A Cheap & Easy Way to Shorten Your Pants

A Cheap & Easy Way to Shorten Your Pants
No tailor – or sewing – required.

You probably already know that fit is the most important aspect of clothing. That's why Primer created a whole series about how clothes should fit.

In the age of mass manufacturing, most men’s clothing comes in standard sizes. We call this “off-the-rack”. Since people don’t come in standard sizes, it’s not surprising that so many guys are walking around in clothes that don’t fit.

Sleeves are too long. Shirts are too puffy. Jackets are too big.

But, by far, the most common problem is that pant are too long.

All kinds of men fall victim to this, mostly due to ignorance or laziness. But shorter gents have it worst since most stores only offer 30+ inch inseams. If you’re under 5’8”, this is simply too long.

Luckily, getting your pants hemmed is easy and cheap. Most dry cleaners will do this for just $10-20.

But what if you don’t want to pay the “tailor tax” every time you buy a new pair of pants? Or maybe you’d like to cuff your pants or roll them up instead of getting them hemmed?

Well, I have good news, fellas. You can shorten your pants at home, all by yourself, quickly and easily. Plus it’s super affordable.

This cheap and easy clothing hack works best for pants that look good rolled, like chinos. The cool thing is, if you decide later on that your pants would look better hemmed, you can still get them hemmed. This is a semi-permanent solution, perfect for commitment-phobes.

In fact, this trick works so well, you might find yourself buying pants that are 1-2” too long, just so you can use it.

At the very least, when the store is out of 28″ (as usual) you can buy a 30×30 or even a 30×31 and shorten them yourself.

You’re probably wondering, “Can’t I just roll them myself? Why bother with tape and glue and irons?”

Good question. Here’s the problem: pants come unrolled. And the roll usually doesn't stay crisp. The cuff you create gets sloppy throughout the day or somehow widens. The solution? Make the roll permanent. Don't worry, there's no sewing involved. Just a few basic supplies that are very cheap and available at most grocery stores and places like CVS.

Here’s what you need:

shorten pants with fabric glue

It helps to iron the pant legs first, but it’s not necessary. Start by laying the pants out on a hard, flat surface. If the glue doesn’t want to come out of the tube, use a small nail to clear the way.

Spread the glue across one side of the original hem. Do both legs, one at a time:

sew no more singer fabric glue

Fold the pant legs over themselves, like you’re making a cuff or rolling them up. Press firmly to set the glue in place. Then flip the pants over and do the same thing to the other side:

After both sides are glued, put something heavy (like a book) on top of the pant legs to hold them in place while the glue dries:

Additional Tips

If you need them shorter, you can roll and glue them again using the same process. Or you can create wider cuffs, but thin, tight rolls look best, especially for average and shorter guys).

The glue should hold through gentle wash cycles, but you can swap it out for iron down hem tape, which is even stronger.

This works great on shorts too. Show some thigh in the summer: roll up those 9” shorts and glue the cuffs in place using this method.

Go ahead, try it out!

Now you know how to shorten your pants at home, in just a few minutes, without learning how to sew. Go try it on that old pair of pants in the back of your closet – you know, the one that you neglect because they’re a little too long.

Brock runs The Modest Man, a blog for short men who want to dress better. Check out his free guide: How to Dress Taller: 11 Crucial Style Tips for Short Men.

  • John Schroeder

    As someone recently employed in a data analytics-heavy field, I love that you have books by Edward Tufte, even if they’re only being used as weights in this post.

    • http://www.themodestman.com/ Brock

      Got those from his workshop (you been?). I can’t say that I crack them open all the time, but they are great references (and coffee table pieces).

  • Andres Herrera

    So what happens when you wash them?

    • http://www.themodestman.com/ Brock

      If you use the iron-on hem tape, it will stay through washes. The glue will hold for a couple of washes (gentle cycle), but it will come undone eventually. Then again, how often are you washing your casual pants?

  • Pen Guin

    The iron on tape is darn near permanent. Super easy to use.

  • Dulby

    Good stuff.
    What are those moc-toe boots in the picture?

    • http://www.themodestman.com/ Brock

      Those would be the Alden Indy 403s.

  • Peter Manning

    Interesting. Or you could just buy a pair of pants with a 27″, 28″, 29″ and 30″ inseam from http://www.petermanningnyc.com and save yourself some trouble. Right, Brock?

  • Ryan

    What are the shoes in the top picture of this article?

  • the amazing snyder-man

    Now we just need a cheap and easy way to lengthen pants. Most pants don’t come in anything longer than 32 inches unless you’ve got a waistline to match. If you’re slim and 6 feet tall over over, you’re pretty much screwed.

  • Michael

    Awesome article. My ideal fit is awkwardly between 30 and 32-inch length, so this is a godsend.

  • http://www.designerera.com/ Designer Era

    So creative, all i was thinking about cutting the trousers but who can think a glue can work.

  • Sewinmama

    If you use iron hem tape, glue, duck tape, or any other man method to hem your pants. And it doesn’t work or stay forever. Please do not then bring them to the tailor. The tailor wants pants that have been prewashed and tried on with shoes to determine proper length. they need unadulterated (no glue or tape residue) fabric to make a hem that looks like the original. Sincerely, The Tailor.

    • nd

      So, your suggestion is that those who hem their pants in a non-permanent manner in a pinch should NOT spend their $8-$12 a pair on having a professional make them more permanent because you don’t like working with glue that’s washed off or hem tape that’s dissolved? No interest in keeping your business hoping huh?

  • Kory Leach

    This is great in a pinch. I’ll do my best to have them tailored instead though as it’s a much better look to my eye.

  • Mel

    This is an awesome solution in a pinch! But if you expect to wash the same pants over and over again without re-gluing, be brave and ask your female relatives to teach you to use a sewing machine! 😉 I promise you only need 10 minutes + a measuring tape to do a professional hem! – Love, a boyish girl.

  • Steve

    I discovered that milspec fatigues could be rolled up INSIDE rather than outside by folding tightly over the original hem to the necessary length. The fold is not noticeable and if they have been pressed with the fold in place it tends to stay longer. Went through an entire session of basic without having them shortened and no one noticed.

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  • Guido Maggi

    I definitely like this kind of “reverse” effect that it creates on the jeans, really trendy and stylish! BR http://www.guidomaggi.com

  • Jason Db Esposito

    I’m 35/27, my tailor now charges 13 bucks feel like I’m being gouged. Gonna start doing this