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Hemming 101 with Joel

Martha Stewart Living Television

For some people, sewing can be intimidating. The only experience you might have had was in home-economics class in grade school, and later in life you might not remember anything more than how to sew on a button.

Such was the case for TV set production assistant Joel Cordenner, until Martha showed him how to hem his own pants. The technique is simple and once you learn it, it will save you from having to send pants or skirts out to the tailor every time fashion dictates that their lengths change.

Tools and Materials
Seam ripper
Measuring tape

Hemming Pants How-To
1. First, remove the original hem. Then, with the garment on your body, determine the desired length. The standard pant leg should rest on your shoe in the front, creating a break in the fabric, so measure with your shoes on; with skirts, use a yardstick to measure from the floor up, making sure the hemline stays even all the way around. Fold one pant leg under to the desired length, making a cuff inside the pant leg. Pin to the side seams.

2. Turn pants inside out, and lay them out flat. Match the second leg to the length of the first one. Press the hem flat where it's pinned. You can press both legs together at one time. Fold each hem under 1/2 inch, and press along the hemline. Pin about every 3 inches.

3. Use a "hemming stitch" to hem. Starting at a seam on the inside of the folded hem, use the needle to pick up a few threads of fabric. Then, pick up a few threads of fabric from the underside of the garment, and pull. Avoid pulling too tightly, or the fabric will pucker. Repeat, stitching about every 1/3 inch. The smaller the stitch, the less likely it is to be seen on the right side of the garment.

4. To finish, go through the side seam, and knot off thread by taking a few stitches to secure.

Special thanks to Joel Cordenner for helping with this segment. We used a Rowenta Steam Generator Iron. The mending kit was from the Catalog for Living.

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