Standing at 5’1’’, I’ve had to hem pretty much every pair of pants I’ve ever bought. Luckily, it’s a pretty easy skill to master! Here are 3 easy steps you can take if you are ready to try hemming pants for yourself.
Tip 1: If you can, turn your pants inside-out before you begin. This will allow you to better visualize exactly how much you’re taking up.
Put on whatever shoes you’ll most often be wearing while in these pants. If you hem your pants while you’re barefoot or just wearing socks, your hem will look too high once you’re wearing shoes.
Wearing the pants, stand tall but naturally. If you have another person to assist you, ask them to measure your hem with a tape measure or pin it for you. I generally aim to have the edge of my pants almost-but-not-quite graze the floor.
If you’re by yourself, you can still hem your pants by trial and error: just look in a mirror and estimate how many inches you’ll need to hem, take the pants off and try pinning up your hem at that length, then put the pants back on to see how you did. You can adjust and re-adjust your pinning until it looks right.
If your pants need to be hemmed less than 1 inch, you can turn under the fabric just once. (Because this is a store-bought garment, there are no unfinished edges, so just turning under the edge once is perfectly fine.) In my case, I needed to shorten these sweatpants a whopping 2½ inches, so I turned under my edges twice.
Tip 2: Unless you need to hem more than 3 inches, I don’t recommend making any cuts to the fabric of your pants. It’s easy to accidentally take your new pants from too-long to too-short, and while you can always undo pins (or even rip out stitches), you can’t go back in time and un-cut your fabric.
Then just stitch around the base of your pants where you’d pinned to sew your new hemline in place. I used a ⅝” stitch here.
Tip 3: If your sewing machine gets hung up at a thick side seam, gently pull it through from behind as you sew. This can particularly be a problem when hemming jeans or other thick material. The important thing is to keep your fabric moving at a consistent speed.
And that’s how to hem a pair of pants! This technique also works on skirts, long coats, or anything you need to hem.