How to Alter a Pair of Women's Lined Dress Pants

Updated July 20, 2017

OK, you lost those extra inches around your hips--the hours at the gym have paid off. But now those beautiful lined suit trousers are too loose and too long. Having them professionally altered will cost between £22 and £48 (2010 prices). With intermediate sewing skills and a few hours, you can alter and hem those trousers yourself. The following instructions are for a pair of no-pocket, front-closure, fully lined trousers that need to be taken in along the side seams (mostly around the hips) and shortened by 1 inch.

Identify and mark areas to be altered. Try on the trousers with shoes; have a helper pinch out the excess fabric on each side seam and insert safety pins from the top hip to just above the knee; fold and pin the new hem length. Remove the trousers; reposition each side seam pin so that it only pierces the pant fabric and forms a line of pins. Thread-mark the new hem line and verify that both pant legs are of equal length.

Prep trousers and lining. In order to work on each layer, you'll need to separate the two. Release stitching at the hems and then continue to pull the lining away from the trousers. Carefully remove stitches and make notes about the location to help reattach the lining when you've completed alterations. The lining can stay attached at the waistband and the front zipper during this alteration.

Mark and stitch. From the inside of the trousers and using the safety pin lines as a guide, make chalk or pencil marks as indicated. Remove the safety pins; steam press the seam allowances together. Use a ruler to connect the chalk marks and form a smooth, curved seam line; repeat precisely for both pant- and lining legs. Draw a seam allowance line ½ to ¾ inches out from the new seam line; trim away excess fabric. With a medium-length stitch, sew all four side seams; rip out the old stitching to just above where the new line starts. Steam press the new seams open.

Sew new hems and reattach the lining. Fold the pant legs on the thread-marked line and pin; rip out the old hem stitching (observe the hemming method for later use). Re-hem each leg and steam press; repeat for lining hems. Try the trousers on to make sure alterations are correct. Reposition and restitch the lining.


Measure alteration points carefully for best results. Steam press gently to avoid shiny spots or seam allowance show-through.


Sewing tools and supplies can be dangerous to small children and pets. Good alterations take time; do not hurry.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing kit
  • Safety pins (1½ inch)
  • Ruler
  • Tailor's chalk or pencil
  • Steam iron and board
  • Helper
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About the Author

Kathy Arellano is newsletter editor for Grandparents As Parents, a nonprofit agency and contributes to two local newspapers, the "North Valley Reporter" and the "Crescenta Valley Sun." After a 15-year entertainment industry costuming career, she entered L.A. Valley College, served as editor-in-chief, copy editor and staff writer while earning her AA in journalism.