How-to: Lengthen Your Pants with One Easy Alteration

Lenghtening a Pair of Pants (2 of 4)

I 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:
Lenghtening a Pair of Pants (1 of 4)

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.

Lenghtening a Pair of Pants (1 of 4)

Once your pants are ironed flat, you can use any method of finishing that bottom seam that you choose. You could serge it, hem it with bias tape, or hem it with a controlled fray– the latter is my favorite method for casual pants, and the one that I’m using in this photo.

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Remember that these pants will look their best after you’ve washed them, which will relax those creases and rinse out the little bits and bobbles of thread.

The crease marks will never erase, of course, but are minimal on a lighter pair of jeans, and really aren’t even noticeable on a dark pair, unless someone comes up to you at a party, lies down on their stomach right in front of you, and looks straight-on at your pants hem.

You don’t know anyone who would do that at a party, do you?

15 thoughts on “How-to: Lengthen Your Pants with One Easy Alteration”

  1. 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.

    1. internet person

      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. I totally agree. I am nearly 6′ tall. All legs! I used to hate buying pants, jeans especially. I make a basic copy of the thigh area, then add frantic to the thigh instead of the end. Make it decorative or blend. I love adding lace.

  2. 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. 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. 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. 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…..

  6. 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!

  7. This is great, I plan on trying this tonight with a new pair of dress pants that shrunk in the wash. Hopefully the fold hasn’t been there long enough to discolour the fabric – I have a feeling that the colour might lighten on some of the more well-worn pants.

  8. I am above average tall and used to sew 30 years ago. I usually have to add material to lengthen my pants. I am dusting off my sewing machine and trying to do some alterations for lengthening my jeans. When I was younger, I knew how to add denim to the length and no one could tell. But, I have forgotten some of my sewing skills. I was hoping to find this solution. It was not that difficult, and came out looking great. Can anyone help me with this procedure? It would be gratefully appreciated.

  9. People here talking about being 5″10 or “above average tall”. I think that that is cute. I actually have not worn any pants I have ever bought without altering them.

  10. Use blue permanent marker to cover the faded crease line. Touch up and blend and smudge to create a perfect denim look!

  11. Thank u for this article. I had a jeans which I had git altered in length to make it short. But the tailor made it an inch shorter than tge desired length. Followed ur steps and thn got stiched at hem.. Saved me a good jeans.. Thank u ????

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