Have you ever tried to hem a pair of pants and by the time you were nearly finished sewing it, you realized that you were going to get puckers?
It happens to the best of us.
But, how do you avoid it?
I couldn’t find the answer anywhere in books or on the internet, so I devised my own method many years ago and it works like a charm.
I should probably try to patent it or something, but I’ll put it out there for the world to see today. Just remember you heard it here first! Ha!
To begin with, follow the post on How to Hem Pants and Skirts. Do everything it says to do up to and including the 7th photo. That means, you’ll be marking the new hemline, pressing it, and trimming off the excess.
After picture #7, the next paragraph shows how to tell if your pants are straight legged or not.
That post covers how to hem straight legs.
This one is for your tapered and flared pants.
If they are tapered (they get increasingly narrow as they approach the hem), then follow these next steps.
If they are flared, we’ll cover that below.
For a tapered (narrow at the ankle) pant:
If you fold up the pants at the new hemline, you’ll see that the new cut edge does not lay flat against the pant leg. There is excess pant leg material as shown in this mock pair:
So, this means we either have to narrow the pant leg above the fold line or increase the diameter of the hem below the fold line to get them to lay flat.
(To know how much this amount is, pinch the excess amount of fabric above the cut edge and that will tell you how much you need.)
It’s usually enough to increase the amount below the foldline. As you can see by the red stitching line, I have stitched from the foldline out diagonally to the serged area:
Now, take out the original stitches of the seam from the original fold line at the hem straight down to the cut edge. In the above photo, it’s the black seam line to the left of the red one.
In the photo below, I’m using a real pair of pants to demonstrate this:
Many times, the manufacturer will use a chain stitch for this seam and you can rip out a stitch and pull it and the whole thing comes out quickly in one long thread.
Next, press that area flat:
Do both the inseam and the out (side seam) seam of the first leg this way.
Now, fold the hem on the foldline and check to see if it lies flat.
If it does lay flat, do the same thing to the other leg. Then follow the instructions just after the 8th photo in How To Hem Pants and Skirts.
If there is still too much excess in the pant leg, you’ll need to take some out of the area above the foldline (since you’ve increased all you can below the foldline.) It’s never usually very much, maybe another 1/4″ amount.
To do this, stitch a seam (as represented in red below) gradually out from about 6 inches above the fold line, keeping that 1/4″ distance until just before you reach the fold line. If you don’t, the cut edge will still not lay flat. Stop stitching right at the fold line.
You can trim the seam a little if you want, but it’s not necessary.
If you have a flared leg pant, you’ll want to do the opposite:
Stitch straight down from the fold line to the cut edge (red stitching line).
Then, make sure your hem lies flat.
If you need to hand stitch the hem, here’s a post on How To Hand Stitch a Hem.
Now go sew a hem without puckers!