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Pants Pattern Adjustments : How To Lengthen, Narrow or Shorten Pant Legs

3 min read

With the rise in online shopping over the past few years, being able to make your own adjustments to your clothes has become an enviable skill. We’ve all had the experience of purchasing something online or buying off the rack and the fit not being quite as we had hoped. This is particularly true of pants and trousers.

Whether this be adding length to pants or trying to shorten pants length, there are many ways to adjust your clothing to get that perfect fit. It’s great to learn easy ways to sew and alter your clothes to get a custom fit, as this is a simple way to make your clothing look both well-made and expensive.

With so many pant and trouser style options to buy, it’s easy to get a bit confused when selecting the best pant length for you. Pant length is another one of those things that vary, even between people of the same height. Following a “how to” narrow pant leg pattern is a simple way to explore this.

Where the pant hems sit on you will ultimately depend on your own personal leg length. Whether you want to lengthen pants or shorten pants length is up to you.

But the good news is, getting the length right for your pants is the easiest adjustment you can make. Below I outline both how to lengthen & shorten pants length with a narrow pant leg pattern.

The trickier part of any narrow pant leg pattern adjustment is working out and deciding how much you actually need to adjust. There’s no one way of doing this as every set of pants have different shapes, sizes and intended fits. Also, everyone’s body type is different, meaning that different people will need slightly altered ways of doing things. It may take some trial and error, but here are some simple steps that you can follow to help.

Note: It refers to the Urban Pants by Pattern Emporium, but can be applied to most pants. If your narrow pant leg pattern has no adjustment lines, add your own halfway between the knee & the crotch & then halfway between the knee & the hem. 


  • Paper or tissue the width of the pattern piece
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Ruler or measuring tape


  1. Decide how much you want to lengthen or shorten them.
  2. Locate the adjustment lines on the front and back (see image for reference)
  3. To lengthen your pants, cut along the adjustment lines. Then open the pattern up, adding half the length needed at the adjustment lines.
  4. To shorten your pants, fold along the adjustment lines. Then fold out half the length at the adjustment lines.

NOTE: Click here or on the picture below for a closer view.

Lengthen or Shorten pants - sewing pattern adjustment


The length of one’s pants is a personal choice, but there tend to be a few points that we all follow to find the best fit for your height and body type. Keep these in mind when following your narrow pant leg pattern:

  1. The hem of the pants rests just above the top of the shoe. This style of pant fit is largely found on modern pants, which will show your socks and may actually shorten further if washed in certain ways.
  2. The hem of the pants lies on top of the shoe. A popular look, this length is carried off well by those of a slim or tall frame.
  3. The hem of the pants rests approximately half an inch down from the top of the shoe. This leaves the front hem resting on the top lace and is a style suited for most heights and body types.
  4. The front hem of the pants covers the majority of the laces, and the back hem lies just above the outer sole.

Find More Pattern & Style Tips

While you are practising how to narrow, lengthen and shorten your pants legs, why not get creative and try a few other sewing patterns to jazz up your wardrobe this summer. Our pleated pants pattern is a great way to add more design to your pants, as well as add a new level to your sewing skills.

For more styles and ideas on women’s pants, check out our wider selection. Contact us today at Pattern Emporium with any questions, to receive more ideas, or just to let us know how you got on with your sewing pattern – we would love to hear from you!