How to shorten trousers

Written by karen ellis
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How to shorten trousers
(ohmindyblog at Flickr)

Whether it is men's or women's trousers, few of us are a perfect "off-the-rack" size. It can be expensive to have them altered every time you purchase a new pair of trousers. Shortening your own trousers can be done easily with just basic sewing skills. A second person is helpful to help you mark that first measurement at the hem level, while you have them on.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Straight pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine (or needle)
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Iron

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  1. 1

    Put the trousers on. If you normally wear a belt with them, put it on. Also, slip on the shoes you usually wear with the trousers. Standing erect, have another person mark the trousers, with a straight pin, where the hem should be on each bottom leg. Remove the trousers.

  2. 2

    Measure and mark where you will put the hem, plus an additional 1 inch, around both bottom trouser legs. Cut the excess fabric off.

  3. 3

    Sew a zigzag stitch (or serge stitch) around the edge of each bottom trouser leg, using matching thread.

  4. 4

    Pin the hem at 1 inch to match the marked hem from Step 1, using straight pins.

  5. 5

    Sew close to the edge of the zigzag stitch, with matching thread, for casual trousers, such as jeans. For dressier trousers, hand sew the hem on each leg with a slip stitch. Press the new hem with your iron to make a crease.

Tips and warnings

  • A quick way to hem trousers, although not as permanent, is to purchase an iron-on hemming tape, such as Stitchwichery, at a fabric store. It is a fabric adhesive that is ironed on, sticking to both sides of the fabric on a hem.

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