How to shorten a pair of trousers

How to shorten a pair of trousers

from Elna sewing machines

If you’re shopping for second hand denim you usually get the dilemna – go for the right waist size or the right trouser length? Thus you end up with long hemmed jeans that fray to feckery as they get dragged underfoot. Pretend you always intended them to be that way – or do something about it.


  • trousers to be shortened
  • pins
  • thread, ruler, pencil, scissors
  • sewing machine (Or be prepared for hand stitching – which won’t be fun with a tough fabric like denim)


1. Adjust the trouser legs to the desired length, folding the surplus fabric underneath.

2. Secure the surplus fabric in place using a few pins to maintain the correct length.

3. Iron the bottom of each trouser leg to create a crease marking the new length, then remove the pins.

4. Take one of the trouser legs, unfold the surplus fabric, and using the ruler, measure 3cm from the new crease to the bottom, and mark with a pencil.

5. Carefully cut off any surplus tissue below this 3cm mark.

6. Using the ruler to measure from the bottom edge upwards, fold underneath to create a 1.5cm hem. Iron down flat, then fold the fabric underneath another 1.5cm, so that the hem now matches your initial fold. Repeat for the other leg.

7. Fix the new hems in place with a few pins.

8. Thread the sewing machine and select the ‘straight sewing’ option. Place your machine in ‘free arm’ mode, either by removing the accessory holder or by taking off the sewing table.

9. Position the first hem to be sewn under the free arm. If you prefer, the trousers can be sewn right-side out.

10. Begin sewing. If you’ve chosen to sew your trousers right-side out, use the guide marks on the needle plate to help you maintain a constant 1.2cm hem. Sew slowly and carefully over the side seams.

11. Repeat for the other leg.

Helpful hints:

Elna offers a special foot for sewing jeans hems which is available for all models from simple to complex. This foot will help you manage just about any type of seam or fabric thickness. It features a small black button which, when pressed, firmly secures the foot in the horizontal position to keep your sewing steady and regular, and ensure trouble-free sewing across thick side seams.