Hem…Using the Inseam Measurement

Several of my customers leave their pants to be hemmed on my porch without ever coming inside.

It’s because I hem their pants using their inseam measurement.

Once I know what their inseam measurement is, they never have to try pants on for me again.

I just sew each pair of pants at that same length.

This works well for men’s pants especially.

Men’s pants fit pretty uniformally across the board.

I’ll use the inseam measurement for some women too.

Women’s pants, however, can fit differently in the crotch area depending on the style and brand.

Some hang low in the crotch area and some don’t.

That can make for a variation in the inseam measurement.

Today I received a few pairs of men’s slacks for hemming.

This customer wants his pants hemmed with a 27 1/2″ inseam.

(Just so you know, that is a very short inseam. Most inseams are between 28″-36″)

There are two ways to find out what your inseam measurement is.

First, you can measure a pair of pants that you already have where the hem is the length you want.

Secondly, you can measure your body, from the crotch area to the point at which you want your hem to be.

For this example, I will show you how to measure the pants.

In this photo, you can see that I have laid the pants on the floor so that the inseam is showing from the intersection of the two seams to the bottom of the pants:

Here’s a close up view of that intersection of the two seams:

To get the inseam measurement, place a measuring tape at the point where the seams intersect:

Run the tape measure down the inside leg seam to the bottom of the pants. Whatever that measurement is, that’s your inseam.

Because my customer wants his pants to be at 27 1/2″, that is where I put a pin:

Notice the hem. It is put in by topstitching with a sewing machine. I always try to duplicate the original hem when I put the new one in.

First, take out the original hem with a seam ripper:

Take note that the original hem was 1 1/2″ deep:

Once you have taken out all the thread, spread out the entire hem so you can see all the way to the raw edge of the fabric.

If you measure from the fold of the original hem, you’ll see that there is 2 inches of fabric beyond that.

Measure from the folded edge to the pin.

That will tell you how much fabric to press up for the new hem.

Or you can measure from the original fold to the pin:

Press up that amount all the way around the hem:

Then, measure out that 2 inches and trim off the excess:

You’ll now fold up 1/2″. I know that because I left 2 inches of extra fabric and my original hem was 1 1/2″ deep. So, 1/2″ is what’s left to turn under.

Fold under the hem twice and pin in place, matching the side seam of the fold to the side seam of the pants:

You don’t have to pin this hem in place. You can just stitch if you like and if you feel comfortable doing that.

If I do pin the slacks, I like to pin on the outside (right side) of the pants.

I place a pin at each side seam and one if the center front of the pant and one in the center back.

Then, topstitch the hem in place.

On the next post, I’ll give you some pointers to make your topstitching look great.

***Note…if you want to learn how to sew many different types of hems, look under “More Articles” on the left side of this page and click on the arrow “Select Category”, then “Hems”. You’ll find several pages worth of hem “How To’s”. There’s sure to be the one you’re looking for.


16 Responses

  1. thank you! You’re instructions are excellent and you give very helpful tips! keep up the good work!

  2. This is is an excellent beginning tutorial and one that should be requited before marriage! I have 5 kids, 4 aren’t married but I am still hemming everyones pants. I think I have failed.

    One thing you didn’t mention is the fact that some peoples legs are not the same length and there require a measurement of each leg. These measurements I keep on a recipe card in my sewing room

    Thanks again for your sewing tutorials.

    • Oh, Julie, that is such an awesome point! I usually write these things in a hurry and just get it published, but that is such an important point. Thanks for taking time to leave the comment. It’s great that you keep track of each person’s measurements. I keep everyone’s measurement information on an Excel spreadsheet and for some reason it took me forever to find his yesterday. Thankfully, I did, or it would have been embarrassing to call him and have him come back over to remeasure!

      Five kids to hem pants for…I bet that is a full time job in itself!!!

  3. Hi Linda,

    Thanks for the timely advice. I just received 3 pair of pants to hem with an inseam of 30″. I usually like to measure the pants on the customer, but I like the idea of using an inseam and keeping the information on file. I will do the same thing in the future; sounds like good customer service. However, do you think this method works consistently? I hemmed a very expensive pair of pants last week using the inseam but it came up just a little short. Thankfully, I was able to let them out so no big deal. He liked is pants hemmed on a slant in the back so that they touched the top of the heel of the shoe. I think that is the way they do it in the military perhaps? Should I hem his pants differently?

    Great job on the photos!

    Happy Sewing,
    Linda M.

  4. Thanks for the information.
    When do you angle a mans hem?

    • That’s a great question. I actually don’t do that anymore. I find with the new fabrics that I can’t get the hem to lie down flat. I used to clip the front edge to make it lie down, but I can’t do that with success anymore, so I always hem straight.

      How about you?


  5. I use the out seam so that the length of the crotch does not make a difference. I have found that some pants have a bit longer crotch than others. Top of waistband to end of pants works for me.

    • You’re right, the crotch can be different on pants, but so can the outseam since pants sit at different parts on the waist and hip. So there’s no easy answer like there is on men’s slacks!

      • I guess I have been lucky, I have not found that the waist sit differently, maybe my husband chooses the same fit for his pants.


      • Ok, I thought you were referring to women’s pants. Yes, men’s are pretty universal in crotch length.

  6. i’m learning (just getting started sewing) I find your instructions and photos very helpful. better than any sewing class.

  7. How do I add a slant seam below the knee of ladies pants/jeans.

  8. Thank you so much. This article help out a lot.

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