Your pants will last longer, feel better and look better when they are the correct length on you. Here are some tips for pants shopping and length alterations.
Shopping for pants
- Be sure to wear the shoes you plan to typically wear with the pants you are shopping for.
- Make sure to put you shoes back on when trying the pants on in the dressing room. You cannot tell if the length is right without shoes on.
- Not the right length: opt for the pants that are too long because the ones that are too short often have a permanent line from where the original hem was pressed and sewn. That permanent line is going to show when the pants are lengthened.
Now that you own new pants
- Wash your pants, sometimes they shrink and the place they shrink the most is usually in the length. That might solve your problem if they were just a little too long. It’s 100% cotton or a high cotton content that usually shrinks, rayon and some other fibers shrink too.
- Don’t walk around on pants that are too long. Holes will quickly get worn at the bottom. It’s like rubbing them against sandpaper all day. When you finally get them shortened it makes it difficult, expensive and sometimes impossible to do.
- A quick fix if you have to wear them before getting them altered: safety pins, fashion tape, a few hand stitches at the side seams, or we’ve even seen duct tape (but it leaves a residue behind on the inside).
Advice for DIY Pants Hems
- Beware of tapered legs, they get narrower toward the end and when you fold them up for a shorter hem it wont lay flat or sew in smoothly. The bottom edge you are trying sew up is a smaller diameter than the inside pants diameter you are sewing it too. You have to take out the hem and re-sew both side seams to make the end of the pants bigger around so it will match for your new hem.
- Measure 5 times and cut once…really.
- If you are machine stitching a thick hem, like jeans, get a hump jumper. It’s a handy sewing notion that helps you sew evenly over bumps from side seams.
- To hand stitch I recommend the slip stitch and anchor it at the side seams with a few extra stitches through the seam allowances.
When you go to your Tailor
- Wash and dry the pants as you normally would, if you don’t you will not end up with the correct length…unless you never wash the pants!
- Wear or bring along the shoes you will be wearing most often with the pants.
Kids, Uniforms and Pants that can’t be Cut
- Kids grow, young kids may do fine just wearing the pants folded up.
- For growing kids, let your tailor know the pants may need let back out in the future. The tailor can leave a larger hem allowance.
- Band uniforms and rented costumes often are not allowed to be cut; all extra fabric has to be folded up in the hem. Be sure to know the rules and tell your tailor. Also for uniforms they might have to end at a specific length so everyone is the same, find out what the guidelines are.
- Many jeans are manufactured to look worn, even the hem will have that worn look. Shortening the jeans will change that.
- For the strongest and longest lasing hem, just have a regular new ham put in, wash and wear and it will start to get that natural look.
- To speed up the worn look, use a bleach pen and sandpaper to create the worn look.
- For the exact same hem, request and pay extra for your tailor to shorten the jeans and put the original hem back on. Make sure all cut edges are finished with stitching or seam binding because denim frays very quickly.
Pants Too Short?
- Usually it’s best to just move on and get a new longer pair.
- Sometimes that’s not an option, so we get creative.
- You can try having the hem let out if there’s enough fabric folded up in the hem. There may be a permanent line from the original hem fold. You might be able to hide it using a permanent marker in the same color. Hang on to the marker because it will need a touch up on occasion.
- If that is not possible cuffs could be made of a coordinating fabric and added to the hem.
- Or if the pant have an elastic waist (no zipper), the waistband could be extended. This will work if the pants will always have the waist covered by a shirt because fabric is going to be added to the top of the waist. Caution: this will make the crotch lower too so only a little length can be added this way (works great if the crotch is tight to begin with)