Monday, October 11, 2010

How to hem jeans using the original hem..the best way!!

This little technique has saved me hundreds of dollars!  I'm not even kidding.  My alterations place charges $25 for a jean hem using the original hem.  Ouch!  I'm only 5'2 so you can imagine the dent this can make in my wallet.  I have tried the whole fold the jean over and stitch as close to the seam trick and, to be honest, I hate it!  While inspecting a friend's jeans who had just had them altered, I figured out the trick.  This may look daunting, but, believe me, it's not.  It's really quite simple once you get the hang of it.  The five most important tools needed to accomplish this task are:
a seam ripper

a ruler of some sort to measure.  My favorite, by far, is the sewing guage.  A must!

 Jean thread.  I get my thread from JoAnn's.  The only thread I ever buy from there is Gutermann's.  They have three different colors of Jean thread.  I have all three and I wish they had even more of a selection.  Oh I wish they had really light blue.  A pair of scissors and, lastly, you will need to pull out that trusted sewing machine!

Measuring is the MOST important part of this project.  Please, please make sure you measure right.  You will need to try on your jeans with the tallest shoes you will wear them with.  Fold them up where you want them and remove them to do the pencil marking.  With this sort of hemming, you will cut your jeans off at exactly the length you wish them to be.  If you are unsure, always go a bit longer.  Once you cut, you cannot add more length.  Be careful!!  The best way to mark your jeans is to figure out, in inches, the amount you would like cuttoff.  I then measure all of the way around from the bottom of the jeans.

This is how it looks once you have marked completely around the jeans.  I do not draw a line, but you can if you want.

Pick up your scissors and make a tiny slit right on one of your markings.

This is about how big I make my slit.

Slide your scissors into the slit and cut around the jeans, kind of like dot to dot, but slit to slit.

Once you've completed cutting around the jeans, pick up the cut off part and cut down the jean, I usually do this by the seam.  Cut down until you are about a half inch away from the top of the original hem, as pictured.

I then cut all of the way around the jean, 1/2 inch away from the top of the hem.

This is how the hem now looks and it's almost ready to reattach.

Before we can reattach, we must rip out the original stitching.  Do this by sliding your seam ripper under the stitch and sliding it up and out until the thread snaps. 

This is how the hem will now look after all of the stitches have been removed.  This can kind of be a bugger sometimes.  Especially on the two, thick seams on the sides.  The above picture is of the piece right side out.

You now need to flip the hem inside out, as pictured.

Take your jeans and the orginal hem and lay the jeans on your lap.

I then cut two slits on either side of the thick seam.  Just slit it and stop at the top of the fold.  The reason I do this is because when I fold the jeans over again, as I will show you in the next picture, I don't want to have to stitch through that thick area of the jean.

Open up your hem, as pictured above.  Unfold it one time and leave the second fold that is under my thumb in the picture.
Now take your hem and fold the cut side over to match up to the bottom of the other fold.

You will then take your jeans and lay it on top of the piece you just folded over, matching it up at the crease of the bottom of the hem.  I really hope this makes sense.

This is the jean layed on top of the fold and then you will fold the piece that is under my thumb over the top of the jean.  This sandwiches the jean in the middle of the hem.  Pin this is place.

Do this all of the way around the leg, making sure you have the right seams matched up at the sides.

This is how it will look from the outside.

And this is how it looks from the inside.

Once you have pinned completely around, you are ready to sew into place.

I have to have my machine on the highest tension and make sure you have an extremely thick needle or it will not be able to make it through the thick seams.  I usually begin right before the thickest piece.  Begin stitching and make sure you back stitch before you continue on.  As you stitch through the very thick seam, go very slowly.  I have to go stitch by stitch.  I cannot just press on my pedal, but I tap one stitch at a time, just through that really thick part.

Make sure that you are stitching close to the edge of the hem.  I line my jeans up with the inside edge of the first, slender tab on my foot, as pictured above.  This places the stitches in the perfect position.  Just play around with it until you figure it out.  Remember, if you mess up on this part, you can always take it out and start over.  You will probably have to too.  I did, but once I had done it once or twice, I can do it no problem!

Stitch completely around the leg, back stitching at the end, and this is the end result.

A professional hem that you did all on your own!

Please excuse the ugly cushion.  I really do plan on recovering them in the future.  Please let me know if something doesn't make sense.  This is very hard to explain.  Easy to do, but hard to explain.


  1. WOW! Thanks! I think it makes sense. I also have to do this with my jeans. You are a life saver! Now I need a new pair to hem. Good reason to go shopping :)

  2. Thanks so much! I am 5'5" so I often have to hem my jeans. These look so good! p.s. Where did you get your shoes?! they are to die for cute.

  3. I bought my shoes at the best store here in AZ. If you're ever in the area you must visit Last Chance! It's all of Nordstrom returns and they have great shoes!

  4. Last Chance is a favorite for me too. Great tutorial.

  5. great! i was wondering when you were gonna post this!

  6. Great tutorial! Do you happen to know how to hem jeans that come with a slit at the bottom? I would really like to keep the slit but don't know how to go about it. Please Help :)

  7. LIFE SAVER! Thank you sooooo much!

  8. Great tutorial. I had to pin it on my Pinterest board.
    Thank You!

  9. Found this on pinterest! Can't wait to try it! (I'm 5'3")

  10. Yes, brilliant! - and you did a great job of explaining how to do it, which doesn't necessarily mean I'll be able to, but I'm definitely going to try.
    Thank you so much!

  11. this is awesome! I am also 5'2" and ALWAYS struggle to find cute jeans my size!! Thanks so much for posting this!

  12. I have had to alter every single pair of my DH jeans for 42 years with degrees of success. My dear you are my hero. Wonderful pictures and clear directions. Yes indeed Brilliant!.

  13. Thank you so much! I would be considered a beginner sewer, and this was easy to follow and my jeans turned out great!

  14. On my sewing machine do I use a stitch that is close ______or more spaced out a little like this _ _ _ _ _ . Not sure which one to do. Thanks you for your help & the excellent tutorial of step by step instructions!

  15. Thanks for this great tutorial.

  16. How do you do this method if you are hemming flared jeans? The original hem is always bigger around than the hemmed length circumference

  17. Great tutorial, I'm anxious to give this a try.

  18. It makes lots of sense... thank you.
    I'm of average height.... but my daughter (who passes down her jeans to me!) is about 3 inches taller... so, she gets extra long jeans. I have been just folding them up... but, I am not happy with that look! I am DEFINITELY going to give this a try.... thank you

  19. I have yet to find a tailor in Birmingham that can do this method, the one's I have found do it the other way, which I don't love! I'm happy to pay someone to do this for me since I'm all thumbs and it looks SO good when it's done this way!

  20. Great tutorial! Thanks for your time.

  21. The tutorial certainly shows the steps perfectly. However, I absolutely do not at all understand this method. You are cutting off a hem that used to be an integral part of the cloth and plastering it on to another piece of cloth. It is now added and no longer a piece of the actual fabric, more like an addition. It creates additional bulk and I would think this would stand out more than just duplicating a new jeans hem. Most people hem their jeans when they first buy them, before they have been distressed, anyway, so what is the difference?

    I have always used a regular jeans hem when I hem my jeans--I do not believe that anyone can tell the difference if you use the right color of thread--especially after the first washing.

    To my mind, the method you are all recommending sounds as though it would curl after washing and just "act" in ways that show it is an add-on and not an actual part of the garment, itself. No thanks, but very instructive tutorial.

    1. its just like adding would it curl?

  22. One thing to consider when doing this is...if your pants are tapered they will be smaller at the bottom. If you have to cut off a lot when shortening the length (as I do), when you go to re-attach the hem to the pants it will be a smaller circumference. This can be a problem! I had to cut off 7" and it was just too much for the old hem to be re-used.

  23. that thick side seam... lay the seam on a hard surface, block of wood will do and hit it a few times with a hammer, this compresses the seam and is much easier to stitch through. did that for years when i was doing alterations in a dry cleaning store.

  24. I really like your tutorial! I however can not get both side seams to match. I can get the outside to match but then there is to much fabric in the front and not enough in the back for the other seam to match. How do you make this work? Please help!!

  25. This is the best tutorial I've ever read. Thank you!

  26. Thank you for the in-depth tutorial Lynsee! It was very informative and covered the subject very well!! I am so thankful that someone put this on pinterest or that I found it!! I can't wait to try this!

  27. Great job explaining! The best tutorial I've seen thus far for hemming jeans/leaving original hem. Thank you

  28. Great job explaining! The best tutorial I've seen thus far for hemming jeans/leaving original hem. Thank you

  29. This way is much better than the other we see on pinterest. It's really great ! I just wanted to know (maybe I skipped the part, or didn't understand correctly), the hem part of the jean is always wider than the part you want to attach this hem to. What do you do to make it smaller (to fit the width, a bit smaller, of the jean you want to fit the hem to ? Thanks for your answer.

  30. This way is much better than the other we see on pinterest. It's really great ! I just wanted to know (maybe I skipped the part, or didn't understand correctly), the hem part of the jean is always wider than the part you want to attach this hem to. What do you do to make it smaller (to fit the width, a bit smaller, of the jean you want to fit the hem to ? Thanks for your answer.

  31. 2017 and this tutorial is still kicking butt! I needed to hem a lot of jeans - some of which are vintage - and preserve the hem, but definitely didn't like the look of the "magic hem" technique everyone thinks is so great. This one is so much better! And for those who have asked (and might in the future):

    I have done this on flare jeans with stretch denim - it worked fine. I removed and reattached about 2" of hem (this style had a particularly thick hem) with no problem. I imagine as long as you don't take up too much length the width won't change enough to make a huge difference.

    I have also done this on jeans with a slit in the side of the hem, as one reader asked about, without trouble. Just make sure the vertical edge seams of both sides of the slit are lined up and pin all the way around. Start sewing on one edge - go slow, as the fabric is bulkiest here - and do a few backstitches. Then go ahead to your other end and do the same. I did not sew off the fabric when finishing: instead, when I was done backstitching I simply cut the thread and pulled the loose ends to the wrong side for a finished look! (These slit jeans ALSO happened to be flares - they look great!).