How to Hem Pant Legs With the Top Larger Than the Bottom

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Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Seam ripper
  • Sewing pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing Board
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needle (optional)

When you buy a new pair of pants with tapered legs, you may have a challenge when it comes to shortening the length. If you have a significant difference between the leg width and the hem width, you will have puckers along the stitching of the new hem, and no amount of pressing will make the puckers go away. A simple technique to change the taper of the legs will help you achieve a smooth hem on pant legs with the top larger than the bottom.

Lay the pants flat and use the ruler to measure the width of the leg at the existing hemline. Write down the measurement using the pencil and paper. Measure the depth of the existing hem, and write down the existing hem depth.

Use the seam ripper to remove the stitching from the existing hems. Put on the pants and fold the hems up at the desired length on both pant legs. Pin the fabric into place with sewing pins.

Remove the pants and place them on the ironing board. Use the iron to press the edge of the new hemline. Remove the pins and unfold the hems. Measure the new hem depth, from the pressed crease toward the bottom, to make the depth the same as the old hem plus 1/4 inch.

Use the pencil to mark the hem depth all the way around each pant leg. Cut off the excess fabric along the pencil line using the scissors. Fold the raw edge under 1/4 inch and press.

Turn the pants inside out and lay them on a flat surface. Measure the width of the pants at the new hemline.

Subtract the old hem width from the new width. Divide by two. Use the resulting number and measure that amount from each side seam inward toward the pant leg at the new hemline. Mark the position with the pencil.

Draw a tapering line starting 4 inches above the new hemline. Start at the seamline and draw a straight line, using the ruler as a guide, from the seamline to the point marked at the hemline. Draw tapering lines for both seams of each pant leg.

Draw tapering lines from the hemline to the folded edge of each hem to mirror the angle of the tapering lines above the hem. Pin along the tapering lines. Use the threaded sewing machine with the stitch length set at 4 mm to baste along the tapering lines.

Use the seam ripper to remove the stitches from the original seam next to the basting. Press the pant legs along the new seamlines. Fold the hem up and check to make sure the width of the top edge of the hem matches the width of the pant leg.

Stitch the pant legs along the basting lines using a 2.5 mm stitch length. Remove the basting stitches using the seam ripper. Stitch the new hems into place with the sewing machine or a needle and thread.


  • “Sew Much Better”; Peggy Bendel ed.; 1989

About the Author

Vivienne Lydamore has written professionally since 1978. A retired health-care marketing communications executive, she has also written and produced local television commercials. Lydamore has covered the dedication of Egyptian galleries at the British Museum, published oral histories with underground miners and ghostwritten numerous health-care articles and marketing pieces. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Northern Michigan University.

Photo Credits

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