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Turning up Trousers

Turning up trousers

This tutorial will teach you different methods of turning up trousers depending on the type of trousers. It covers how to turn up jeans, formal trousers and tracksuit trousers. 

Measuring and Pinning

How to shorten trouser legs

If the person is not wearing shoes, turn trousers up so they just touch the ground at the heel.

Sewing for beginners

If they’re wearing shoes, pin around half an inch above the ground.


Ideally you want to use a specialist jeans thread which will not only match with the rest of the jeans colourwise but is stronger than a normal thread.  Gutermann top stitch thread is ideal and there are other brands available too.

Only wind it on the bobbin, use a normal thread on the top. Because it’s fairly expensive you only want to use it on the bit that will show.  Jeans thread is thicker than normal thread so doesn’t feed so easily through the top of the machine.

Adjusting jeans leg length

Mark the length that you require on the leg seams with a pin or chalk. Turn the jeans inside out and cut off any excess around an inch and a quarter below your pin mark.  Turn the hem to the inside and press it up.


Turn a double fold hem

Turn it back down and press the bottom half inch up (giving you a double fold hem).  Trim off the excess fabric on the seams (seam allowance), to reduce bulk. Pin the hem in place ready to stitch.

Use free arm on a sewing machine

If you have a free arm on your machine it would be good to use this when sewing.  Sew using a straight stitch with the jeans still inside out, so you are sewing from the inside.  We’ve used a blue thread on the top and the jeans thread in the bobbin.   You may need to use a longer stitch because it is a thicker thread. It is advisable to test a bit before you start stitching on your jeans.

TIP – If you have very thick side seams you need to go very slowly over the seam allowances, possibly hand winding it of your machine in struggling so you don’t break your needle.

If your jeans have a double line of stitching you may want to do a second line so it looks the similar to the rest of the stitching on the jeans.

Turn to the right side and then press the hem.


Take up jeans

If you don’t want a visible seam on the outside you can colour match your thread, as we have done on the inside stitching. As you’ll see in the photo, it is barely visible.

Turning up formal trousers

Basic sewing tips

Mark the desired length on the side seams with pins or chalk. If you have a lot of excess fabric trim it off to an inch and a half below your pins. 


How to turn up smart trousers

If you do not have much excess fabric you need to unpick the original hem otherwise you will end up with a very bulky hem when you re-hem.

Follow the tutorial for the single fold hem.

Tracksuit trousers

Re-hem tracksuit bottoms

Mark the desired length of the trouser using pins or chalk.  Cut them off approximately an inch below your mark. 


Re-hemming formal and casual trousers

Turn up 1 inch all the way around and pin into place. Put the pins at right angles to the hem with the pinheads at the side to make it easy for you to remove them when stitching.


Zigzag hem for trousers

Select the zig zag stitch on your machine and use a ball point needle if you have one.  Increase the width of your stitch a little because it is thick fabric.

Position the needle slightly to the left of the hem so the left side of the stitch is off the hem and the right side is on the hem.  Stitch around the hem on each leg.


Why not read our jeans knee repair tutorial next?