How to Hem Pants With a Sewing Machine

New dress pants too long to fit? I have a quick solution for you, and it doesn't involve going to a seamstress!

Isn't it annoying when you buy pants that are so perfect in every way except for the length? Luckily, this isn't a good enough reason to not buy those awesome pants. Get them and let's fix them at home with some simple steps.

There are two ways to go about this. You can either hem pants by hand, or using a sewing machine. In this guide, we'll look into doing the latter.

If you haven't done this before, don't worry, the process is very simple and this blog post will take you through each step to the last. What you need to do first is bring together your tool set.

Tools required

What tools do you need to hem pants with a sewing machine? Here's a quick list:

  • A pair of pants
  • Seam ripper
  • A pin or ten
  • Blind hem presser foot
  • A tailor's chalk or a marking pen
  • An iron and ironing board
  • Sewing table and sewing machine
  • Measuring tape, a sewing gauge or a ruler
  • And a few threads

With the ultimate toolkit set up in your work space, let's dive into this great tutorial!

Note that this task will be easier if you had someone to assist you with the second step.

Step 1. Unpick the Existing Hem

The first step to this detailed process is unpicking the original hem from the pant legs. For this step, you can use the seam ripper which gets the work done quick and neat without damaging your pant legs. You can acquire one at any notions or fabric store.

Pick up and turn your pant leg inside out. Use the seam ripper to unpick the stitches. It would be best if you had an adequate opening to slip your middle finger inside the seam. Now use your thumb and pointing finger to slowly pull your hem apart.

Step 2. Measure your desired length

It's time to set up where the new hem will be placed. In this step, you'll need to wear your pants or have someone with similar height do so. Have this DIY assistant wear your shoes as well, so that you can get the correct length.

Keep in mind that shoes differ. For instance, a heel changes space available on the front side of your foot for the hem pant to suspend freely. Similarly, the padding on top of your sneaker affects how the hem hangs.

In other words, where a hem line lands is greatly affected by the shoe you wear. For this reason, you will need to put on the shoes you will wear with the pants for a perfect fold. Adjusting when barefoot will make the pants shorter when you wear your shoes.

Fold the pant leg outwards, adjusting it accordingly until you achieve the right length. Pop a pin near the bottom to remember where you should stitch the new hem line. Do the same on the other pant leg.

Take off the pants and place them on your work top to proceed with the next steps.

Quick Tip: To accurately measure your own pants when wearing them, consider standing in front of a mirror. Bend over to adjust the fold and stand up straight when checking to see if it has the proper length. Most times, pants stick to our thighs when we get up from sitting or bending. Therefore, ensure to straighten them before checking the new length.

Step 3: Gauge the new hem allowance

Reach out to your sewing gauge or measuring tape to handle this step. Here, we need to ensure that the cuff is even all round, to avoid unleveled hem pants.

Measure a few inches apart as you go round and place a pin after confirming each measurement. The pins help holding it in place.

PS: You're measuring the full fold from top to bottom.

Next, mark around two inches from the cuff, and cut off the excess fabric above that. You can cut it out using a pair of scissors. Be keen to only cut off the excess.

Repeat the process on the other pant leg.

Step 4: Iron the folded edge

First, turn the pants inside out after taking out the pins. At this point, the raw edges are flat and not folded anymore; however, we need to create a new fold before ironing.

So take out the sewing gauge once more, measure a two inch height from the leg opening and fold the cuff evenly all round. Place it on the ironing board, double check the height and start to iron out the folded hem.

Quick tip: For easy and accurate ironing, you can push the edge of the ironing board into the leg opening to iron each section at a time.

Step 5: Prepare for Blind Stitching

Blind stitching is where the final stitch cannot be identified unless the hem is turned inside out.

To achieve this, use a thread that has the same color as your pants' fabric.

It's time to tuck in the hem. Remember we still have our pants turned inside out.

Hold the top part of the cuff with your pointing finger. Place your thumb right under the hem and your middle finger on the inner side of the cuff. Use both hands to do this.

Use your pointing fingers to push the cuff inwards as your thumbs pull the under-hem area against the hem. This under-hem area shouldn't fully reach the hem; keep it about a quarter inch down to give it seam allowance.

Now place pins around the bottom edge to keep the fold from running.

Do the same thing for the other leg.

Step 6. Attach a blind hem foot to your sewing machine

To attach your blind hem stitch into position, you will need to raise the needle to its highest point. Do the same with the foot. On the back of your presser foot, press then release until it drops. Now place the blind hem foot under the snap before lowering the presser to ensure the foot bar snaps right into the machine.

Confirm that the foot is snapped correctly by raising the foot lever. After correctly attaching to the sewing machine, select the blind hem stitch those sewing patterns.

This setting will create zig zag patterns with a series of straight stitches. You can use a random cloth to test if the setting works before applying it on your own pants.

Step 7. Sew your blind hem stitch

Finally! We can now sew the new hemline.

Turn the fabric inside out and place it in position on the machine. Ensure the foot's vertical plate is positioned on top of the fold. The sewing machine will make a straight stitch along the edge section.

Quick Tip: If you have a sewing machine that has a free arm exposure, then detach the tool tray from the machine and sew the hem without it. This gives you a chance to fit the free arm inside the leg opening of your hem pants. Do this by sliding your pants over the free arm. You can do this with any material pants.

You will, however, need to hold the pant carefully to ensure the fold stays under the vertical plate. Ideally, inspect your sewing every now and then - don't be in a rush to get done.

When you arrive at the thick seam that seals your pant legs from your crotch downwards, you'll need to motivate the process. First pause, check to ensure the cuff is still straight and hasn't slid over. Then use both your hands to firmly hold and tighten your pants as the needle goes over the thick stitch.

Have one hand tag the cuff from behind the hem foot and the other at the front side. Pull the cuff on the opposite direction at the same time with both hands. Be firm but gentle and let the needle do it's part.

Remove your pant, snip the thread and turn it right side out. Check for possible missed stitches. If none, press the new pants hem again with an iron to seal the deal.

Step 8. Unfold the magic

You are likely to get some pits, especially where the stitch caught the right side up of your pant, but don't sweat it. Using a blind hem ensures that you unfold to a perfect finish. The stitches are not easily notable, mainly if you match the color of your fabric with a matching thread. In a nutshell, your pants get a tailor-like touch. Use an iron to smooth out the iron perfectly.

Pro Tips:

Sewing your own pants is an enormous accomplishment; whether it's a hand sew or a machine one. However, it would be best if you had the right tools to perfect the job. Remember that fancy tools can be more of a con than a pro. The best sewing machine is easy to use and durable, and can produce solid stitch quality.

As a beginner, when purchasing a sewing machine, research the most important features of a sewing machine and the type of projects you are likely to work on.

Finally, if you're hemming denim pants, wash them a couple of times before the adjustment since most denims shrink when washed affecting the leg length.

Bottom Line:

Pants that are too long are easily spotted. It's either the break is too big, or fabric is dragging on the floor. To have a blind hem stitch on a pair of pants might cost you around $15. If you have fast-growing kids, you probably spend a lot on something you can do at home.

Hemming pants is pretty straightforward. That long pant leg should never come between you and the beautiful pants you admire on sale. With the above steps, you have the advantage when you go shopping. The hem pants will also have a clean finish that will help them last longer by avoiding unraveling. Who said long leg pants are only for the 6" 7". Happy sewing!

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