How to Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing

Shortening pants is necessary, but it can be time-consuming. This sounds complicated, but it is easy. Once you have done it once, you will find it quick, easy, and inexpensive.


  1. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 1
    If the pants have an unfinished bottom, you are on your way. If not, turn the pants inside out, undo the hem at the bottoms and smooth out the creases with a steam iron.
  2. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 2
    Turn the pants back to the right side. Take a pair of pants that you have, that are the correct length and measure the outside leg, including the waistband.
  3. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 3
    Measure the length and make a chalk mark on the new pants. Make a chalk mark across the pants and transfer the mark all round the bottom. You now have a chalk mark that is the correct length all round the bottom.
  4. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 4
    Leave an inch and a half more than the mark and cut the rest off. If the fabric is prone to fraying, rolling, or unraveling, you might want to machine-stitch a row of zigzag stitching around the very end. Cutting a woven fabric with pinking shears can also help to prevent fraying.
  5. 5
    Take the wonderweb, a glue that melts, and sew with a sewing machine on the inside around the bottom of the pants. If you don't have a machine, pin the wonderweb every two or three inches all the way round.
  6. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 6
    Lay the leg of the pants flat on your table. You should now see the leg with the chalk mark all round the bottom plus the inch and a half allowance. Bend the leg in so that the chalk mark is on the edge. Make certain that all is smooth and flat inside. Be careful of the pins if you used them.
  7. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 7
    Use a steam iron and a cloth to press the bottom of the pants with plenty of steam. This melts the glue. Remove the pins if used and press lightly again to remove any little marks and you're done.
  8. Image titled Shorten Pants Without Hand Sewing Step 8
    Do the same to the other leg.


  • Any accidental web showing on the inside or anywhere else can be removed with a drop of methylated spirits.
  • Make sure the wearer stands up straight and is not looking down at the person doing the pinning.
  • The bottom may tend to loosen if the pants are dry cleaned many times. If that happens, just push a little wonderweb where it is undone and steam press again. Washing does not affect it.
  • Be careful of straight pins.
  • If possible, do the measuring with the same shoes or type of shoes that will go with the pants.
  • If you have two people, one can try on the pants while the other marks or pins the new length.
  • It is better to use a sewing machine, but other than that there is no skill needed. An alteration tailor will charge $20 or more to do the same thing.


  • Read the washing instructions and verify that the fabric can tolerate the heat necessary for this process. For some delicate or synthetic fabrics, you may be better off doing the work by hand.
  • Unless your legs are different lengths, take care to get the lengths of both legs the same.
  • Irons and steam are hot enough, so keep hands and children away from them.
  • Be careful of the pins! That's why a sewing machine is better.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric shears or pinking shears. Shears used to cut paper may be too dull to cut fabric, so get a good pair, mark them, and reserve them just for sewing.
  • Chalk
  • Ruler
  • Iron and damp cloth
  • A seam ripper, razor blade or something sharp to undo the original hem
  • Tape measure
  • Wonderweb about 1/2 in wide, from any haberdashery or fabric store

Article Info

Categories: Sewing Pants