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How to taper trouser legs

Updated February 21, 2017

The width of trouser legs at the hem varies with changing fashions and the style of top you wear with them. Sometimes a wide leg is needed to balance a top with strong horizontal lines, but a slim-fitted shirt can be overwhelmed by trousers with wide legs and a full top may need narrow trousers to keep the whole outfit from looking boxy. If your trousers fit well in the waist and hips, you can easily taper the legs from hem to knee to suit the style you want to wear.

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  1. Mark the location of your knee on the side seam with a pin. Take off the trousers.

  2. Measure the distance from the hem to the pin. Turn the trousers inside out and mark this distance on the inseam and side seam on both legs.

  3. Lay the trousers out flat. Place a metre rule on the trousers with the inside edge at the pin on the side seam and the other end of the same edge on the hem. Pivot the edge of the stick until the trousers have the taper you desire. Draw a line along the edge of the rule to mark this taper,

  4. Draw a line from the knee to the hem on the inseam in the same way.

  5. Measure along the hem from the seams to the lines you drew. Use these measurements to mark the other leg of the trousers to match the first leg.

  6. Take out the hems on both trousers legs.

  7. Machine sew a seam along the four lines you drew. Trim the fabric 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) outside the seam. Finish the raw edges of the seam allowances with a 6 mm (1/4 inch) wide zigzag stitch.

  8. Replace the hems and turn the trousers right-side out.

  9. Warning

    Do not taper the trousers so much that your foot will not fit through the leg. This method will not work on jeans with flat-felled seams. Flat-felled seams have stitching that shows on both sides of the fabric.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pins
  • Tape measure
  • Metre rule
  • Fabric marker
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread

About the Author

Camela Bryan

Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.

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