How to Taper Pant Legs

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Turn yoga pants into leggings.
Turn yoga pants into leggings. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The width of pant legs at the hem varies with changing fashions and the style of top you wear with the pants. Sometimes a wide leg is needed to balance a top with strong horizontal lines, but a slim-fitted shirt can be overwhelmed by pants with wide legs and a full top may need narrow pants to keep the whole outfit from looking boxy. If your pants fit well in the waist and hips, you can easily taper the legs from hem to knee to suit the style you want to wear.

Things You'll Need

  • Pins
  • Tape measure
  • Yardstick
  • Fabric marker
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread

Mark the location of your knee on the side seam with a pin. Take off the pants.

Measure the distance from the hem to the pin. Turn the pants inside out and mark this distance on the inseam and side seam on both legs.

Lay the pants out flat. Place a yardstick on the pants with the inside edge at the pin on the side seam and the other end of the same edge on the hem. Pivot the edge of the stick until the pants have the taper you desire. Draw a line along the edge of the yardstick to mark this taper,

Draw a line from the knee to the hem on the inseam in the same way.

Measure along the hem from the seams to the lines you drew. Use these measurements to mark the other leg of the pants to match the first leg.

Take out the hems on both pants legs.

Machine sew a seam along the four lines you drew. Trim the fabric 1/2 inch outside the seam. Finish the raw edges of the seam allowances with a 1/4-inch-wide zigzag stitch.

Replace the hems and turn the pants right-side out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not taper the pants so much that your foot will not fit through the leg.
  • This method will not work on jeans with flat-felled seams. Flat-felled seams have stitching that shows on both sides of the fabric.
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