Last Updated on July 14, 2021
New trousers often need to be hemmed to get the ideal length and fit for your specific body. Suppose you don’t already know how you may be surprised to learn that hemming pants is quite easy. Sewing a hem on pants by hand can be done, but using a sewing machine makes the process much easier and faster. This article will teach you how to hem trousers with a sewing machine and offers some pro tips to help you hem pants easily and quickly.
Before You Begin:
What Is the Best Stitch For a Trouser Hem?
The best stitch for hemming trousers depends on the material and style of the pants. With most trousers and jeans, straight stitches are generally thought of as best. Straight stitching does not detract from the trousers, as a decorative stitch would, and is highly durable on the inside leg.
With stretchy material in workout pants or leggings, a zig-zag stitch is best. A zig-zag stitch gives the hem space to stretch and move with the fabric without ripping or damaging the thread.
A blind hem stitch is what is often seen in dress pants and more professional clothing. A blind hem stitch only shows occasional stitches on the surface of the pant leg, giving it a more seamless appearance. A blind hem stitch is not difficult, but it requires some specific folding and precise alignment when sewing. Most sewing machines come with an additional foot pedal to execute a blind hemstitch.
This article explains how to hem pants with a straight or zig-zag stitch, but the process is fairly similar for a blind hemstitch.
Gather Your Sewing Supplies
To sew your new pant hems, you will need a few basic sewing supplies. Take some time to gather your supplies before you get started, so you don’t have to take an unexpected trip to the fabric store in the middle of the hemming process.
What You’ll Need For Hemming Trousers:
- Scissors (a rotary cutter and mat can be used as an alternative)
- Iron and ironing board
- Matching thread
- Ruler or hem gauge
- Sewing machine
- Tailor’s chalk (optional)
- Seam ripper (optional)
- A heavy-duty sewing machine needle (for hemming jeans)
- And of course, a pair of pants
Hemming Trousers: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Pin the Pants to the Desired Length
The first thing you want to do is pin the trousers to the correct length. Fold the fabric inside of each pant leg and pin it in place as evenly as possible. When determining the proper length, make sure you try the trousers on with the shoes you intend to wear with them.
If you are hemming pants for someone else, have the owner wear the pants while you place the pins. This will help you get the hem to the perfect length for their body shape and length preference. If you are hemming for yourself, you may need to try them on and place pins several times to get them to the correct length.
When the pins are in place, take them off and turn the pants inside out. Check that the cuffs are the same length on both legs by measuring all of the ways around each leg. You want to double-check the new hem will be even, so make minor adjustments to the cuffs as needed.
Pro-Tip: If you are not working with a lot of excess fabric on the pant legs, you may want to use a seam ripper to unpick the original hem before you begin. Unpicking the existing hem will give you more fabric to work with. However, it may not be necessary if the pants are significantly longer than the desired length, as they may be cut off after you place the pins.
Step 2: Iron the Folded Hem
When you have an even cuff on each pant leg, it is time to iron and press the new hem fold. Start with one leg and then move to the other leg. Ironing the folded edge will help you manage the fabric while sewing and help the seam lie flat when the trousers are being worn. We recommend using a hot temperature setting to help to make a more pronounced crease but make sure you use a temperature setting appropriate for the material of the pants.
Step 3: Cut Off the Excess Fabric
Next, you want to cut off the extra length. Using your ruler or hem gauge, mark around the entire pant leg about 5 to 6cm below the crease you just made. While you may be able to hem the pants with as little as a 3cm seam allowance, a longer hem allowance ensures you will have enough fabric to turn the raw edge under in the next step. Once measured, cut off the excess length using your scissors or rotary cutter and mat.
Pro-Tip: Try marking the initial crease with tailor’s chalk before measuring the seam allowance. This will help make it more visible and give you a specific place to measure from.
Step 4: Fold and Iron the New Trouser Hem
Now that the extra length has been removed fold the bottom edge of the fabric up to the ironed crease on both pant legs. Then, fold it over again, so you do not leave the raw edge exposed. The bottom edge should be at the original crease or desired hem length. Place a few pins to help keep the folds in place, and then repeat on the opposite leg. At this point, you should be able to see how the ironed crease significantly helps you avoid uneven lines and an uneven finished hem.
Using your iron, press the folded hem in place. While it may not be necessary with the ironed creases, you may want to pin the hem in place for sewing.
Step 5: Sew the New Hem
Now it’s time to set up your sewing machine and start stitching. Before you start, make sure you know how to use a sewing machine properly for safety purposes.
Start by threading your sewing machine and winding the bobbin. Use the same colour thread as the fabric on the pants. If you are sewing jeans, you can use gold thread or blue thread, and it is recommended you use a heavy-duty needle.
Set your sewing machine to a straight stitch with a small to medium stitch width. Tiny stitches may also work but avoid them with stretchier fabrics. If you are sewing exercise pants or leggings, you should use a zig-zag stitch to allow the fabric to stretch without damaging the hem.
With the pants still turned the wrong side out, fit a pant leg over the free arm on your sewing machine. Many sewing machines have a spacer that can be removed from the free arm to help more narrow items fit over the end.
When in place, sew around the hem close to the folded edge. Take your time and stitch an even line all of the way around. Then, repeat on the other pant leg, and you are done!
Pro-Tip: When sewing jeans, use a thicker thread and only wind the bobbin. The bobbin thread is the thread that will show, and often, a thicker thread will not fit through the top of the machine as easily as a regular thread. If you are not good with threading, we recommend you also read our guide on how to thread a sewing machine.
Hemming Trousers Made Easy
Now that you read through our helpful article, hemming trousers has probably never seemed easier, especially if you have a sewing machine. Remember to wear the shoes you will be wearing with the trousers when you measure the new hem and take time to create even lines when ironing and folding, and you will do great; happy sewing!
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