How to Hem Your Own Dress Pants (Without a Sewing Machine)

You already know that short men need to get their clothes tailored to make them fit properly. Problem is, all those alterations can be expensive.

But if you’re a DIY kind of guy, you can probably do some of your own alterations.

This awesome tutorial was created by Zack Pyle, a stylish man of modest height who knows how to tailor his own clothes. He teaches us how to shorten our dress pants without going to the tailor or using a sewing machine.

Take it away, Zack!


Hey fellow Modest Man readers. I have a great DIY tailoring post for you today, so let’s get started!

The Modest Man is all about helping short men dress better and feel more confident by wearing clothes that flatter their body type.  That’s exactly what I want to help you with in this DIY tailoring article – How To Hem Dress Pants!

How to Hem Your Own Dress Pants

If you’re under the average male height of 5’10” (177cm), a common problem is getting pants that fit. When you’re shorter than average, proper fit is crucial.

Not having a break, or having a small one in your pants one will keep your legs looking longer. It will also minimize “distractions” to look at at your feet and keep people’s eyes looking up!

TRENDING: How to Save Money on Clothes opens in a new window

Unfortunately until this point, you’ve either paid a good amount of money at your local tailor, or you’ve just dealt with your pants being too long.

I’m here to teach you how to hem your own dress pants.

I actually learned from my grandmother who was hemming my pants since I was little, and I finally decided that I should just learn. Now you can too!

Note: Before I begin, let me say that this is a little complicated. There is also a video that I have made at the end that might clear some things up if you have any questions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask if something doesn’t make sense!

Dress pants are pants without a visible stitch on the outside. To do this, you have to do something called a “blind stitch,” so let’s get started!

What You’ll Need:

The first step is to fold your pant leg inside to see how much you want to take off. To do this, put on your pants, fold the fabric inwards, then look in the mirror and adjust from there until you’re happy with the length.

From there, use pins to keep the pants in place while you take them off. In the picture below, you can see that I’ve pinned the right side at the length that I want (the left side is finished to show what we’re going for).

Hem Dress Pants 1

Next, turn the pants inside out and iron a new crease.

Hem Dress Pants 2

Take out the pins and unfold.

Hem Dress Pants 3

Using a seam ripper, rip the old hem seam.

Hem Dress Pants 4

After you do that, unfold the pant leg all the way.

Hem Dress Pants 5

Since the distance between the two creases was a good amount (around two inches), I just cut a 1/4″ from the end of the crease so it would fold over nicely. If your distance between creases isn’t a good amount, you can iron yourself a 1/4″ crease to fold over.

The reason that you want about two inches between your creases is so you aren’t sewing your hem at the very bottom of the pant leg. Having this extra fabric in there also allows you to make the pants longer in the future.

Hem Dress Pants 6

Hem Dress Pants 7

Fold the pant leg back up with a quarter inch crease tucked below, and get ready to start sewing!

Hem Dress Pants 8

Using thread that is the same color as your pants, cut about 24 inches of thread and tie a couple of normal knots on top of each other in one end so the thread doesn’t slip through the fabric.

You want to go through the “cuff” and then only through about two threads of the outside of the pant in a looping motion. That way only the tiniest bit of thread will show on the outside.

Once you make it all the way around, again, tie a couple of normal knots on top of each other so the thread can’t slip through the fabric.

Hem Dress Pants 9

This is what it will look like on the inside when you’re finished.

Hem Dress Pants 10

This is what it looks like on the outside when you’re finished. No seam!

Hem Dress Pants 11

If you are more interactive, here’s a video that I made with even more detail.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to write them in the comments section. I know this was a tad complicated. I’d love to help or talk about your experiences!

About Zack — You can see more awesome DIY tailoring videos on Zack’s YouTube channel and you can follow him on Instagram at @ZackPyle.

Questions? Leave a comments below!

Comments

  1. An even easier method that works well for dress pants is to use hem tape. Measure, iron, cut as above, but use the hem tape instead of sewing. Takes some care to do this, but mine have stayed in place. I haven’t tried this with denim though, as I read it doesn’t hold well.

  2. My wife just bought a sewing machine (she is learning how to sew as well), so I am hoping to be able to do a proper seam in the next few months. But for those folks who don’t have a machine or don’t know how to use one, this technique looks great!

    Got a couple of questions:

    First, is the sewing technique that you showed where the thread doesn’t go completely through the outer fabric (thereby leaving no visible seam) somewhat fragile? It looks like something where one would need to be careful in putting on ones pants so as not to rip out the hem with ones toe!

    Second, have you ever tried this technique on a pair of jeans? Denim is thicker than the fabric on a pair of suit pants. Does it require different thread?

    Thanks for the advice and for putting together this awesome website. 🙂

    • Hey Ted,

      It’s not fragile at all. It’s the exact same as any store bought pants! (And to clarify, it actually does go all the way through the material, but it only catches 1-2 threads so it’s basically invisible.

      As for jeans, jeans don’t have a blind hem. If you take a look at your jeans right now, they have a visible stitch, so it’s a different method!

      Thanks,

      Zack

  3. awesome, more how to’s please

  4. Great job, Brock! Men should have basic skills like this. Men can also create a cuff, if they prefer, by making a very deep hem, folding the cuff up toward the outside, and using the thread to make a small stitch to hold the cuff in place at each seam.

  5. Very heppful post. Thanks.

  6. Hem tape rocks!!

  7. Great stuff. I’m definitely interested in more DIY/How-to’s.

  8. Love it. Would love to learn how to hem jeans, if that’s doable without fancy equipment.

  9. Really interesting stuff …. will be looking into doing this myself in the near future. More DIYs would be great!

  10. I was recently wondering if I could possibly hem my own pants. Before I attempt to do this on dress pants, I think I am going to give it a try on pajama bottoms.

    • Not a bad idea. The first piece of clothing I ever tailored was an old t-shirt. The good thing about this is that if you mess up on the sewing part, just cut the thread and try again. No harm done!

  11. Great post and tips! This is some wonderful information to know. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Im short for a girl, and even petite pants are often too long. I finally decided to buy a long pair and hem them. Thanks for the great instructions!

  13. Thus is awsome, I sew, but have never dealt with suit pants before, and have to have my husband’s pants done by tomorrow. Thanks!

  14. Diana Prine says:

    Thanks great tutorial, will be teaching my son and leaving him this site, Its a great man kind of thing to know, Hope to see more like buttons, thanks Happy Holidays

  15. Tony J Sirna says:

    I want to learn how to hem my own dress slacks, but I have to look really close on the steps, cause I tend to get nervous. It looks easy enough. I’m 5′ 5″, so I need your help, Zack!

  16. Tony J Sirna says:

    Oh Zack, I’m sorry, I’m a fan of the cuff, can you cuff slacks, too?

  17. Shahezada Muhammad says:

    Nice websit.
    Was looking fr hem. Where i got it here. ✌️

  18. Wendy Sundt says:

    Thanks… 47 year old mom who never learned how to do this for herself. Great tutorial!

  19. Brock, this site is fantastic! I’m a guy who is halfway there and this site is going to take me to the finish line. I just learned how to sew on a button so maybe I’ll tackle hemming next.

    Wasn’t sure where to post this but I recently bought a pair of casual pants from CK and their body fit is pretty close to what you are teaching.

  20. Baillie says:

    This was so helpful, both the video and the pictures are great. Thank you!!

  21. Elizabeth says:

    As a 5’5 female, I never find pants that are the correct length! Thank you for the information!

  22. Drema Pauley says:

    I’m hemming dress pants. I understand all that you showed. But……….what happens when hemming you don’t match up. Meaning the outside is wider than the inside. Do you understand what I’m trying to say? It’s works great when it all measures the same inside and outside. The gentleman I hemming for is 42 waist so rather larger at top than bottom. Cutting 5 inches off leaving 2 inches to hem. But it doesn’t match. Do I need to let out some of the seam allowance to make the hem wider to match the outside?

    • Do you mean it’s not a straight leg? Yeah, you could let out a little, to match it. You could also try to do less than 2″. The less you keep, the closer it will be. Good luck!

  23. Hi Zack,
    I am 5’10” and my problem is that 90% of “ready to wear” pants are too short.
    I got a pair of dress pants that have a relatively wide hem so I would like to make them as long as possible.
    I cut the original sewing so I now have the unfinished pair of pants. Is it possible to hem them with a finishing bind/tape to make sure that the minimum of the length is lost?

  24. Thank you so much! Very helpful.

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