How to hem pants the easy way and get professional results

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I recently learned a whole new approach to hemming pants that is easier than the other method I know and also provides much better results.  This method for hemming pants is suitable for beginners and can be done by hand or with a sewing machine.

(Hemming pants is just a fancy way of saying “making pants shorter”.)

You can definitely hem a pair of pants with just a needle and thread, but a sewing machine definitely makes it a lot faster and easier. I’ve had my sewing machine for years, but if I was looking for a new one, I think I’d go for this model on Amazon (affiliate link).

Knowing how to hem pants is a great life skill to have. It can be a struggle to find pants that are exactly the right length.  I used to not buy certain pants just because they were too long and I thought hemming them was too much of a hassle.

After learning this method of how to hem pants, jeans that are a tad too long will no longer be a problem!

I could hem a pair of pants before if I had to, but the results were less than ideal.  Now, I can quickly and easily create professional results.

My previous method for hemming pants looked like this:

  • measure how much extra length there was
  • cut off about an inch less than the amount extra
  • fold under twice and pin
  • sew

The problem with this method is that the hem at the bottom doesn’t look the same as the original hem.  My basic sewing skills don’t even let me make a good approximation to the original hem and matching the thread color is also an issue if, like me, you only have half a dozen colors of thread on hand. 

The magic in the new method I’ve found is that you hem the pants without cutting the original hem. It’s a super slick trick that keeps the pants looking like they did originally.

My newly discovered method for hemming pants looks like this:

Time needed: 15 minutes

How to hem pants the easy way

  1. Measure how much too long the pants are

    Try them on with the shoes you intend to wear them with. It can be nice to have a helper for this step.

  2. Fold and pin the pant leg

    Fold the pant leg up so that the distance between the bottom of the existing hem and the bottom fold is half the length found in step 1. Pin into to hem pants: step 2: folding and pinning

  3. Sew just below the existing hem

    The thread won’t really show, but you still want to use a color that matches as closely as possible. You can either use a sewing machine or just do it by hand. Sew close to the existing hem, but be careful not to sew on top of it.

  4. Fold the original hem back down

    This is the step with the magic! Now the original hem is still there making your hem job look super professional. how to hem pants: step 4: fold original hem back down

  5. Cut off the extra fabric (or just fold it in and secure with a few stitches)

    Option A. Cut it off leaving about an extra 1/3 inch.  Iron the seam so that the piece with the original hem isn’t tempted to fold back up.  This is the best option for heavier fabrics like denim and fabrics that aren’t likely to fray too much.
    Option B. Fold the extra fabric back up inside and add a few stitches to secure it.  (This is a great option if you want a hem that can be let out later- say for a growing young person.) The stitches ensure that it won’t fold back down and show when you’re wearing the pants. I use about 5 stitches across the vertical seams lines where they won’t be noticeablehow to hem pants: step 5, option B. Fold extra fabric up and secure with a few stitches

This is a super slick method to achieve a great end result.  If you give it a go, let me know how it works for you in the comments below!

You might also enjoy reading how to make laminated picture magnets.

Credit where credit is due

I learned about this trick from How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit and Feel amazing  (Amazon affiliate link).  It only had a couple of sentences about this trick which was referred to as the ‘Hollywood Hem’, but I vaguely remembered it and came back to it when I was looking to hem some pants.

I actually only read part of this book, but the point that really stuck out to me was how it’s only relatively recently that we’ve started expecting mass-produced clothes to fit us right off the rack.  It highly recommends getting a good tailor to make modifications.  That made a lot of sense to me, but looking for a tailor is not on my to-do list for the day.  I will definitely be making sure my pants are the right length though!

Why actors look like a million bucks

The author states that she has never put an actress or actor on stage without at least some sort of modification to each item of clothing to make it fit properly. 

Apparently that is part of why they always look so good!

This is not the sort of book that I would normally pick up- I’m not that into clothes, but I think I’d read a review somewhere that peaked my interest.  The part I read was pretty interesting and had lots of great tricks.  I imagine there was more good stuff in there, I probably just got distracted since I tend to read many books at once.   In any event, I am thankful to have picked up this trick from it. 

17 Responses

  1. I just looked at your post & it was difficult to see what you did because the material was so dark! Maybe lighter material and then turn it after your finished so we can see how it turned out.

  2. When you demonstrate a method it really helps if you use white fabric and black thread otherwise it’s impossible to see and understand what you are doing. I agree with those who mentioned “the bulk”. – not a good method.

      1. I have called this a “foe” hem for years, it keeps the original stitching pattern and threads, only draw backs are as you mentioned, bulk and iron marks on outsides. You must keep your new hem line as straight a possible to original or it will show. Next I trim the edge closest to the original hem with zigzag scissors to about 3/8″ then I serge the other to a length (on average a 1/2″) that allows me to stitch it just below or above the original hem line. This only works if there is enough room to get z scissors in, if not use straight scissors, just make sure the cuts are staggered to reduce bulk. This is the only way I have found yet to eliminate the bulk above original hem line as this method just makes a bit thicker hem line I hope this makes sense to you.

        1. I still don’t understand how to do this method! I could use a video. Do you know anywhere I can find a tutorial or a video of this?

    1. I love this method especially on jeans!! Because the original hem is still visible and as we all know you can pick out a altered jeans hem from a mile away and this method you can’t tell! 💙💙💙

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