How to Hem Trousers

by Jenny Parker ; Updated September 28, 2017

Hem your own slacks.

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Ready-to-wear trousers sold in stores are often purposely made with extra length in the legs to accommodate tall buyers. For those of average or less-than-average height, the pant legs may be too long and must be hemmed to fit properly. Although many simply take their clothing to a tailor to have it altered, if you have basic hand sewing skills, you can save money by hemming your own trousers at home.

Try on the trousers while wearing the shoes you will wear with them. This ensures that you don’t make the hem too long or short.

Fold up the hem of one leg of the trousers to the desired height and use safety pins to hold it in place. Look in a full-length mirror while standing up straight and while sitting to make sure that the hem looks right both ways.

Take off the trousers. Use a measuring tape or ruler to measure how far up you folded the hem. Leave a 1-inch hem allowance and cut off the rest. For example, if you folded up the hem by 2-1/2 inches, remove the safety pins to let the hem down. Cut off the bottom 1-1/2 inch of fabric with a pair of sharp scissors. Repeat this on the opposite leg.

Finish the raw edges of the fabric by using a sewing machine to make a zigzag or overlock stitch along the edge. If you don’t own or prefer not to use a sewing machine, apply Fray Check to the raw edges. Fray Check is a clear liquid that prevents fabrics from fraying. It can be purchased from any craft or fabric store.

Fold the 1-inch hem allowance back up. Press it with an iron and secure it in place once again with safety pins. Thread a sharp sewing needle with thread that matches the color of the trousers. Hand sew the new hem in place using a catch stitch. When you have sewn all the way around the hem, tie a knot in the thread to secure it and remove the safety pins. Repeat on the other leg.

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About the Author

Jenny Parker is a New England-based entrepreneur who has been writing since 1995. Parker writes extensively on creative self-employment and genealogy; her work has appeared on Etsy.com and Ancestry.com. She also has self-published several short story collections and is currently working on her first non-fiction book chronicling the history of her ancestors in America.