Friday, March 25, 2016

Removable Hem for Kids' Pants

I get tired of folding my kids’ pants up, only to see the hem dragging on the floor five minutes later - does this annoy you? Besides being unsightly, this destroys the life of the pants by wearing the hem down, but what can we do? The kids are going to grow into the length eventually, so that excess length can’t be cut off. Here’s my solution - do a temporary hem without cutting off any of the length.
This method won’t work for all pants. I attempted this on a pair of my son’s dress trousers to mediocre results. Success will depend on how much length needs to be hidden and the design of the pants. For bootcut and flare pants there is more fabric at the hem than where you will be stitching which results in folds. It’s the same story for pants that taper at the ankle. In jeans this usually isn’t noticeable but with trousers that’s a different story.

In the picture above I made Little E’s shirt from an old dress of mine, you can read about it here. To see how we made the knee patches check out the tutorial here.

Let’s Get Started:

  • Seam Gauge
  • Pins
  • Matching thread
  • Denim needle
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Pressing Cloth
  • Bumper tool - folded up fabric or purchased tool. You can see our post on this tool here.

  1. Have the child try on the pants and fold up the pants to the desired length. You will want the fold on the right side of the fabric (right sides together). Either mark or pin in place. It’s best to mark a few places so you can average them out, since no child stands still or straight during this process. It is even better if you can do both legs, but not necessary.

  1. Using a seam gauge check all markings and determine where the hem will be. I usually pick somewhere in the middle of all the measurements.

  1. Using the determined measurement, even out the hem around the circumference. One trick is to measure and pin the center front and center back first. Then tug on the fabric.  Somehow this magic trick works really well in giving an even hem, see the picture below. Pin the new hem in place, matching the side seams, and press.

  1. Prepare the sewing machine - I used a #90 Denim needle and regular foot. My thread matched the color of the pants. I set the length pretty long at 4.0. After doing this many times, I’ve learned I hate taking out tiny stitches, especially when the thread matches the fabric. Doing longer stitches means it will be easier to remove them later.

  1. Here goes the fun part. Turn the pants inside out. Take the hem and place it under the sewing foot so you are sewing inside the circle, see below for a picture. I like to start a few inches before the inseam.

  1. Sew in the ditch (this allows the original hem to be visible on the right side) around the hem, securing the stitches at the beginning and end. Ensure the side seams match. When sewing over seams use the bumper to help keep the foot level, this prevents skipped stitches, see the pictures below.

  1. Flip the hem so the excess fabric is to the inside and the original hem is visible. Press.



  1. If there is a lot of excess fabric, tack it with a few hand stitches.

  1. All done!

Some things to consider:
  • If there is a lot of length being removed, there is a good chance the pants will need to be pleated because the width of where you are sewing the pants and the original hem will be different. This is especially true with bootcut and wide leg pants. My son’s trouser below shows how you’ll know if this is going to be a problem. In general, with jeans the pleats are barely noticeable, however with light colored pants this isn’t the case. With my son’s trousers, this method will not work. I will have to actually cut and hem.

  • When it is time to remove the stitches there is a chance that the crease and old stitch line will still be visible. Usually after a good pressing with lots of steam and couple of washes this fades away.

Written by: Shawna

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