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The Not-So-Nerdy Way to Hem Jeans

by Kayla K on September 3, 2009

I’m in need of some shorter-inseam jeans to wear with comfortable shoes for walking I’ve been doing around campus. I have avoided hemming what I have because hemmed jeans look so nerdy.  I remembered hearing a friend say she only buys jeans at the Buckle because they hem jeans for free and keep the original hem. (Hem, hem, hem, any synonyms for this?)

I did some googling around and found some references to this technique, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I was very impressed with the result!  Here’s what I started with:

My sloppy, slouchy jeans before the miracle hem!

My sloppy, slouchy jeans need some help before I can wear them with comfy flat shoes.

jeanstucked

I started by turning up the original hem to the length I liked, barely touching the floor.

measurehem
I measured the space between the fold and original hem, as pictured, and found it to be about one inch.

divide
I took half of this measurement and marked and pinned one half inch from the fold all around.

notmuchthread
I didn’t have matching thread, but it doesn’t show so it doesn’t matter!

zipperfoot
I used a zipper foot to sew close to the original hem, although this is not necessary.  A regular foot or even handsewing works just as well.

insideview
I turned the fold up into the pant leg…

press
… and then pressed in place.

finishedproduct
Ta-Da! Shorter jeans without the nerdy-ness!

Are you ready to hem your jeans the “cool” way? Here’s a quick recap:

1. Try on your jeans and turn them up to the length you would like.  Measure from the fold up to the edge of the original hem.

2. Divide the measurement from number 1 by two.  Fold the jeans up, right sides together, to this measurement and pin in place. (My original measurement was 1 inch so I folded up 1/2 inch)

3. Sew around very close to the original hem.

4. Press the fold up into the pant leg.

This method of hemming is far superior not only for aesthetics, but for practicality.   You don’t have to worry about matching thread colors as it doesn’t show.  You can sew by hand because your stitches won’t show.  You can alter cheap jeans from Goodwill that you may not have otherwise bought.  Also, the hem can easily be undone for children who have a tendency to grow up before out.  Too bad this isn’t the case for 21-year-olds, eh? :)

Some fun facts about this post:
I pinned the hem in place and draped the jeans across my chair.  I came back a few minutes later and plopped down in front of my sewing machine.  Guess which part of the jeans were on the seat?  Now I’ve been sewing for years and years and have pricked my fingers with pins and stepped on pins, but WOW! Sitting on pins definitely hurts the worst.

Also, I did this while my roommates were away.  Next time when you’re bored, try taking profile view pictures of your own feet.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Newlyfrugal March 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Kayla, this is ingenious! Thanks for the tip. This will save $7 to hem each jeans at the local taylor shop.

2 Ange June 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Kayla, just last week, I started hemming t-shirts this way…thought I had invented something new, lol…then cut the excess & zigzagged. I even did one with a decorative stitch on top. Everything is too long for me, as I am under 5ft, so this is the ideal way to hem t-shirts & avoid stretching out the fabric. I’ll have to try it on jeans!

3 Patty M. (Patty7737 on Ravelry) September 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Oh, how ingenious! And I almost killed myself the last time I did an outing in my too-too long jeans. You’ll never know how many emergency room visits you might save with this tip!

4 Washing machine repair October 16, 2010 at 7:07 am

Pretty cool way to hem one’s pants

5 Taylor October 16, 2010 at 7:10 pm

What a great idea! I always hated home done hems but this is the perfect solution! Thank you!!!!!!!!

Taylor
http://www.maryjanesandgaloshes.com

6 Kel October 16, 2010 at 8:02 pm

In the future– using stacks of books to aim, the camera self-timer can be your best friend.

7 Alicia October 17, 2010 at 1:10 pm

How brilliant! I have to try this ASAP. At 4’11″ (and a half!) I really need to learn how to do this. :)

8 Renee October 17, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Thank you sooo much! I tried this out on a pair of skinny jeans and it worked out great! Do you have to re-press them everytime you wash them???

9 Kayla K October 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm

A bit of iron-on hem tape will keep the fold in place. Otherwise yes, it would be good to iron them with each wear.

10 Jackie October 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Freaking Awesome!! cool tip i never thought of that.

11 Laura Lee October 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thank you so much for this great tip. I just finished hemming a pair of my favorite jeans. They look great! Awesome! Thanks again.

12 Alta October 30, 2010 at 9:52 am

Cool! Very helpful for someone short like me!

13 Witty Wife November 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Can you show a close of picture of the finished hem?

I’m a little confused. (But also super excited because jeans are ALWAYS too long and regular hems on jeans look silly.)

14 carpet cleaning melbourne November 25, 2010 at 5:50 am

I’m going to have to try this! Short jeans are still too long for me. This should fix that!

15 Amy December 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

This is the only way I’m going to hem jeans from now on! Fantastic.
I have a lot of jeans to hem, too. Grandchildren, husband, children, and mine! I’m short!

16 Katie Gold January 27, 2011 at 11:49 am

That looks so easy! I have always just turned my jeans up and had a doofy looking cuff that never quite stays where I want it to. Thanks for sharing!

17 Johnny April 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

OMG! I’ve been spending the last year almost cussin my short leggedness and too long jeans and rolling them up and trying to tell myself it’s “cool like james dean” type cool….. NOW I can hem them!!!! I was too intimidated before worrying about that wierd hem and the thickness! you’re a life saver! thank you!!!!

18 Jutsine June 12, 2011 at 5:37 am

Thankyou! Ever since buying my favorite pair of jeans from the buckle and being told their seamstress can alter them while keeping the original hem I have wondered how this could possibly be done… It drives me insane. Now I can go back to sanity and fix all my super long jeans (I hated being short until now :D

19 Sharon D August 2, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Great idea, can’t believe I didn’t think of this. I’m a historical reenactor and children’s dresses were made purposely longer with this type of hem called a “growth pleat”. As the child grew taller you could let the pleats out 1″ (some theory is that the hemlines started just below the knee at age 6 or so and would be lengthened 1″ per year), so it was not uncommon for a dress to have 2 or more such growth pleats.

20 Rikki S October 3, 2011 at 2:18 am

Quick question… If my cuff folded is 2 inches, will I still divide that amount by half? It seems like a lot of extra fabric to keep on with the original hem to bottom of pant being only 0.5 inch as it is. Just thought I would ask before I started hemming, if anyone has any suggestions. Thanks

21 Fonda Brugger February 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm

If you have quite a bit as in 3 inches could it be cut and then turned the same way? It seems that a few inches would be in the way?

22 Michelle August 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm

my mom and grandmother taught me to hem this way years ago (we are all under 4’11″) it works great for growing children also

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