This DIY tailoring tutorial will help you save money by learning how to hem your own jeans and chinos at home.
Note: This guide was created by TMM reader and contributor, Zack Pyle. Take it away, Zack!
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
Here’s what you’ll need to hem your pants at home:
- Casual pants (that are too long)
- Sewing machine
- Colored thread (matching or contrasting – it will be visible)
- Seam ripper (optional)
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, consider 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.
Now take the pants off and turn them inside out. Then fold back the same amount you just measured (making sure it’s straight).
Iron a solid crease. This crease will be the new bottom of your pants.
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.
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.
And that’s it! Not too hard, and your pants are the perfect length!
For you visual learners out there, here’s an accompanying video:
Questions About Hemming Jeans and Chinos at Home
Here are the answers to some common questions about hemming jeans and chinos.
What Is the Best Way To Hem Your Pants?
We’ve outlined a simple method for hemming your pants. You’ll just need the right tools (an iron, a sewing machine, scissors and thread).
Can Chinos Be Hemmed?
Yes, chinos can be hemmed just like jeans!
What Is the Best Stitch for Hemming Jeans?
Using an overcast stitch is very practical for hemming pants.
Hopefully, this article has shown you that hemming your jeans and chinos at home is a pretty easy process!
As always, ask me anything in the comments below or on YouTube. I love answering all of your questions talking about your experiences!
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!
what if you have one leg obviously longer than the other
Hi. I want to shorten some chinos, but how do you make new hems get “the same look” as the originals?
Ask them to “keep the original hem”.
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!!
I just paid $14.00 to have some brown denim hemmed from 34″ to 30″ (love the clerance rack)
That’s a great price, well done.
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
Nice! Let me know how they turn out.