How to Take Up Trousers on a Sewing Machine - a tutorial by The Sewing Korner

If you’ve been on a diet lately, you might find some of your clothes are fitting a little more loosely than they did before, but not to worry.

Even if you’re not the most experienced seamstress on the planet, you can still take up those pants with just some simple sewing skills. Indeed, you have a lot of options when your goal is to make your trousers a little smaller.

When you are looking to take up trousers on a sewing machine, you can actually do this in several ways. As a matter of fact, making pants smaller is really not a big deal once you learn a few basics, and even those basics are very simple!

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    A Number of Ways to Accomplish Your Goal

    When your goal is to take up your pants so they fit better, you have several options to choose from, and even though you can do these things by hand, it is much easier and much faster to use a sewing machine instead. The following step-by-step instructions require very little time on your part, but they can make a big difference in how your pants look and fit when you’re done.

    1. An Easy Way to Get Your Pants to Fit Right

    If you want to alter a pair of pants, the first thing you need to do is know the measurement of both the pant waist and your own waist so that you can determine how much tighter you’ll need to make the pants. While the pants are off, take a seam ripper and remove the belt loop completely. Set the belt loop 

    aside because you’ll need it later on. Then, remove the seam on the back of the pants in the middle of the waist, paying attention to how much you need to remove. If you need to tighten the pants by two inches, tear the seam a total of two inches.

    Next, turn the pants inside out and, using a safety pin, fold together two inches of the fabric and place a safety pin at the end of the two inches near the pants. Don’t forget to fold it the right amount. If the extra material is folded in half and you need to tighten the pants by two inches, each side of the fold is going to be one-inch long. Then, take your sewing machine and make a stitch from the top to the bottom of the pants, and when you’re done, try the pants on to make sure they fit right.

    You’ll also need to stitch the pants in two locations, one on each side of the fold. Otherwise, the fold will be “flopping around” in the back of your pants and cause you to be uncomfortable.

    2. What If it’s Your Legs That Have Gotten Smaller?

    There are circumstances where it is your legs and not your waist that have gotten smaller, but you can fix this just as easily as you would the waist. In this case, you’ll start by turning the pants inside out and trying them on to determine how much fabric you’ll need to alter. You can either get someone else to measure the pants while you’re wearing them or get a pair of pants that already fit properly and use that as a guide. In any case, the next step is taking some tailor’s chalk and marking exactly how much pant legs will need to be altered.

    Then, take a seam ripper and rip about three inches of the bottom hem apart, starting where the inseam of your pants is. Naturally, you’ll do this on both pant legs. Next, sew a straight stitch right on top of the line you made with the tailor’s chalk, all the way down to the hem of the pants. After you do this, you can take some sharp scissors and cut off the excess material, but make sure you leave roughly 1/2 inch of the material to make your new seam.

    Last, you’ll want to sew the bottom hem by hand. At this point you’re basically done, but if you want the pants to look a little more professional, go ahead and iron the new seam so that it lays perfectly flat. It not only looks better, but it’ll be a little more comfortable as well.

    3. Basic Hemming of Pants -- Super Simple!

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    Although hemming a pair of pants to make them shorter is very easy, you’ll still need to remember two important things. First of all, always wear the shoes you’re going to wear with the pants before you measure how much fabric you’ll need to remove; and second, get someone else to mark the fabric because it won’t be accurate if you try and do it yourself. Just place the pants inside out and try them on that way, then let a friend use tailor’s chalk and mark how much of the pants you wish to remove.

    Take the pants off and make sure the marks are clear and easy to read. Make sure you take into consideration the hem of your pants and leave enough fabric so that you can alter the pants and leave a hem as well. Place the pants on a table and place one leg over the other so that the two pant legs are stacked on top of one another. This will make it much easier to make sure both legs are hemmed exactly the same. Go ahead and pin the two legs together to make sure they stay in place as you work.

    You may even want to mark two lines so that you can accommodate the hem. Once you’re sure these lines are marked correctly, take a pair of sharp scissors and cut across the bottom line because this will be the start of your hem. Once the extra fabric is removed, use your sewing machine to make a fold at the bottom of your pants and sew the fold down, using a straight stitch all the way around. When you’re done, you can use an iron and iron the new hem so that the fabric is flat and not puffy. This is one of the most basic techniques used when you need to take up trousers on a sewing machine.

    4. Altering Waistline of Men’s Dress Pants

    If you need to alter a pair of men’s dress pants, this is what you do: first, start by removing the seam in the waistband on both sides of the center seam. Try to eliminate roughly four inches on each side of the center seam. If you see a tag or belt loop around the area, go ahead and remove it carefully and place it to the side. Then turn the pants inside out and place one pant leg into the other so that you can more easily access the back rise seam.

    Open up the waistband and iron the back rise seam so that it is flat. Take some tailor’s chalk and draw a line that starts at the waist and tapers down to the lower end of the back rise seam. Fold in the pants the amount you need to make the pants smaller, but keep in mind the number will be cut in half. In other words, if you need to take in the pants by two inches, you’ll see one inch when you’re looking at the fold because the pants are folded in half.

    One word of caution at this point: if you need to take in more than two inches, it might not be worth the effort because when you’re done, the back pockets may be too close together. It might be a better use of your time to simply buy another pair of pants.

    You also might want to baste the stitch the first time to make sure the end result will be the one you want. When you’re sure it is right, you can go ahead and sew over the chalk line, but try to find a stitch that is similar to the one already used on the pants. When you decide to take up trousers on a sewing machine, this part should be easy! Even basic sewing machines these days have lots of options when it comes to stitches.

    You also need to make sure you backstitch at the ends to ensure the stitch will be secure once the job is complete. Once you’re done, you can iron the new seams on the inside and outside, because you’ll want that section of the pants to be nice and flat to look like it is part of the original design. Afterward, all you have to do is reattach the belt loop and you’re all set to go.

    Video - How To Slim & Shorten Suit Trousers

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