Do you want to know how to hem jeans? It's a great skill to have. Friends often ask how my jeans, shorts, or capris are the perfect length. It is because I hem them myself!
You too can achieve the perfect length for jeans, shorts, or capris by hemming them yourself. This ensures you a perfect custom fit every time. Hemming requires basic sewing skills, such as measuring and cutting, and can be done with a simple needle and thread or a sewing machine. With some practice, you can master this skill and transform ill-fitting pants into your new favorite wardrobe staple.
Today I’m going to show you three different ways how to hem jeans to get the perfect length and look you’re going for!
How to Hem Jeans to Get the Perfect Look Tutorial
Hemming Jeans Method #1: Original Hem Instructions
When it comes to hemming your own jeans, leaving the original hem intact can be a bit tricky but is definitely doable. In short, you have to try on the jeans and determine how much you want to take off from the bottom. Then, measure and mark the desired length on each leg. Next, fold up the excess fabric and iron it flat against the inside of the pant leg. Finally, use a sewing machine or hand stitch to secure the folded fabric in place, being careful not to sew through the original hem. With some patience and attention to detail, you can successfully hem your own pants while preserving their original look and style.
Let's go through this step-by-step:
For this method I use a denim needle. I prefer the 80/12 size, however, if you have a thicker denim fabric, you may want to go with a higher-sized jeans needle. I use regular polyester thread in the sewing machine needle and the bobbin.
Step 1: Try on your jeans and determine where you want your hem to hit. I like to turn my hem up and pin the hemline in one or two spots.
Once you have a length you like, shorten the extra length by the original hem depth on the jean. Usually, this measurement is about 1/2″. To test where your new seam will hit exactly when finished you can flip the excess fabric up inside your pant leg. Take care not to poke yourself with the pins. With the original hem showing, check your hem to see how the length will look when finished. If if needs to be adjusted to take do so now.
Once you’ve determined how much fabric you want to take off, measure and pin evenly around your pant leg.
I like to use my blind hem foot on my sewing machine when I’m hemming jeans because you can butt the original hem right up to the guide on the foot, and it keeps things nice and straight as you sew layers of denim.
Sew with a straight stitch around the pant leg. You want the stitches of your new hem to be slightly above the top of the original hem. Stitching through two layers of the leg fabric.
After it’s sewn, you should be able to flip the part you just hemmed inside the pant leg, and the original hem will fold down and be visible with the original topstitching showing.
Flip the hem back out, and we will trim off the excess, so we don’t have all that extra fabric up in the pant leg. I measure out 1/2” from the top of the original hem and trim off the rest.
At this point you will want to finish the raw edge so it doesn’t fray. There are a couple of options to do this. You can use pinking shears (this can be tricky because of the bulk.) You could use a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine. Or, a great option is to serge the edge.
I chose to serge the edge of my pair of pants. Be careful not to cut any fabric off while serging. You want that 1/2” seam allowance to stay.
Flip the seam allowance you just serged up into your pant leg and the original hem down. Press well.
After a good pressing with the iron, we are going to tack the seam allowance up on the side seams to keep it from flipping down.
With the right side of the fabric up, and the same blind hem foot on my sewing machine, I stitch from the bottom of the hem to just above the serger seam allowance right in the side seam. Stitch in the ditch of the existing side seam.
Repeat this step on the inseam of the pant leg as well. Repeat for the second leg too.
Trim all your threads and admire your finished work!
If you’d prefer not to use the method, here are a couple of other ways to hem jeans….
How to Hem Jeans Method #2: Sewing a Simple Hem
For this method I use a jeans needle. I prefer the 80/12 size, however, if you have a thicker denim fabric you may want to go with a higher-sized needle. I use regular polyester thread in the sewing machine needle. I use it in the bobbin.
Topstitching thread for jeans is a strong heavy-duty thread. This type of thread is strong and is typically made from polyester or cotton-covered polyester and is available only in a few colors. Try to choose a color close to the jeans' original topstitching color.
Start by trying on your jeans and determine where you want your hem to hit. Add 1/2” more length to where you want your hem to end.
Cut the excess off the legs of your jeans. Serge the raw edge of your pants taking care not to cut any fabric off. You could also zig zag across the bottom to prevent fraying.
Turn your hem 1/2” (or 5/8” if you prefer) to the wrong side and press.
Topstitch your jeans. I turn the leg opening inside out to make it easier. Place the right side of the jeans down towards the feed dog as you sew. The colored topstitching in your bobbin, will end up on the right side of your jeans, and the regular polyester thread (in your needle) will be on the wrong side of the fabric.
Place the edge of the fabric right at the groove of the presser foot. Stitch around your hem. Give it a good press and step back and admire your work of newly hemmed jeans.
The third and final way of hemming jeans I will cover today is a hem with a cuff.
How to Hem Jeans Method #3: Cuff Instructions
I use regular polyester thread in the sewing machine needle and the bobbin. Add 2 inches beyond the mark you just made of where you want your hem to end.
Use your scissors to cut the excess fabric off the legs of your jeans. Serge the raw edge of your pants taking care not to cut any fabric off. You could also zig zag across the bottom to prevent fraying.
Press up 1 inch toward the right side of the pants. Then roll up a second time and press. Another 1 inch to the right side of your pants. This will enclose the inch you just pressed up. (It will also enclose the serging) This will create your cuff.
After a good pressing are going to tack the seam allowance up on the side seams to keep it from flipping down.
With the right side up, and the blind hem foot on my sewing machine, I stitch from the bottom of the cuff to just above the top of the cuff right in the side seam. Stitch in the ditch of the existing side seam. Tack your cuff up on both leg inseams and on your side seams.
And there you have it! You know how to hem jeans. Hemming doesn't have to be a daunting task. With the right techniques, you can easily achieve a clean and professional look that fits perfectly. In this blog, we have explored three different ways to hem jeans, allowing you to choose the method that works best for you. Whether you prefer a traditional hem, simple hem, or cuffed hem, we've got you covered. By following our step-by-step instructions and tips, you'll be able to confidently alter your pants and give them a new lease on life. So go ahead and grab your needle and thread or heat-activated tape – it's time to transform your pants into the perfect fit.
Other Methods to Hem Jeans
We've covered three methods of how to hem jeans today - but there are more methods that can give your pants a unique and stylish look. One option is the raw hem, which involves cutting the jeans to the desired length and leaving the edges unfinished for a trendy, edgy look. Another option is the double hem, where you fold up the fabric twice and sew it in place for a clean and polished finish.
You can also try a decorative hem, such as adding lace or embroidery to the bottom of your pants for a feminine and personalized touch. Finally, if you're feeling adventurous, you can experiment with asymmetrical or frayed hems for a more fashion-forward and unconventional style. With so many options available, you can find the perfect hemming method to suit your personal taste and create a one-of-a-kind look for your jeans.
Can I Use a Hem to Create Shorts?
Yes! Recycle those pants by making shorts. You can do this easily by: (1) cutting off the raw edge; and, (2) doing either the classic hem or cuffed option shown above. This is a great way to get extra life out of those jeans.
Thank you for joining us today to learn how to hem jeans. Please make sure to come join us in our Facebook Group for sewing tips and at KnitFabric.com to get the perfect apparel fabric for your project.