If you’ve been here before, you probably know how I feel about perfect pant lengths. In most cases you’ll be buying pants that are longer than you need and having them shortened, but it is also possible to go the other way: taking down the hems of pants is a solution that we often forget.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to do with jeans, where there is no real hem. But it does work well with other types of pants if you alter them correctly:

  • You’ll need enough of a hem before you start: an inch or more will do the trick. A good tailor can utilize an entire hem if they use bias binding. Bias binding is sewn onto the edge of the hem and acts as an additional piece of fabric. This allows the tailor to take down the hem without having to borrow from the fabric to sew another hem back in. You’ll be surprised how effective this method can be, and an inch can make all the difference.
  • Have pant hems altered before wearing them because hem creases can be steamed out successfully before the dry-cleaning or washing process. Crease lines tend to become permanent after laundering.

I’ve lengthened quite a few pairs of slacks this way and it really works. You can also apply the same lengthening method to unlined jacket sleeves and skirts. So the next time an item falls a wee bit short in the length, remember to check whether you can take down the hem.

Bias Binding Illustration

An example of bias binding.