Shortening Trousers

FOS Trousers1Although pant length alterations on men’s trousers are usually free with purchase, the return trip to pick them up is often a hassle. Even a non-sewer without a sewing machine can put up a hem in trousers. Trousers for men and women are handled in the same way. Here’s how:

Unless you have experience in marking pant length on the body, perhaps the best method for determining pants length is by comparison to another pair of hemmed trousers from the closet.

Super-impose hemmed trousers onto the legs of un-hemmed trousers, pinning pants together at crotch point. Compare inner leg seam lengths, from crotch point to finished hem. Mark finished pant length on the un-hemmed pant (see first diagram). From my experience, inner leg seam comparison is more reliable than side seam comparisons, since different pant styles ride the body differently at the waist.

After the finished length is determined, 2” will be added for hem allowance. Mark 2” from the finished length toward the pant bottom (see first diagram).

Measure this distance from the pant bottom. This measurement determines the amount to cut off from the bottom of the pants. Measure and mark the cutting line from the pant bottom. Use a ruler to connect chalk markings. Cut off excess length. Since menswear fabrics rarely ravel, pinking shears are optional; regular scissors will do the job. If the fabric seems likely to ravel, zigzag or overlock raw edge if you have access to a sewing machine. If not, dab raw edge of fabric with Fray Check, a fabric sealant found in the notions department of fabric stores.

After excess length has been cut off, mark finished length at regular intervals 2” from newly cut bottom. Fold hem allowance to the wrong side. Hand-baste in place 1” from raw edge of hem. Press well with steam (see diagram below).

As you hand-stitch, fold ¼” of the hem toward you. Hand stitches will be hidden, formed ¼” below the top of the hem.

To hand-hem with invisible stitch results pick up one thread from the garment, move forward ¼” and pickup one thread from the hem (see diagram below). The secret to an invisible hem is not to pull the thread too tight. Make a knot every 4” to prevent entire hem from falling out if a heel catches.

FOS Trousers2


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