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.

Items you will need

  • Safety pins
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (or Fray Check)
  • Iron
  • Sewing needle
  • Thread
Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

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 and 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.