Video: How to hem trousers, like a Savile Row tailor
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:
- How a bespoke suit can be repaired
- How to look after tailoring
- How polish shoes part 1 and part 2
- How to look after suede jackets
- How to look after good shoes
- How to look after and wash knitwear
- How to press trousers
Thank you to Ben Clarke of Richard James, and to the Campaign for Wool for all their support through these series of videos.