Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to hem your jeans

One thing that I find both convenient and frustrating about buying designer jeans is that many of them are sold without inseam sizes. The manufacturer makes them extra long, so when you buy them, unless you are supermodel tall, you have to have them hemmed.

This is great becuase it makes them easier to shop for since you are not dealing with inseam sizes as well as waist line sizes, but then leaves you with the pain in the butt of hemming (or paying to hem) your $100+ jeans.


Well, for those out there who feel like they would like to tackle this task on their own, here is a tutorial on how I hem my jeans, and keep the original hem intact. I personally think this is very important. Especially considering how much money you paid for all of the washing and distressing that goes in to a nice pair of jeans, keeping the original hem really maintains the look of the jeans. So, here we go...

Step 1: Either try on the jeans to be hemmed and have a friend mark them at the spot you would like to hem them at. Or, if you are alone, find another pair of pants that fit you correctly. Lay them flat on top on one another on a ironing board. make sure the inseams match up, and mark the jeans where they need to be hemmed.

Step 2: Cut the jeans. If this is the first time you have done this, it is very scary. If you are afraid of messing up, give yourself a 1/4 in extra to work with. It won't effect the overall fit of the jean dramatically, and gives you the ability to cut off a boo boo and start over.

Here is a pic of a pair of jeans cut to the correct length. Make sure you have the hem lined up all the way around as you cut, or marked evenly all the way around. Otherwise, your jeans will end up shorter on one side and longer on another. I highly recommend both washing and ironing your jeans before doing this.

Step 3: Now you will need to trim the hem off of the bottom of the jeans. Make sure you leave at least a 1/4in on the edge of the hem, You will need this to fold in when you go to sew the hem back on to the jeans. In the pic below you can see how much I am leaving on the hem.

Step 4: Seam rip open the hem

Step 5: This is optional! Find the part of the hem that looks like this...

Turn it inside out like this...

And trim off a little of the serged hem like this...

Make sure you are not cutting into the actual side hem, just taking a little of the fabric off the end. This will help make it less bulky for your sewing machine to go through later.

Step 6: Now comes the tricky part, attaching your hem to the jeans. Begin by locating this part of the hem...

Find the matching side seam on your jeans, and match them up. You will notice that the former inside of your hem will now be on the outside of your jeans.

Step 7: Fold the raw edges of your hem in towards the center...

Place the cut end of your jeans inside the hem, making sure that the former inside of the hem in now on the outside, and the former outside of the hem is now on the inside.

When you are ready to pin it should look something like this. The folded over edge of the hem on the inside of your jeans used to be the hem on the outside of your jeans.

Step 8: Pin every few inches, making sure to double pin on either side of the side seams where the material is thicker. This is where your sewing machine will have the most trouble. Make sure to go slow through the side seams and you may even need to turn the hand wheel a little to help your machine along. If you don't go slow, I guarantee you will break your needle. Not fun.

Step 9: Using whatever foot you feel most comfortable with, sew around the hem of the jeans, I sew on the outside so I can make sure it lines up well and looks nice. Who ever sees the inside of your jeans hem?

Step 10: Back stitch, trim your threads and VOILA! You have hemmed your jeans! Below is a pic of the finished product. All distressing and washes intact :) I'm not all that picky about what thread I use. They don't really ever match the side seam thread to the hem thread on the jeans to begin with. You can buy a jean weight thread, but I've used a regular all purpose weight thread with no issues.

I hope I've inspired you to take on the task of hemming your own jeans, or at least demystified it a bit :)

Happy sewing,


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