How To Hem Dress Pants

Having your pants fit correctly is important! I’ve covered how they should fit in Fit Is Everything – Part 2 (The Pants). After doing the How To Tailor A Shirt article and video, I’ve had a lot of requests for a tutorial on how to tailor pants, so this week we’re going to learn how to hem dress pants.

Note: Before I begin, let me say that this is a little complicated. There is also a video that I made at the end that might clear somethings up if you have any questions. Also, don’t be afraid to comment if something doesn’t make sense!


The first step is to fold your pant leg inside to see how much you want to take off. When you’re happy with the length, pin it.

1. pin desired length


Next, turn the pants inside out and iron a new crease.

2. inside out and iron new crease


Take out the pins and unfold.

3. unfold


Using a seam ripper, rip the old hem seam.

4. rip existing hem


After you do that, unfold the pant leg all the way.

5. unfold all the way


Since the distance between the two creases was perfect, I just cut a 1/4″ from the end of the crease so it would fold over nicely. If your distance between creases isn’t a good amount, you can iron yourself a 1/4″ crease to fold over.

6. cut off excess


Fold the pant leg back up with the 1/4″ crease tucked below. Now you’re ready to sew.

8. fold back over


Using thread that is the same color as your pants, cut about 24″ of thread and tie a couple of knots in one end so the thread doesn’t slip through the fabric. What you want to do is go through the “cuff” and then only through about 2 threads of the outside of the pant in a looping motion. That way only the tiniest bit of thread will show on the outside.

9. sew loops just catch two threads


This is what it will look like on the inside when you’re finished.

10. finished sewing


This is what it looks like on the outside when you’re finished. No seam!

11. finished product


If you are more interactive, here’s a video that I made with probably even more detail.



If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to write them in the comments section. I know this was a tad complicated. I’d love to help or talk about your experiences!


“One hem doesn’t work on every pair of pants. If you tell a tailor to make your jeans the same length as your pleated trousers, you could wind up looking like Pee-wee Herman.” – Kayleen Shaefer



2 thoughts on “How To Hem Dress Pants

  1. Do you ever tailor the waist or seat? I’m thin and can very rarely find 28/32 or even 29/32 pants (the only stores that consistently sell these sizes are high end and very pricy). I’m often forced to buy 30/32 to get the appropriate length. This leaves me with unsightly waistline buckling under my belt. I’ve gotten comfortable bringing in my shirts (thanks for that post, by the way, it was excellent!) I’m also comfortable changing the hem on pants. But the waist and seat are trickier and I have yet to find a good online tutorial. Any suggestions? I have a tailor I like who is good and his price is reasonable, but still more than I can afford on a regular basis. I use him for really special items but for more everyday stuff I’d like to learn to do it myself (I know my price isn’t prohibitive!) Thanks!

  2. Unfortunately altering the waist and seat is more complicated. :/ I’ve never even attempted… The only advice I can give you for that is on dress pants that have the blind stitch like in this article, there is extra fabric hidden in the leg that you could make the pants probably an inch longer with. So instead of cutting off fabric, you could let out the fabric and make a new blind stich really close to the bottom.
    The other piece of advice I guess I have for you is try shopping at thrift stores. (If you haven’t already, check out my post on thrifting). If you can get the pair of pants for $5 or $10 then paying a tailor won’t seem nearly as bad.
    Also glad you like the shirt post. It’s one of my favorites as well.

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