How to hem pants

Whether it is for a costume or your “office” clothes, knowing how to add a cuff to a pair of pants is simpler than you may think!  Below, we will go over this technique, step by step.  You will need:

  • Iron
  • Measuring tape or gauge
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Serger (optional)
  • Ironing ham (optional)

Let’s get started!

Step One: Get Some Pants

For this tutorial, we are shortening a pair of pants as well as adding cuffs.  If you are just adding cuffs (not shortening), skip to step three.  We will give these pants a 1.5″ hem.  For any pair of pants that you are adding a cuff to, make sure you have an EXTRA 4″ past what you want to be the final pant length to be.  For example, if you want the pants to have a 31″ inseam, but want to add a cuff, you will need to have a starting inseam length of 35″.

Step Two: Cut the Pants

Cut off any excess pant fabric.  As mentioned above, make sure you have 4″ EXTRA than the final inseam length you need.

Step Three: Finish the Edge

You can either serge the edge or finish it with a pair of pinking shears.  For this tutorial, we will serge the edge.

Step Four: Ham and Measure

Get an ironing ham and your measuring gauge.  Warm up your iron.  The ham is optional, but incredibly useful and highly recommended.

Step Five: Measure 1″

Fold up a 1″ hem to the INSIDE of your pants.

Step Six: Iron It!

Iron the hem into place.

Step Seven: Measure 1.5″

Fold up a 1.5″ hem to the inside of your pants.  At this point, the 1″ hem will be enclosed inside this hem.  This is only temporary.

Step Eight: Iron It!

Iron the 1.5″ hem into place.

 Step Nine: Fold to the Outside

Fold your hem over to the OUTSIDE of your pants.  Double check to make sure it measures 1.5″ – if you match up the bottom edges, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Step Ten: Iron It!

Iron your new hem into place.

 Step Eleven: Bring out the 1″ Hem

Flip the 1″ hem (the first one you ironed) to the inside of the pants.

Step Twelve: Pin It!

Pin your hem in place.

Step Thirteen: Stitch It!

Stitch your hem into place.  This can be done with a blindstitch machine or by hand.  We have demonstrated, in a contrasting thread, how to stitch the hem in place by hand.  When you stitch it into place, make sure you only catch a small amount of fabric, as you don’t want your stitches to be visible on the outside of the garment.

Step Fourteen: Anchor Stitches at the Seams

Make sure you anchor the cuffs at the side seams of the pants with a few stitches.  If you do not anchor the cuffs at these areas, they will eventually flop over.

Step Fifteen: Finished!

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You’re all finished!  Enjoy your newly cuffed pants!

Supplies to Hem Pants

  • Scissor
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Seam ripper 
  • Measuring tape
  • Hemming tape (I strongly recommend Wonder Tape 1/4 inch. Regardless which one you buy, make sure the width is under 1 inch so that you can use it on a variety of projects)

Hem pants without sewing ... step by step guide for the easiest alterations EVER!



There are a few ways to determine the length you will need on a pair of pants. The easiest way is to simply measure the inseam on a pair that fits you well, and possibly making some adjustments plus or minus an inch or two. If this is not an option, I find that one way to determine the length on your own is to put on the pair you are hemming, and cuff one leg inside until it sits where you want it to. Mark this point on the inseam and take the measurement.

Once you know how long you want the leg to be, mark a line from this point on the inseam 90 degrees to the outseam. If you find that the legs of your pants tend to “swing” in one direction or the other, this is a good time to fix that. You can cut the side of the leg that swings away from your leg shorter by a small amount, 1/4″ – 1/2″ will be enough. This will cause the leg to swing in the opposite direction it was before, and to sit correctly.

Standard Hem

This is the hem everybody here is probably most familiar with. It is used on just about every 5 pocket style jean, usually under 1/2 an inch in width, and often chain stitched to achieve that oh so desirable roping effect. This style of hem is also versatile, and lends itself well to most sized leg openings, and lengths anywhere from enough for cuffs to cropped.

Stitching for this style can be high or low spi, and either tonal or contrasting. Take cues from the other stitching on the pants you are hemming when deciding.

  1. Mark a line square to the inseam at the desired length.
  2. Measure the width of the original hem (in this case it was 3/8″). Double that, and mark a line that distance down from the desired length. This is your seam allowance.Lines marked for hem and seam allowance
  3. Cut off the excess fabric at the seam allowance.
  4. Press the cuff inwards at the line marking the length.Pressed seam allowance
  5. Starting at the inseam, fold the raw edge of the fabric so that it is held inside the crease you pressed and leaving no raw edge exposed.
  6. When you begin to sew, very gently push the fabric on the inside of the pant leg with your left hand, and slightly pull the un-sewn folded edge with your right. This will mimic the roping effect caused by the folders on old chain stitch hemming machines, and is an optional aesthetic choice. This has to be done really gently so the machine is moving the fabric and not your hands, otherwise the stitches will end up a little uneven.Twisting the hem for roping.
  7. When you reach the point where you started the seam, sew over the line of stitching for an inch or two to lock in the stitches.
  8. Press the hem.
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Complete standard hem.

How to Hem Pants using a Blind Hem Stitch

Have you had those moments when you’ve found the perfect pair of jeans but the length is just too long for you? This used to deter me from buying it but now that I have mastered how to hem pants with just the perfect pant break,  I just don’t give up and walk away from the pants of my dreams. This is my tried-and-tested method on how to blind hem stitch a pair of pants using a sewing machine!

Step 1: Fold and iron the pants hem

hem | Sewing Techniques: 3 Easy Steps in How to Hem PantsCarefully remove the original seams of your pants with a seam ripper or sharp scissors. Once you’re done, put on your pants with the shoes you often use. Cuff the fabric on the area where it grazes your shoes and pin it in place. Now this is your ideal pants’ length!Now, wiggle out of your pants and turn them inside out. Grab a ruler and measure the distance from the edge of the pants to your desired hemline. Compare if the measurements of both legs are the same. If they are, then iron the edges well to make a crisp crease. This will guide you as you hem the pants. Wear the pants again just to make sure you are making the right hemline before we move on to the next step.fold | Sewing Techniques: 3 Easy Steps in How to Hem PantsNext, tuck the ironed part of the hem inside of itself . Do this until a half inch of the cuff sticks out of the fold. Remove the old pins and pin the new fold in place. Then, lightly iron the crease in place again.blind stitch | Sewing Techniques: 3 Easy Steps in How to Hem PantsWe will use the sewing machine set to blind hem stitch setting for this step. Place your pants with the wrong side up on the machine and stitch slowly. Once done, remove the pins and press the new hemline fold in place.Now, try out your pants again. You can now check if the cuffs look even and drop to the right length.

Watch this video by Sugar Bee Crafts to see the steps in action and never wear pants that are too long for you again!

I love this quick and simple three-step tutorial on how to hem pants with a blind hem stitch. The stitches are not noticeable at all! Now if you don’t have a sewing machine at home, you can do the last step by hand using a basic slip stitch (also known as a ladder or blind stitch) or a blind hem stitch. I would usually do these when I was still learning how to sew.

Sew much fabric…sew little time! Need a little more thread? Click here.

Creating the Cuff

  1. Mark chinos at desired length for wearing (if the pants are not unfinished like the ones I began with this is where I recommend letting the hem out.)
  2. Measure down X inches of material that is required for desired cuff size
  3. Double check measurement
  4. Cut off excess material
  5. Fold material up toward the outside by the amount of material that you added for the cuff (see bel0w)Turning chino cuff up
  6. Iron material
  7. Fold the material down toward the bottom of the pants. The material will now pass the bottom of the pants by 1.5”.
  8. Iron material
  9. Turn the material inside of the pants by 1” and iron. You will now be able to see what the finished pants will look like.Cuff
  10. Pin the bottom of the cuff. I would put at least two pins in. One on each size.Pinning Cuff
  11. Turn the pants inside outTurn inside out
  12. Turn .5” of the extra material down behind this material
  13. Iron the material
  14. Take a break
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Hemming the Cuff

  1. Thread the needle with 2-3 ft. of thread and tie a knot at one end of the thread
  2. Now we are going to start sewing. Take the needle and place it through the extra material pulling the know so that it will get stuck
  3. Next run the needle through a little bit of the main chino material.  You don’t have to worry too much about the thread showing because we are sewing low enough that it the cuff will cover our marks. See the picture below to better understand the sewing method I described.Sewing Cuff
  4. Continue sewing like this until you get to the other seam
  5. We will now attach the top portion of the cuff to chinos so that they are secure
  6. Push the needle through to the outside of the pants
  7. Next going back and forth between the inside of the cuff and the main leg of trouser 4-6 times so that the thread is not visible
  8. After attaching the top portion of the cuff to the chinos push the needle back through into the inside of the chinos.
  9. Knot the thread and pull tight the thread tight so that you have enough thread to keep sewing
  10. Continue to sewing as you were in Step 3 until you come to the seam on the other side
  11. Repeat Step 7
  12.  After completing Step 7 add 2-3 knots and then cut off excess thread
  13. Enjoy your freshly cuffed and hemmed chinos!

Finshed PantsFinished Product (Undisclosed Chinos)

Learning how to hem pants may be one of the most useful skills that I have learned. I feel liberated. No longer am I dependent on my tailor or the dry cleaner to hem a pair of trousers and the timeline to turn them around is now up to me. Plus, I save $20 for every pair that I hem myself. If you have any question about the process please don’t hesitate to ask. While creating this post I learned just how challenging it can be to write step-by-step directions.

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