Sewing Tips: making pants LONGER

I swear if I just sat and stared at Connor’s little legs long enough, I would actually see them growing longer.  I don’t know what I’ve been feeding this kid lately, but I gotta stop.  His whole body must be focused on lengthening because holy smokes, he is growing so fast!!!!

 

So today’s post……….was a necessity. 

 

I bought Connor some slacks for church last month (or maybe the month before) and figured they’d last for a while.  However, last Sunday, I was walking behind him down the hallway at church and glanced down at his pant legs……….oh my word kid, what happened?!?!

 

I know if I go to the store and buy the next size up, they’ll be way too big everywhere else.  So, I lengthened his rascally little high-waters………but still hemmed the bottom with a chunky hem and double seam.

 

Whew.

 

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The double seam makes it look nice and polished………and the inside has some added lining fabric, to help with turning under the bottom edge and to allow for a wide hem.  (If you’d like to disguise the lining, you can always find a matching color to make it look as if nothing was ever added.)

 make pants longer

 

 

 

 

BUT WAIT!!!  This isn’t just for those little turkeys who are still growing.

 

Are any of you TALL (like me!!) and grouchy with the long-pant selection?  Me too.  Trust me.  I’m kinda the president of the 5′ 11″ club!  Anyone wanna join? ;)

 

Yeah, I know, stores are getting more and more LONG pants but they’re not always available in the exact pants I want.  Or like.  However, here’s the secret……….whenever browsing the regular length pants, I always, ALWAYS  grab a pant leg and check out how much of a hem was folded under and sewn on the inside.  Then, I try on the pants, knowing that I can add that amount…….and then I have suddenly increased the selection of pants that I can buy.  (**Tip: Jeans are tricky, they usually have a narrow hem.  However, wider hems in jeans ARE available.  Just look!)

 

 

At least I’ll get a few more months out of these pants, before buying the next size up. 

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Need to lengthen some pants too??

 

 

First, grab those pants and un-hem the bottom with a seam ripper.

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Then measure the exact width of the bottom of your pants.  (Mine was 7 inches.)

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Then cut 2 strips of fabric that are 1 inch wider (for a seam allowance) than the width of the pant length.  And make them each about 2 1/2 inches tall.  (Each of the strips below are 8 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches tall.)

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Then, place your two strips together (with “right” sides together)  and sew both ends together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

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Now, turn your pants INSIDE OUT and turn your lining RIGHT SIDE OUT.  Slide the lining inside the pant leg and match up the bottom edges and pin in place.

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Slide your pant leg onto your sewing machine and sew alon gthe bottom of the pants, as low as you can (but no less than a 1/4 inch).  You will probably have an uneven bottom edge to your pants….but that ok.  Either trim it so that is’ even, or just use the very lowest fold as your guide.

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Keep the pant leg inside out but pull the lining back down through the pant legs and iron it down flat.  (Be sure it’s pulling all the way out and isn’t making any funny folds on the inside while you’re ironing.)

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Then, fold up the bottom edge about a 1/2 inch and iron in place.

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Then, fold it up again, but fold up the rest of the lining fabric to hide it from the outside of the pants.  TIP:  I always include a very slight bit of the pant fabric as I’m folding in this step because I want to be sure you can’t see my lining fabric.  But, I’m talking teeny weeny.  Maybe 1/16 of an inch.

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Then slide your pant leg back onto your machine and sew your hem in place, making sure that you’re sewing through the upper fold of the lining fabric underneath.  (You can sew a single hem, sew two seams next to each other……..OR use the double needle, which is magical.  And no special machine is required.)

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Then, iron and steam again.  Done. :)

 

Good luck!

-Ashley

 

 

 

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Comments

59 Responses to “Sewing Tips: making pants LONGER”
  1. 1
    Laura D says:

    If you want to get the old hem crease out, take a 3:1 vinegar/water solution, dampen a press cloth with it, and press it with the cloth. The line’ll disappear, making it look like they were always like that.

    • 1.1
      Ashley says:

      Wow Laura, that is a GREAT tip!! I’m going to try that pronto!! :)

      • 1.1.1
        Laura D says:

        It’s actually the same solution you use to permanently set pleats. You *can* buy press cloths that have been treated for this, but I’m cheap enough (and always have white vinegar in my kitchen anyway) to just do my own!

        • 1.1.1.1
          Ashley says:

          Wow, I never knew that. I didn’t even know there was solution for setting pleats. That may change my world a little bit…..haha! Thanks!

          • Laura D says:

            Yep! Makes it so that the pleat lines stay so you can see where to iron ‘em back in. The lines’ll hold up through three washings once you use a press cloth soaked in vinegar and water and then iron it dry…. And I accidentally discovered that it will also *remove* permanently set lines like hem creases last year…

    • 1.2
      Joy Candrian says:

      Wish I had of read this tip two days ago. Thanks, I’m writing that one down. I was also thinking that a cuff would be a great way to make the pants longer.

    • 1.3
      Anonymous says:

      Thanks Laura … This is the answer I needed!!

  2. 2

    I’m 6 feet tall – have used this method for years! We have a Long Tall Sally locally, but the problem with that is their standard inseam is 37″, where I need a 36″, sometimes 35″. Meaning I have to hem anyway. When I was pregnant it was impossible to find the length in maternity pants so I had to resort to tricks like this too. Haven’t done a twin needle before though – that looks nice too!

    • 2.1
      Ashley says:

      I know, I have that problem too. Some talls are way too tall for me and that means more hemming. But those talls don’t always look that great on me anyway, even if I do hem. Stinkin’ long legs! At least we don’t have to use step stools to reach the top shelf! ;)

  3. 3
    kamaile says:

    I definitely have a pair or two of my son’s pants that need this. Although I do have to say he usually puts holes in his pants before he outgrows them.

  4. 4
    HokieKate says:

    Brilliant! My two year old is already two sizes apart in her weight and height, so I know we’ll be having this issue when she stops wearing shorts all day every day.

    I’m 5’10″, all of it in the legs. I had a lot of highwaters growing up. At least it stops me from shopping so much now…

  5. 5
    Melissa says:

    Thanks! I’m on the taller side and have long legs, but I’ve never done this! What a great idea! I have a feeling my boys will be extra tall too, so this is really helpful!

  6. 6
    Britany says:

    This is amazing!! Now If I am not too scared of my machine i can make all my pants and my sons pants longer!! Now to figure out how to fix those holes in the knees (and some in the crotch)

    • 6.1
      Ashley says:

      Yeah, show that machine who’s boss and totally try it! :) (Yeah, the knees and crotch are something I’ll have to share another day!)

      • 6.1.1
        Britany says:

        Yeah I need to see if my 60+ year old sewing machine still works!!!! It was my grandmothers :)

        Yeah I have jeans I refuse to get rid of and they are wearing and tearin……along with my husbands!!! i cant wait to try this on my sons jeans! He grows like a weed too!

  7. 7
    Judy says:

    Our school uniform pants are navy, and when you let down the hem, there is an AWFUL white line where the pants previously ended. I discovered that a blue or black Sharpie (or sometimes I use a little of both) over the white line works miracles. Doesn’t look great close-up, but I figure that pant hems are generally viewed from several feet away! Anything to get them through the last few weeks of school!

  8. 8
    Anna says:

    As a 5’10″-er, I’ll join the club!

  9. 9
    Megan says:

    Hi Ashley! I absolutely love your blog and all the great tutorials you post. I’m getting geared up for an attempt at a homemade Halloween costume so I’m going to have to go through your archives. I do want to say that lately the ads on your site have been driving me crazy. I’m not sure if you have any control over them, but they pop up and obscure your awesome photos. Does everyone else see the same thing? I keep accidentally clicking on the ad when I try to close it too. Although maybe that’s helping you earn some income–which I support because you and your content are so good! Just an FYI–I hope this doesn’t come off as critical because I really do look forward to reading your posts.

  10. 10
    Kelie says:

    I’ve been doing this for years, also out of necessity. I am 6’2″ and can NEVER find pants (especially jeans) long enough. For years, I’ve mostly worn skirts because it’s just so annoying. I recently decided, however, that I am going to try sewing myself a pair of jeans. I’ve been working on developing a pattern for myself with wide legs…. Ah! Why don’t they make pants long enough for those of us with 38″ inseams?!

    • 10.1
      Michelle D says:

      Agreed. 6’1″ here and the longest inseam I’ve ever found was 37″ (at a mall store called Vanity)…I lived in and wore those suckers out so quickly.

  11. 11
    Dana says:

    I’m 5’10″ so I’ll definitely join the club… but I might have to wait to join. I have some serious pant shopping to do this weekend! How have I never thought to do this to my pants?!

  12. 12
    kathleen babbitt says:

    and if he grows taller but not wider you can cut them off next spring for shorts! then save the cut off fabric for repairs or adding to the next pair that grows too short in the dresser! love you tutorial.

  13. 13
    Alicia says:

    Awesome idea! Thanks!

  14. 14
    Susie Gomez says:

    I just did this to a pair of Dockers jeans that I found at Goodwill on their 99 cent jeans day. I’m only 5′ 6″ but I’m all legs. My daughter also has this problem. She just saves those jeans that still fit her waist but are too short and wears them in the summer as capris with a rolled up bottom. Very cute. :)

  15. 15
    Wendy Rupper says:

    Hey Ashley,
    I’m 5’10″ and have trouble finding jeans that I love that are also long enough. Do you have any stores/brands that work for you? Still looking for a favorite…

    • 15.1
      Lynda M O says:

      Wendy, JC Penny sells St John’s Bay brand pants and I have a half dozen pair of them in Tall size ten and they fit perfectly. They sit just below my natural waist, made of corduroy, in delightful color choices. I bought mine for about eleven dollars a pair on sale several years ago but they fit great and wear like iron.

  16. 16

    Ashley, you did an amazing job on the pants. I run an alterations business and your pants look professionally done.
    Good job.

  17. 17
    cucicucicoo says:

    Excellent tip! Is there any reason why you cut out two strips and sewed them together on both ends instead of just doing one longer strip and sewing just in one place? :) Lisa

  18. 18
    Ross says:

    Muy buena idea, gracias por compartirla, es bastante interesante. Gracias. Saludos.

  19. 19
    Becky says:

    I’m vp of the club. I’m 6 ft. Let’s schedule a tall party!

  20. 20
    Michelle D says:

    This is great! I’ve seen many a tip for hemming pants up but I am 6’1″ so I’ve never had the luxury or use for it. I will have to try this out for myself and for my girls. Also love the tip at the top with vinegar and water. Is there anything vinegar can’t do?

  21. 21
    Lynda says:

    A clerk in a “tall shop” clued me in on reading the labels. “Long” usually means that the extra length is in the rise – especially in plus-sizes. “Tall” usually means that the extra length is in the inseam.

  22. 22
    Duckie says:

    Definitely pinning this! My 4-year-old son has been growing like crazy lately so this will definitely help me!

  23. 23
    Kristina Noall says:

    What a GREAT tip, thank you! I need to do this for my 4 1/2 year old who’s so skinny, he often wears 3T. (And, may I add, is so used to having to hike his pants up, that he does it with every pair, and looks silly in his high waters. No matter how often we try to tell him it’s a fashion faux pas. :))

  24. 24
    Ellie says:

    I’ve also been doing this for years, but sure pays to read all the comments…thanks for the vinegar tip! After all these many years of sewing I always learn something new from you younger gals! Remember, you’re never too old to learn something new! :)

  25. 25
    Jackie says:

    I have long legs, so finding pants can be a challenge, and for the right price. I am also super skinny (naturally, I don’t work at it. You can hate me now. :) ) so finding pants that are made for tall, skinny people is not easy. Also, I’m cheap. My son has long legs as well so the next size up is usually long enough, but he has a skinny waist. This will work great! Usually as long as the pants are adjustable waist-it works.

    • 25.1
      Teri says:

      This is totally me, to! Although I have to say that I’m loving the fact that ‘ankle’ pants are on trend right now b/c I can buy a regular length pair of pants that actually fit me everywhere and not be considered high waters!

  26. 26
    Christina says:

    It’s all that summer sun your kids have been getting. Kids are like plants too! Great tip. I had to use this method when I accidentally hemmed my husband’s work pants too short.

  27. 27
    Laura says:

    Oooooooo NEVER thought to do this, although I’ve altered my kids pants just about every other way. And this will be great for my skinny 8 year old who has a length problem because he’s SO skinny. This will work fabulous!!!!!!!! Thank you, thank you!

  28. 28

    You are a Goddess! You have not only just blown my mind with awesome – but have given a boost my explorations in clothes shopping! I not only pinned this – I’ve printed it on REAL paper – and I can’t wait until the kids bedtime to pull out the sewing machine. I have 2 pairs of pants I wear too low – I just love them too much – and it’s not their fault I have a 35″ inseam! (I know! Admitting that is almost as bad as admitting my weight!) I love your blog and keep up the amazing!!

  29. 29
    kim says:

    love this!! thank you sooo much!!

  30. 30
    Lara says:

    Thanks you, Ashley! Great post. I enjoy reading your blog, and have learned so much from you. This will be invaluable for our family, as we have three growing kids, too! The lining adds something special, and makes the result look purposeful. Thank you!

  31. 31
    Kimberly T. says:

    Genius idea! I’m pinning this for my sons’ pants, anything to squeeze a little more life out of them. Oh and I soo wish I could join you too-tall club. I often find myself at the other finding all my pants too long unless I wear heals all day or hem them. Just a nice 5’6″ would be perfect, I think. ;)

  32. 32
    Laurie says:

    This is a great idea. It is amazing to watch our kids sprout up from good food and exercise, rather than spreading out. Your tutorials are always so clear. Thanks for sharing.

  33. 33
    Andi Groen says:

    Just tried this on a pair of pants I used to love but can’t stand to wear them because they WERE too short. This method was fabulous and you made it SO easy to understand and follow. Thank you for sharing this trick!

  34. 34
    Kerry says:

    Im with all you ladies! Just discovered the best way to add length to a just-too-short dress: sew a band of wide lace at the hem! Really easy, went from being meh to cute! And with the extra 2-3 inches, my knees now look respectable :)

  35. 35
    April McLeod says:

    I’m 5’11″ too and shorter or “average-height” women complain about their pants being too long! They can always be hemmed, but you can’t always make them longer! Although, I love this idea if you just need a little extra length.
    I was 5″9″ in Middle School and 5″ 11″ by High School, and I’m 52 now, so I’ve dealt with settling for a small selection of ready made pants/jeans for years ;-(

  36. 36
    Jaime says:

    Hi, I’m not a sewer, but am looking for a solution to a problem. Could you tell me if this trick would work in my situation?
    My mother-in-law graciously shortened a pair of my jeans (designer, expensive, ugh!). But, she cut off too much fabric on the bottom seam. I ripped the seam out, hoping for lots of extra fabric folded under, but there was only about an inch :(. I think the length would work if there’s a way to soften the cut edge. I just don’t want to lose any length by folding the hem under. Or, if she kept the fabric that was cut off, would there be a way to sew it back on? Hoping for a solution to save these jeans!

    Thanks for any suggestions and crossing my fingers….
    Jaime

    • 36.1
      Trisha says:

      Jaime, don’t know if your problem is fixed yet or not. You would have had to get to your mother-in-law soon enough to get that fabric she cut off before she threw it away. I save the extra length I cut off (especially when hemming for someone else) just for that reason. Yes, it can be sewn back on with the same method described in the tutorial. Only I would sew the pieces back together as closely as possible before turning up on the inside, to give you a tad bit more length. OR…she could try another trick of adding the 1/2 – 5/8″ to the bottom before she makes her fold, then make sure her fold on the inside is above the seam line slightly and pin or baste. Turning back to the outside she could finish the hem with a quilting method called “stitch in the ditch” and sew the hem down directly in the joined seam line. Maybe it won’t give you the perfect designer look, but you will have your length added back. Hope this helps if it’s not too late.

  37. 37
    Meg D says:

    My mother was forever adding ruffles to the bottom of my pants when I was growing up. The rare few that had hems she could let down she’d use a band of ribbon or lace to cover the old fold mark. Loving the vinegar solution trick. At 5’11″ I have a pesky 36″ inseam (same as my 6’6″ hubby!), but a short rise (low rise/ultra low rise pants still manage to sit at my waist!!!) and of course my favorite jeans are no longer made so I’m really scrambling post-pregnancy to fit my newly stretched hips. :P I miss my Lane Bryant flares, but I’d happily take a straight leg/trouser cut jean if the rise is right! Anyone have suggestions on “tall” jeans with a short rise…preferably that at least edge into the plus sizes (20ish)? I’d make my own if our baby girl would let me put her down long enough to draft a pattern. She shows every sign of having the long/lean problem too. At 24″+ and just over 10 pounds the only thing keeping her size 6 month pants on her 3 month fanny is her cloth diapers!

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