Hemming pants equipment

Whether you’re just beginning your sewing adventures or you’re an experienced sewist, you can’t sew all of your clothes. Well, you can in theory. But a lack of time, the thrills of shopping, or any other reason will make you go shopping occasionally. While I usually love shopping, there’s a piece of garment that always gives me some trouble. I am talking about pants. It is sometimes ‘mission impossible’ to find a perfect fit. There’s always something that doesn’t fit. And I am of medium built. 

Of course, you can always sew pants for yourself. But, sometimes you love the commercial model and you are desperate to buy them. Some wrong fits can’t be fixed, while others can. If your dream pants are too short, there’s nothing you can do about it. On the other hand, if they are too long you can take care of it. It is actually pretty easy to do it. You can do it by hand, or you can use your sewing machine. Anyhow, you don’t need refined skills to learn how to hem pants. 

What You’ll Need to Hem Pants

As a general rule, always gather all supplies before you start working. It’s not a big deal, but it helps to be efficient and focused. You don’t want to search for your ruler or shears in the middle of the process. So, this is what you need to prepare:

  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors or rotary cutter if you prefer
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Iron
  • Chalk (optional)
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing machine or sewing needle

Step #1: Measure and Choose the Correct Length

This is actually the most difficult part. Not because you need skills, but because it’s easy to make a mistake. And then you have to do it all over again. So, don’t assume anything, check it out. The perfect length depends on the pants style and type of shoes that you’ll usually wear your pants with. Try your pants with the shoes. Now, fold your pants inwards to find the perfect length. 

But, what is the perfect length? As I said it can vary depending on style and preferences. Generally, you don’t want your pants bunching over your shoes or/and touching the floor at the backside. Pant legs hovering above your shoes is equally wrong. Well, most of the time, that is. A small ‘break’ is allowed, though, especially for taller people. So, fold your pants as much as needed to reach the desired length.

Step #2: Pin Your Pants and Create New Crease

While your pants are on you, use pins to secure them and mark the appropriate length. Place pins horizontally around the pant leg. Now, walk around in front of the mirror to check out the length one more time. If it fits, you can take the pants off. Turn your pants inside out and measure the distance from the fold to the edge or pant legs. That way you can straighten the fold and make sure that both pant legs have the same length. 

Now, it’s time to grab your iron. Press and iron to make a new crease. By doing this, you are erasing the old crease and creating a new one. Do it slowly, because you are setting your new length. Maybe it’s a good idea to put your pants on one more time to see if you did it right.

Step #3: Rip and Cut

Your pants are still turned inside out. Take the pins out and unfold them. Take the seam ripper and remove the stitching from the old hem. You can also use small scissors to do this, but it is much easier to do it with a seam ripper. Anyway, be careful not to damage the fabric. After that, unfold pant legs completely.

Now, we are almost there. Now, you need to cut extra fabric. Use a ruler or measuring tape and measure 1 1/2 inches from your new hemline. Some people leave a bit more, while others a little bit less fabric. It’s okay as long as you don’t have to sew the very bottom of the pant leg. Use chalk to make a mark. Cut the extra fabric, and you are ready to sew!

tailor showing how to hem pants by hand

Step #4: Sewing

Hand Sewing

Use a thread of the same color. Thread a needle and tie a couple of knots, to begin with. While sewing, try to pick up only one fiber or two at a time on the outside of the fabric.

The idea is to make it as invisible as possible. Sew close to the folded edge. It means ¼ or ½ inch from the hem. Sew all the way around the leg, tie a couple of knots and cut the rest of the thread. Game over!

Machine Sewing

It’s even easier to do it with your sewing machine. Load your bobbin and top spool. Set your machine to a straight stitch. As for stitch length, you can use a medium or small straight stitch. Sew all the way around and you’re done. Actually setting your machine and loading the bobbin will take longer than sewing itself!


As you can see, it is pretty easy to hem pants. So, you can forget about problems with pant legs being too long or not being sure on how to hem pants. This is a simple and effective technique to get the job done in no time. However, if you are hemming jeans or heavy fabrics I recommend using your sewing machine and an appropriate heavy-duty needle.