How to Hem Casual Pants (Jeans and Chinos)

This post is part of a series on do-it-yourself alterations. It was created in collaboration with a stylish modest man named Zack Pyle.

Zack is a DYI tailoring expert, and he's going to teach you how to hem casual pants like jeans and chinos.

If you're relatively crafty and enjoy a hands-on project, pay attention. This is a great way to save some money and avoid that extra trip to the tailor.

Take it away, Zack!

Hello again, Modest Man readers! You guys loved the last tutorial about how to hem dress pants, so I have another tailoring post for you today.

How to Hem Casual Pants

The Modest Man is all about helping short men dress better and feel more confident by wearing clothes that flatter their body type.

This doesn’t only apply to dress pants though. All of your clothes should fit your body, including those chinos that have been sitting in your dresser because they are too long!

That’s exactly what I want to help you with in this post.

What You’ll Need:

When you hem dress pants, you just need a needle, thread and an iron, but for this tutorial, you’re going to need a sewing machine.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, considering investing in one. They're super handy and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

I got mine at a garage sale from an old seamstress who was going blind and was thrilled that her machine was going to someone who would put it to good use.

If you're on a budget, check Craigslist before buying a new sewing machine. Or just get one from Amazon.

Let's Get Started

First, you need a pair of pants that are too long for you but fit everywhere else. When you’re on the shorter side, these aren't hard to come by. You probably have a pair in your closet right now!

Fold your pants up like a cuff to find the perfect length. It comes down to personal preference, but you should go for slight or no break at all.

Be sure to check the length from the sides and the back too, then measure it.

Hem pants step 1

Now take the pants off and turn them inside out. Then fold back the same amount you just measured (making sure it’s straight).

Hem pants step 2

Iron a solid crease. This crease will be the new bottom of your pants.

Hem pants step 3

Do the same on the other leg, and make sure they're exactly the same length.

Now it’s time to sew. Using your sewing machine, wrap the leg of the pant around the “arm” that sticks out (see in the picture below).

This makes it easy to sew all the way around the leg opening.

Hem pants step 4

You’re going to sew a new visible stitch around the bottom of the pant leg – about ½ to ¾ of an inch, depending on the style of the pants (just copy how far down the old stitch was).

Pro Tip: It’s best to start your seam on the inseam (inside vertical seam). This way, if anything gets messed up when you get to the end, it’s much less noticeable.

You want to make sure you are keeping the pants taut so nothing bunches up while sewing, but loose enough that the machine can feed the fabric through.

Before moving on, you'll want to cut off the excess fabric with your scissors.

Now it's time to finish the unfinished edge. There are a couple ways to do this:

The easiest is a zigzag stitch (overcast stitch). When the needle goes side to side, it will miss the fabric every other time and wrap the edge in thread.

The other option is to fold the fabric over and sew another stitch all the way around on the inside, basically tucking that unfinished seam out of the way (which is how they do it in the factory).

Either way, you're preventing fraying.

Note: In the video below, I actually left the factory seam in there because I was only hemming it 1.5″. This helps the pant leg stay weighted down, as if it had a cuff.

Iron your pants again, making a strong fold, then repeat the process on the other side. Remember to make sure they're the same length!

Here’s a comparison of a hemmed leg to an unhemmed leg.

Hem vs. unhemmed pants

And that’s it! Not too hard, and your pants are are the perfect length!

For you visual learners out there, here’s an accompanying video:

As always, ask me anything in the comments below or on YouTube. I love answering all of your questions talking 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 comment below!

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  1. Malaquias Alfaro says:

    Perfect timing. I bought some real nice jeans that look great in all areas except the bottom. Now I can hem them, thanks

  2. I just paid $14.00 to have some brown denim hemmed from 34″ to 30″ (love the clerance rack)

  3. DL Renollet says:

    okay. the condrum now is. does one leave “room to cuff”? or no? or have some chinos you can cuff, and some that are just hemmed with little to no break? thanks . I suspect some of it comes down to personal preference. it seems the chino cuff is generally more causual, but certainly a game up from where i’ve been. I know this is an older thread but i hope someone reads this. thanks!!

  4. Hi. I want to shorten some chinos, but how do you make new hems get “the same look” as the originals?

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