DIY: How to Hem Jeans

I am a super cheapskate when it comes to buying clothes for my family. God knew this, and gave us 4 boys so I could indulge my cheap personality by passing clothes down the line from Boy #1 all the way to Boy #4. However, the only problem is that they are not all the same size. Darn and double darn.

I am fortunate that Boy #1 and Boy #4 have the same waist size, however. The only problem we run into is the length. Cause Boy #4 is about 5″ shorter than Boy #1. So we need to shorten everything. A lot. Hemming jeans is really very simple, although I think that it may intimidate some people because of the weight of the denim. I see women wearing jeans rolled up 5″or 6″ all the time, and it makes me think “Really? It only takes about 10 minutes to hem jeans, I don’t get it”. 10 MINUTES people. If you own a machine and can sew a straight line, you can do this. You can even teach your kids.

You will need your jeans, tailors chalk (or a sharp #2 lead pencil), and a measuring tape or a ruler.

First try on the jeans (after they have been washed and dried), and roll up the hem to the desired length. I know you know how to do this!

Then, take off the jeans, and measure the amount you rolled up. It was 5″ on these jeans.

Turn the jeans inside out, matching the leg seams and smoothing out the fabric. Because denim is so heavy, you will need to work with one leg at a time. Calculate the amount of fabric to cut off by subtracting 1″ from your orgininal measurement, to compensate for the seam allowance needed for the hem. I needed to shorten our jeans 5″, so 5″-1″= 4″ for my total.

Measure from the bottom of the pant leg and mark the distance with a piece of tailors chalk or lead pencil. My distance was 4″. Be sure your cutting line is parallel to the bottom of the pant leg.

Cut off the extra fabric. You are now ready to sew. Set up your machine. You can use just about any color thread, I use navy blue or black. If you have 100 percent cotton thread available, that is best. If not, use what you have. Use a basic number of stitches per inch, 5 or 6 will do. The thread doesn’t have to match the top stitching on the jeans, no one will notice. Be sure you have a sharp needle to go through all that tough denim.

Keeping the pant leg inside out, put the leg over the arm of the machine, turning back a 1/2″ seam allowance. Conveniently the presser foot is the same width. If you use it as a guide, you will not have to measure and it will save you time. Also, forget the pins. Pins ruin sewing machines, and you will be a much better sewer without them. They do not use pins in professional production because they would completely slow down the process. It’s the difference between sewing like a pro, and sewing like a homemaker. No pins.

Lower the presser foot and begin sewing, but do not start on the thick part of the side seam. Begin either slightly before or after the seam. Most machines will just sew right through the thick seam without a problem if they have a running start. Center your needle in the seam allowance, and continue sewing around the entire pant leg. When you get to the end, over lap the stitching slightly to lock it in place. Trim your threads, and remove the pant leg from the machine.

This is what it should look like at this point.

Put the pant leg back under the presser foot, folding the seam over again 1/2″. It will still be the same width as the presser foot, no need to measure. Lower the foot, and repeat the sewing process. If you are lucky, your stitching will line up or be close together. Either way is okay, if your denim is very thick you may not be able to roll it over quite as far the second time. Don’t stress about it. No one will see the back side of your pant leg.

Your aim is to keep the rolled hem even all the way around. Do the best you can. The more you do it the better you will get. Don’t cheat and use pins either! When you complete your seem, trim your threads and remove the pant leg from the machine. Repeat the process for the other pant leg.

Turn your pant legs right side out. Guess what? DO THE HAPPY DANCE, CA– USE YOU JUST HEMMED YOUR JEANS LIKE A PRO! There is no need to iron the seam. After your jeans are worn and washed the seam will blend into your jeans, and look like it was there forever. How easy was that? You could even offer to hem your friends jeans and make a few bucks on the side. Hummm…………

Designer Mom

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  1. Kristy says

    Great article! This will save me soooo much money since I have to get all my jeans hemmed!! Just got a new machine can't wait to try it out!

  2. Brian Jones says

    Hi.. I just want to say that it was a nice reading material. I hope you come out with more interesting posts, because I bookmarked your website. All the best.
    Sold design lab

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