Clothing + Fashion Pants lengthened by about an inch by releasing the bottom seam

Published on February 14th, 2011 | by Julie Finn

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How-to: Lengthen Your Pants with One Easy Alteration

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Pants lengthened by about an inch by releasing the bottom seamI buy pretty much all of my clothing from thrift stores, so I take stuff home expecting to make some alterations. Sometimes the changes are drastic, such as hacking off a pair of cargo pants to make a pair of cargo capris, and sometimes the changes are cosmetic, such as adding painted dragon wings and a couple of horns to an otherwise perfectly fine hoodie.

Sometimes, however, all I need is simple: a plain pair of well-fitting jeans. At a thrift store, finding the perfect jeans can be a challenge, but if I find a pair of jeans that fits well at the hips and waist, and that has a nice cut, I can often alter the length to fit.

If the jeans are too long, then hemming them is an easy fix. However, even if the jeans are a little too short, it’s easy to lengthen them by up to an inch with just a couple of quick alterations. If your pants are just a little too short to wear with your best combat boots, here’s how to alter them:

Rip out the seam.The first thing to do is to rip out the bottom hem of both legs. A seam ripper will work, but because the thread used to sew jeans is sturdier than your average thread, I get the best results by simply clipping every other stitch of the hem with a small pair of sewing scissors (this job is easiest performed while watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix), then pulling the seam apart and clipping any stitches that still don’t want to give.

Once the threads are all clipped, unfold the seam completely and iron it flat with a nice, hot iron. Those folds won’t want to lie quite flat anymore, but they will after a few washes, and all those little thread bits will wash right out, too.

The amount of extra length that you’ll get here depends on how much fabric was tucked into your hem. I usually get about 1″ extra, which is usually exactly what I need.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



8 Responses to How-to: Lengthen Your Pants with One Easy Alteration

  1. bored says:

    I was really disappointed with this article. I’m 5’10 and often have a hard time finding pants that are long enough. I thought this might have some good advice or a new trick or something. But really, ripping out the bottom hem and then sewing it again to make it longer? That’s the article? Don’t you think that tall people who are even the tinniest bit crafty have already done this countless times? I usually like the things I find on this website and have gotten some good ideas, but not this time.

    • internet person says:

      I’ve been doing my own clothing alterations for years, but this would never have occurred to me had I not seen this article. Sometimes pointing out the easy, obvious things can be a tremendous public service.

  2. sylvia says:

    If they have a relatively wide hem at the bottom which you let out, you can sew ribbons over the crease lines. It hides them and looks super-cute and people will think you bought outrageously expensive fancy jeans!

  3. Tom says:

    Wow that is so useful and simple I can’t believe I never thought of it. I have so many pants that have shrunk an inch or half inch from washing and are now too short. Gonna go do this to all of them, thanks!

  4. Angela says:

    To get stubbon wrinkles out of any washable garment, like the creases at the bottom of those re-hemmed pants, try spritzing on a solution of 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar and then pressing it dry. You’ll be amazed!

  5. maria says:

    I liked this article, thank you very much for writing it.

  6. Marla says:

    I think this article is brilliant! I think if you are taller or shorter than the “norm” you should buy your jeans accordingly.
    With that said……when I was younger jeans could not be found in long or short length. I often added trim to lengthen them. But never thought of opening the hem and creating a controlled fringe! LOVE it!!!
    Now, I’m off to find some short jeans…..

  7. Pam says:

    I’m 5’8″ with most of my heigth in my legs! Letting out an inch in a pair of jeans is no help to me. I’ve tried this and they are still too short. Why can’t clothing manufacturers make pants longer instead of the average length of 30″. Really, everyone does not wear this length. Tall sizes pucker in the crotch on me. I just need regular size pants/jeans with longer lengths. Dept. stores don’t cater to those of us who need the extra length!

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