Preserving Original Hem on Jeans: Hemming and Hawing Part 2

I FINALLY dove into the pile of items in my “mend and alter” bin. Three items were in need of some basic hemming; that I thought others might be interested in my approach or be looking to follow a tutorial on. I am working on three part post, one for each hem. Segments are 1) invisible hem for dress pants 2) preserving original hem on jeans and 3) shortening a sweater dress into just a sweater. Today is all about jeans. I am not a professional, but the results are good enough for me, and I am pretty picky (with some things). This is my second sewing tutorial, so feedback welcome. In reading it I can see how to do future ones better.

General approach – know what your goal of the alteration is going to be and don’t be afraid to do it… if you fear cutting your $300 don’t do it pay someone else

Key point – Measure twice (or twelve), don’t cut at all.

Shortening Jeans while Preserving Original Hem

Background: Paige denim (Nordy Rack score!), I have other jeans that are the right length already, to use as patterns. They are a way too long and require skyscraper heels (and still a touch to much), but I have been trying to wear more flats. Who are these women that can wear jeans without hemming…. While having your jeans the right length is key, you can always tell right away (or I can) that they have been shortened when there isn’t that original hem and stitching. No matter thread type or machine, it isn’t the same. The fading is different the weight etc. Yes, you can always just fold them up and duct tape them in a pinch.

  1. Lay out pants on the floor. I recommend washing them as you would normally in case there is shrinkage. Nice thing is that you never actually cut anything so if they do shrink, you could in theory let them out….
  2. Lay second pair of jeans for pattern on top, matching the crotch seam. If you don’t have a pattern pair, just try them on and pin them up to the right length and/or measure the goal inseam. Measure the difference that you need to turn up to get the jeans to the goal (shorter length).

3. Fold up the pant to the desired length, right sides together, like you were cuffing them. Note this “cuff” is HALF of the total you measured to shorten. But because you are going to sew almost 2 inches in (or half of the total shorten length, less a touch for the hem that you want to remain), right along the original hem stitch, you still are shortening by 4 inches. The picture below shows one leg at the original 34.5″ length and the other cuffed up 2 inches.

4. Now that you have cuffed up your goal length, pin it in a few places and get ready for your straight stitch hem. I increased my stitch length just a bit and used darker thread, like black or navy (or gasp both, with mismatched bobbin!!) You are only sewing through two layers of denim, so I haven’t found a need for a special needle, thread or anything. My machine struggles on the part when it has to cross the vertical seams but this isn’t a problem as the pant is sewn in pretty good everywhere else and since you aren’t going to cut it, no one can really see. Forgiving and effective!

5. Now you are ready to sew. Set your needle to the center (if this is an option on your machine – I just find it easier) OR just line up the needle just above the original hem. Your jeans are still right sides out.

6. Sew around the diameter of the pant. As close as possible to the original hem. Turn the cuff to the inside and press it

7. Last step is to tack up the folded part to the inside the jeans. I just use a quick whipstitch and put a few extra in on the extra material on the seams, since those stitches won’t show to the outside. Similar to a machine invisible stitch, you only want to grab a thread or two of the jean so the stitch doesn’t show but can put your needle through more of the fold inside, since that doesn’t show….

8. Viola! All done and looks great! If you are looking to finish dress pants, here is a link to the invisible hem tutorial.

2 thoughts on “Preserving Original Hem on Jeans: Hemming and Hawing Part 2

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