How to Hem Trousers

Hem your own slacks.
Hem your own slacks. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Ready-to-wear trousers sold in stores are often purposely made with extra length in the legs to accommodate tall buyers. For those of average or less-than-average height, the pant legs may be too long and must be hemmed to fit properly. Although many simply take their clothing to a tailor to have it altered, if you have basic hand sewing skills, you can save money by hemming your own trousers at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety pins
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (or Fray Check)
  • Iron
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread

Try on the trousers while wearing the shoes you will wear with them. This ensures that you don’t make the hem too long or short.

Fold up the hem of one leg of the trousers to the desired height and use safety pins to hold it in place. Look in a full-length mirror while standing up straight and while sitting to make sure that the hem looks right both ways.

Take off the trousers. Use a measuring tape or ruler to measure how far up you folded the hem. Leave a 1-inch hem allowance and cut off the rest. For example, if you folded up the hem by 2-1/2 inches, remove the safety pins to let the hem down. Cut off the bottom 1-1/2 inch of fabric with a pair of sharp scissors. Repeat this on the opposite leg.

Finish the raw edges of the fabric by using a sewing machine to make a zigzag or overlock stitch along the edge. If you don’t own or prefer not to use a sewing machine, apply Fray Check to the raw edges. Fray Check is a clear liquid that prevents fabrics from fraying. It can be purchased from any craft or fabric store.

Fold the 1-inch hem allowance back up. Press it with an iron and secure it in place once again with safety pins. Thread a sharp sewing needle with thread that matches the color of the trousers. Hand sew the new hem in place using a catch stitch. When you have sewn all the way around the hem, tie a knot in the thread to secure it and remove the safety pins. Repeat on the other leg.

Tips & Warnings

  • While the fitting is taking place, the person ought to flex their legs once or twice and let the pant legs fall into position. Check to be sure that the lengths are the same on each leg.
  • Make sure that your sewing thread is not too tight so as to prevent puckering.

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