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How to Taper Trouser Legs

Are you looking for the "skinny" look in your trousers? Do you need to keep your cuffs out of a bicycle chain? Whatever the reason, it's fairly easy to taper the legs of a pair of trousers or pants. Here are some pointers.


  1. Image titled Inside out Step 1
    Put the pants on "inside out".
  2. Image titled Tailors chalk Step 2
    Using pins or tailors chalk, mark the line you would like for your trousers to have. A friend can do this for you more easily than you can do it yourself. Just pinch the seam of the trouser leg down to the size you want and then pin it in place.
    • Be aware that any narrowing of the trouser leg is easiest accomplished at the side seams. Narrowing somewhere besides a seam causes some difficulties, and it's best to stick with the seams if at all possible.
  3. Image titled Test trouser Step 3
    Test to see if you can take the trouser off once the leg has been tapered. If your trouser leg opening is too small to pull your foot through, you may need to add a slit with a zipper or button closure to the bottom of the leg. Alternatively, you can allow a bit more leg room. Just move the pins out a way and test again.
  4. Image titled Seam ripper Step 4
    Take the pants off and, using a seam ripper, undo the stitching in any bottom cuff or hem.
  5. Image titled Iron Step 5
    Iron the trouser leg smooth, removing any pleats or creases. Use starch if necessary to help straighten out a "laundered in" cuff.
  6. Image titled Side seam Step 6
    Using a seam ripper, undo the side seams of the trousers up to the top of your taper area. Make sure you open the seam an inch (2.5cm) extra beyond the needed taper.
  7. Image titled Check Step 7 1
    Check to be certain that the opened seam lengths match on all seams and on both legs of the trousers.
  8. Image titled Pins Step 8
    Re-pin the trouser legs along the desired seam line. Sew a basting seam (longer stitches than usual) along the proposed seam line. Re-test your fit and your ability to put on and take off the trousers. If the fit is good, then go ahead and re-stitch the line with a shorter stitch.
  9. Image titled Cut 9.jpeg
    Cut off the excess material around half an inch from the seams. Use fray-chek or a similar product to prevent fraying if you're sewing material that frays easily. Another method of preventing fraying is to "zig zag" stitch the raw fabric edges, or cover them in bias tape.
  10. Image titled Sew Step 10
    Re-hem the trousers, taking care to keep the length even in both legs. Take care to prevent fraying in the hem seams as well.
  11. Image titled Done 11.jpeg
    Congratulate yourself and wear your new tapered trousers with pride!


  • While this can be done by hand, it is faster, easier, and neater to do this with a sewing machine.


  • Take appropriate caution when using edged tools and sewing machinery to prevent injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Seam Ripper
  • Thread that matches the trouser color
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Starch (optional)

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Categories: Featured Articles | Sewing Clothes | Sewing Pants