How to Hem Without Puckers…For Flared and Tapered Pants

Have you ever tried to hem a pair of pants and by the time you were nearly finished sewing it, you realized that you were going to get puckers?

It happens to the best of us.

But, how do you avoid it?

I couldn’t find the answer anywhere in books or on the internet, so I devised my own method many years ago and it works like a charm.

I should probably try to patent it or something, but I’ll put it out there for the world to see today. Just remember you heard it here first! Ha!

To begin with, follow the post on How to Hem Pants and Skirts. Do everything it says to do up to and including the 7th photo. That means, you’ll be marking the new hemline, pressing it, and trimming off the excess.

After picture #7, the next paragraph shows how to tell if your pants are straight legged or not.

That post, How To Hem Pants and Skirts, covers how to hem straight legs.

This post that you are reading, is for how to hem your tapered and flared pants.

If they are tapered (they get increasingly narrow as they approach the hem), then follow these next steps.

If they are flared (Wider at the ankle than at the knee), we’ll cover that farther below.

For a tapered (narrow at the ankle) pant:

If you fold up the pants at the new hemline, you’ll see that the new cut edge does not lay flat against the pant leg. There is excess pant leg material as shown in this mock pair:

photo of a hem rolled up with a tapered leg

So, this means we either have to narrow the pant leg above the fold line or increase the diameter of the hem below the fold line to get them to lay flat.

Do you see how that makes sense? Think about it for a moment until you understand, because it is the key to this hem’s success.

To know how much to increase the hem amount, or decrease the leg circumference, (most times, you need only do one or the other, but I have worked on pants where I have had to adjust both), pinch the excess amount of fabric above the cut edge and that will tell you how much you need.

It’s usually enough to increase the amount below the fold line. As you can see by the red stitching line, I have stitched from the fold line out diagonally to the serged area:

red line showing how to stitch to increase hem for tapered pants, 186

This amount from the original black seam to the new red seam is the increase. Now, take out the original stitches of the black seam from the original fold line at the hem straight down to the cut edge. In the above photo, it’s the black seam line to the left of the red one.

In the photo below, I’m using a real pair of pants to demonstrate this. Can you see where I stitched in a new beige seamline that is at a diagonal to the original seam?

ripping out the seam for a tapered leg sewing blog 083

Many times, the manufacturer will use a chain stitch for this seam and you can rip out a stitch and pull it and the whole thing comes out quickly in one long thread.

Flip the pants over so you can see the expanded area:

photo showing the area below the foldline of the hem all pressed flat, sewing-blog-086.jpg

Next, press that area flat.

Do that alteration to both the inseam and the out seam (side seam) of the first leg this way.

Now, fold the hem up on the fold line and check to see if it lies flat.

photo of pant with the hem extended for the tapered pant, sewing blog 059

If it does lay flat, do the same alteration to the inseam and out seam of the other leg. Then follow the instructions just after the 8th photo in How To Hem Pants and Skirts.

If there is still too much excess in the pant leg, you’ll need to take some out of the area above the foldline (since you’ve increased all you can below the foldline.) It’s never usually very much, maybe another 1/4″ amount.

To do this, stitch a seam (as represented in red below) stitching gradually out from about 6 inches above the fold line (Actually, you could start stitching as far up the pant leg as the knee if you need to), keeping that 1/4″ distance until just before you reach the fold line. If you don’t, the cut edge will still not lay flat. Stop stitching right at the fold line.

red stitching line takinjg in fabric so hem will lie flat on a tapered pant, 187

You can trim the seam a little if you want, but it’s not necessary.

If you have a flared leg pant, you’ll want to do the opposite:

red stitching line showing how to take out some fabric on flared leg hem, 190

Stitch straight down from the fold line to the cut edge (red stitching line).

Then, make sure your hem lies flat.

Fold up the hemline and follow the directions after the 8th photo in “How To Hem Your Pants and Skirts”. Or, if you are hemming jeans, go to the post on “How To Hem Your Jeans the Professional Way”.

If you need to hand stitch the hem, here’s a post on How To Hand Stitch a Hem.

Any questions? Just email me at The and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Now go sew a hem without puckers!