Video: How to hem trousers, like a Savile Row tailor

Wednesday, October 21st 2020
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Fixing the hem on trousers is a fairly easy - and satisfying - thing to do at home.

It also enables you, should you want to, to alter the length of trousers (though it's much easier without cuffs).

In this video I talk to Ben Clarke, cutter at Richard James, about how a Savile Row tailor is taught to hem trousers. He provides lots of helpful tips, and demonstrates no fewer than three different methods.

Each of the techniques is a little easier, but shows a little more thread on the inside of a trouser, than the last.

This is the latest in a series of videos we have been doing on craft you can do at home. The previous one - on how to sew a button - can be seen here.



For those that want a brief summary of what we cover - or a recap for those that have watched the video already - here are the main points:

  • Hemming trousers is probably the easiest repair you can do at home, and one of the most satisfying
  • It's simple thing to do, happens to everyone, and you shouldn’t really need to take it to an alterations tailor
  • First, iron the trousers to the length you want
  • Then baste the fold in place, or pin it
  • Knot the thread and then root it on the trouser seam, by sewing in place a couple of times
  • The thread matters less than with buttons, for example - any sewing cotton is good, in a similar colour
  • There are three ways to do the hemming stitch, which get progressively easier to do, but also show more thread on the inside of the trouser
  • Sew through the turn-up, then take a tiny bit of the main trouser leg - a thread or two
  • For hardest technique, use the back of the turn-up; for second-hardest, go through it from back to front; for easiest, stay on the front
  • Take your time. If you take too much cloth, just take the needle back through and do it again
  • It's all practice, that’s why looks easy when a tailor does it
  • Sometimes tempting to pull too hard, to make it more secure, but this makes the cloth too tight, and pucker on the outside
  • On some cloths, you will always see some puckering on the outside, for example with light materials
  • Can reduce this by using looser stitches, but then it's also less secure
  • You can also put a heel strip around the bottom of the leg, but that's best done by an alterations tailor
  • Those strips were more needed in the past, when trousers were wider and longer, and rested more on the heel of shoe, rubbing on it
  • Never do a strip all the way round - it makes the bottom tighter, and not hang as well

If you would like to see some other practical videos we have created on Permanent Style, they include:

Thank you to Ben Clarke of Richard James, and to the Campaign for Wool for all their support through these series of videos.