how to…cheat a hem

You can shorten a pant hem by unpicking the existing hem, measuring, cutting, folding pinning… or you can sometimes cheat like this. This little technique works on fabrics that aren’t too heavy – then you end up with too much bulk. I used it the other night on the thrifted gray flannel babies you see below. 

Here, you pin, stitch, press and tack. 

1. First make sure this’ll work. So fold the existing hem up and check the length. If it does, you can rock the shortcut. If not – if you need to shorten less – you’ll have to go the long way.

pants gray

2. Fold the hem under. Then fold the whole thing up to the outside. Flatten the original hem so it’s a hem-length away from the folded edge. Pin.

pants gray

3. Stitch along the finished edge of the original hem, which should be about halfway between the original hem and the fold.

pants gray

4. Fold over. Press.

pants gray

5. Pin the new hem down flat.

pants gray

6. Tack it with the machine or by hand.


  1. Great idea! I HATE hemming, so any way to make this task take up less of my time is greatly welcomed. I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:

  1. March 29th, 2009

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