The Long & Short of Hemming Jeans

Who loves to hem blue jeans? Don’t everyone raise their hand at once! With kids, the question is “to hem or not to hem?” As sure as you do, the growth spurt will hit.

Here is a short cut to hemming those long jeans. This method gives a finished look that will not look “dorky” even to the pickiest teenager.

1. Step one is the hardest– make them try them on so you can mark the hem.

2. Mark the hemline. Measure 1/2 inch below the hemline and mark. Measure 1/2 inch above the topstitching of the existing hem and mark.

3. Cut on the 1/2″ marks above the existing hem and below the new hemline. Discard or set aside the center section of fabric.
4. Pin the existing hem, right sides together to the new hem, aligning cut edges and matching seams.
5. Stitch together using a scant 1/2″ seam allowance. At the original seams trim to reduce bulk.  It may be necessary to manually turn the hand wheel to stitch through the thick areas where the seams overlap. Stitching should be just below the fold of the original hem.
6. Set machine for an overcast stitch and stitch around to finish cut edges. May also be overlocked using a serger.
7. Press seam away from hem.
8. Voila! The finished hem looks great!!

10 thoughts on “The Long & Short of Hemming Jeans

  1. cal8007 Reply

    Great tip!! I’m 4’11” and always have to shorten my jeans. I’ve been putting it off because of the bulkiness, but this is a great tip and can be done in minutes. Thanks!

    Carmen L

  2. becky Reply

    Thank-you for this post will come in very handy my jeans are usually longer than me and do not always want to wear boots.Thanks.Becky

  3. Anonymous Reply

    Works on straight leg jeans. However on flared jeans if the amount cut off exceeds 4″, the taper on the leg will render this cut off rolled hem too wide.

    • Lynn Browne Reply

      You are correct. If the amount that needs to be cut of goes into the area that starts to taper in on flared jeans this technique will not work.

  4. Anonymous Reply

    I can’t believe people are doing this!!!! As the jeans are washed, this seam is going to show. Hemming jeans is not difficult if one uses a 16 sharp needle and heavy duty thread, which is now available. When using this thread you must loosen the tension about 2-3 settings, lenghthen the stitch, and stitch from the right side of the fabric. Hem looks like factory hem. If you can’t find the heavy thread in the right color, use two strands of regular thread in the needle, will look like heavy thread. I’ve done this for 25+ years and always had good “factory-looking” hems. Another suggestion is to use a shank as you go over the seams to help your machine feed the denim through.

    • Lynn Browne Reply

      This is a shortcut. I have used this technique for a number of years on jeans that have been washed weekly and the seam doesn’t show plus the weathered look of the original hem is maintained. The method you described is the proper way to hem and is the best choice for flared or bell bottom jeans. We have Jeans topstitching thread in the red-orange color for the technique you described, plus new Jeans Topstitching thread in colors to match the colored denim popular today.

  5. Anonymous Reply

    I have been using the method you described for many many years and even my (at that time)reisty teenage daughter was happy. If you have the patience to shorten the ‘hem band’ you’ve cut off, this method can also work on flares. I tried it and though time consuming, it worked.

  6. Anonymous Reply

    I worked in an alteration shop for 6 years and we used both methods of jean hemming….depended on customer preference. If the amount of denim between the two lines is manageable(on the original hem option) you can just leave the extra fabric inside, stitch in the ditch on the outside very close to original hem, through all thicknesses and it will stay put.

  7. Anonymous Reply

    I like this method and will try it but for many years of hemming jeans I cut,turn and pin or baste hem and then take jeans outside and using a heavy hammer “pound” the hem and seams very flat and thin. This reduces the bulk and makes machine hemming a breeze.

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