Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to Hem Jeans like a Professional

I am 5'2" necessitating LOTS of hemming and shortening of pants, skirts, and dresses. I just can't find anything the right length. If you've ever priced the cost of professional seamstresses (and add in the time it takes to get your clothing back), it costs a fortune to have everything you buy hemmed. I learned years ago how to hem pants and skirts, but jeans always gave me grief. A couple of years ago my older sister showed me a pair of her jeans that she had hemmed professionally, and it was easy to see how it was done. The difference is that jeans typically have a worn edge. The hem is decorative, so cutting that edge off to shorten them takes away part of the character you're paying for. So I developed a tutorial for hemming jeans the way professional would. Hope you find this helpful!

What you'll need:
sewing machine
dark thread to match the jeans
iron
straight pins
measuring tape
scissors

The Process:
You'll need to measure the desired length of the jeans. The easiest way I've found to do this is to have the person stand on a chair and scoot back so the heel of their shoes is even with the edge of the chair. It might be helpful to note that you definitely need to have them wear the shoes they'd typically wear with the jeans. I prefer to hem the jeans to the ground. So, using a safety pin or water-soluble marking pen, mark the desired length (in my case, where the shoe ends and the chair begins).

Next, measure the amount you'll need to shorten them from the edge of the current hem to the mark you've made. In the jeans in this tutorial, they needed to be shortened 2 1/2 inches.

Lay the jeans flat on a hard surface, and measure up the desired length (2 1/2 inches here) from the stitching on the current hem. Since the current hem will remain in place, that half inch or so will also remain. So, if you measure from the edge of your jeans, they'll still be a half an inch too long after hemming. Make sense? Now place a straight pin to mark.

Next you'll fold the edge of your jeans up into a cuff matching the current stitching to just above the pin like this. Pin in place.
To check your accuracy, divide your total amount needed to shorten (2 1/2 inches for me) by 2 (equalling 1 1/4 inches in my case). Measure from the fold to just under the current stitching making sure this amount is half of the amount you need to take it in.

Next, keeping this length consistent, pin all the way around the cuff. Measure as you go to make sure you're still consistent. Repeat these steps on the second leg.
When both legs are securely pinned, move the pants to your sewing machine. Carefully stitch in the ditch just along the fold of the current hem. Make sure to get as close to this fold as possible being careful not to sew on top of it or across the current stitching.
Stitch all the way around backstitching where you stop and start. Repeat this step for the other leg.

Remove your jeans from the machine, and turn the cuff up to the inside of the leg like this.
With a steaming hot iron, press this new seam from the inside all the way around each leg.

Now turn the pants inside-out revealing the new cuff on the inside of the leg. Using super sharp scissors, cut the cuff about a quarter inch from your stitching.
Turn the jeans right-side-out, and iron again if necessary to reveal your finished hem.

Easy, and your seam is almost invisible!

As always, please feel free to comment with questions, and I'll do my best to answer.

As seen on CraftGossip.com

42 comments:

My motto is: said...

This is SO helpful! What a great tip! Thank you for posting this.

Bryan said...

first off, thanks for posting this tutorial. i was just wondering if you could recommend a price range for a good sewing machine for tailoring jeans. i don't mind paying a lot but i want to get away with paying the bare minimum for good quality. thanks in advance!

Alicia said...

Bryan,
I have a Brother sewing machine that I got as a gift 12 years ago. It was from Sam's Club way back when and came with a handful of accessories for a great deal. I haven't had a single issue with my machine, and I've never had to have it serviced. I recommend with any machine reading the manual front-to-back to become really familiar with the machine. This way you can do minor things like cleaning yourself.
I can't find my exact model, but this one:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Brother-Computerized-Sewing-Machine-CS6000I/4764726
gets great reviews. You can find it at Walmart for right around $150. I'd say that is about the cheapest you'd want to go.
Good luck!

booturtle said...

Simple but so smart! I've never once attempted hemming jeans and I'm far too cheap to pay to have it done. Regular jeans are too short but longs are too long. Now I know what I can do. Thanks for sharing!

Lucy Designs said...

this is brilliant! thank you, def bookmarking this!

Mary Ellen said...

I found a brand new pair of jeans for my husband at the thrift store but the legs are too long- thanks for showing how to do this !!

Quilts and Cats said...

That is fantastic. It sure beats sewing over all the layers of the side seams with a "seam jumper". This is one of those times when you say to yourself..."Why didn't I think of that!" Thanks...love your blog, too.

BJS said...

Fabulous! I have hemmed many jeans and this is brilliant. I have a pair of jeans that are still in the closet because I just don't want to hem them. Now I do using your method. Thanks for sharing!!

The Purds said...

This is a great tutorial. I do alterations as a living and would like to suggest a couple more steps. Serge or overcast the cut piece inside your jeans. Also,to hold your new hem in place, topstitch the fold down very close to the edge with thread that matches the color of your jeans. This is what we do when putting in an "original" hem at work! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

What a great way to hem. My husband always needs his pants shortened and I hate doing it. This way seems alot easier and looks better than the way I do it. Thanks for sharing. You've made my day!!

Jan said...

Great tutorial, I just have one suggestion, you might want to use the zipper foot instead of the regular presser foot. That will enable you to get very close to the fold of the original hem without having to have part of the foot up on that heavy material.

Alicia said...

Thank you all so much for your sweet comments and suggestions. I'm going to work on updating this tutorial with your additions soon. Thanks again!

daff said...

what a Brilliant woman you are ...
Thank you. thank you. xxx

Anonymous said...

You rock!

liniecat said...

Priceless! Thank you so much, would never have thought of doing it that way but it makes great sense.

azul47 said...

Thank you for posting this
Great tutorial
Thanks again,love your blog

Stacey,momof 2 said...

This is a GREAT idea.. but at our house we have legs that are too long... I wonder how this concept would transfer to adding length.

Anonymous said...

How do I love thee? let me count the ways!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you SO much for this. I am 5`1 and have the same problem. Now I know how to fix my jeans!!!!!!!

seeRsew said...

What a useful, practical, AMAZING tutorial. I'm 5ft tall and sometimes even the petites are a little too long (assuming they fit the other parts of me!).

I probably have five pairs of jeans in my closet I can practice this on... Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My daughter does hems the jeans that customers purchase at a high-end jeans store and this is pretty much how she does it. She topstitches in addition to ironing the hem.

Emily said...

Awesome! Your jeans turned out much better than mine did. :) Any suggestions for non skinny jeans?

SHEILA said...

I have been hemming my pants and jeans for years, and never thought of doing it this way. Great tutorial!

Deborah said...

Fab tutorial, thank you! I've got to turn up a pair of jeans for my dad so will try out this method :-)

Just one question - when you cut off the excess fabric inside, do you overlock this cut edge or leave it raw?

Thanks again!

Nonna and Pop said...

This is really very helpful! Thanks for sharing.
I also want to know what you did with the cut off edge.
Thanks!

Ayala Levinger said...

Can't believe it! just on time! I must shorten a new pair I recently bought and wondered what was the best way!!
Thank you!!

Maggi said...

Thank you. It's a great tip. Next time I will use this method :)

Anonymous said...

AMAZING! I've always wanted to do this, But I guessed at cutting before sewing which made the outcome not so awesome :(
I suppose this would really only work well with straight leg jeans (not flared or tapered leg) but I am so happy you posted this. Thank You!!!!

Anonymous said...

How do you hem a pair of flair Jean? the original hem is larger than the the new hem line.

Thank you

Lady T said...

Fabulous tutorial.

Sassy T said...

Am going to try this on my denim skirt, it is an old one so not too bothered if it doesn't look good. Moreiver am a beginner so may go wrong because am a novice.

Sassy T said...

I forgot to ask, what size straight stitch did you use?

Sassy T. said...

Am a novive and in addition to my above question, I was wondering whether you need to use a special foot.

Villainous Vixen Designs said...

this is so fantastic! i had just recently purchased some jeans that need hemming, and i'm so excited it's so easy! thanks!

Farnazstudios said...

Oh my god you save my life I wanted to know how they hem Jeans what a easy and smart way .
Thanks

Susan said...

Just finished a pair of jeans using your technique...worked like a charm. Thanks so much!!!

Nikell said...

I've found this to be the best how-to for hemming jeans. I'm 5'2" and this will help with all my jeans in the future. Thanks for sharing (^_^)

Pasta said...

I had a pair of extra long boot-cut jeans which is a tad too long for my current favorite shoes. In the old days, I would cut off the hem, iron, pin and sew with a different thread (than original). Tried your method this time, but kept the extra fabric inside. This way I can let it out in case I'll be wearing heels again. Your tips work great! Thanks!

Carol A. said...

Just tried this-it was so easy and worked out great. I did use a zipper foot for stitching. My husband will no longer have to tape up his jeans because I hate to do them.We both thank you.

barbara donelson said...

I have been hemming jeans for 40 years and I cant recommend this because the hem will curl up after each wash and you will have to iron it back down each time....i will say that you can opt not to cut off the extra and use fusing web to fuse in place to keep the hem straight so wont flip or curl.

Anonymous said...

This has to be the best tutorial and method for hemming jeans ever found. FINALLY! I can buy jeans that fit without worrying about length! (I am almost 5' tall but all jeans are made for taller people) The only difference is that I used the zipper foot - it allows a much closer & easier stitch alongside the original hem THANK YOU!

Nancy De Smet Stikplezier said...

Thanks for the tutorial!

Anonymous said...

Just bought jeans for my son and need to hem. I'm not a great hemmer, but do sew and I LOVE your tutorial.
One question: would you recommend air drying? Does this new hem need to be pressed after every wash?
Thank you so much. Brilliant!