Hemming pants is one of the easiest sewing projects, and it makes your garment look professional and crisp. There are a variety of ways to hem a pair of pants, whether you’re using a machine or sewing by hand. In this article, we’ll take you through a variety of ways to hem pants and give you a few tips and tricks along the way.
To hem pants, you’ll only need a few simple items. If you’re sewing by hand, you’ll need a needle and strong thread. The best type of needle and thread to use will depend on the fabric of the pants. For example, if you’re hemming jeans, you’ll need a thicker needle and stronger thread to hold the hem in place. Familiarize yourself with different types of threads for different projects.
For machine sewing, obviously, you’ll need your machine fitted with the correct type of needle and a sturdy thread.
Additionally, you’ll need a measuring tape or a ruler, pins or sewing clips, scissors, a seam ripper, and a sewing gauge. An iron and an ironing board are helpful for pressing hems in place, but not completely necessary.
Step One: Remove The Original Hem
The first thing you need to do, no matter what method you employ, is to remove the current hem. Most pants come pre-hemmed unless you’ve made them yourself. Get the pair of pants you want to hem, and rip out the old seam with a seam ripper. To do this, insert your seam ripper under the stitches, and pull up to break the threads. If you don’t have seam rippers, you can use a small knife or a sharp pair of nail scissors.
Unfold the hem completely, and press it flat to remove existing creases.
Step Two: Measure Your Inseam
The next step is to measure your inseam. There are a few easy ways to do this. The first method is to measure your inseam on your body. Your inseam is best measured with shoes on, as you’ll almost always wear your pants out with shoes. Take a tape measure, measure from your crotch to the bottom of your shoe. This measurement is your inseam.
Alternatively, you can take a pair of pants you have that already fit well. Take your tape measure and measure from the crotch seam down to the hem of your pants. Use this measurement as your inseam.
Step Three: Measure And Trim
Now, it’s time to measure where your hem should hit on the pants you’re working on. First, turn your pants inside out and lay them out on a flat surface. Measure out the length of your inseam, starting from the crotch. The end of your inseam measurement is where your hem will be. Mark the hemline with some chalk or an erasable fabric pen. Add one inch more for the seam allowance, and make a second line.
If you have inches of excess fabric past the seam allowance, it’s best to trim this off. Use a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter to do this.
Step Four: Measure And Fold The Hem
Now, it’s time to measure and fold the hem. To do this, set your sewing gauge to ½ inch. Fold the hem up to ½ inch, and use your sewing gauge to make sure the fold is ½ inch on both sides. Press this in place with an iron.
Repeat this once more, folding the hem up once more. This will create a double-fold hem. Use your sewing gauge to ensure the hem is even all the way around. Once you’ve ensured the hem is even, pin or clip the hem in place.
How To Sew The Hem With A Machine
If you choose to sew the hem using your machine, load your bobbin and top thread with thread of the same color. Set your machine to a medium straight stitch. Stitch along the folded hem, leaving ¼ inch seam allowance.
To easily measure your seam allowance, use your sewing gauge, and mark the proper distance from the hem in a few spots with a pencil, piece of chalk, or heat erasable fabric pen. Connect these marks using a ruler.
Now, sew all the way around the hem on the line you’ve marked. Remove the pins or clips as you go. Once you reach the beginning again, secure the hem by using a lockstitch. To do this, sew three to five stitches, then use your reverse stitch button to go back over these three to five stitches. Then, sew forward again over those stitches to secure everything in place.
Repeat this process on the other leg. Now, turn the pants right side out and press in place. If you prefer the look of an exposed hem, fold your hem over onto the right side of the pants before sewing.
How To Sew The Hem By Hand
To sew your hem by hand, begin by threading your needle with a thread that matches the color of your pants. Cut a length of thread that’s more than long enough to go around the perimeter of the hem twice. Thread the needle, pulling the thread through the eye until it reaches the midpoint of the thread. Double the thread back over itself, creating a double thread. This will make the stitches stronger, and it will be easier to tie off once you’ve finished.
Insert your needle into the fabric, and sew along the seam allowance line you drew. Sew along the entire perimeter of the hem. Once you’ve reached the beginning again, secure with a knot, a backstitch, or any other method you prefer. Repeat on the other leg.
Certain pants with unique fabrics will require specialty hems. We’ll go over a few of these below.
Narrow rolled hems work well if you don’t have a lot of extra fabric along the hemline, or for very lightweight fabrics, like linen. To begin, press up the raw edge with an iron, around ⅛ inch to ¼ inch. You’re trying to make as small of a fold as possible.
Repeat this process, pressing the hem up once more about ⅛ to ¼ inch. Pin or clip in place and stitch close to the top edge. If you find this too fiddly or difficult, you can buy specialty feet that attach to your sewing machine, called rolled hem feet or hemmer feet.
Blind hems are nearly invisible from the right side of the fabric. If you don’t want to be able to see the hem, this method works well. You’ll often see this method used at the bottom of slacks or for wider, straight hems.
To sew a blind hem, begin turning the pants inside out and pressing the fabric along the raw edge about ¼ inch. Press the edge up again over itself by the seam allowance. Pin along the hem, placing the pins vertically.
Now, fold the hem folds back over the right side of the fabric, but leave ⅛ inch poking out from under the edge. Make sure your machine is threaded with a matching thread for the best results. If your machine has a blind stitch setting, select it. If not, select a stitch with a width of about 2-3 and a length of about 2-3.
If your sewing machine has a blind hem foot, attach it now. If not, you can use a regular walking foot; just concentrate to make sure you’re sewing straight. Stitch along the edge, where you’ve left the ⅛ inch of fabric exposed. Fold the hem down, and you should have a stitch that’s invisible from the right side.
Zig-Zag or Overlocked Hem
You’ll see a zig-zag or overlocked hem on many types of store-bought clothing items. It’s great for bulky fabrics, like jeans. To do this, you’ll begin by zig-zag or overlock stitching along the raw edge. Then, fold over by the seam allowance. Stitch across the top of the finished edge to secure.
Tips And Tricks For Hemming Pants
- Always make sure to remove the original hem and press it out with an iron. Trying to make another hem on top of an existing one will result in unnecessary bulk.
- Wear shoes while trying on your pants to ensure the hem is in the right place. You’ll almost always be wearing pants with shoes, so you want to make sure your hem falls in the right spot.
- Stand up straight when trying on your garment. Your posture will affect where the hem hits.
- Always double-check your measurements! Make sure your hem is turned up the correct amount, and make sure the hem is turned up evenly all the way around.
- Don’t cut off too much fabric. You can always cut off more, but it’s much more difficult to add it back on.
Hemming pants to the proper length is important to make sure they look crisp and professional. There are a variety of ways you can hem your pants, ranging from easy to advanced. With a little practice and this guide, you’ll be hemming like a professional in no time at all.
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