Tell me you don’t have at least one pair of jeans sitting in your closet, waiting to be hemmed. You don’t want to pay someone to hem the jeans for you, but aren’t quite confident in your hemming skills. Hence, the jeans continue to sit… Sound familiar?! It’s time to learn how to hem jeans, my favorite way!
No more excuses! Give your wardrobe and your confidence a boost by hemming them yourself! This easy method of how to hem jeans is both fast and easy, and even allows you to keep the original hem. Once you learn how to hem jeans and keep the original hem, you’ll never turn back!
Before you know it, you may even find yourself altering your jeans from bootcut to skinny or straight!
Got 15 minutes? You’re golden.
Why Hem your Own Jeans?
Out of all the benefits of learning to sew, being able to shorten your own jeans is one of the most handy benefits! Rather than taking your jeans to a tailor every time you need to have them shortened, you can easily learn to alter them yourself, saving both time and money.
Once you learn how easy it is, you’ll be able to have your jeans shortened in less time than it would take you to drive to and from the tailor shop.
Why Hem Jeans with the Original Hem?
The reason I love this method is that you’ll be able to learn how to hem jeans without losing the original look of the factory hem. Jeans often come with a slightly distressed hem, and this is created through a process that is tricky to replicate at home (although not impossible, which I’ll save for another post ;)).
You’ll also be able to keep the original stitching look, and no one will notice that they were altered at all! Perfect inseam lengths rejoice!
If you’re not up for the “chop them off and let the raw edge fray” kind of hemming, this method is for you. It leaves you with a new hem that looks just like the original, and is a fun DIY project that you’ll be proud of.
Is it Difficult to Hem Jeans?
It likely won’t surprise you that I’m going to answer this question with a big NO! All it takes to hem jeans is a pair of too-long jeans, a sewing machine that can sew a straight stitch (spoiler alert, that’s any home machine!), a heavy duty needle (using a needle smaller than a 14/16 will likely give you grief and can turn this easy process into a frustrating one), and basic sewing supplies like a measuring tape or ruler, pins, and scissors.
You can learn to hem jeans even if you’re a beginner. The trickiest part is being comfortable sewing through the bulky layers, but a little patience and sewing slowly will go a long way. Just follow these instructions closely and you’ll see just how easy it is!
Get your confidence with hemming jeans, and you’ll be sewing your own blanket hoodie before you know it.
What Style of Jeans are Best to Shorten while Keeping the Original Hem?
While this is my favorite go-to method for hemming jeans, because it involves creating a fold using the excess fabric at the hem, it works best on jeans that don’t have a large difference in circumference between the hem and where you’d like them shortened to, such as straight legged jeans.
Skinny jeans and bootcut jeans can still often be hemmed this way, especially if the denim has a bit of stretch, but you may want to consider altering the width of the legs first to be more straight if there’s a large taper on the leg one way or the other.
You can see that the jeans pictured in this tutorial were bootcut and because there was some stretch to the fabric, the excess width was easily eased in while sewing which worked well.
How To Hem Jeans
Your favorite pair of too-long jeans!
Measuring Tape or ruler
Size 16 denim needle (I like to use these needles (affiliate link) for stitching through the multiple layers of denim)
Sewing machine – I always recommend this one for beginners – check out all the great reviews!
Thread – match the color to the denim fabric, not the original hem color as we want it to blend right into the fabric
Zipper foot (optional but ideal!)
Basic sewing supplies – pins, fabric scissors
1. Ready to learn how to hem jeans? First, try on your jeans and fold the hem up (right sides together) to the length that you’d like your finished hem. Remember to wear a pair of shoes that you would normally wear with the jeans. If you wear sneakers most often, throw on a pair. If you like to wear wedges, go with those.
2. Take off your jeans and use a measuring tape or ruler to measure from the bottom fold to the bottom of the original hem (Measurement A). Also measure the height of the original hem, from the original hem edge to the folded edge near the stitching. In this case it’s 1/2″ (Measurement B).
3. Divide Measurement A from step 2 by 2. Example: I folded my jeans up 2 inches in step 1, and divided that 2 inch measurement by 2 to get 1 inch.
Divide Measurement B from step 2 from by 2. Example: 1/2″ / 2 = 1/4″
Add these two numbers together (1 1/4″ in my case) and, measuring from the inside edge of the original hem, create a fold at that measurement. Pin in place.
Note: Many online tutorials will simply tell you to divide measurement A in half and fold up that amount, but that doesn’t account for the original hem that will be turned down once the hem is finished, and your pants will always be approximately 1/2″ (or the width of the original hem) longer than you were trying to achieve. The math above will result in your pants being the intended length, I promise!
6. Turn folded seam allowance to inside of jean legs and try your jeans on to make sure you’re happy with the new length! If they seem a little long or short, it’s not too late to grab the seam ripper and make adjustments.
7. Press the folded edges upward toward the inside of each jean leg. If you had to hem a large amount from your jeans (I’d say greater than an inch or so), you may prefer to trim the inside cuff/folded edge and use a serger or zig zag stitching on the raw edges to reduce bulk.
You can also sew a couple of hand stitches at each side seam on the inside of each leg to tack the folded edges in place if you’d like.
Make sure to press each jean leg from the outside with steam as well to give a nice clean hemline.