Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to Hem Pants - tutorial

Ever had a pair of pants that were just too long?
Almost everyone has.  Many of my friends pay to have their pants hemmed shorter.
While hemming some pants for someone else I decided to do a tutorial to hopefully help anyone out there who would like to learn how.

I'm using my sewing machine, but you can do similar stitching by hand.  In fact, until I learned how to use the hem stitch on my machine I did all my blind hemming by hand.
 A blind hem is a hem that you can't see as easily as a regular stitch, through the fabric.  

The first thing you want to do is to pin the pants up at the appropriate length.  The pants that I'm working with are quite a bit too long.  They are for a little boy.  His mother wants to keep the extra length so that they can be let out as he grows, so I am not going to cut the extra fabric off.  I am simply going to fold it up into the pants and put my hem in high enough to keep it held up.

Next you are going to kinda flip the bottom of the leg inside out.
In the above photo the existing bottom of the pants is on the right and the area that will be sewn to it is folded over on the left.  You will not be able to see this angle once the pants are hemmed.

You want to pin this so that your fabric stays looking nice and flat.  Otherwise, when you get done sewing around the pants leg you will have a gap at the end of the stitches and it will not look nice. Just take your pins out as you come to them so that you don't break your needle or bend the pins.

Now you want to choose your hem stitch.  #15 on my machine is the blind hem stitch to be used for knit fabrics or elastic.  #16 is for woven fabrics.  The pants that I am hemming are slightly stretchy so I will be using #15.  You may be able to tell by the diagram that several smaller stitches will be produced in the right side of your fabric, then one stitch will go into the folded fabric on the left. If you are doing this by hand then you are probably going to end up with a stitch that looks more like #16.
When you sew you want the one stitch that goes off to the left to only catch a single thread on the fabric.  This is what makes it a blind hem.  It's kinda difficult to do.  If the stitch is too wide it will be seen from the right side of the fabric.  If the stitch is too narrow it won't catch at all.

When you are done going all the way around check to make sure you don't have any gaps in your hem, just in case you didn't keep the fold close enough to the needle while sewing.  Then turn your pants legs right side out and admire your work.


  1. how do you get the type of hem shown as the original hem? I don't know what it's called, but it has the double stitching row on the right side and a surged looking hem on the wrong side.