Hemming Tapered Pants

Some time in your sewing career you will be asked to hem tapered pants and the client will call it a simple job. From the outside it does look simple and if you are a crafter or scrapbooker working with paper it is easy. Dealing with fabric and hems that should/half to lay flat inside is another matter/PITA.

To start with let’s open the existing top stitched one inch hem and see what is inside. After 40 years of this type of treasure hunting I can almost guarantee neither legs will be the same inside. Here is the proof:

First leg has a 1/2 inch fold under section.

Second leg has a 3/4 inch fold under section.

Surprisingly both side seams do not measure the same either…is this a shock? The one with the 1/2 inch fold under measures 41.5 inches from waist to cut edge and the one with the 3/4 inch fold under measures 42 inches from waist to cut edge…great…now what? Somewhere the operator compensated for the extra length by folding under a little more so the hems would match in the end…or did she? If you have ever been in a factory or worked in one like I have you know speed is king. Every aspect of construction is timed and there is no ripping out or sittin’ and thinkin’. So I think these pants just got lucky.

Now the challenge to shorten them 3.5 – 4 inches with that taper. Here is what we are up against measurement wise: Yes, we need the fold under edge to be 9 5/8 inches to lay flat inside and what do we have?

OK , 9  3/8 inches…big deal just 1/4 inch you say….but it is really double that in the circumference so we are needing 1/2 inch to achieve our goal. How did the manufacturer attain this? Let’s look inside at the last 1.5 inches of the side and inside leg seams:

Do you see the green dotted line? That would have been the normal stitching line but the operator veered off by 1/4 inch on each red dotted seam to gain an extra 1/2 inch total needed. Tricky, no?

So that is what we have to do, trim off the excess length, veer off 1/4 inch on each seam and fold under twice to get to our new hem edge marked by the row of pins. Simple? Quick? Well, the first part sure ain’t, but considering the hem is finished with top stitching and not hand sewing, it will go pretty fast. In the end it will be worth it as your stitching will not bunch up on the outside trying to accommodate a smaller circumference on the inside fold under.

Not all seamstresses/dry cleaners/your granny will go to this trouble and that my friends separates the professional from the hobbyist.

For those who are wondering about my foot…well the stitches are out and I have 3 more weeks of wearing the ski boot…snow is predicted for the next couple days so staying home sounds like the right thing to do.

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7 Responses to Hemming Tapered Pants

  1. prttynpnk says:

    Thanks for this! Nobody ever asks me to hem anything but tapered pants, now I know the trick! Glad you are getting back to hoof health!

  2. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Prtty, just like sleeve hems or skirt hems, if you don’t flip up and measure you will end up with a mess. Now you can crank out masterpieces!

  3. theresa says:

    Oh this sounds pretty handy and not just for pants! I know when I cut pants I make every effort
    to make sure the width is the same for a generous hem. Glad to hear the tootsie is mending. Have you had a chance to get some of your own goodies sewn up and ready to wear?

    • mrsmole says:

      Still working on the Liberty shirt and thinking about mini piping and of course I want to buy buttons but not with a ski boot on and a husband waiting in the car. Think I am meant to just keep cutting things out for now and watch them age on the hangers or mannequins.

  4. Alethia says:

    Speaking of the length of pants being different by 1/2″, I have found it interesting that most people’s leg lengths are different by a 1/2″, some more. That’s why it’s important to measure both sides and not just one. I found this to be even more true when I started working in the bridal salon. I would pin the dresses/gowns a certain amount from the floor. When we got ready to hem them, I noticed that everyone of them were different on each side.
    So, the moral of the story, always check both sides when pinning.
    I’m glad to hear of your speedy recovery!!

    • mrsmole says:

      How True, Alethia! Thanks for adding that fact about leg lengths and hems. It really shows up when I have elderly clients and there hips are not level so it throws off the pants or skirt hems. One client I had was 1.5 inches higher on one side…you’re talking about removing waistbands and doing some messin’!

      • Alethia says:

        Yes. Occasionally, we get clients in with scoliosis or they have been in an accident which has caused one side to differ from the other. It’s amazing what the body does.
        For some reason, this week, I’ve been dealing with clients whose breasts are noticeably different. I’m having to use bra cups to make the balance, because they are very self conscious in there wedding gowns or formals. I tell my clients that we can give them a “boob” job for a fraction of the cost, it’s painless, and easily reversible (wink). They seem to get a kick out of that and it breaks the ice. As we know, one side of our bodies is different, but some more noticeable than others.

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