Pants Cuffs R’ Us

This is one post that as my husband says “is too technical” so if you are looking for humor you are out of luck today. This is a tutorial on flared cuffed pants. Remember the jacket cuffs post…well this takes you to the next level.

Since many of my clients have been bringing in flared cuffed pants for shortening and top stitching I have noticed that it is not as easy as it looks.

Since the pants are flared at the hem edge you cannot just measure and whack them off and expect the top fold to lay perfectly flat for the darn top stitching. It will be too big if you don’t alter something. After seeing my top stitching pucker and bulge I decided to start measuring each fold line.

What I found is the fold line closest to the hem has to be the same width as the measurement of the top fold.

Using printer paper I have drawn out the latest dimensions of ready to wear cuffs. The depth is a 2.5 inch cuff but the measurements are 2.5 inch first fold, 2 5/8 inch second fold and 1 inch for the turn under hem (this can vary if it is machine stitched and hidden).

Please click on each photo for a better view:

So first I make the lines:

    Then start folding:

   Fold the 1 inch hem under.

   Cuff up and ready for the flare.

And now the new cutting and seam lines. Notice how they go in and out but if you have to do top stiching this will work out well.



If you have to alter already made pants it may be harder to do this but certainly making pants from scratch you are in control of these cutting lines. Back in the 70’s when flared pants with or without cuffs were all the rage the pattern companies had these cutting lines printed for us but like so many things, like great directions, they have chosen to leave them out.

If you don’t have to do any top stitching maybe you can get away with just doing these straight but tacking at the side seams or stitching in the ditch will certainly help to keep those deep cuffs up.

Below is a pants project that I applied these principals in RTW. Sorry the first photo is upside down. I am still learning to think ahead…



So you can see how the pinned lower side seams achieve the same tapering needed to get back to the 10 inches that is needed for that darn top stitching.

So fellow sewers….it is measure, measure, measure when you need things flat and snug in cuffs.

A final photo of a finished pair of pewter grey metallic pants with cuffs:

So if you come across any of these pants for clients or buy a pair for yourself and have to alter….think carefully….do you want to mess around with all this measuring and in the end will you even make enough money to cover your time? Maybe with these photos and a cool diet Dr. Pepper you can as Tim Gunn says, “Make it work”.

Speaking of Tim Gunn…and Project Runway…the next season is starting this Thursday so check your TV listings in your area…you certainly don’t want to miss all the new drama queens and wanna-be top designers. My husband knows not to wander into my sewing room on Thursday nights from now on.

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2 Responses to Pants Cuffs R’ Us

  1. Wanda says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have not altered cuffed pants for a long time, and would have had to tax my brain for a long time trying to figure this out! I personally don’t like cuffed pants, so for me I just hem them leaving the cuff off!
    Thanks again!

  2. Alethia says:

    It’s funny you should post this video today, I just took in two pair of men’s pants , yesterday, to be hemmed with cuffs.
    Thanks for the detailed pictorial, because it is so crucial to make sure that they are hemmed in this manner. they will not look right if not, I learned through trial and error. 🙂

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