How to Hem Jeans While Keeping Original Hem

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How to Hem Jeans

Three Methods:

Finding jeans with just the right leg length straight off the rack is nearly impossible. If you've found jeans that fit but are too long, then you can take them to a tailor or sew a new hem yourself. You can either keep the original hem, or you can create a new hem. Keep in mind that working with denim can be tricky, so there are a few strategies you may want to use to ensure a successful project.


Keeping the Original Hem

  1. Decide where to hem.Try on your jeans and decide where you would like to hem them. Generally, jeans should fall about an inch above the floor. This will prevent you from tripping and also avoid making your jeans look like they are a size too small. Feel free to alter the length to meet your personal preferences though.
  2. Fold up the bottom.Create a cuff where you want the jeans to be hemmed. Crease the fold so it lies flat and double-check that you've folded it up by the correct amount. Once you've done this on one side, measure just below the preexisting hem and use that measurement to create an equal fold on the other leg.
  3. Pin the hem in place.Place straight pins around the circumference of the pant leg to hold it in place. Check to be sure the seams line up on each pant leg as well as that they are even with each other.
  4. Sew the hem.Stitch around the circumference of the pant leg just below the stitching for the existing hem. You can use a sewing machine or do this by hand. To be clear, you will be sewing the cuff to the pant leg and later will fold it inside the leg. This will allow you to take out the hem later if you grow taller or want the pants longer at a later point in time.
  5. Unfold the hem.Tuck the excess fabric of the folded cuff up into the leg of the jeans, folding the original hem down so its outer side shows once again. This should leave you a small loop of fabric along the bottom edge of the jeans inside the leg. Try on the jeans to make sure they are at the correct length.
    • If you don’t expect to want to lengthen the jeans at any point, then you can also cut the excess fabric. Cut the excess fabric about 1 inch away from the new seam you have created.
  6. Iron the jeans.Use an iron to flatten out the hem you've created along the bottom edge. This will smooth out the loop of fabric tucked into the leg, and leave your jeans looking the perfect length with no tell-tale hemming signs.

Creating a New Hem

  1. Mark your jeans where you’d like the new hem to be.The best way to do this is to put your jeans on (or have the person who will be wearing the jeans put them on) and fold the cuff under until the jeans are the length you’d like them to be. Then, use a piece of chalk to mark the spot where the new hem should end.
  2. Measure and mark two more lines.Measure ½” from the hem line and draw a line above it that is running parallel to the first one. Then, measure and mark another ½” below the original line and draw the line so it is parallel to the original one as well.
    • Now you should have three lines total. These lines will serve as a guide for you to sew the new hem.
  3. Cut along the bottom line.Cut off the bottom of the jeans and the old hem. To do this, cut in a straight line along the bottom line that you made. Discard the material that you cut off.
  4. Fold the new hem under.Next, fold along the center chalk line to create the new hem. You may also want to pin along the new hem to hold it in place while you sew. Check to make sure that the hem is even all the way around before you sew.
  5. Sew the new hem.Using some gold denim thread, or the thread color of your choice, sew around the area you pinned to hold the new hem in place. Use a straight stitch and try to keep it as even as possible.
    • Remove the pins as you go.
    • After you sew around both hems, your jeans will be ready to wear!

Ensuring a Successful Project

  1. Wash the jeans first if they are new.Denim will shrink a bit the first time you wash it, so it is a good idea to do a pre-wash before hemming your jeans. This will help to ensure that you do not make the hem too short.
    • Make sure to follow the instructions on the label for washing your jeans.
  2. Use a new needle.It is important to change your sewing machine needle after every four hours of sewing or after finishing a major project to ensure that it is sharp enough to do the job. If you have not changed the needle in a while, then put in a new needle before you begin sewing the new hem.
  3. Go slow.Denim and other bulky fabrics can be a bit harder to sew. They may get caught more easily, or not move as efficiently through the presser foot. To ensure that your stitches are even and straight, sew slowly.
    • Start by applying very light pressure on the pedal to get the stitches started and then only increase the speed slightly if the fabric seems to be moving along well.
    • If the fabric gets stuck, then you can always use the hand wheel to help move it along.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do I sew through the thick seam on my jeans?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If you are using a sewing machine, make sure you change the needle out to a denim or other heavy-duty needle. By doing this, you will ensure that the needle goes through the denim and does not break.
  • Question
    Will this work on a boot cut?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, this technique will work on any type of jean cut for the most part. If you are taking up the hem a great deal, you may have some excess fabric inside the pants, but you should be able to flatten it out well enough.
  • Question
    Does the thread for denim go in the bobbin or on top?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You should use denim weight thread in both the top and bobbin threads. If you have different colors, the one that shows on the finished hem will be the bobbin thread if you are stitching with the wrong side up -- the inside of the pant leg is facing up and the hem is rolled to that side.
Unanswered Questions
  • How do I hem jeans around the zipper?
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Quick Summary

To create a new hem on your jeans, use a piece of chalk to mark where the new hem should end. Then, measure and draw a line ½ inch above the new hemline and ½ inch below it. Next, cut along the bottom line to get rid of the excess fabric. Then, fold the center chalk line to the top chalk line to create the new hem. Pin the hem in place to keep things neat and even, then sew the new hem with a straight stitch and gold denim thread.

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