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Design & Style

How to Hem Your Own Pants: 3 Easy Ways to Hem Pants

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 21, 2020 • 4 min read

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Tan France Teaches Style for Everyone

If you bought pants that are a little too long and you can't wait for a tailor to professionally hem them, don't worry. You can hem your own pants at home, even if you don't have a sewing machine.

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How to Hem Pants With a Sewing Machine

If you have a sewing machine, hemming your own pants is easy.

  1. Gather your materials. You’ll need the pair of pants, a seam ripper, straight pins, an iron and ironing board, a measuring tape or ruler, scissors, a sewing machine, and thread in the same color as your pants.
  2. Remove the original hem. Depending on the length and thickness of the original pants, you may need to remove the original hem. Use a seam ripper to get all of the stitches out, then unfold the pants and iron them flat.
  3. Fold and pin. Turn the pants inside out. Fold each pant leg up to the desired length. Keep the fold in place by inserting straight pins along the top of the fold, parallel to the new hem. At this point, you can try the pants on to make sure they're the right length. Make adjustments if needed.
  4. Iron and trim. Iron the folded hem on each pant leg to create a crease. Once you have a crease, you can remove the pins and unfold the pant legs. Using scissors and a measuring tape or ruler, trim the pants, leaving one inch of extra fabric below the crease. This is called the “seam allowance,” or “hem allowance.”
  5. Fold and pin again. Starting with the raw edge of the pant leg opening, fold up half an inch, and iron as you did before. To prevent the raw edge of the pant from fraying, fold it over again, up one more half inch. Iron and pin once more.
  6. Sew. Load your bobbin and top spool with thread that matches your pants. Sew in a medium-length straight stitch around the pant leg opening, a quarter inch from the top of the hem. Take out the pins as you sew.
  7. Iron again. Iron your pants one final time to keep the crease in place. Turn them right-side out.

How to Hem Pants by Hand With a Needle and Thread

If you don't have a sewing machine, you can go the hand sewing route.

  1. Gather your materials. You’ll need the pair of pants, straight pins, an iron and ironing board, a measuring tape or ruler, scissors, a needle, and thread in the same color as your pants.
  2. Remove the original hem. Depending on the length and thickness of the original pants, you may need to remove the original hem. Use a seam ripper to get all of the stitches out, then unfold the pants and iron them flat.
  3. Fold and pin. Turn the pants inside out. Fold each pant leg up to the desired length. Keep the fold in place by inserting straight pins along the top of the fold, parallel to the new hem. At this point, you can try the pants on to make sure they're the right length. Make adjustments if needed.
  4. Iron and trim. Iron the folded hem on each pant leg to create a crease. Once you have a crease, you can remove the pins and unfold the pant legs. Using scissors and a measuring tape or ruler, trim the pants, leaving one inch of extra fabric below the crease. This is called the “seam allowance,” or “hem allowance.”
  5. Fold and pin again. Starting with the raw edge of the pant leg opening, fold up half an inch, and iron as you did before. To prevent the raw edge of the pant from fraying, fold it over again, up one more half inch. Iron and pin once more.
  6. Sew. Sew the new hem using a blind stitch—a type of stitch that will be barely visible from the outside of the pants. Thread a needle, and tie a knot at the end of the piece of thread. Pull the needle through the seam allowance so that the knot is on the inside of the crease. Then, push the needle back through the seam allowance. Use the needle to pick up a few threads from the fabric of the pants behind the seam allowance, then pull the thread through. Make tiny stitches like this all the way around the hemline. Finish with another hidden knot.
  7. Iron again. Iron your pants a second time to keep the crease in place. Turn them right-side out.
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How to Hem Pants Without Sewing

If you don't have a sewing machine or needle and thread, you can hem your pants with hem tape, which you can find at most drugstores. To use hem tape, turn your pants inside out, fold them to the desired length, pin and iron the crease, and then apply the hem tape to the fold. Iron over the folded edge. Hem tape is only designed to last a few washes, so it's a temporary solution. Don't have an iron? Look for hemming stickers, which don't require heat transfer.

Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?

Get a MasterClass All-Access Pass and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.

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