would love to hem my own pants

kitkaNovember 9, 2009

Manufacturers seem to be making pants EXTREMELY long these days and I can't just buy them off the rack and wear them that night. This goes for jeans and dress pants. I would love to be able to hem my own pants, but I do not own a sewing machine. Professional hemming can take about a week and cost about $12.

Can anyone help me with some tips or suggestions on how to hem without a sewing machine? Does it look as good? thanks

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You can use fabric glue or there is an iron on tape but neither is a permanent solution. Both will wash or dryclean out.

You can do them by hand sewing, but dress pants will have to have the cut off part overcast before you hem the pants and jeans wouldn't have a good looking seam. With jeans I would look into buying the right leg length. If you are 5 foot 4 or under look into the petite dress pants.

Other than that I can offer no suggestions

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 12:04PM
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Ask around your friends for a couple of solutions. One, ask someone to teach you how to do it. Or if someone has a machine, make a trade. I take a friend out to lunch, usually about $7, when she hems my pants for me.

Oilpainter, there's no such thing as the right-length for some of us. I'm 5'-1" on a good day, and I am proportioned with a longer body and shorter legs. Either Lands End or LL Bean (I forget which) will hem pants to order for men's slacks. Not sure about women's, tho.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 12:39PM
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"With jeans I would look into buying the right leg length."

So where do I find off the rack ladies pants at MY right length... 36 or 37"?

"Manufacturers seem to be making pants EXTREMELY long these days"
Can you share which ones please?
I have to buy everything online because NOTHING is long enough!
I would love to try on something in a store....

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 1:17PM
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I feel for you western pa luann:

I have 2 tall sisters who were constantly complaining about leg length on dress pants. Mind you they probably weren't as tall as you obviously are. They are making them longer now, because now they both buy off the rack.

I suggest you do what they did. 1 learned to sew and 1 found a reasonable seamstress and had them made. At least they could pick out their own material.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 4:55PM
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I know how I would do it, it is something called blind stitch if I remember right. You just take a couple of stitches in the fold and into the jeans to lock the thread. Then go in the fold about 3/8ths of an inch come out and stitch it to the jeans above the fold. Do that until you go completely around the leg. I do the lock or double stitch ever so often to hold it if you snag the hem.

I bought a pair of jeans that were to long and after I marked them for hemming my machine quit. I told my neighbor about it and she offer to do it. When she saw them she suggested just putting two lines of stitching along the bottom and let them ravel. That did work on jeans, but obviously not on dress slacks. I really like the way they looked, she use yellow thread like the stitching on the jeans.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 6:39PM
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Land's End will hem women's pants on most of their selections.

That professional price for hemming seems really reasonable to me. It's what I charge neighbors who don't want to take their pants to a "professional", LOL.

Depending on how much needs to be take up, one might be able to just cut off the hem and make a new one. But if you only need it taken up a little bit, well, then the old hem must be picked apart. All of this takes time.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 9:18PM
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Thanks for the responses. I am going to try it. I found a couple of videos on U-tube and I will try it using the BLIND Stitch (thanks Maime) I think. It actually looks pretty simple. I am going to do 2 pair of jeans and 2 pair of dress pants. I think I will practice first on an old pair, or one of my husbands (ha ha).

To Western PA Luann: My extremely long pants that I bought were dress slacks from Express. I am 5' 4" and Express pants are offered in 3 lengths. The S (short) length was just too short, the A (average) length was about 2" too long and there is even a longer length also offered, I believe it is T (tall). You can take a peak at their website--they have them on the site.

I will post back once I finish my first pair. Hopefully I will be proud of myself and won't feel intimated by what seems pretty simple....Maybe it will spark me into getting a sewing machine and doing other alterations, who knows.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 7:11AM
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A good hemming job is time consuming. $12 is a bargain.

That said, it is a skill that can be learned with practice. If you sew blue jeans by hand, then it will look like a home job since blue jeans always are done on a machine and often with orange thread. If you ever get a sewing machine, then you will also need to buy a special needle for using with blue jeans. Also, you will need to adjust the stitch length to be a bit longer. There is also a special tool (sometimes called a jean-a-magig) that helps to deal with the excess thickness when you are sewing across the side seams.

Dress pants can be easily hemmed by hand. You may want to practice this kind of sewing on some scrap fabric to get the hang of it. Small stitches are the key and that can take practice. Always remember to iron the hem when you are done for a nice finish.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 10:55AM
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I checked out the site.

Regular = 33"
Tall = 34 or 35"

Still too short, but thanks for the heads up.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 11:31AM
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My sister and I hem our own jeans or I did when my machine worked. If they are not to long just turn them up and sew. My machine used to sew over the seams with a little care on my part, but my sister just back stitches a bit, lifts the pressure foot and starts again on the other side. Cutting them off and getting it right is my problem.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 9:45AM
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I barter with my aunt, who is an expert seamstress. I used to just toss ripped clothing into the rag bag. Now, I wait until I have several pieces of clothing needing repairs or alterations, and bring them to her. While she repairs them, I wash & wax her car, clean her windows, etc.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 10:31AM
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While jeans may look better with the matching machine stitching at the hem, nice slacks look better with hand stitching for the hem. The key is not to make too deep of a hem and to learn to make tiny, nearly invisible stitches. To avoid the too deep hem, you may have to cut off some of the length before hemming the slacks.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 9:03PM
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Kitka, you may find that $12 is a bargain, but here is how I would do it without a sewing machine.
1 - Go to the fabric store and ask for a narrow iron on tape that will last during washing or drycleaning.
2 - Determine the length that you want for your pants when you have the right shoes on. Pin them up.
3 - If you had to take them off to pin them, try them on again to make sure. Look in the mirror to make sure.
4. Lay them down on the bed and smooth them out to make sure each leg is the exact same length. Iron (steam) the fold to mark it.
5. Mark around each leg two inches beyond (lower than) where the new fold is.
6. Cut off the pants at the new fold.
7. Take out the pins and iron on the tape so that it goes over the cut part on both sides.
8. Pin the pants up at the fold (again).
8. Use thread that matches the pant fabric as closely as possible. Start at a seam, and sew the hem. Catch only one or two threads of the outside layer of the pant leg but about 1/4 inch on the turned up edge that has the tape. Try to make your knots only at the seams.
Do NOT pull the thread tight - doing so will cause it to pucker and make your stitches more visible.
If the pants are flared, the part you have turned up will be bigger than the part you are sewing it to - you will need to distribute it evenly.

Once you get the hang of it, you can watch TV or whatever while hemming. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 9:28PM
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Thanks so much colorcrazy. I printed out your very detailed instructions..how nice of you. You sound like an experienced sewer.

People keep saying that $12 is cheap, but when you have 6 pair of paints to do, it adds up. Plus what tends to happen is I have to wear the pants rather quickly and most places that do the hemming want about a week...I also am a bit "hard to fit" so my pants tend to cost more to begin with, then the added $12 really brings it over the top.

It's something I always wanted to learn, so it's all good and I just need to get thru my first pair and I have a feeling I will be surprised that I was so nervous about it.
thanks again for everybody's tips--it's been very helpful.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 6:50AM
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You are welcome, Kitka. If you had a sewing machine, I would suggest a zigzag stitch at the cut end of the pant legs. If you find a good iron on tape, it should hold. Start with the cheapest pair of pants. Loose weaves make it easier to hide the stitches, and the smooth, tight weaves that are popular now show the stitches unless you have had a LOT of practice.

Just remember the old carpenter's adage - "measure twice, cut once." Make sure they are the right length before cutting. I also find it easier to cut on a flat surface like a table. You don't want to accidentally cut the bedspread or another part of the pants ;)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2009 at 10:22PM
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With jeans, you want to preserve the original hem. Here's a tutorial on how to do that, which says you can do it by hand. Basically, you just turn up the hem the appropriate amount on the raw side, sew right next to the old hem, and cut off the excess fabric.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to hem jeans

    Bookmark   November 15, 2009 at 9:37PM
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There are problems with hemming jeans that way. Unless you overcast the cut seam it will fray. The seam will show as a sewed on the bottom and I don't think I'd like the feel of a seam there.

If you have a sewing machine to do this, I would think it would be simpler to just cut off the excess and buy matching thread to hem them. Most jeans have either yellow or orange thread in the hem and once you buy a couple of spools you can use them for all jeans. If the thread is a shade off it will still look like the original unless you give close inspection and who does that.

You can finish the cut edges of dress pants by hand by doing a whip stitch over the cut end and then hemming

    Bookmark   November 16, 2009 at 6:14AM
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I am a shorty plus I am a bit chubby. I like to say "I'm not overweight, just undertall." I usually have to hem any pants that I buy, even the ones made for short people. I have been hemming my pants for years. It's one of those things that after doing it a few times, you don't even think about, you just do it.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 4:56PM
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Hi, Kitka

How did it work? Let us know. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 7:48PM
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I did it! I was able to hem my pants ALL BY MYSELF....thanks to many tips I received here. I did find a cheap used sewing machine and I used that to zig zag the raw edge after I cut it. I blind-stitched (by hand) the actual hem. It came out FINE. I will never pay for pants hemming again and will no longer have to wait a week or more to get them back. The best part is I won't put pants back on the rack that fit well just because of the length.

Now I have to find some more things to sew to justify buying the machine, but hemming a couple pair of pants will pay for it. (I also need some chair cushions I bet I could sew myself.) Plus I already have someone asking me to hem their pants--so the machine will have been a good investment.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 7:25AM
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Good for you!! Now I'll tell you the dpwnfalls of knowing how to hem pants. Your DH and DS will never look at lengths to get the right length for them. They will just say well mom can hem them. After hemming umpteen pairs of pants I could kick my DH every time he does this!!

As you continue on your sewing journey and if you ever run into trouble, don't forget there is a sewing forum here with lots of very knowledgable people.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:15AM
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Hi oil painter,

Do you figure that your sewing machine would jump up and down and scream if a man were to touch it?

Maybe it's time for hubs to think about learning to sew so that he can sew his own seams.

You could suggest that it sure would be a helpful skill for him to have following your death.

If that doesn't make an impression, or move him ...

... suggest that it would be an equally useful skill following a divorce.

Otherwise ... teach him how to make and install pie crust and tell him that he must put the pie crusts together (or take on another boring job that's usually considered female's work) if he wants you to do favours for him.

Especially if you're a work-outside-the-home (i.e. WOTH as contrasted to a SAH) Mom.

Since hemming pants are often cosidered females' work, don't be surprised if he looks you in the eye and claims that you're just being lazy and trying to fob off some of "your jobs" on others.

I've been patching jeans, overalls, coveralls, a work jacket and a shirt or two around here, by both machine and hand, in recent months, as gardening is a bit rough on pants. It gets more complicated when one has to split leg-seams in order to access the holey knees. And that's doubled in spades when both seams are of the double orange threaded kind: my machine has only one needle.

I did manage to sew one back pocket to the seat, rather than just attaching the patch to the original pocket material flap, a while ago ... decided that I didn't want to operate with a shallow pocket, so pulled that seam!

Hi colorcrazy,

When I looked at your fifth instruction, I saw that you wanted to mark the leg a couple of inches below the new fold.

Then at 6 you say to cut at the new fold ... didn't you mean to cut at the place that you'd just said to make the mark, a couple of inches lower?

By the way, I've become quite friendly with a neighbour couple of retired farmers where the wife has counselled me on my sewing machine difficulties ... and they gave me a new pair of overalls at their family party on Christmas eve.

I have three or four pairs of jeans in various stages of repair here, which is one of my major winter projects ...

... plus I got enough end of denim at the fabric store to make a new pair, I think ...

... so it looks as though I won't be able to die for three or four years, till I get some of them worn out!

Good wishes for a fine New Year ... at the end of which you can say that you've got all of the loose ends of your projects all sewn up.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 9:23PM
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Nice suggestion joyfulguy, but no dice. DH is going nowhere near my new husqvarnna even if he wanted to. He does sew on buttons and it's not so much the hemming as not buying the right length in the first place when many mens pants come in different lengths.

As for him touching my pie crust, that is not a boring job and there is no way I'm letting him near my pies. I pride myself on making some of the best pies around.

You want to talk boring jobs. How about shovelling snow in 40 below weather or mowing the lawn in 80 degree weather. Sure there are lots of boring jobs in the house and since we are both retired many of the ones I absolutely hated have been handed off to him, so I'll mend and hem, he can keep doing what he does.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:12PM
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Hi, Kitka

Glad to hear that it worked for you. Sorry, Ole Joyful is right - I meant to say cut at the new mark below the fold. You obviously figured it out! Pillows are easy, too. You will be graduating to quilts in no time. ;-)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 10:22PM
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Have you considered just wearing shoes with higher heels?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 3:40AM
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