • Step 5: Cut across the bottom mark (seam allowance) with sharp scissors.

          how to hem pants step 5

          Amanda Perna

          • Step 6: Take an iron and press it all the way down about half an inch. Place straight hems along the front and back of the hem to keep it stable.
          • Step 7: Starting at the side seam, roll inward and pin. Make sure the side seams match and the pins are on the outside, so you can pull them as you sew.

            how to hem pants step 7

            Amanda Perna

            • Step 8: Repeat on the other leg.
            • Step 9: Find a thread of a similar color to the original seam. Adjust the stitch length on your sewing machine, drop your needle, remove the pin, backstitch and away you go. Note: When working with material that stretches, use something with a longer stitch length, so it pulls easily.

              how to hem pants step 9

              Amanda Perna

              • Step 10: For side seams, use your ruffle and go slowly to get through the heavier fabric.
                • Step 11: Stitch, cut and iron flat. Repeat on the other leg.

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