How To Take In The Crotch Seam on Pants

I just got an email from a reader whose husbands pants are hanging too low in the crotch area.

Ever need to make that alteration?

I thought about how to show you with a pair of slacks, but I think you’ll catch the idea much better and faster with a diagram.

It’s a very easy alteration.

First, figure out how much material needs to be taken in.

That would be awkward for you to pin up on a customer, so have them do it before they get to your establishment.

Once that is known, then you are going to open up the area  where the crotch seams and the inseams intersect.

Open up at least twice the amount you’ll need to take in.

In other words, if you are taking in two inches total, then open up about 4 inches of the crotch seam.

Don’t open up the inseam though.

Keep that intact.

The only sewing done will be on the inseam.

Now, if you need to take up a total of two inches in the crotch, you’ll need to take in one inch on each inner leg seam as illustrated in this diagram:

You can eyeball the new seam based on the dotted line in the diagram.

This may seem like a strange way to alter the crotch seam, but trust me, this works!

Once you have made the new seams, you can trim the seam allowances if you need to.

Otherwise, you may have too much bulk.

Now, stitch up the original crotch seam along the original seam line.

That’s all there is to it!

As I’ve stated in other posts, if you have to alter a garment more than two sizes, you may not have great results, but this is excellent for pants that hang a little low.



72 Responses

  1. That’s great. What about if the crotch is too short? Any solutions ?

    • An anonymous reader wrote in to say that you should put a gusset in there. I agree. Are you familiar with what a gusset is and how to put one in?

      • Sorry that was suppose to read sounds like a logical solution. Thank you

      • Good afternoon, I do these types of fixes seems like lately alot, my son is on a softball team, and they recently received their uniform pants. He said they were too long, and also to baggy. So I went over and measured and marked for hemming, and the inseam area, because when you think about it, if the crotch is hanging too low, and you know how softball pants look on these professional players, well that means that you have to actually take in some inches as well on the inseam. The end product turned out great, he was so happy, and now he told me one of his other team mates needs the same thing done as well. I only charged for my services one time, that was when I was asked to make a dress for a wedding. I also have a whole lot of experience in “period” or historical garments specifically for ladies, and all the way back to the Civil War era, is my favorite.

        Thank you for this great information, I think it is very informative.


    • Thanks for the gusset tip. Sounds ligi all solution. Thank you.

  2. Your timing is excellent. I have a request to do this alteration today and I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Thank you so much!

  3. I do alterations and just recently found your site and love it.

  4. Sounds interesting I will try this next time I have that alteration. Thanks for all the great tips. I used the gusset tips last week and it worked great!

    • Hi Lynn, thank you so much. I am glad that helped. My daughter is in Zambia now and the mamas LOVED the supplies you sent. Thank you and all your friends! They will get the sewing machines soon, maybe even this week!

  5. Thank you so much for this information! I would have thought this was an impossible task but your diagram makes it very clear!

    I do have one question though. You said if the total amount you need to shorten is 2 inches then you would take one inch off of each inseam. Would this not be a total of 4 inches? I am used to thinking you would take 1/2 inch of each seam front and back to equal 2 inches. Perhaps that calculation does not apply to this case?

    • If you think of it in terms of front and back (whether it’s inseam or crotch seam) then you’ll be taking one inch from the front and one inch from the back and then the crotch seams will match up. Try it on a sample and see if it makes sense.


  6. HI Linda,
    Your method is great on dress pants. What I have encountered on jeans,is that they are constructed with the inner leg seam last and you have to take the all apart to get to the crotch seam.It is a common problem and it is so great to see you teach these things. Hope the Mammas loved what we all sent to them.
    thank you
    Judy H sewing in NH

    • Thanks Judy, for the comment and for all the things you sent for the mamas. Michelle is still in Zambia and said she took video of the mamas reaction to receiving the items. When she gets back and sends it to me, I will post it for all to see. Thanks again for your part in making the mamas dream come true!

  7. Sorry for the dumb question; I’m still new at this. What is the difference between a crotch seam and an inseam? in other words, where those four seams intersect at the apex, which two do I undo? and, for bonus points, how do I do that *easily*? The way these things are double-stitched, over-stitched, top-stitched and/or serged, it takes me 3 hours to accomplish anything; the first two spent undoing factory stitching. Thanks for any help.

    • Your question is not dumb. The inseam is the inner leg seam that runs from the crotch area to the hem. The crotch seam runs from the back at the waist, down through the crotch area and up to the waist in the front. Does that make sense? You should only have to rip out the crotch seam. Just leave the inseam alone. You still have to make the alterations on the inseam, but you don’t have to take any stitches out.

      Are you taking stitches out on jeans? Those tend to be the most difficult, but sometimes they have a chain stitch. A chain stitch can be pulled out quickly by pulling on one of the threads. Otherwise, it just takes practice to get those stitches out quickly. However, I’m surprised it is taking two hours. That is a long time. Are you using a seam ripper? I do have a post on using seam rippers. Have you read it? If not, read that and then let me know how your ripping out differs.

      Thanks, Linda

  8. The alteration you are speaking of is called the “Rise” and the best way to measure your clients for this altertion is to go to the back of the pants about 2″ down from the Center Back Belt Loop and pinch out horizontally across the back seam the amount your pants need to be altered. Then ask your client is the crotch feels better or if you need to pinch out more or less. ( if you pinch out 2″ , then this is the amount to take out as per you diagram!) I have had my alteration store for 18 years and I am still learning new things from you! Have you found a source for the heavy white thread for all the new jean hems?

  9. This makes so much sense! I was just asked to do this and I had been thinking this through.
    I need to take up drawstring waist pants. If she pulls the pants up to make the crotch fit….the waist is under her arms.
    Can I just cut down the top and put the drawstring in the new waist?These are mandatory uniform pants xsmall mens for a small female. HELP is appreciated!

    • From what you are explaining, yes, do move the waistband and the drawstring. Poor gal. She must be swimming in these pants! Not for long….hope it goes smoothly!

  10. I have just recently started my alteration business, and I love your Site. It so helpful.

  11. Can you tell me the basic difference between adjusting the crotch seam versus the inseam. If I need more space in the crotch area – and the seams are constructed simply, in the old fashioned way with no topstitching – I just sew a lower sweep on the crotch seam which immediately gives more area here. If the trousers are constructed with the leg inseam the last one to be done, as many modern trousers are (and not just jeans) then its simpler to sew this inseam a bit shallower into the seam allowance thus gaining a bit of space this way. However, I suspect each method has a slightly different effect on the look of the trousers after the adjustment. Could you explain this difference in result please for my future reference? Many thanks. Mary

    • Hi Mary. When you take a “lower sweep” on the crotch seam (or rise) and it is th last seam to be sewn, you lose some inseam by doing that.
      If the inseam is the last seam to be sewn and you let out the inseam, you’ll need to do the same with the rise. The rule is…if you take up one seam, you have to take in the other or they won’t fit back together again. Conversely, if you let out a seam, you have to let out the neighbor seam so that they can meet together as well. If you don’t do that, you have to sew in puckers or gathers to make the one seam fit the other. Does that make sense?

      Hope that helps!

      • Hi Linda, thanks for your speedy reply, but I think perhaps I didn’t explain myself well. I didn’t mean alterations made whilst making up a pattern or undoing already sewn seams, where there would be an issue of matching seams back together again. What I meant was when I simply alter existing trousers by sewing a lower sweep of the crotch or alternatively sewing into the inseam that runs the other direction if the last one to be sewn, without actuslly undoing anything I wondered if the outcome in trouser shape is actually the same whichever direction you alter. I always feel that doing a lower sweep of the crotch seam achieves the object of getting more depth in the crotch better, but sometimes getting to that seam would involve unpicking and then sewing up both the in seam and crotch seams in the opposite order. I wondered if it would be worth the extra effort to achieve a better outcome and are the changes in shape of garment slightly different depending on which way you do it? Thanks again!

      • I see what you are saying. I haven’t done that before. Perhaps you could try an experiment. I don’t think that the slacks where the inseam is sewn last and are stitched with a lower sweep would be as comfortable as the slacks where the rise or crotch seam is sewn last. I am wondering….if you sweep lower on the crotch seam, taking up the inseam at the same time, would the inseam rise up too much and make the hem crooked (leaving the outseam noticeably longer)? If you do the experiment, let me know. I’d love to hear how it turns out.

        Thanks Mary!

  12. how can you shorten the rise and still keep the inseam on the inside pant leg? every way i tried to shorten it the seam bunches up anyone done this successfully?

    • If you think about it, when you make an adjustment on one seam (the rise, for example), you have to make an adjustment on the other seam(inseam) too. If you don’t, you’ve got bunching like you’re experiencing. It’s just a rule of thumb.

      • Ok I get that, but from everything online it doesn’t even touch on that, like in the only one that has ever had that problem, so how could you fix that ?

      • Ok, let me see if we can look at this from another angle to help you understand it better. How much rise do you need to shorten? Pin that much. You already know that the inseam won’t match up and that’s because you’ve taken some fabric out of the rise seam at the intersection of those seams (the rise and the inseam), right? So, the only way to make that intersection fit, is to take up the exact amount on the inseam. Now the measurement of the inseam is too short, right? The only other option is to let out that same amount at the hem to increase your inseam, but the amount you take up for the hem will not be even all the way around the hem. It will be shorter at the inseam area. Does this make sense? IT requires extra work and I’m not sure how it will look on those particular slacks. Let me know if I am making this more confusing. Thanks, Linda

  13. I have a pair of slacks I am reluctant to get rid of because I just love the colour and the material – the problem is too long from the waist to the crotch area. They have an elasticised waist so I have opted to cut the waistband off just underneath the elastic and then cut a couple of centimetres off the top of the pants and the re- attach the waistband – do you think this will work???

  14. I’m so confused, I’ve been sewing for years, but always have a problem with the crotch length. My son is short waisted and I need to shorten his work pants in the crotch and also the seat. what is the best and quick way to do this. Thanks

    • Yes, by following this post, it should take care of the problem. Once in a great while, you can lower the waistband on pants, but most of the time it’s not possible because there are so many obstacles to it. Try doing this alteration and see if it helps.

  15. Thanks so much for all your advice. I am learning so much about altering pants. After following your post, I am ready to give altering a try. Lucy

  16. Hi, Thanks for all your advice, it is making alterations much clearer! Would you have a description of steps needed to correctly take in the crotch more than two sizes? I realise there will be more work involved, but as the trousers are for a wedding: I’d like to do this properly. Thanks in anticipation…!! Lydie

    • Two sizes is a general rule of thumb. But if you can take in more, the technique is the same no matter how much you take in. Since I can’t see your pants, I don’t know how much you can take in on them. You’ll have to use your best judgement on that. Hope that helps.

  17. Sewfordough,
    I need to shorten the rise on a pair of my pants.Would that be the same as your diagram for “How to take in the crotch seam on pants”? I’m short waisted. Could you show this with a real pair of pants. I’m not sure I follow the diagram. I always end up taking off the whole waist band and moving it down, but it takes so long and does not always give me the fit results I wanted.
    Thanks ,

    • Hi Debbie,
      Yes, follow the instructions for your alteration. I find that a diagram is much easier to understand and follow because the actual pants don’t lie flat so it’s very difficult to see the actual alteration. Take it slowly and I think you’ll have success.

  18. I need to take up the hem on a pair of hunting pants but the problem is they have a zipper down the outside of each leg. The zipper is about 12 inches long. Can they be taken up? Thanks..

    • Yes! The zipper can be shortened. You’ll just need to secure the end of the zipper so the zipper tab doesn’t fall off. To do that, make sure the zipper tab is above the area you are hemming. Then, just stitch over one of the last zipper teeth over and over in the same spot. Do that on both sides of the zipper. You can do that stitch by hand or machine. If you do it by machine, use a zero stitch length and hand walk the wheel over the spot so you don’t break a needle. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense.

  19. I was a little confused by your instructions…I’m not sure what you’re calling the “inseam” and “crotch” seam. Do you have a video posted online that I could look at? Oh could you give further explanation to what you meant by: “…then open up about 4 inches of the crotch seam. Don’t open up the inseam though. Keep that intact.The only sewing done will be on the inseam.”


    • The crotch seam is the seam that runs from the front of the waist under your trunk and back up to the center back. The inseam is te seam that runs along the inner part of your leg. So, you’re going to open up about 4 inches of the crotch seam (2 inches on either side of the inseam). You’re going to sew your alterations on the inseams and then stitch up the crotch seam when you’re finished. I don’t have video capability, but perhaps you can have another seamstress look at the instructions and help walk you through them.

  20. Hi! I am considering buying some vintage Culottes but the crotch is too low. I was looking for a solution to rise the crotch up and found your post. My question is: if you cut/stitch a new seam following your diagram along the dotted line, won’t the pants legs become uneven and rise up in the center? In another way: the bottom of your pants will no longer be horizontal but rise inwards?

    • It has always worked for me, but if you’re not sure, just pinch up the desired amount and see what effect it has on the hem. The other remedy is to take off the waistband, if there is one, trim the waist down and out the waistband back on. If there are any pockets, that would make them smaller, but it is an option. Hope that helps.

  21. Helping a friend out who seems to be plagued by buying pants that have baggy crotch. Short waisted people like me have that problem a lot. Your diagram will save me having to take the waist band off and let me tell you(as if you didnt already know) that is no walk in the park. I was mostly a Costume designer and seamstress in my younger years, so alterations have never been something I did a lot of. Your wonderful advice has just saved me hours of tedious tearing apart. Thank you so much and I will be sure to check you out when I need more alteration advice!

  22. I want to try this method. I am short waisted and pants hang in the crotch. But won’t taking
    in the inseams make the pants fit too tightly in the thighs?

  23. You can try on the pants. In the back, pinch up the amount until it looks right and pin. Remove pants. mark where the pin is with soap. Measure this. This is the amount you need to alter. Now remove seam and proceed as explained above.

  24. Hi Thanks for advice , I will try this and hope I don’t make a flop of it .

  25. Your sketch shows front and back,but your instructions give you right and left sides if you remove crotch seam. I am confused.. can you please explain?

  26. Great it worked for me. And simple as well.

  27. Wonderful blog post! I can’t wait to fix a pair of velvet pajamas!

  28. Can you please help me with my readymade pants? The inner legs pull up at a horizontal angles forming almost pleat-like folds when I walk. Can I fix this problem?

    • Can you send me a photo of the slacks and the fabric content of them? Thanks

      • I sent a picture… Not sure how to do it…. Usually there are multiple folds on inner legs on all my pants, except leggings. Fabrics….. Cotton, jeans, gaberdine, polyester,cotton, etc. if I pinch up fabric horizontally where the bottom of my panty leg, it seems to help get rid of the angular folds. Help!!!

      • I didn’t receive the photo. Did you send it to my email? Also, I’m not quite sure what you’re asking and describing here. Perhaps you could spell it all out in more detail. Thanks!

  29. Bought a few clearance jumpsuits online. 2 fit well, two are too big, thru chest and bottom. I was thinking of using the ‘good fit’ as a guide, as they are similar fabrics. The major difference being the tops. The jumpsuits that fit well have sleeves. The loose suits have halter tops. One is surplice cut and it seems very crooked/ Asymmetrical. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • i.e. If I line up the waistline, can I follow the rise of the well fitting jumpsuit? Then adjust top accordingly?? I feel like the top will be better proportioned after the seat is adjusted. Am I wrong??? Is it smarter to ptoprtion the top and then adjust the seat???? ♥

      • I’m not exactly sure what you are asking in your first question. Also, what alterations need to be made on this jumpsuit? Is there a way you can email me some photos?

      • I am wondering if I can use a jumpsuit that fits well as a template, follow the seaming as a guide to take in the crotch of the bigger ones. They are droopy in the seat and loose on top, maybe a size big? Since it is one piece, with a halter top, I am wondering if I should do “breast darts or adjust the side/back seaming, as opposed to just shortening the straps.

      • Greta and I communicated by email on this question, but basically my answer was that doing the needed alterations on the lower half would definitely help. Always wait to trim seams until after you’ve tried the item on to make sure you like the fit. Here jumpsuits have elastic waists, so it’s hard to predict what will happen with the fit on top, but my guess is she’ll have to make adjustments on the top as well. I do like to use current garments as patterns, but those may only work so far as a completed garment is different than making one from scratch.

  30. Hi there, I have made up a pair of pants with front pockets and tucks.. but they are a little too big. So I plan to use your method to shorten crotch/rise but I also need to take them in all the way down the out leg and I want to reduce the inner seam as well so that they are not baggie legs. Question, would I raise the crotch and then run the inner seam in starting narrow and working wider towards leg end ? would it work ?


    • Yes, I think I understand your question. Continue taking in that inseam all the way down the pant leg. If you don’t want to change the hem area, then taper your new inseam back to meet the original inseam several inches above the hem area. If you want the pants to be skinnier all the way down, then stitch parallel to the original inseam all the way through the hem. That means you need to take apart the hem to do it. To put it back together after your alteration, you might need this post:
      There are other posts on hemming as well and you just need to type “hem” in the search box and you’ll find a few pages worth of different posts on the subject. Hope that helps!

      • What a great posts on pinterest. Please explain how to add a gusset to lengthen crotch/rise on pants. Thank you. Also I don’t know how to make a gusset. Hèlp.

      • Hi Jo,
        Thank you for your nice comment. Someone must have linked one of my posts on to their Pinterest board and you found it. If you go to my blog, you’ll find many posts there on over 100 different alteration and sewing techniques. To find a particular subject, just type it into the search box and you’ll find your answers. To find how to make gussets, just click on this link:
        Hope that helps!

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