Altering the length of dress pants and other pants is easy.
If you bought pants that are too long, don't take them to the tailor. It is easy to hem pants yourself with a little time, patience and some simple tools like an iron, seam ripper, scissors, needle, thread, pins, ruler, marking chalk and a sewing machine.
After seeing the list of tools and supplies needed to shorten the pants, you may say "I can't do this". Let me reassure you by saying that this is not hard! Not at all. Once you know how to do it, it gets easier and easier.
Learning basic clothing repairs will save you some serious money. Another common pants repair is to fix undone pants hems. We have a wonderful tutorial on how to rehem pants using a sewing machine's blind hem stitch.
But let's get back to today's tutorial on how to shorten the hem in a pair of pants. Here is a step-by-step hemming pants photo tutorial with instructions using lace hem tape and we also have a visual tutorial which you can see by clicking the link below to go to our YouTube video tutorial.
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how to hem dress pants or trousers shorter
WHAT YOU NEED:
INSTRUCTIONS on how to shorten trousers and pants
Step 1: Choose Hem Tape when hemming pants
For this hemming pants tutorial, flexi-lace hem tape will be used.
Are you wondering why I am using this tape? There are two reasons.
First, this lacy tape is a quick and professional hemming option when you have bulky or thick fabric and want to avoid the thickness of multiple folds.
Next, usually, the bottom edges of ready-made dress pants are finished with a serger. But if your pant length is too long and you must cut off the extra fabric, you will have to finish the edge of the pants. Ideally, you should use a serger to serge the edge but if you do not have a serger you can use flexi-lace hem tape.
The Flexi-Lace Hem Tape is a narrow strip of stretch lace made by Wrights and can be found prepackaged at fabric stores in the same section where you find bias tape.
Hem tape comes in a variety of colors so choose a color that matches or compliments the color of the pants to be shortened.
Step 2: Remove original hem from pants
Depending on the length of the pants, it may be helpful to unpick the existing hem. This is easily accomplished with a seam ripper to pick out all the stitches.
Then unroll the original hem and be sure to press out the crease.
Below is how the pants should look with the hem removed and pressed.
Step 3: Determine the Correct Pants Length
When hemming pants, try them on with the shoes you plan to wear with the pants. Fold the leg material up on the outside where you want the hem to hit. Keep the fold in place by inserting straight pins. You only need to do this on one pant leg. You can transfer the measures over to the other one.
STEP 4: Measure and Mark the hemline
Take the pants off and measure the width of the fabric that is folded up. Then unfold.
Lay the pants on a flat surface with the right side of the pants facing up. Using the measurement, take your sewing gauge ruler and marking tool to mark the hemline by measuring this distance all around the pants leg.
Then place a ruler along the marks and run the chalk along the edge of the ruler to mark a line all the way around the pants leg.
STEP 5: Add Hem Allowance and Cut
Once you have that hemline marked, you need to make another line to add the hem allowance.
A 1 ½” hem is standard for dress pants. So, add this hem allowance by measuring 1 ½” from the previously marked line.
Use chalk and a ruler to mark a line around the entire pant leg.
Now that you have the marked hem, cut along the mark you just created (the mark closest to the bottom edge) to get rid of the excess fabric. Just to be clear, you are cutting on the lower marked line.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 on the other pant leg using the same measurements.
Step 6 Attach hem tape
Once the excess fabric has been trimmed off, it’s now time to machine sew the lace hem tape to both pant legs.
Lay the lace hem tape along the right side of the fabric so that the raw edge of the fabric is running down the middle of the lace tape. Pin in place.
If you are wondering what to do with the hem tape when you get back to the start, just overlap the hem tape by ½”. This trim does not fray so you don’t have to worry about finishing it.
Take the pants to the sewing machine and edgestitch along the border of hem tape to secure to the fabric.
STEP 7: Hem pants
Measure the new hem width. Measure from the hemline to the edge of the hem tape.
Turn the entire pair of pants inside out. Fold the bottom of one pant leg fabric up according to the new measurement. Pin to hold the hem in place and press with an iron. Repeat on the other pant leg.
Single thread a needle! Cut a length of thread and push the end through the eye of the needle so you have a tail about 3 - 5 inches long. Knot the opposite end.
Blind hem stitch the hem tape to the pant legs.
I like to start hemming at the inseam. Take a small stitch in the seam allowance and pull the needle through so the knot is on the underneath side between the tape material and the pant leg.
Then, pick a thread or two from the pants and pull the thread through,
poke the needle directly across from the picked-up thread/threads into the edge of the hem tape and tunnel along the back about 1/4 - 1/2". Pull the thread through.
Take the needle directly across from where it came out the hem tape into the pants and pick up a thread or two of the pants.
Continue hemming around the entire pants leg. It’s also important to keep consistent spacing between your stitches.
Repeat with the other pant leg.
When finished hand hemming both pant legs, flip your pants back right side out, press the hem again with an iron, and you’re done.
You just shortened the pants with an invisible hem and they're ready to wear.
Look you can't see any stitches. Here is an example of the front of finished pants.
And, this is a picture of the inside of the finished pants.
Neat and professional. Now, you'll be able to shorten pants like a pro.
I hope this was helpful to some of you. Be sure to pin and bookmark so you'll have this pants shortening tutorial available as a future reference.
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